Happy Explorers Day

Or Discoverers Day, if you rather.

I know some folks have Christened this “Indigenous Peoples Day,” but that has always seemed a cop-out to me. Making Christopher Columbus a scapegoat centuries after his accomplishment — and it was an accomplishment — is emblematic enough of this age of sensitization in which we live, but celebrating people who stayed where they were and lived out ordinary lives in place of those who risked life and limb in pursuit of their dreams is emblematic of something deeper, and sadder: a loss of drive, of purpose, of spirit. It’s a surrender. A capitulation.

(Banner illustration from “10 Great Explorers in History,” at https://www.historyanswers.co.uk/people-politics/10-great-explorers-in-history/.)

So on this day I celebrate all who ventured forth in pursuit of something new, someplace different, whether grand and glorious or smaller and more personal. All the explorers and discoverers, whether in the wider world or in the confines of the laboratory, the library, the studio.

Perhaps even you, in your pursuit of your best life. As I wrote on this subject nearly ten years ago: May You Find What You Seek.

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A Christmas Eve Poem

I put an early version of this on the Book of Faces earlier today. Putting it here, just because.

Christmas Eve

“Christmas Eve,” by looll. (On Flickr, under Creative Commons.)


‘Tis another Christmas Eve,
Whether bustling or still —
A day, a night, of anticipation
Of love, joy, peace and good will.

Satisfied or hungry, in company or lonely,
Rich or poor, in bondage or unfettered —
‘Tis another Christmas Eve,
When we stand in hope of brighter things, and better.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a blessed Kwanzaa, or joy in whatever winter festival they celebrate.Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Thankful for All the Nouns

Good Thanksgiving morning to you and yours!

Every day I try to find things to be thankful for, but I’m glad our nation sets aside a special day for expressing thankfulness. In the spirit of the day, I sat down this morning to make a list of things for which I’m thankful, and realized that I could work for hours if not days trying to remember every individual person, place, or thing for which I could rightly say, “Thank you.”

I would never run out of nouns, and so I’d never run out of thanks.

I hope you can say the same.

Thanking God, 2016

(Image: “Thanking God, 2016,” by Martin LaBar, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)


Whoever you are, wherever you are, I’m thankful for you — and I hope you have a fantastic day!Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month

This day, in its commemorative sense, was originally Armistice Day: when, at the eleventh hour, a ceasefire on the Western Front ended what later became known as the First World War.

Our British and other Commonwealth allies honor this day as Remembrance Day, and I appreciate that sentiment. The sense of gratitude was almost palpable when we were in England this summer, when the ceramic poppies were just starting to flow out of the Tower of London. I saw memorials almost everywhere we went; for instance, I took this picture in the tiny village of Lacock:

(World War 1 Memorial, Lacock, United Kingdom. Click to enlarge.)

May this day, this Veterans Day, always be one of gratitude; but not just this day. Let us be grateful every day, even when we don’t set aside time to express it. In that spirit, then, I offer my sincere thanks to all who ever served — not just my own squadron mates and classmates and friends, but all who wore any uniform, for any length of time, in any capacity — and my continuing gratitude to those who serve now.

I salute you, one and all.Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

May You Find What You Seek

Here’s wishing you and yours a fine and productive Explorers’ Day!*

Explorers Club building sign
(“Explorers Club building sign,” by Curious Expeditions, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

In the spirit of all who sailed off into the unknown, may you find what you seek or, failing that, may you discover something even more wondrous and worthwhile.

*Or Discoverers’ Day, if you prefer. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, if we have to celebrate all the Presidents together, we ought to kludge some of these other categories together as well.Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Happy Declaration-Signing Day

The Continental Congress passed the Declaration of Independence on the 2nd of July, 1776, and then gathered on the 4th to sign it.

On July 8th, Thomas Jefferson sent a copy to my 5-times-great grandfather, John Page, who was President of the Virginia Council. Page wrote back on the 20th:

I am highly pleased with your Declaration. God preserve the united States — We know the Race is not to the swift nor the Battle to the strong. Do you not think an Angel rides in the Whirlwind and directs this Storm?


Page wrote to John Hancock the same day that Virginia’s citizens “have been impatiently expecting it, and will receive it with joy.”

What did he mean by “impatiently expecting it”? The calls for Independence had grown quite strong throughout the colonies before the Declaration was finalized, and in fact the delegates had been debating the resolution since it was introduced on June 7th. But even back in April, Page had written to Jefferson,

For God’s sake declare the colonies independant [sic], at once, & save us from ruin

The fervor for Independence was so strong that the delegates pledged their “Lives, … Fortunes, and … sacred Honor” to the cause. Though not a delegate, Page himself was as dedicated as any of them: he served as an officer in the Virginia militia, raised a regiment and contributed to it from his own money, and even donated the lead from the casements of his windows to be made into bullets.

When I was in high school, our English teacher gave us all copies of Paul Harvey’s little book about the Declaration and its signers, and to each of us he inscribed a challenge: “What will you give?” I ask myself that question every 4th of July.

Often I conclude that I have much more that I could, and should, give.

Letters quoted from The Declaration of Independence: Its History …, by John Hampden Hazelton.Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

In Memory of the Fallen

I am alive today because my natural father lived through his service as a US Army rifleman in World War II. He marched across France, came home with shrapnel in his leg, and made a fairly good life after the war.

(“Arlington,” by Sunday Money, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

I am the man I am today because my adoptive father lived through his term of US Army service in the early 1950s. He served in Germany, interviewing scientists associated with Operation Paperclip, often close to if not occasionally inside the Soviet area of occupation.

I am personally very pleased that both of these men made it through their military service alive. I am pleased that one of them is still with us, still vital and active. I can only imagine how difficult it is for the families of those who fought for our freedom but did not return.

I will not, cannot, forget those served and those who are still serving, standing in the gap for all of us.

But on this Memorial Day and every day, I offer my deepest appreciation for those who fell, who gave all they had to give, and who in their falling made it possible for others — including me — to live.Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Happy Independence Day

I hope you have a splendid 4th of July, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

A special “thank you” to our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coastguardsmen who keep us safe, secure, and free every day. I salute you all.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident ….” Yes, we do.
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Memorial Day Tribute

For Memorial Day, here’s a link to a great rendition of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” forwarded to us by a former boss (and supporter of the “Anti-Campaign”). As the oft-forwarded message said,

If you missed hearing the US Army Band and Chorus welcome Pope Benedict XVI at the White House Rose Garden ceremony on 15 April, get a load of these high school kids. At the conclusion listen to the high notes on the trumpet … played by a high school kid! One of the fathers recorded it, added some graphic enhancements to the recording, and posted it on the web…. Be prepared … it will definitely send a few chills down your spine.

Here’s the link. Enjoy, and remember the ultimate sacrifices that paid for our freedoms.

God Bless.
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