Memorial Day

By | May 22, 2015

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day, a day to decorate the graves of the Civil War dead. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868 and organized by the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an organization of former sailors and soldiers. It was inspired by local observances during the 3 years after the end of the Civil War.

After World War I the observances began to honor those who had died in all of America’s Wars.

With the passage of the National Holiday act of 1971 the National Memorial Day is the last Monday in May. Some states still have an additional separate day for honoring their state’s war deaths. January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years with many Americans forgetting or not understanding the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. Towns and cities still hold Memorial Day parades, however many have not held a parade in decades. It’s even thought by some people that the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.

Some, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), advocate returning to the original date of May 30. In a 2002 Memorial Day Address the VFW stated, “Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.”

The traditional date of May 30th was last seen in 2011. The earliest that Memorial Day can be is May 25th, which happens this year.

Please take a moment with us as we honor those who have made the greatest sacrifice for their country.

The Maryland Colony

By | Mar 25, 2015

The history of the Maryland Colony began with a failed attempt by George Calvert, the First Lord Baltimore, in Newfoundland. Calvert had been the Secretary of State under King James I and he had requested a chance to build a colony in the New World. The “Province of Avalon” began settlement in 1623 and by 1627 when Calvert first visited the colony 100 men and women were living at Ferryland, a plantation that was being built for him.

He stayed for a while before returning to England. In 1628 he returned with his household with the intention of remaining there for the rest of his days. The winter of 1628-29 was much worst than he expected and he returned again to England. He continued to desire a colony in the New World and began the process that would become the Maryland Charter.

The colony was named in honor of King Charles’s Queen, Henrietta Maria. Even though Calvert was a Catholic, he viewed the colony as a place where Catholics and Puritans could live together without oppression because of their faith. The boundaries were the Potomac River to the South, the Atlantic to the East and the 40th Parallel to the North.

George Calvert died on April 15, 1632 and the Charter for the Maryland Colony was granted to his son Cæcilius Calvert, 2nd Lord Baltimore, two months later on June 20, 1632.

In November of 1633 two ships, the Ark and the Dove left England for the Chesapeake Bay and the Maryland Colony. They were led by Cæcilius Calvert’s brother Leonard.

After a stop at the Jamestown where they bought animals and other supplies they ventured further up the Chesapeake Bay. They landed on March 25th at a small island they called St Clement’s Island, called Blakistone Island in later years. Today, Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources controls the island as a state park.

So Glad that Spring has Sprung

By | Mar 20, 2015

After the brutal Winter of 2015, many are looking forward to the first day of Spring. Spring 2015 officially arrives on March 20th at 22:45 UTC or 6:45 EDT.

In the Eastern Time Zone of the United States March 20th, the first day of Spring, the sun will rise at Virgina Beach, VA at 7:06 am and Sunset is 7:16 pm. This is close to having the same daylight hours as night.

Some things that are termed spring may have begun before this date and others afterward. Baseball Spring training usually begins in the last couple weeks in February. College Spring Breaks are almost always in March, but some are before the Spring Equinox and others are after. Easter can be on either side of Spring. This year it’s on April 5th.

On the Delmarva Peninsula the Osprey, which migrated south for the winter, returns just shortly before the first day of Spring. Often around St Patrick’s Day. The Canada Goose which arrives on the Peninsula in the winter begin their migration North.

Spring is the time for rebirth and farmers will begin sowing their crops and spring flowers will beginning to push themselves out of the ground.

The old saying is that March comes in like a Lion and leaves like a Lamb. In 2015, it began more like a Polar Bear with cold weather and snow. It’s around the Spring Equinox that the transition from Lion to lamb begins. Have a Happy Spring.

Irish Traditions

By | Mar 17, 2015

St. Patrick is considered the Patron Saint of Ireland, but he was born in Britain. He was born near the end of the 4th Century to wealthy parents and was abducted by Irish Raiders and held in captivity in Ireland for 6 years. During this captivity he became a devote Christian.

He is believed to have died on March 17, 460 AD and it is on this day that the Irish and those once a year Irish celebrate St. Patrick Day.

Even before St. Patrick, who is credited as banishing all snakes from the island, there weren’t any snakes so he couldn’t have banished any. He was a converted Christian and helped transform the island from their pagan beliefs to Christianity.

St. Patrick Day has a celebrated history of parades. The first St. Patrick Day parade was not in Ireland, but in New York City. On March 17, 1762 Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through the city.

Leprechauns and St. Patrick are classic symbols of Ireland. Now a natural combination. Leprechauns have their origins from old Celtic folklore and were cranky souls known for their trickery to protect their much-fabled treasure. It wasn’t until Walt Disney and the film Darby O’Gill & the Little People which introduced a cheerful, friendly leprechaun, that they became a part of the Irish celebration.

Many of us will have Corn Beef and Cabbage on St. Patrick day, but this too is a fairly recent invention. Cabbage has long been a Irish food, it was usually served with bacon. That was until around the beginning of the 20th century when immigrants in New York City substituted corned beef to save money. This idea came from their Jewish neighbors.

About James Jones’ “From Here to Eternity”

By | Feb 15, 2015

The novel takes place in months prior to Japan’s bombing of Hawaii. It’s based loosely of Jones’ experiences at Schofield Barracks. It tells the story of the struggles between Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt, a self-described “thirty-year man”, and his superiors, First Sgt. Milt Warden and Captain Holmes.

The novel’s title comes from a line from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “Gentleman Rankers:”
Gentlemen-rankers out on the spree,
Damned from here to Eternity,
God ha’ mercy on such as we,
Baa! Yah! Bah!

This is the first novel in James Jones’ WWII trilogy. Even though the names are altered they are essentially the same characters. From Here to Eternity features Warden and Prewitt, who become Welsh and Witt in The Thin Red Line and Mart Winch and Bobby Prell in Whistle. Similarly, Corporal Fife in The Thin Red Line reappears as Marion Landers in Whistle, as does the cook, Storm, who becomes Johnny “Mother” Strange.

The 1953 movie adaptation stared Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, and Deborah Kerr. It was nominated for 13 Academy Awards, winning 8 including Best Picture, Frank Sinatra for Best Supporting Actor and Donna Reed for Best Supporting Actress. In 2002 the United States Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

In 1979 the novel was made into a 6-hour mini-series. It had William Devane as Sgt Warden, Natalie Wood as the wife of the Company commander and Steve Railsback as Prewitt.

The mini-series was so popular that a series was made based on the characters created by Jones as well as a new character Jefferson Davis Prewitt, the brother of Robert E. Lee Prewitt. The series lasted 13 episodes.


By | Jan 20, 2015

For the first time in a long time while listening to the Simon and Garfunkel song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” I sat and really listened to the lyrics. The song seems to be to be about friendship and how a dear friend can help you get by.

“If you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled waters
I will ease your mind”
Paul Simon

It became Simon and Garfunkel’s best selling song, saying at Number One on the Billboard Charts for six weeks before being knocked out of top spot by a very similar song, “Let It Be”by the Beatles. It also won the 1970 Grammy Award for Song of The Year.

The idea of friendship carried over for another year with James Taylor’s version of Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” winning the Song of the Year for 1971.

Even though Carole King had released an album and was well known as a composer, she had been part of James Taylor tour as a band mate. In Early 1971 they were both recording albums, King’s “Tapestry” and Taylor’s “Mud Slide Slim”. Often in the studio together.

Taylor and King both recorded the song, but it was Taylor’s version that was released as a single. It reached Number One in July of 1971 and was Taylor’s only Number One.

“You’ve Got a Friend” really shows true sign of friendship in many ways.

Nothing is really more valuable than friendship.

“You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call and I’ll be there, yeah, yeah,
you’ve got a friend.”
Carole King

Photo: Friendship by SG Atkinson

Photo: Friendship by SG Atkinson

Martin Luther King Jr.

By | Jan 15, 2015

Martin Luther King was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the son of Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams King.

King received a B.A. in sociology from Morehouse College, and a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Boston College in 1955.

King began his work in equal rights after learning of the arrest of Rosa Parks in 1955 for her failure to give up her bus seat to a white man. He founded the Southern Christian leadership Conference in 1957. The group was created to harness the moral authority and organizing power of black churches to conduct non-violent protests in the service of civil rights reform. His most famous speech was given during the Civil Rights March, formally called the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, in 1963. The words, ‘I have a dream’ will be remembered from the speech.

King was assassinated on April 14, 1968 on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was in Memphis to deliver a speech in support of black garbage workers who had been on strike since March 12 for higher wages and better treatment. The assassination led to riots in more than 60 US cities.

Two months after the murder of King, James Earl Ray was captured at London Heathrow airport. Ray confessed to the murder during interrogation in Memphis, although he recanted the confession 3 days later. Under the advice of his attorney he plead guilty to avoid a trail conviction and a possible death penalty. In later times the family of King has their doubts that Ray was the assassin. Ray died in prison on April 23, 1998 from complications related to kidney disease.

In 1986, a federal holiday established in his name was observed for the first time. President Reagan signed the law in 1983 creating the holiday to be observed on the third Monday in January.

Review: The Hobbit – The Battle of Five Armies

By | Jan 11, 2015

A while back I posted that one of the ways “6 Things to Consider” may be heading is part of my “From A Fan’s View” project. Reviews would be part of it, although the original thoughts are to look at Entertainment prior to 1970. But that sure doesn’t preclude a fan’s review of the latest Hobbit movie.

First let me state that I am a huge JRR Tolkein fan and when I heard about the Lord of the Rings being made into a film I was very excited. They turned out to be a great trio of films. And I believe that the Oscar for Best Film for “The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King” was as much for the three films as the one. However unlike many fans, I was not that excited when it was announced that The Hobbit was being made. And when I heard that three films were going to come out of that small book written for children, I wondered, How?

Now that the third film has been released I see how. While not a bad movie and it does keep to the feel of Middle Earth and its history, I do think that it was at least one movie too long.

I’m sure others will disagree since many love the battle scenes from both series of movies. I thought that even in the “Lord of The Rings” series the battle scenes were long and drawn out. And in the third Hobbit the majority of the movie is of “The Battle of Five Armies”. Only the first minutes and last carry on the story of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit.

I see why the original title and what it should have been “There and Back Again”. Bilbo’s return to Hobbiton seemed to be an after thought.

In short the Hobbit, in my opinion was one movie too long, but at the same time I don’t see it as a bad movie. Just one that didn’t really lead the story to it’s best conclusion.

Winter Songs

By | Dec 17, 2014

I have a huge collection of Christmas Music and while listening I realized that not all of our beloved Christmas Songs are actually related to Christmas. Although they are related to the Winter Season.

And it seems as if many artists have recorded them so if you want to extend the Christmas Music season, listen to this set list of songs through the Winter.

Jingle Bells (Actually written for Thanksgiving)
Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow
Winter Wonderland
Sleigh Ride
Baby It’s Cold Outside
A Marshmallow World
Little Jack Frost Get Lost
Skating (From Charlie Brown Christmas)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (AKA Charlie Brown Theme)
Snow (From the movie White Christmas)
Wizard in Winter (One many of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra songs)
I Got My Love to Keep me Warm
Winter Weather
It won’t Cool Off

– And
Frosty the Snowman

– A few that that are often added to Christmas releases
Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)
The River (Joni Mitchell)
My Favorites Things (From the Sound of Music
Do You Want to Build a Snowman
2000 Miles

Stories about Our Christmas Songs

By | Dec 15, 2014

When should Christmas music be started to played for the Holidays? One thought is after Halloween, another is as soon as the weather starts turning colder (living in Maryland this would be around Mid-October) but for most that time starts just after Thanksgiving.

We all know and love the following songs, but did you know that they also have interesting stories. Here are brief stories about six of our Christmas favorites. Oh, and for me I start playing them anytime after the first of October, sometimes even earlier.

White Christmas
Everyone knows that the song was introduced in the movie Holiday Inn, but many don’t know that it was a song about being stuck in sunny and warm LA and dreaming of a White Christmas. The original first verse is:

The sun is shining
The grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway.
I’ve never seen such a day
In Beverly Hills LA.
But it’s December the 24th
And I am longing to be up North…

This part is rarely performed with the song (The Carpenters version does) and was never recorded by Bing Crosby.

Have Yourself A Very Merry Christmas
This Judy Garland song was written for and first introduced in the movie Meet me In St. Louis. The original intent for the song was to say that by next year things would be brighter. The original lines were;

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
May your heart be light
In a year our troubles will be out of sight
From now on

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
In a year our troubles will be miles away

At the request of Judy Garland it was changed to:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
Let your heart be light,
From now on our troubles
Will be out of sight.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on our troubles
Will be miles away.

Then in 1957 when Frank Sinatra was recording his Christmas Album A Jolly Christmas he requested another change to the lyrics. Later in the song there was the line;

If the Fates allow
Until then, we’ll just have to muddle through somehow
And have ourselves a merry little Christmas now.

Sinatra wanted a more jolly song and asked for this to be changed. It was to:

If the Fates allow,
Hang a shining star
On the highest bough,
And have yourself
A merry little Christmas now.

This sure makes for it to be a merrier, Merry Christmas song.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas
The song was written in 1943 and recorded in that same year by Bing Crosby. Placing it in that time period it’s obvious that the song was about a soldier at war and his Christmas wish. If it wasn’t for White Christmas this would probably be considered His Christmas song. (Although his version of Silent Night sold more copies) The song remained on the charts for 7 weeks and well pass Christmas.

Silver Bells
The song was written by the prolific movie composers Jay Livingston and Ray Evans for the movie The Lemon Drop Kid, staring Bob Hope. It was originally going to be Tinkle Bells, until Livingston’s wife told him that to millions of american women the word tinkle meant something else and not something that would generally go over good in a Christmas song. The word tinkle was replaced with silver. Now the next time you hear the song replace the word ‘silver’ with ‘tinkle’ and see if it doesn’t have a slightly different song.

Frosty the Snowman
Frosty the Snowman was written with one thought in mind. Just before it was written Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer had be a huge commercial hit and the team of Jack Nelson and Steve Rollins wanted to write the next ‘Christmas Classic’. By the end of the winter they had put together two holiday songs to pitch to Gene Autry. Autry was sold and recorded Frosty for the next Christmas season.

And, the other Holiday song they pitched. It wasn’t a Christmas song, but the Easter song Here Comes Peter Cotton-tail.

A Christmas Song
In the hot heat in the summer of 1945, Mel Torme visited his friend Bob Wells. Earlier in the day Wells had written phases in a notebook in an effort to stay warm. A couple of these were; “Chestnuts roasting … Jack Frost nipping … Yuletide carols … Folks dressed up like Eskimos.”

Torme also in an effort to try to cool off, thought that maybe writing a winter song would help. They took these phrases and in 40 minutes much of the music and some of the lyrics of one of the most recorded Christmas song was completed.

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