Monday, May 31, 2010

The Longest Day

Remembering June 6, 1944

One of my favorite movies is "The Longest Day." My favorite scene in the movie is where General Theodore Roosevelt Jr., Son of the 'Rough Rider' President, pleads to be allowed to accompany his men in the invasion. If you love heroes, the scene will bring you to tears. Finally Roosevelt hears his commander say "permission reluctantly granted. Oh, by the way, how's your arthritis?" "Hasn't Bothered me in months," replies Roosevelt. As he leaves, you see him retrieve the cane he has hidden in some pipes as he heads off down the ship's passageway.

The true story of General Roosevelt is one all of us should know. He repeatedly led groups of men off the beach and achieved an impressively low casualty rate in the beginning of the invasion. He had trained these men and wanted to be with them when they faced the hard test.

General Roosevelt in France

He was the only general to come ashore in the first wave of the invasion, leading the men out of his landing craft. No doubt his leadership under fire saved many lives.

After battling their way ashore, the troops discover that they have drifted a mile from where they should have landed. It was then that General Roosevelt personally scouted their situation and uttered these famous words: "We'll start the war from right here!"

"Ted Roosevelt on Utah Beach"

Those were the words of Omar Bradley when asked to name the single most heroic action he had ever seen in combat. Major General "Tubby" Barton had reluctantly assented to this plea from Roosevelt:

"The force and skill with which the first elements hit the beach and proceed may determine the ultimate success of the operation... With troops engaged for the first time, the behavior pattern of all is apt to be set by those first engaments. [It is] considered that accurate information of the existing situation should be available for each succeeding element as it lands. You should have when you get to shore an overall picture in which you can place confidence. I believe I can contribute materially on all of the above by going in with the assault companies. Furthermore I personally know both officers and men of these advance units and believe that it will steady them to know that I am with them."

Barton thought he would never see Roosevelt in this life again when he cut those fateful orders. When Barton later came ashore and met up with Roosevelt, he had this to say: "while I was mentally framing [orders], Ted Roosevelt came up. He had landed with the first wave, had put my troops across the beach, and had a perfect picture (just as Roosevelt had earlier promised if allowed to go ashore with the first wave) of the entire situation. I loved Ted. When I finally agreed to his landing with the first wave, I felt sure he would be killed. When I had bade him goodbye, I never expected to see him alive. You can imagine then the emotion with which I greeted him when he came out to meet me [near La Grande Dune]. He was bursting with information."

A month after the invasion, Ted Roosevelt died of a heart condition which would have disqualified him from leading in the first wave. He was buried in France alongside his brother Quenton who had died in World War I. His Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:

"For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, in France. After 2 verbal requests to accompany the leading assault elements in the Normandy invasion had been denied, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt's written request for this mission was approved and he landed with the first wave of the forces assaulting the enemy-held beaches. He repeatedly led groups from the beach, over the seawall and established them inland. His valor, courage, and presence in the very front of the attack and his complete unconcern at being under heavy fire inspired the troops to heights of enthusiasm and self-sacrifice. Although the enemy had the beach under constant direct fire, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt moved from one locality to another, rallying men around him, directed and personally led them against the enemy. Under his seasoned, precise, calm, and unfaltering leadership, assault troops reduced beach strong points and rapidly moved inland with minimum casualties. He thus contributed substantially to the successful establishment of the beachhead in France."

Remembering Theodore Roosevelt Jr.

It is worth noting that Roosevelt, while a very effective officer, was not liked by everyone he met. Serving in the North Africa Campaign in 1942 under Major General Terry Allen he drew the ire of George S. Patton. Both Allen and Roosevelt went against Patton's spit-and-polish mentality and were seldom seen in dress uniform. Roosevelt was too much of a "hands on" type of guy to strut around avoiding the hard stuff. Patton relieved both Allen and Roosevelt of their commands. Roosevelt went on to fight in Sicily and Italy. He became chief liaison officer to the French Army in Italy for General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Great men have often struggled in the process of becoming the heroes we remember and that is worth remembering along with their mighty deeds.

Remembering William Howard

A Soldier's Story Comes to Light

Grave of William H. Howard
The Grave of Willam Howard.

Hiking along Brown's Gap Turnpike in Shenandoah National Park I found the headstone. It was not dated but I immediately thought of how Thomas Jackson had led his men through just about every crossing through these mountains during his Valley Campaign. Modern generals still study how Jackson carried out that campaign. The single headstone seemed odd. Had this been a sick or injured man who died alone? The battles of this campaign did not happen in the passes, did they?

There did not seem to be any record of a William H. Howard. Then I Saw This [click to read] at Rightside VA. Here is some new information on the story:

For many years Browns Gap was one of the principal routes for taking farm produce from the Shenandoah Valley to Richmond. Browns Gap and the turnpike were used briefly during the Civil War. On May 2, 1862, at the beginning of his Valley Campaign, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson marched his entire army through Browns Gap. From June 9 to June 12, after the Battle of Port Republic at the end of the Valley Campaign, Jackson's army camped in and near Browns Gap. On September 25, 1864, General Jubal Early and his army, after their defeat at Winchester, fortified themselves here and fought off Sheridan's attacks for two days while awaiting reinforcements. Today Browns Gap Turnpike is a SNP fire road.

The grave marker along Browns Gap fire road notes William H. Howard, Company F, 44th VA. INF, C.S.A. One of the two Fluvanna infantry companies which enlisted in the spring of 1861, the "Fluvanna Hornets", had formed at Kent's Store on May 20 under Captain Thomas K. Wiesinger.The Fluvanna Hornets would be the name of Company F. Of the 88 men which enlisted in Company F, 28 would die before the war ended.

The roster shows that there were three Howard brothers in company F:
Howard, John T.; Private *
Howard, Napoleon B.; Private
Howard, William W.; Private *
*= died during war.

According to the White House of the Confederacy, both William and John both suffered from Typhoid fever in the camp. Typhoid is a bacterial dysentery, Salmonella thyphosa, which from poor sanitary conditions can lead to dehydration and death. It is unclear why William is buried along the Browns Gap fire trail. Records shown that he enlisted June 12, by August he was sick at camp, and died at Camp Allegheny on Oct 1, 1861. Possibly he was being transported home to Fluvanna and was buried along the way. The middle initial "H" is likely an error from poor records, as a sloppy "W" may look like a sloppy "H" . The grave headstone does not have a date, but lists only Company F, 44th Infantry, CSA. His brother John died 1 Aug 1861 at Monterey, but his other brother Napoleon survived and was promoted to Sergeant, only to be later taken as a prisoner of war at Gettysburg.

Special thanks to Rightside VA [click to read]!

Grave of William H. Howard
The Grave of William Howard, a Confederate soldier, in Shenandoah National Park. His body was laid to rest near the old Brownsville Turnpike.

Spring budding forth in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Dr. Vivien Theodore Thomas

Breaking Barriers in Surgery and Opportunity

Dr. Thomas pioneered lifesaving surgical techniques.

Dr. Vivien Theodore Thomas was born on August 29, 1910 in New Iberia, Louisiana. He was the grandson of slaves but completed high school in Nashville Tennessee. He dreamed of continuing his education and becoming a doctor but the Great Depression in 1929 dashed his hopes for higher education.

Thomas had found a job at Fisk University as a carpenter for their maintenance department. He worked through the Summer of 1929 but was laid off in October of that year following the stock market crash. This put his educational plans on hold and eventually he found work as a laboratory assistant with Dr. Alfred Blalock at Vanderbilt University.

The original job description was caring for the dogs being used for surgical experiments. Thomas fed the animals and cleaned their cages. Dr. Blalock took notice of the young Thomas, discovering that he possessed keen hand-eye coordination, a sharp intellect and the ability to think on his feet to solve problems. No doubt, Thomas' carpentry skills and training came in to play here.

Blalock began using Thomas as a technical assistant, having him perform much of the actual work in developing new surgical techniques. Through the 1930's Blalock pushed on into new frontiers in vascular and cardiac surgery. Thomas did essential work in perfecting the surgical procedures. This pioneer work made Blalock one of the leading surgeons of his time.

In 1940 Blalock was offered the position of Chief of Surgery at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. He requested that Thomas be hired with him. Their 34 year partnership would continue to push the barriers in surgical technique. Their work would eventually lead to learning how to correct the heart defects that caused blue baby syndrome, Their work on crush syndrome led to understanding that would save the lives of thousands of soldiers in World War II.

Baltimore society was even more segregated than Nashville and Johns Hopkins only hired African Americans in their houskeeping department. Thomas was put on the payroll as a janitor but worked alongside Blalock in surgery. He turned a few heads walking the halls in his labcoat. Here many wonder that Blalock so valued Thomas professionally but allowed him to be distanced socially. Both men, it must be remembered, where men raised in the old Southern society. The separation was highly codified in a city like Baltimore [I still have a map of the city from my youth that matter-of-fact labels the white and colored swimming pools in Druid Hill Park]. The recognition of merit over race and the mens' friendship was enough to remove the most insurmountable of barriers.

Blalock didn't object to Thomas initially being 'assigned' to housekeeping but by 1946 he had negotiated his status as the highest paid lab assistant at Hopkins.

Watching Thomas perform an intricate surgical procedure, Blalock remarked "That looks like something the Lord made." Thomas was able to perform complex surgeries with such efficiency of motion that the students said that he made them look effortless. When a young surgeon in training moved in too close to observe, he might unknowingly step into a spot next to Blalock, who would tersely remind him: "Only Vivian is to stand there!"

In 1976 Johns Hopkins presented Thomas with an honorary doctorate and appointed him an instructor of surgery, acknowledging the work he had already been performing for decades.

Friday, May 28, 2010

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume II, Issue XXII

No Apologies to the American People

The 'other' weekly news magazine takes on the Papacy [click to read] this week. THYME also ventures where angels fear to tread... taking on the Obama administration, which first presented itself to us in messianic terms. Proclaiming himself a healer, the POTUS proceeded to tear down the fundamental structure of this country. Those who recognized this assault on the America we grew up in united to resist. Though he said we should thank him, we thought we deserved an apology. The man was no healer or uniter. His czars and aids were all from the leftist elite. THYME has observed that instead of resembling America they all looked like his old law school professors.

No apologies were forthcoming... at least to the American people. Oh, he's apologized FOR America to a whole gaggle of disgusting despots, bowed to the Saudi King and openly stated his disgust for America's unique place in the world.

He's too busy with his vacation plans to honor the soldiers at Arlington, while many of us are working two jobs to keep afloat. Some people I know are out of work, but working at finding something to get them back in the workforce. No, I'm not asking him for an apology, but I AM asking him to listen to his inner JFK and do some things to free up capital and allow the economy to recover... like cut some key tax rates.

That is not in his repetoire though. He's looking to make us more like Europe. Europe is slowly waking up from a Socialist stupor and wants to be more like us! Still the man does not see it.

Perhaps one day he will become aware of some good economic history. He'll read how Reagan reignited America's greatness and how America has provided stability to a very turbulant world. He'll see the good of this country at last... which he is stifling at the moment... and if he does truely come to such a realization, his remorse will be heartfelt.

Things to Do this Weekend in the Valley

Lynn Writes [click to read] in the Washington Examiner.

Also happening this weekend, at the birthplace of our favorite hometown Progressive:

The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum will host a Grand Opening celebration of our new World War I trench exhibit with activities for the entire family, including re-enactors, live period music, refreshments, and free tours of the exhibit, this Sunday, May 30, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. A brief ceremony with remarks from Senator Emmett Hanger, Delegate Dickie Bell, Staunton Mayor Lacy King, and Judd Bankert, portraying President Wilson, will kick off the activities.

Meet re-enactors including soldiers, Red Cross nurses, and Salvation Army “Doughnut Lassies,” who will share what life was like during the war. Enjoy donuts and other snacks that were available during that time period. Explore artifacts from a World War I soldier’s trunk. Hear live period music.

Discover the exciting new trench exhibit, a fully immersive state-of-the-art experience that takes visitors to the battlefront during the First World War. It includes a trench, a bunker, a command center, a triage area, lighting, sound effects, and photographs.

Tours of the trench exhibit and museum are free from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. Tours of the President’s birthplace will only be $5.00 from 12:00 – 4:15 p.m. Sponsored by Bankers Insurance and Segars Engineering.

Visit Beautiful Arizona

Arizona Travel Guide [click to read].

Experience the State of Freedom -- Arizona

Once again the liberals are boycotting a state when someone there does the right thing... and they haven't even READ THE LAW they're complaining about! Another great travel opportunity folks! Enjoy a drive to the Grand Canyon without those nasty Obama bumper stickers!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Down That Wrong Road Again...

...We've Let Disasters Define Energy Policy Before

Three Mile Island.

Back in the 1970s we were poised to build nuclear power plants enough to meet our energy needs. Unfortunately the accident at Three Mile Island was used by opponants of nuclear power to halt much of that planned capacity. Today we depend on fossil fuels and lay a haze across the Appalachians to meet our electric needs. It didn't have to be so.

In the wake of accidents, safety procedures were improved. Nuclear energy powers much of Europe and Japan without problems.

In Brand New Green [click to read], Peter W. Huber discusses how Environmentalist Stewart Brand has discovered that nuclear energy is really pretty environmentally friendly. Brand says: "The question I ask myself now is: “What took me so long? I could have looked into the realities of nuclear power many years earlier, if I weren’t so lazy.” When he got over his nuclear sloth, here’s what Brand learned. (Most of the words quoted here are Brand’s own, but some are Brand quoting others approvingly.) “Fear of radiation is a far more important health threat than radiation itself.” “Reactor safety is a problem already solved,” and the new reactors are even safer than the old. Waste isn’t a problem; we need the $10 billion Yucca mountain disposal site “about as much as we need a facility for imprisoning dangerous extraterrestrials.” Nuclear power isn’t just the cheapest practical carbon-free option around, but the cheapest, period, when not snarled up in green tape. Scientists “invariably poll high in support of nuclear.” The people so pragmatic that they actually keep the lights lit, he might have added, have polled that way for 40 years, on the strength of reams of data and analyses, as well as the operating experience of our nuclear navy and a wide range of commercial reactors scattered across the planet."

Today the President suspended offshore drilling in a move reminiscent of the nuclear policies of the past decades. The specter of disaster is being used to stifle the legitimate development of energy resources. Indeed, if deepwater wells are more dangerous, then why not allow drilling closer to shore... or from the shore itself. There are ways to exploit our domestic resources safely and it is a matter of national security.

We simply cannot cap off our own resources and put ourselves at the mercy of despots like Hugo Chavez.

We need a president who really is on top of energy policy, not one who says he is but fiddles while Rome burns.

Mr. President, let me help you. Here's what "On Top of It" looks like.

First, get your stinking foot off of BP's neck. It's really not there anyway. No one wants to lose eleven of their best people in a horrible explosion. We have a bad situation but BP is trying to solve the problem. Let's give them some support. Then we can analyze how we'll keep it from happening again.

Second, Governor Jindal asked for permission to build barriers to contain or mitigate the spill. Your correct response would have been: "Governor Jindal, I hope you're already getting your men in place. I'll clear the red tape for you... oh, Governor Jindal, Do you need any Seabee's from Gulfport? Do you need anything from us to do the job?" You know, if you had been a GOVERNOR instead of a 'Community Organizer,' you'd know how to do this.

Third, stop politicizing this disaster. America needs to safely extract energy from the ground. Wind farms just won't meet our needs. You wouldn't stop airplanes from flying because occasionally one crashes? You analyze failures and make things safer. Real leadership is stepping up to the plate and explaining just that.

Update: Augusta Conservative [click to read] brings us This from Reuters [click to read]. The drilling halt may cause more economic damage to the Gulf region than the spill.

Mojave Memorial Day

The Cross Remains Always in Our Grateful Memory

The Park Service does not seem to be too concerned that many of us are offended by its absence.

The President may be 'too busy' with vacation plans to honor the fallen at Arlington but Psalm 116:15 says:

"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints."

Thus, I believe that there is one with considerably more power than the President... who remembers! It will take more than tearing down a cross for many of us to forget Him.

Intrusion Into Her Personal Privacy

Random House Author Desperately Stalking Sarah

Corporate headquarters of Random House.

Joe McGinnis is a Palin Stalker. Random House has sunk to a new low in dirt-digging as this writer doing a hit-piece on Governor Palin has rented the house next door to the Palins. This is the house Todd and his friends built by hand for his family. This is home to the Palins and their preschool children. It is time to tell Random House "Enough!"

The 'legitimate' publishing world stoops to the level of the tabloids in crossing the line of privacy invasion.

Here are some key people at Random House. Let them know how you feel about them, or their writers stalking citizens:

Markus Dohle
Chairman & CEO, Random House

Núria Cabutí
CEO, Random House Mondadori

Anne Davis
Executive Vice President & CFO, Random House Worldwide

Brad Martin
President & CEO, Random House of Canada

Dr. Joerg Pfuhl
Chairman & CEO, Verlagsgruppe Random House

Gail Rebuck
Chairman & CEO, The Random House Group

Frank Steinert
Senior Vice President Human Resources, Random House Worldwide

Random House
1745 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

Phone: 212-782-9000
Fax: 212-940-7381

Update: Mark Levin's Call to Action [click to read].

Update: Michelle Malkin Weighs In [click to read].

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Intrusion Into Our National Sovereignty

The UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

Constitutional expert Michael Farris speaks at the Culpeper Tax Day Rally.

Marybeth Hicks [click to read] in Jewish World Review.

"If you're a parent, you're probably too busy doing the day-to-day work of raising your children to worry about an international treaty that could actually undermine your authority over them.

But if you've ever insisted that your teenager drag himself out of bed on a Sunday morning to attend church with the family, or required him to find a part-time job to pay for the increase in your car insurance,or — heaven forbid — if you've ever spanked a young child for an act of willful disobedience, there are folks who'd like to override your parental judgment.

Folks like President Obama, in fact."

'Dangerous' [1.] homeschoolers are already aware of the ramifications and leading the fight. Michael Farris spoke April 15 at a rally in Culpeper outlining the dangers in the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child.

"Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has introduced S.R. 519, opposing ratificationof the CRC. He hopes to find 34 co-sponsors and thereby signal to the president that there's no need to send the treaty to the Senate for advice and consent since it wouldn't pass. This is the end-run play; the game winner is a Parental Rights Amendment to the Constitution."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Tribute to the Overcomers

From the Guys Who Created the Virtual Phone System

Grasshopper is a new way of managing phone service for small companies like mine.

Learn More at

The World Is a Cruel Place...

Without America and Her Foundations it Gets Worse

Rock Point
Flowers and a note at Rock Point Overlook remember Tim Davis, who died from injuries that resulted from a violent attack on him and a coworker. They were sitting at the overlook watching the sunset when a man attacked them with a shotgun.

Dennis Prager [click to read] in Jewish World Review has some clear observations about the direction the world seems to be heading.

If you follow Glenn Beck you know that post-Christian thought, guided by Socialist ideas, says that "mankind is evolving toward something better." The problem is that the path is quite bloody. My question to those who hold to that view is: "What happens if you are wrong?"

Prager says: "One of the many beliefs — i.e., non-empirically based doctrines — of the post-Christian West has been that moral progress is the human norm, especially so with the demise of religion. In a secular world, the self-described enlightened thinking goes, superstition is replaced by reason, and reason leads to the moral good."

Indeed, what if you have only succeeded in removing that which mitigates the evil that resides in the human heart? Prager's Observations [click to read] go hand in hand with those of Alvin Schmidt [click to read], who documents the positive effect of faith on human affairs through history. Prager deals honestly with those evils that have been done in the name of religion, and those that have been done in the name of G-dless regimes. Prager continues:

"Of course, it turned out that the post-Christian West produced considerably more evil than the Christian world had. No mass cruelty in the name of Christianity approximated the vastness of the cruelty unleashed by secular doctrines and regimes in the post-Christian world. The argument against religion that more people have been killed in the name of religion than by any other doctrine is false propaganda on behalf of secularism and Leftism."

As society has embraced a reletivistic approach to truth, the horrors we have seen in our own sphere have increased as well. Could Seung-hui Cho, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Ralph Leon Jackson and George Huguely been saved from comitting the horrible things they did? The question is an honest one... it deserves an honest answer. The stakes are too high.

When Bob Childress [click to read] brought his ministry to Southwestern Virginia, he found a community wallowing in fatalistic despair. Disputes and murders were common and Childress brought faith to bear in the situations he encountered there. The legacy he left was one of faith and healing.

Monday, May 24, 2010

University of Virginia Chapel

A Gothic Revival Chapel for Jefferson's Academic Village

University of Virginia Chapel
When Jefferson created his academic village it did not have a place of worship. In the late Nineteenth Century members of the Charlottesville community raised the money to build this gothic revival chapel designed by Charles Emmet Cassell of Baltimore. The cornerstone was set in 1885, and the completed chapel was dedicated in 1889. The chapel marks a sharp departure from Jefferson's classical forms. Thirty years ago today I was saying my wedding vows inside this venerable old building!

Joseph François Mangin, Architect

Phil Adds to 'Architecture Week' in the Blogosphere

Joseph François Mangin [click to read] is another 'only in America' story. He was born a slave in Haiti and in 1791, while Banneker was working on Washington, Mangin made his escape during a slave rebellion. He made his way to Paris and studied architecture.

When the French Revolution sent him packing again he came to New York where he made significannt contributions to the city's civic and religious architecture.

'The Apprentice'

Benjamin Banneker's Amazing Accomplishments

Benjamin Banneker was a renaissance man.

"You're Fired"

The story of Benjamin Banneker is forever intertwined with the planning of our nation's capital city. In 1791 Banneker was in the employment of Andrew Ellicott, who was charged with the task of laying out the monumental city plan concieved by French architect Pierre Charles de L'Enfant, who had been hired to design a capital suitable for the new republic.

L'Enfant based his design on the best traditions of Baroque landscape design and his creation resembled the hunting gardens of Louis XIV's massive palace at Versailles. L'Enfant proved to be very difficult to work with... America's first 'rock star' architect, you might say. George Washington fired him.

Here the traditional story says that L'Enfant rolled up his drawings and left the young country in a huff, taking his designs with him. Ellicott turned to Banneker, who had prepared the actual surveys, and Banneker is said to have redrawn the plans from memory!

Though many modern historians doubt that Banneker recreated the plans from memory, the man's documented accomplishments would be in keeping with those of a man capable of such a feat.

The hunting gardens of Versailles...

...inspiration for our nation's capital?

A simple farmer most of his life, Banneker had the good fortune to know the Quaker settlers of Ellicott's Mills in Maryland. The Society of Friends believed in providing basic education to all people and young Banneker certainly received a solid basic education.

Banneker became a student of astronomy and published an almanac. He corresponded with President Thomas Jefferson on the issue of the status of his fellow African Americans. His letter to Jefferson is well crafted, invoking reason as well as compassion. It appears that Banneker took up the craft of surveying in his fifties, looking to a time when he might be physically too old to farm.

Banneker is said to have observed the workings of a clock and then carved his own working clock mechanism from scrap wood. He published his almanac until 1802.

"Banneker lived for four years after his almanacs discontinued. He published a treatise on bees, did a mathematical study on the cycle of the seventeen-year locust, and became a pamphleteer for the anti-slavery movement. He continued scientific studies by night and walked his land by day. He also continued to keep his garden. He hosted many distinguished scientists and artists of his day, and his visitors commented on his intelligence and on his knowledge of everything of importance that was happening in the country. As always, he remained precise and reflective in his conversations with others. His last walk (with a friend) came on October 9, 1806, he complained of being ill and went home to rest on his couch. He died later that day." [1.]

Banneker's Almanac.

The Ellicott/Banneker map of Washington.

The city today.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Year of Jubilee

The Fisk University Jubilee Singers

Jubilee Singers
Early photograph of the Jubilee Singers.

Out of the ashes of the American Civil War there arose institutions such as Fisk University in Nashville Tennessee. The outcome of the war had freed the slaves but many people realized that education was key in truely liberating these citizens. Fisk University's mission was to provide opportunities in higher education to African Americans, many of whom were newly freed slaves. As a young institution without established alumni, the school faced a continual challenge in funding its programs. Five years into its mission the school was facing bankruptcy and the possibility of closing her doors.

George L. White, the school's treasurer and music director, organized a nine member chorus of students with the hope that they might increase awareness of the school and its mission, On October 6, 1871 the initial group, two quartets and a pianist, made their first United States tour.

They began their concert tour in Cincinnati Ohio. When the students heard of the Great Chicago Fire that same month they promptly sent the entire profits from their Cincinnati concert offering. “We had thirty dollars and sent every penny to Chicago and didn’t have anything for ourselves” according to soprano Maggie Porter, who also remembered the gratitude expressed by the people of Chicago.

From Cincinnati the group travelled on to Columbus, where they suffered from a lack of funds enough to provide for even basic accomodations. The Columbus newspapers proved to be less than kind in their coverage and audiences did not take them seriously. The singers were serious musicians and as such did not fit many peoples' stereotype of the 'minstrel' genre.

Tired and discouraged, the group and their pastor, Henry Bennett, prayed about whether or not to continue the tour. The offerings were poor and the audiences sometimes hostile. Surely it was time to pack up and go home.

White, a former missionary, went off by himself to pray about the matter and then reached the conclusion that a new name for the group was in order. The next morning he told the students that henceforth they would be known as "The Jubilee Singers," a reference to Leviticus 25 in the Bible, the passage that talks of the Year of Jubilee, the time in the Kingdom when all debts were to be forgiven and all slaves were to be set free. Indeed, the new name resonated with the experience of many of the students, who had been born in slavery.

They toured on! The first United States tour eventually raised $40,000 for Fisk University. In 1872 they were invided to perform for President Ulysses S. Grant at the White House. In 1873 they toured Europe and sang for Queen Victoria in England. A second European tour raised $150,000 for the university and allowed the construction of the school's first permenant building, aptly named Jubilee Hall.

In 1878 the original group was disbanded. Ella Sheppard, one of the original students in the group says: “our strength was failing under the ill treatment at hotels, on railroads, poorly attended concerts, and ridicule.” Maggie Porter says of this: “There were many times,when we didn’t have place to sleep or anything to eat. Mr. White went out and brought us some sandwiches and tried to find some place to put us up.” Other times while the singers would wait in the railway station White “and some other man of the troupe waded through sleet or snow or rain from hotel to hotel seeking shelter for us.”

A new choir was organized by White in 1879 The group continues to this day. In addition to the usual choral numbers the Jubilee Singers introduced many of the old spirituals they had grown up with to an international audience. [1.]

Fisk University Jubilee Hall
Jubilee Hall at Fisk University was built with proceeds from the Jubilee Singers' second European tour.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sun Breaking Through Clouds

After a Rainy Saturday, a Glorious Evening

The sun breaks through, illuminating the evening sky.

Rhododendron in Morning Light

Sunlight Accents Spring Blossoms

The first rays of morning sun on the rhododendron.

Friday, May 21, 2010

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume II, Issue XXI

Socialist Media Meets Social Media

The 'other' Weekly News Magazine is looking at the Perils of Facebook [click to read] this week. Once again, THYME marches on, looking at what Rush Limbaugh calls 'State Controlled Media' and the fact that many citizens are looking to alternative media.

The interactive nature of social media has placed it at the forefront of much grassroots activism. There are legitimate issues of privacy, libel and censorship but one need only look to the standards in place for print media for guidance. No overreaching federal control is needed for that. It is publishing, to be sure, and one should treat it as such.

The MSM has become TOO compliant with the people who are in power in Washington. The legitimate issue here is that the network and commentators most maligned by our POTUS are the ones who actually provide balance to the traditional media outlets. Their market success is precisely due to the fact that they meet a real need.

By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them

A Prophet is Always Known Through His True Disciples


Yesterday was 'Draw Muhammad Day' and the challenge was to illustrate this bit of wisdom in a way that dealt with the simple truth that if you want to know a spiritual leader, look at his disciples.

This is a universally applicable [and painful] exercise, especially when you apply it to your own traditions. Certainly evil has been done in the name of Christianity as well. The German Socialists, while their philosophy was clearly not Biblical, where adept at using the language of believers while engaging in ethnic cleansing. Still, you had the Righteous Gentiles in the midst of this... regular people like the Dutch watchmaker who's Christian faith drove them to hide their Jewish neighbors in their homes. They risked their lives to do this and shared the same horrible fate as those they protected.

People of the Book gave us the law and compassion. They worked [and still do] to end slavery, provide for more compassionate treatment for the mentally ill and the poor. Alvin Schmidt [click to read] documents this in his book: Under the Influence.

Indeed it would be fair to say: "Study the history" to gain a real understanding of any spiritual leader one would desire to follow.

Michelle Malkin Has More [click to read].

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Scenes from Chicago

Graduation Weekend Whirlwind Visit

Buckingham Fountain.

Tulips in Millenium Park
Tulips in Millenium Park.

The Jay Pritzker Pavilion
The Jay Pritzker Pavilion by Frank Gehry.

Buckingham Fountain and the skyline.

Bearing Drift E-Zine for June

More Journalism with an Even Better Flavor

Volume I, Issue II

This Beautiful E-Zine [click to read] was highlighted by SWAC Girl today. The editors of THYME were impressed. Check it out! ht/SWAC Girl

Joe Sestak Beats Arlen Specter

Welcome to the Tea Party, Senator Specter

Obviously some people are feeling underrepresented in Washington.
Arlen Spectacle [click to read]. That's what The Great One calls him. SWAC Girl takes us on a journey down memory lane. The moral of the story: Changing party affiliation only works if it brings you CLOSER to the people you represent. They are the ones who got you elected. They went door-to-door, manned phone banks and sent in their hard earned cash to put you where you are. They are the ones who are more comitted to America's core values than our media would lead you to believe.
How many 'experts' were out there telling everyone that the Era of Reagan was over? In order to win elections you had to distance yourself from those nasty old Neocons. The people, according to them, WANTED government to step in and take care of things. Meanwhile in the grassroots, the people were waking up to where expanded government was taking them. The Democrats were not sounding so reasonable anymore now that they controlled everything.
They didn't love Arlen all that much in the end either. He was useful as a vote for their agenda but he wasn't THEIR man. It is no big surprise that he lost a primary. Benedict Arnold probably felt the same... estranged from those he spurned and those he tried to embrace.
Specter stepped away from the people just as they became engaged in the process. That turned out to be his fatal mistake.
The Lesson [click to read] in all this is a story of betrayal and its consequenses.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Increase the Gas Tax? Think Again

The Journey Takes On 'McCloskey Monday'

Metro 2
Interstate 66 headed into Washington DC. Here is an opportunity for demand tolls to be put in place to support needed improvements.

Virginia may enjoy the lowest gas tax in the region, but think again before raising it on that count. If you travel the region in your business (I do), where will YOU buy fuel, given the choice. The lower rate assures more purchases by people passing through or coming over from Maryland.

Statistics may say that you'll raise $50 million annually with a one cent increase. Actual experience suggests you'll get less as people conserve or choose to buy in other states.

There is no way a single toll is going to fill the coffers. That's not the point though. Look at the Dulles toll road and you will see that tolls can provide the capital to bring private sector energy into providing NEW, and much needed highway improvements.

The areas that will support them are the areas that most need them. What's wrong with localizing the meeting of needs anyway?

A toll is a tax. Yes, but it is a voluntary tax. You are free to take Virginia Route 7 to Leesburg but plenty of people have no problem coughing up the money to drive on the tollway. This weekend in Chicago I happily payed 80 cents a trip to use the Illinois tollway to get to the suburbs. I noticed a lot of other drivers doing the same.

Congestion at the toll booth? Ever heard of EZ Pass?

The operative word might be IMPROVED. Build new wider bridges and improved roads and toll them with EZ Pass and safe well maintained roads will be a reality. Oh, be sure to lockbox the gas tax revenues we're already receiving. Then you'll have maintenance covered.

Phil Has These Thoughts [click to read].

An Apalling Lack of Curiosity

Why Doesn’t Anyone Care... The Unread Soviet Archives?

Tanks in Red Square.

A Hidden History of Evil [click to read] by Claire Berlinski in City Journal.

"We rightly insisted upon total denazification; we rightly excoriatethose who now attempt to revive the Nazis’ ideology. But the world exhibits a perilous failure to acknowledge the monstrous history of Communism. These documents should be translated. They should be housed in a reputable library, properly cataloged, and carefully assessed by scholars. Above all, they should be well-known to a public that seems to have forgotten what the Soviet Union was really about. If they contain what Stroilov and Bukovsky say—and all the evidence I’ve seen suggests that they do—this is the obligation of anyone who gives a damn about history, foreign policy, and the scores of millions dead."

I grew up during the Cuban Missle Crisis. The possibility of an all out nuclear attack caused me to consider Eternal realities at a very young age. Eventually that consideration would lead me to faith.

At that point in history evil was very real and clearly discernable. Today so many thinking people seem to just not want to know. Stalin's destruction of ten million lives just doesn't seem to matter anymore. Flying over Siberia on the way to Japan, I remembered that Korean Airlines flight 007 had been shot down for straying into Soviet airspace years before. I probably was the only person on the airplane who made the connection. Most of my fellow passengers napped or watched movies as I stared out the plane window at the frozen wasteland where dissidents were exiled to.

Today the American President is all too quick to find fault with our own country and all too oblivious to the evil outside our borders. We dare not ignore the honest study of history!

Monday, May 17, 2010

'Silicon Shenandoah'

Time to Ask the Question: 'Why NOT?'

A bird's-eye view of the Air and Space Museum at Dulles Airport.

It's Graduation Time [click to read] in the SWAC Blogosphere. Inevitably we look to the future and invoke history, hoping to see the generations that follow us change the world for the better. Sadly, we're seeing a systematic attack by cash-hungry government on the engines of creativity that normally drive human progress.

Nowhere is this more true than in California, where increased taxation and regulation strangles all but the best and brightest. Still, Silicon Valley is home to a surprising number of start-ups. Human ingenuity always finds a way to excell even in the direst of times. Sadly, the growing burden narrows the number of winners. Here is where Governor McDonnell's Pro-Market Virginia needs to be promoted with increased vigor. Virginia could well become known as the state that refused to let opportunity die.

In The Silicon Lining [click to read] Guy Sorman talks about the continuing wealth creation of California's high tech firms, even in the face of government hobbling. Still, the victor's circle is getting smaller. At some point taxation and regulation... and government attempts to pick winners... will kill the golden goose. Here's where I believe Virginia can shine.

Governor McDonnell can continue to promote policies that allow many start-ups that would be impossible in California to gain traction in the Old Dominion. We've already become competitive with wine, why NOT technology too. Northrup-Grumman just placed their future growth here. Why can't the trend continue?

We have world-class universities, the Langly NASA facility, and an existing tech industry in Blacksburg and Herndon already. We have empty manufacturing plants in the valley that could be part of this creative renaissance. We have a good workforce that would allow some industries to localize their operations for both economic and strategic advantage.

I have a feeling we're in a unique position to make a reality of the next 'great idea!'

What is the next great idea? I don't know. I do know that Cyrus McCormick lived here and revolutionized agriculture with his mechanical reaper. He built it in the mill shop in Raphine. Wilbur and Orville Wright were two bicycle mechanics in Dayton Ohio. People probably shook their heads at heavier-tha-air flight until that day at Kitty Hawk. This weekend I stepped on two magnificent airplanes that the Wrights could not have imagined and rode to and from Chicago in comfort.

Tomorrow's innovations will no doubt be in the technologies that power our mobility. Our job today is to clear the right of way -- in the area of regulatory and revenue collection -- to allow those pioneers of the future to take wing.

SWAC Girl Continues the Discussion [click to read].

Graduation Weekend at MBI

Celebration Our Son's Graduation in Chicago

Chicago View
The city from the air.

The Chicago River.

I have a feeling...

...we're not in Staunnton anymore...

...riding the elevated railway past the red CNA Building!

Cloudgate (aka 'The Bean')

This sculpture in Millenium Park is probably the most photographed piece of civic art in the world.

Be sure to look up when you walk through the gate.

Moody Bible Institute

Moody Graduation
Moody Bible Institute is part of the legacy of Dwight L. Moody. An uneducated shoe salesman, Moody became one of the greatest evangelists of the Nineteenth Century. He started a Sunday School Movement to reach uneducated urban youth. Today Moody graduates minister around the world.

Moody Graduation
The Moody Church, site of the graduation ceremonies.

Moody Graduation
The 2010 graduates march out...

IMG_9981 find their place in the world. My Son and his fiancée participate in the obligatory cheezy photo session. My joy in them is very real.

The View from the Signature Room

The 95th Floor of the Hancock Tower

Hancock Tower
The Hancock Tower's unique cross-bracing reduced the need for interior columns.

Signature Room
Looking up. Your ears pop during the elevator ride.

Signature Room
Feasting on the view...

Signature Room
...of the city...

Signature Room
...and Lake Michigan.

Signature Room