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The Flag on the 5th

Every year after Christmas in newspapers around the globe are pictures of deserted Christmas tree lots,  and residential shots of trees stripped of their glitter and dragged to curbside, where, forlornly, they await pickup by the local garbage truck. Oh, there may remain a whisper of glory–a flutter of tinsel or a hint of angel hair–but the precious ornaments have been boxed, the sparkling lights are disconnected, and the music boxes have been silenced. The Christmas tree is spent.

“Nothing more useless than a Christmas tree the day after Christmas,”  someone has said.

Not so with the flag. Not so with the Red, White and Blue. Not so with the Stars and Stripes–the banner, the ensign–of the United States of America. Not so with that cherished piece of cloth that in itself has negligible value, but that becomes a storied tale of honor when pristine strength and gallant endurance  is woven betwixt its threads.

Today, the 5th of July, within our enduring banner reposes all honor that reflected there at yesterday’s dawn and at dusk of evening. For our prized flag, today, the 5th of July,  there is no place in the mud of gutter or in the decay of trash heap.

Today, the 5th of July, that amazing signal beats in the wind–an agent of hope and equity and freedom. Today, the 5th of July, with absolute assurance, flies the symbol of the greatest country on the planet. No stripping of agency, no negating of authority, no cowardice, no subjugation. 

Today, the 5th of July, the day after our birthday celebration, where, across the land, we pull out all stops; where we march parades and mount long and loud speeches and grill our finest meats and launch our hottest firecrackers–today, the 5th of July, there is no cessation of flag waving, no poverty of spirit, no paucity of patriotism. The flag lives, the flag waves. There is none like it.

There is no place on earth like the United States of America, just no place. On this, the 5th of July, there are yet people who love this country and who willingly offer their lives for its hallowed truths.

Navy Seal Mikey Monsoor was one such gallant young man.

The flag is safe. The flag endures.

The voice of President Bush breaks with emotion as he awards posthumously the Medal of Honor to Mr. Mikey Monsoor.

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Three Great Kids

Been thinking a lot about youngsters. Couple of reasons; next week I will be home in Crestline caring for Andrew’s five children! (More about that later.) Another reason is that I’m just interested in young people, and certainly as I grow older, I admire their strength, vitality and freshness. The youth of this generation and that recently passed have in great part received a “bad rap,” and in all honesty, it is likely they deserve much of that description. I’m aware of the shortcomings and ills of this group of human beings, but I want to remind you that there are some really great kids among us. There are drug-free, upright, honest and ambitious youngsters hanging out around us. I read about remarkable ones yesterday and want you to think about them.

The first one is named Jennifer Sharpe…

She has broken a record for the sale of Girl Scout Cookies, having sold 17,328 boxes.

Jennifer Sharpe, a 15-year-old from Dearborn, Michigan, sold 17,328 boxes of Girl Scout cookies this year, which shatters the old record for her local Girl Scouts group and is believed to be a record, though the national organization, Girl Scouts of the USA, doesn’t track individual sales.

“It’s always been one of those goals I wanted to accomplish,” Sharpe said Wednesday.

The annual cookies sales are the main way in which members of the Girl Scouts raise money for activities such as trips. For a limited time every year, Girl Scouts sell the cookies, which this year cost $3.50 a box.

And the second…

Moshe Kal is 10 years old and is a college sophomore.

With the end of another school year approaching, college sophomore Moshe Kai Cavalin is cramming for final exams in classes such as advanced mathematics, foreign languages and music.

But Cavalin is only 10 years old. And at 4-foot-7, his shoes don’t quite touch the floor as he puts down a schoolbook and swivels around in his chair to greet a visitor.

“I’m studying statistics,” says the alternately precocious and shy Cavalin, his textbook lying open on the living room desk of his parents’ apartment in this quiet suburb east of Los Angeles.

And last, John Tyler Hammon, 19, was just elected mayor of Muskogee, Oklahoma!

John Tyler Hammond is a 19-year-old first-year student at the University of Oklahoma who , on Tuesday, was elected mayor of Muskogee, a city of 38,000 in the northeastern part of the state of Oklahoma.

With all precincts reporting, John Tyler Hammons won with 70 percent of the vote over former Mayor Hershel Ray McBride, said Muskogee County Election Board Secretary Bill Bull.

“The public placing their trust in me is the greatest, humbling and most awesome experience I’ve ever had in my life,” said Hammons, who is from Muskogee but attends the university in Norman.

The two candidates squared off in a runoff election for the nonpartisan post after neither secured 50 percent of the vote in a six-person election April 1.

Sounds like we have at least three really neat young people among us. There are multiplied others, and I truly feel for them. It’s a complicated world, a challenging society in which they will live out their lives. They need our support, our help, our good wishes. If you’re around any young people today, it might be a good idea to tell them how much you appreciate them, how supportive you are to them, how you admire them…and that you truly believe in them.

My congratulations to Jennifer, Moshe and John.

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Today’s Three Unique Women

In the news today are stories of three unique women. Take a look at these interesting people.

The first is Jenna Bush who today at the ranch in Crawford will be married to Henry Hager. The link shows lots of pictures including the caravan of cars traveling to the rehearsal dinner, decorations in the little town, and souvenirs being sold in the shops. I wish this couple a long and happy life together.

EDIT SUNDAY NIGHT: Pictures from the wedding.

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  • May 10: President George W. Bush and Jenna Bush prior to Jenna’s wedding to Henry Hager at Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas.

The second one remembers everything she has done since she was fourteen years old.

Jill Price, 42, can remember every part of her life since she was 14 but considers her ability a curse as she cannot switch off.

She described her life as like a split-screen television, with one side showing what she is doing in the present, and the other showing the memories which she cannot hold back.

Every detail about every day since 1980 – what time she got up, who she met, what she did, even what she ate – is locked in her brain and can be released to come flooding back by common triggers like songs, smells or place names.

From Daily News

The last one, Jenny, is celebrating a significant birthday.

The world’s oldest gorilla celebrated her 55th birthday today with a four-layer frozen fruit cake and banana leaf-wrapped treats.

Jenny’s caretakers at the Dallas Zoo say she’s having a few joint issues and her eyesight isn’t what it used to be but she still looks good for an old ape.

“It’s a special milestone for us,” said Todd Bowsher, curator of the zoo’s Wilds of Africa exhibit. “It signifies that we’ve made great strides in veterinary care, nutrition and animal husbandry.”

From AP News

Three unique women…wish them all well…and you–wish you well also.

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My Brother, Junior

I was excited about it for days and when we began circling the arrivals area at the Las Vegas Airport on the Friday before Easter, I could hardly contain myself. It was our 4th time around when I spotted my brother, Farrell E. Forrest. Junior, he was to me, for he bore our father’s name and I had never called him anything else.

It has been years since we had been together, and there he stood, distinct and sorted out from the bustling crowd as though a spotlight had beamed him. Junior, my brother, my baby brother. He urged out his shy smile, released the handle of a luggage piece, and we embraced there on the walkway–Good Friday in Las Vegas.

Junior had flown from Toronto that day, although he had been in the States for a few days. His home is near Pittsburg, but for several months now he has lived in Antofagasta, Chili. He is an electrical engineer and is vice-president of something or other connected with the Dunlop Corporation. He did his college work in Ohio and immediately on graduation went to work for Dunlop (maybe one of its subsidiaries, not sure), and has continued with them until now–a couple of breaks in there I’ll write of later.

Junior is 64–doesn’t look it–at least in big sister’s eyes, and is the sweetest man you will ever meet. He is smart, humble, soft-spoken, courteous and beyond excellent as a father and grandfather. He speaks glowingly and with obvious great affection of his late wife, Rose, his only daughter, Sandy, and of his two grandchildren, Brad and Moriah.

I had emailed telling him not to eat any airport food along the way and that we would stop for dinner after picking him up. A Cheesecake Factory was near and we pulled in there, snagging a beautiful outside table where, in the picture above, you see him. We talked and ate and smiled and lingered…then it was time to go, and we drove to Lake Havasu and to the door of the London Bridge Resort Hotel.

It’s Spring Break here, and though it was 11:30 at night, the parking lot was jammed and huge boats on trailers were blocking the driveways. Young people ran about in various stages of dress and undress.

“Hope it’s not too noisy, and that you can sleep all right. It’s Spring Break here, and Lake Havasu is one of the major destinations for college students,” I mentioned at one point. He was aware of it and thought he wouldn’t have any trouble sleeping.

We would pick him up for breakfast at 8:30. Jerry helped him in with his luggage and left him standing at the check-in counter.

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Ten Beautiful Bridges

I can’t place the location exactly, but in the memory bank of my childhood is an occasion where I crossed a stream of some size on a log bridge. I recall walking gingerly from one side to the other, but I don’t remember it as a frightening experience, so I think the body of water was probably small, or else I was just so young that I didn’t recognize the danger involved.

I’ve crossed many bridges since that faraway sketchy moment…both figuratively and literally. Bridges fascinate me, and when I cross one in my travels, I’m always intrigued. I encourage you to check out this article, which not only shows photographs, but writes of interesting historical perspectives. It pictures stunning bridges that the author calls The 10 Most Beautiful Bridges in the World.

Pont du Gard

We’ve come a long way in bridge building since crossing a river on a fallen log. The first bridges were built with wooden planks, ropes and stones. Soon, stronger material were required. Wood and stone bridges gave way to iron, then to steel ones. Bridge building techniques also evolved: beam, cantilevered, cable-stayed, and suspension bridges – each with advantages that made it the right choice for a particular location.

Political fortunes and wars have been made or lost by bridges. Throughout history, bridges had been built by engineers and burned by warriors, and crossed by kings and commoners alike. Millions of people owe their livelihood to bridges, as most require them to commute; and yet thousands of people choose to end their lives by jumping off them every year.

Bridges are stylish: from classical to modern, they are as much a work of art as they are marvels of engineering. To celebrate the wonders of “classic” bridges, here are Neatorama’s picks for the Top 10 Most Beautiful Bridges in the World.

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World’s Youngest Billionarie

Speaking of youngsters…how about Mark Zuckerberg, who at 23 is the world’s youngest billionaire.

Like many other people his age, Mark Zuckerberg the founder of social networking site Facebook spends most of his day in front of a computer screen. But he is no ordinary 23-year-old he’s officially the world’s youngest US billionaire. Worth 1.5 billion dollars, the young man has made a debut in this years Forbes magazine’s list of the World’s Billionaires where he has secured the 785th rank.

Read more here. Maybe you’ll find enough info to join the billionaire club! Congratulations Mark.

facebook founder

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The Times of Your Life–Part 3

Lil White and Time, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

For more than 30 years, I believe, my dear friend Lillian White was the ladies ministries president of the Western District, and it was under her leadership that our ladies conferences were begun. In the beginning we referred to them as ladies retreats, as they were held in rustic retreat settings.

During the 25th anniversary conference in Visalia she was honored in many ways. One involved calling her to the front and presenting her with an elegant single crimson rose. She is a beautiful and very dear woman of God. I have seen Lillian faced with extreme challenges, and while I have seen her hurt–and expressing such hurt–I cannot recall ever seeing her angry with anyone. Truly, I cannot…and I have known her intimately for more than 50 years.

In this column, I want to add this personal tribute to Lillian White. The richness of my life has been enhanced by knowing her, and any skills I may possess in a similar area are to a great extent a result of sitting at counsel with her, of talking in private with her, of praying and crying and rejoicing together…over a very long period.

She is deserving of any honor and praise extended to her.

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Music for Valentine’s Day

A well-known classical piece of music is that called Moonlight Sonata. The actual name of the composition is Sonta in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2. I bring it to you today for three reasons:

1. It is a work of art of the highest degree.

2. This particular recording is accompanied by stunning images of the moon.

3. Composed by Beethoven, the music was dedicated to his pupil, Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, with whom he fell in love….perfect music for this day–Valentine’s Day

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You Go, Snoopy! Uno Numero

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the Westminster Kennel Dog Show which was that day opening in New York City. I also presented the picture of a standard poodle, who stood (in a presumptuous posture, some might say) surveying a scene, as though he were indeed human. You know how those poodles are! (just kiddin,’ just kiddin’, primpy poodle owners.)

Well, move over you high falutin’ ones in the dog kingdom. “Snoopy” –the humble beagle, America’s sweetheart, in prestigious Madison Square Garden has swept the exhibition. “He is a ten–a perfect dog.” The judges handed down the verdict.

Uno, a 15-inch beagle, winner of Best in Show at the 132nd Westminster ...

NEW YORK AP – Start dancin’, Snoopy. You’re out of the Westminster doghouse.

At long last, a beagle is America’s top dog. Baying and barking to his heart’s delight, Uno lived up every bit to his name Tuesday night, becoming the first of his breed to win best in show at the nation’s biggest canine competition.

“He’s a people’s dog, a merry little hound,” handler Aaron Wilkerson said.

A sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden that called and chanted Uno’s name stood and roared when he was picked as numero uno. He got right into the act, jumping on Wilkerson and confirming his other title: noisiest in the show.

“My sister called me today and said she’s always turned off the dog show on TV because she’s tired of all those poodles winning,” Jon Woodring, one of Uno’s co-owners, said in the afternoon. “But she watched last night. I think Uno winning would show that an everyday dog can do it.”

Longtime dog expert David Frei, the paw-by-paw announcer for USA Network‘s coverage of Westminster, went even further earlier, declaring: “If he wins best in show, I’ll rent him an apartment in New York City because I’ll be traveling with him all year, so many people will want to see him,” he said. “If he won, it would be the greatest thing for our show.”

Better get that first rent check ready — Uno is here to stay.

“We knew he was going to be No. 1. I didn’t know he’d do it this fast,” Wilkerson said.

From my perch here in Arizona, I say, “You Go, Snoopy! Numero Uno!” Time to respect the common man. 🙂

Check out this slideshow. Lots of magnificent pictures.

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Dog Show Opens Today in New York

(c) Magnum Photos

Picture and more information from Westminster Kennel Club website. 

This looks to be a feisty affair. If you’re about New York City today, take a look and let us know your take on this dog show. If you see this poodle, say hello for me. 🙂 Isn’t that a startling picture?

The Westminster Kennel Club 132nd Annual Dog Show

Monday and Tuesday, February 11-12, 2008
Madison Square Garden
Pennsylvania Plaza
Seventh to Eighth Avenues and 31st to 33rd Streets
New York, New York

America’s First and Only Champions Only Dog Show Entry limited to 2,500 dogs

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