A Day to Remember: Memorial Day

Memorial Day, celebrated in the United States on the last Monday of May, is a day in which we honor those men and women (and service dogs) that died while serving the country in the United States armed services.

The day actually started as a way to commemorate those that died during the U.S. Civil War. In 1868 it was established and it was called “Decoration Day.” At that time it was on May 30th and was a day to decorate the graves of those that died in the Civil War.

In 1967 Memorial Day became a national holiday. In 1971 the holiday was moved to the last Monday in May. On the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs website, it states: “In December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed, and the president signed into law, “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance.”

The law actually requires that U.S. citizens pause, for one minute at 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day, and honor those that have died in service to our country.

 

Random Acts of Kindness

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“I suppose the thing I most would have liked to have known or been reassured about is that in the world, what counts more than talent, what counts more than energy or concentration or commitment, or anything else – is kindness. And the more in the world that you encounter kindness and cheerfulness – which is its kind of amiable uncle or aunt – the better the world always is. And all the big words: virtue, justice, truth – are dwarfed by the greatness of kindness.” – Stephen Fry

This quote is from the fabulous ToyMaker site on the “Kindness Cards” page.

Marilyn Scott Waters is an incredibly talented artist that shares her work freely on her website. This month’s “Kindness Cards” caught my eye! I love them!

This is a great time of year to show kindness as Valentine’s Day comes around! Print and give out the cards and see what happiness you can bring to others! You may also find that you feel pretty good also. Acts of kindness often bring us a feeling of happiness whether we are receiving or giving. Reaching out to others, lending a helping hand, comforting a friend, inviting someone to do something; whatever you choose, it will surely be something that will make you feel good! images

If you are using the 8th grade Oak Meadow civics course, you will find an assignment that asks you to do some random acts of kindness. These cards would be awesome to use as you complete that assignment!

Have fun with this and know that you may be changing lives in a simple and very sweet way!

 

Ellis Island

New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The sonnet written by Emma Lazarus that is on the base of the Statue of Liberty

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about immigrants. In the 8th grade Civics course with Oak Meadow you will study about the early immigrants that came to the United States to have freedom from political oppression and a new life of opportunity. People from other countries have been coming to the United States since its founding and in the beginning there were no laws or regulations about who could come. People of all nations were welcomed. Immigrants brought farm workers to work the soil, artists and craftsmen to supply communities with resources previously unavailable, and many special customs. Our experiences tell us that when many people of different cultures gather together to create communities, there may be challenges that arise because of differences. Around 1880, laws were passed preventing people with mental or physical problems from entering the United States. From that time on, many considerations, rules, and laws about foreigners entering the United States have been passed.

Today the United States has very strong immigration laws and policies that impact people wanting to cross our borders and live in the United States. There is a rigid screening process and a strong background check procedure that has been set up to protect our citizens. I feel proud that we have the values of opening our doors to people that are willing to enter the United States and become upright, responsible, and valuable workers and citizens.  Referring to Syrian refugees, in November of 2015, a Senior Administration Official said, “Slamming the door in their face would be a betrayal of our values. Our nation can welcome refugees desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. I recently read that Iain Levine, Deputy Executive Director for Program at Human Rights Watch said, “Yes, governments need to bring order to refugee processing and weed out militant extremists, but now more than ever they also need to stand with people uprooted from their homes by ideologies of hatred and help them find real protection.”

The New York Library collection of photographs of immigrants that passed through Ellis Island can give one an idea of how many people from so many different cultures and backgrounds found their way to the United States. Perhaps you have a relative that came to the United States. I do! My grandparents came through Ellis Island as farmers from Hungary. They courageously found their way to farm land in New York state and worked hard to become successful cherry farmers. I feel so grateful that they had the opportunity to come into the United States and start a new life!