ARTICLES, Family, Uncategorized, Veterans

HAPPY THANKSGIVING


Dearest Readers:

This will probably be one of the shortest posts I’ve written lately. Not because it isn’t important – simply because I must get back to the kitchen to make certain my Tom Turkey is roasting properly.

Today is a day for the United States of America to celebrate Thanksgiving, and to give Thanks for all that we have, all that we are, and all that we WILL be today and in the future.  Today, Thanksgiving 2015, we will spend time with family and friends. This year, I am blessed to have one of my sisters and her family with us for Thanksgiving. I am so thankful we found our way back to each other while our Dad battled esophageal cancer. Sometimes, it is the little things in life that count the most. Finding my way back to my oldest sister was a blessing for me. A blessing I will never set free. I cling to these blessings while giving God the gratitude He deserves.

Today, many of you will have empty chairs at the dining room table. Empty seats where a loved one fighting for his country, our freedom and safety — those seats may not be filled, but their memory will be close to heart. I would like to say to our Military, Thank you…for your service to our country. Thank you for stepping up to volunteer during these tumultuous times. I cannot imagine what it is like to fight in a war, even though my husband fought in Vietnam. One thing I’ve learned about war is — the experience, fears, and horrors of war are not shared with us. The soldier returns home a different person. Scarred. Tormented. Fearful. And hopefully, proud.

You, our precious Military will share your turkey dinner with your comrades, not your family. I pray you will be able to speak with family today. Perhaps sending an e-mail, or doing SKYPE. From this household to yours, soldiers, troops, you are still family. I pray your Thanksgiving is blessed. May God keep you safe…and may the United States of America be safe on this day, and every day.

For me, safety for you, our precious Military, is my concern. Every day I pray you are safe, knowing we in America are proud of you, and we thank you for your service to our country. And when the day arrives that I might see some of you — wearing your uniform proudly, I will take the time to stop…to acknowledge you…to thank you with a warm hug. I’ve practiced this exercise in my life at airports, shopping malls, restaurants, etc. many times — to Welcome You HOME!

Sometimes, I tear up while speaking with these brave men and women while I remember the homecoming I gave my husband after he finally came home from Vietnam. I pray for the soldiers, hoping, wishing and praying they will receive a loving welcome home.

Happy Thanksgiving to our soldiers. May God keep you safe on this day, and every day. Thank you for your service so that American can celebrate Thanksgiving! Enjoy your turkey while knowing we in America care for you. We miss you, and we pray you will come Home soon. May God Bless!

 

Uncategorized

In Remembrance – 9-11-01


http://www.911memorial.org/

Dearest Readers:

Fourteen years ago on this date, I awoke, deciding not to listen to the morning news. I suppose I was tired of ‘shootings…crimes…rapes…murders…’ all of the ‘if it bleeds, it leads,’ stories. Sipping a fresh cup of coffee, I turned my computer on to write. The screaming phone broke the silence.

My husband asked, “I know you always watch the news, so I wanted you to know we are all OK here.”

“I decided to ignore the news this morning. Whatever are you talking about?”

“Turn on the TV. A jet just crashed into the World Trade Center.”

My heart skipped a beat. Sporadic news reports were pouring in from people sharing cell phone reports, voice mails, and horrors.

“Oh my God,” I remember saying aloud in my home. “This isn’t just an airplane crashing. This is an act of war.”

Never did I realize how true my words were.

Every year on this date of remembrance, I am sad for two reasons. On 9-11-01, the world stopped moving due to the shock of the terrorist attacks in America. On 9-11-02, my mother died – unexpectedly, under questionable circumstances. When I received news of her death, a cold, uncalculated family member said, “She died on 9-11.”

“NOT THE 9-11,” I said.

The morning sun shined brightly on 9-11 in Charleston, SC. While watching the news, I watched the beautiful skyline of New York City turn from a beautiful sky blue, dissolving to a faded gray. Plumes of gray smoke covered the area from a day of beauty to a day of darkness.

Watching the TV, somehow I knew this was not an accidental crash but a premeditated attempt at terrorism. Just how could a jet crash into a historical skyscraper? How?

Reports continued pouring in as another jet hit the other tower. Additional reports included not only the Twin Towers, but a third plane attacked the Pentagon in Washington, D.C, a fourth plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. I thought of Pearl Harbor. I wasn’t alive during the Pearl Harbor attacks. I remembered reading about them in history books, writing projects in school and learning all that I could about Pearl Harbor. I’ve met several World War II veterans, and my husband is a Vietnam Veteran, so the military holds a significant portion of my heart. These attacks seemed to be happening all over the United States. I asked myself, “Is Charleston next?”

I phoned my husband, just to make certain he was safe. He has a government job. No doubt his safety was a great concern. Only two weeks prior to 9-11 he was in a meeting at the Pentagon.

How did I feel on 9-11? Angry. Shocked. Fearful. Just what was happening to our world? I had family members who worked at some of these venues. I prayed they were safe while feeling as if I was a bit selfish. How could I pray for safety when Washington, DC, New York City and an area in Pennsylvania was not safe?

9-11 is an unfortunate, perfect example of how quickly life can change. Thinking back to that date, I imagine someone on the top floors of The World Trade Center. Perhaps an administrative assistant sitting at her desk, reviewing the schedule of events for that date, only to glance up to look out at the view of this amazing structure just in time to see something coming a bit too close. “What is that? No. It can’t be. Planes don’t fly this close…”

Were those her or his last words? We shall never know. Everything happened so quickly. In the blink of an eye, our world changed. We, the stunned viewers of the news could not believe what was happening. I heard people saying, “Oh, this is someone overtaking the media…maybe a computer virus…this cannot be going on in America.”

But – it was…and it did happen to America. For days, we prayed. We joined together to pray for the victims while praying in hopes another victim would be found alive, trapped under the debris.

Days after the terrorist’s attacks began like other days. We planned to go to work, to church, our children would go to school. Although our nation was in mourning, we had to continue living. Truly a hard reality pill to swallow daily. There was a thick air of gloominess in our communities. How could this happen to the United States of America? Why? Just why did our world stop turning?

For days, I was glued to the television. My entire life seemed to revolve on the news. I saw news reports of people jumping out of the buildings. One report mentioned a pregnant woman jumping from one of the buildings, knowing she nor her unborn child would survive.

New York City was covered in a blanket of gray ash and debris. People were running down the streets and bridges in fear for their lives. Airplane flights were canceled IMG_0572and all airlines were forced to land by the federal government. Not only were we in mourning, America was crippled.

Today, 9-11-15, I still grieve for those who died from these dreadful terrorist attacks, and I grieve for my mother. Never did we become close as a mother and daughter, although I tried to resolve the issues of our relationship. On the day of her death, I was extremely ill with Acute Bronchial Asthma. My doctor prescribed Prednisone, resulting in a dangerous reaction that left me a zombie. My husband was in Italy at the time of her death so I could not get to the funeral.

Losing a loved one, including a distant loved one, is unbearable. After my mother died, I felt an emptiness I cannot describe; nevertheless, I learned that we must walk through the grief so we can continue living. Fourteen years after 9-11, America still grieves. Perhaps we are more observant about questionable events. Maybe we are more cautious. Speaking only for myself, I do have the tendency to look carefully and cautiously whenever I am out in the public view. I look behind me. I carry my car keys pointing the tip out, in the event someone attacks me. I suppose I am now more pro-active and prepared while remembering how quickly life can change. Yes, in the blink of an eye our world can change — not necessarily for the better. May God protect us — Everyone.

On 9-11, I burn a candle and pray.

Charleston

Let Us All Stand Tall To Become — CHARLESTON STRONG!


Dearest Readers:

Today, Thursday, June 25, 2015, is a somber day in the Holy City of Charleston, SC. The first of nine funerals of the innocent victims murdered by the hands of a heartless 21-year-old monster I shall not name — begin today. We in the community know his name. The global world knows his name. He’s received too much ‘15 minutes of fame’ and I cringe whenever I think of him and his skittish, sinister demeanor. The dirty blonde, bowl cut haircut. Looking at his eyes in the images published on TV, he looks – as they say in the South – “so full of the devil.” I actually expected to see horns on his head.

When I was a little girl my Grammy spoke about the church. How she always felt as if she was in the hands of the Lord whenever she went to church. She felt safe, telling me if I got scared, I would always feel safe and be safe inside a church. I believed my Grammy. What happened on Wednesday, June 17, 2015, inside Mother Emanuel AME Church located on Calhoun Street, in the Holy City of Charleston, SC is truly shocking. Murders during Bible Study??? When I heard about the nine shootings I could not believe it. No one shoots and kills people inside a church in the Holy City of Charleston, I thought. This cannot be true. My mind rushed back to 9-11. My body shivered just thinking about these tragedies. The hatred. Racism. Why are some people filled with such hatred?

According to the Post and Courier, http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150618/PC16/150619404

“The nine people fatally shot at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church:
Reverend Clementa Pinckney, 41, the primary pastor who also served as a state senator.

Cynthia Hurd, 54, St. Andrews regional branch manager for the Charleston County Public Library system.
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, a church pastor, speech therapist and coach of the girls’ track and field team at Goose Creek High School.

Tywanza Sanders, 26, who had a degree in business administration from Allen University, where Pinckney also attended.

Ethel Lance, 70, a retired Gailliard Center employee who has worked recently as a church janitor.

Susie Jackson, 87, Lance’s cousin who was a longtime church member.

DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49, a retired director of the local Community Development Block Grant Program who joined the church in March as a pastor.

Myra Thompson, 59, a pastor at the church.

Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, a pastor, who died in a hospital operating room.”

Reportedly, Tywanza Sanders gave his life while struggling to protect his mother, Felicia Sanders, along with Susie Jackson, his aunt. He spoke his last words to the shooter. Sanders and Jackson survived the shootings along with a five-year-old girl. After this period of grief, I plan to write more stories about this tragedy, but for now, it is too close to home. No, I did not have the pleasure of knowing these people; nevertheless, I feel we lost some amazing people.

My husband and I moved to Charleston in late 1974. I worked in a retail store where bigotry was spoken almost daily. I hoped that when we moved away from the State of Georgia, I would find a different atmosphere here in the Holy City. I did not.

I imagine all of the United States of America experience racism. Growing up in a textile mill village, I lived with racism and when I heard others say the “N” word, I corrected them telling them that God don’t love ugly and that is an ugly word of hatred. I refused to allow the color of skin to influence me. I see the good in most people, and when I see others being cruel, I am the first to chime in that “God don’t love ugly.”

After the Emanuel Nine shootings, I’ve seen a different personality within the Holy City. People are actually speaking, exemplifying that Southern hospitality that we in Charleston are so proud to demonstrate — MOST of the time. Seeing their reactions to tourists and strangers makes me proud, although I do question why it takes a tragedy to bring out the best in people.

Now, the hot issue is that flag hanging at the South Carolina State House. Personally, I think it is past the time to move that flag, place it in a museum and MOVE FORWARD into the 21st Century. For years, I have said that South Carolina is still stuck in the 1800’s and the issues about this flag and racism prove my point. I have friends, perhaps now – acquaintances – telling me I am crazy and should be proud of my Southern heritage.

“Maybe I am proud to be a steel magnolia from the South, but Proud of racism? I think not.” And that is when I walk away, telling them this conversation is over. After all, I am an opinionated woman and if my husband and friends cannot change my opinions and my beliefs, why should others try? I am not proud of the hatred many people in our country practice. I am working to remove the four-letter word “hate” from my vocabulary. There is far too much hatred within this world for me to say Hate. In high school, we learned about racism and civil rights. I disagreed with every aspect of criticizing or hating those who were a different color and when I expressed that a lot of us probably had different colors of blood running inside our veins and within our heritage, classmates looked at me with disapproval. My belief is simple – God loves all of us, regardless of the colors of our skin.

Hatred and gun control – that is what we need to work on. Almost every day there is a shooting in the Holy City of Charleston, SC. Isn’t it time that we all embraced – moved forward – and stopped allowing a flag, a gun, or our upbringing to teach us all about hatred? Isn’t it time we stood up to be “Charleston Strong?”

Press Releases

Resting Easy in the U S


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Candy Harrington, candy@EmergingHorizons.com

New Lodging Guidebook Features Unique Properties for Wheelchair-Users and Slow Walkers

Cover of Resting Easy in the USRIPON, CA – May 1, 2015 – If you’re tired of staying at cookie-cutter chain hotels, then pick up a copy of Resting Easy in the US; Unique Lodging Options for Wheelers and Slow Walkers, and get ready to think outside of the box. Penned by veteran journalist and accessible travel expert Candy B. Harrington, this accessible lodging guidebook is the result of nearly two decades of in-depth research, meticulous site inspections and copious reader feedback.

This handy resource includes accurate access descriptions and detailed photographs of over 90 properties across the US. From B&Bs, guest ranches and lakeside cottages, to boutique hotels, rustic cabins and deluxe yurts, variety is the key word in content. And although access varies from property to property, each one possesses a unique attribute – be it the location, the owner, the room, or maybe even the entire lodging concept.

Each Chapter includes:

  • A detailed description of the access features of the property, including often overlooked access details such as bed height and toilet grab bar placement.
  • Numerous photographs of each property, including detailed bathroom shots.
  • Measurements of showers, pathways and doorways that are outside of the ADA accessibility guidelines.
  • Candy’s take about what makes the property unique, plus a detailed evaluation of who it will and won’t work for access-wise.
  • Accessible sites, attractions and trails located near the property.

“There are so many different choices in accessible properties today, and I’m thrilled to be able to share some of my favorites with my readers,” says Harrington. A must-have resource for all travelers, Resting Easy in the US is a good guidebook for seniors, parents with stroller-aged children, Baby Boomers, folks who just like to take things a littler slower and anybody who uses a cane, walker, wheelchair or scooter.

Known as the guru of accessible travel, Candy Harrington has covered this niche topic exclusively for the past 20 years. She’s the founding editor of Emerging Horizons and the author of several accessible travel titles, including the classic, Barrier-Free Travel: A Nuts and Bolts Guide for Wheelers and Slow Walkers. She also blogs regularly about accessible travel issues at www.BarrierFreeTravels.com.

Resting Easy in the US; Unique Lodging Options for Wheelers and Slow Walkers ($15.95, 395 pages, 6 X 9 paperback, ISBN 978-0692430576; $15.95) is available atwww.RestingEZ.com.

 

Chattahoochee Child, Short Stories

Dearest Readers:

While cleaning files on my computer, I discovered this story written years ago. I do hope you will enjoy! Perhaps the holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, reminds me of simpler times with my dad. Enjoy!

Perhaps a portion of “Chattahoochee Child”

Footsteps: Taking the Back Roads to Alabama

by

Barbie Perkins-Cooper
Copyright Barbie Perkins-Cooper

Dad looks dashing today, so unlike other residents at the nursing home. The green shirt and tie match the hazel-green of his eyes. The khaki pants swallow his emaciated frame. Nevertheless, he walks with his shoulders erect, head held high. A friendly smile frames his face. A hat protects his shiny bald head from the sun. “Hello-ooo, Barbara. It’s good to see you today.” His once boisterous voice no longer rings with a tone similar to Winston Churchill.

With my arm outstretched to brace his slow, shuffling movements, I walk alongside my father. His legs are so weak they remind me of spaghetti. My mind ponders the moment, picturing a small child using a walker to take her first steps, while her daddy’s arms open wide to hold her in case she falls. I feel those same heartfelt emotions now, only I am the daughter holding my arms nearby. My father uses the walker. I’ll be the one to catch him, if he falls.

Today has been a good day for Dad. He laughs, managing to tease me occasionally, by telling me stories I’ve heard a thousand times before.

Sometimes when I visit, no words are spoken between us. His memory is trapped in a timepiece of years past, remembering the bitter divorce and the disappointments in his lifetime. He points his finger in my direction, accusing me of betraying him. He says women cannot be trusted, and since I’m a woman, I fall into that category. On those days, I escape quickly, visiting for just a few minutes. I refuse to respond to his rage, afraid of upsetting him. I know by watching his signals he is angry at this dreadful monster of cancer. He does not want to be around anyone because we might see his pain and suffering. He is detaching.

Today is a different story. The love radiating from his eyes touches me. I make a mental note to cherish this moment for the rest of my life. He moves his hand from the walker to touch my hand. “You’re a wonderful daughter. My precious star.”

Tears rush down my face. I turn my head away so he will not see me crying. He tightens his hands on the walker, shifting his footsteps he moves carefully. “Today’s been a good day,” he repeats. “I kept my food down and I was able to walk a bit. I think we could travel to Georgia and Alabama with Lewis. He loved Georgia, you know,” he says. “Lewis and I planned to take the back roads to Georgia, so we could see the simple things in life.” Dad wets his lips, stares at the tile floor, and speaks carefully. “I never made it to all the places Lewis and I wanted to go, but on a day like this one, I could take the back roads to anywhere.”

“So let’s take the back roads, Dad. You can describe our voyage when we get back to your room. I’ll be the pilot. You‘re the navigator. While I drive, you can describe all the colors and sounds of life along with the scenery.”

He stops for a moment. His eyes glimpse at a delicate, silver-haired lady with a blue bow in her hair. Dad nods to her. She smiles a flirtatious smile at him. I step back, watching the graceful woman my dad has a crush on, and I smile. She’s the first woman I’ve seen my dad take an interest since my parents’ divorce. Such a tiny lady, with a gigantic heart of gold. Her silver hair is neatly combed, swept into a bun. She smells of Chloe cologne. She wears a pretty bow in her hair to match her outfit. Cultured pearls flatter her youthful neck. Diamond and pearl earrings sparkle in her ears.
Today she wears a blue silk dress. Blue pumps with white buckles accent her feet. Her legs are clothed in silk nylons. “I love to look my best. I’ll be ninety years old next month, she says. “I feel fifteen, until I look around.” Tucked by her wheelchair is a white lace crocheted afghan. Her fingers are long, manicured nails painted pink. She wears one cultured pearl ring and a beautiful diamond watch. The nurses say she was a well-known pianist, before her body was attacked with Parkinson’s Disease. Her hands move the wheelchair in his direction. Dad stands taller as she moves closer. “Good afternoon, Ms. Bee,” he says. “It’s good to see you again. Do you remember my daughter?”

Ms. Bee stops the wheelchair. Her hands quiver as she shakes my hand. “Of course I do. Not a day goes by without speaking to her. It’s so nice to see you, dear.”

Ms. Bee has a beautiful smile. Her iridescent blue eyes shimmer like sapphires as she looks at my dad. “Seeing your dad every day makes my day complete,” she says to me. “He’s such a charming gentleman. He likes to kiss me on the cheek. Sometimes I get him to join me in my room for dinner. I offer him a cocktail but he refuses to drink.”

“I’m a teetotaler,” he says, reaching for her hand. The childlike grin on his face expresses a side of Dad I’ve missed.

“Ms. Bee, would you like to take a journey with us?”

She cast a perplexing look at me, smiles and says, Where are we going?”

“Dad’s taking me on a mental journey to Georgia and Alabama. I’ll meet Uncle Lewis.”

“Lewis and I have an engagement for the annual church Family Day, 1941.”

“I’ve always wanted to meet Lewis, Ms. Bee says.

Ms. Bee follows us to the lobby. Dad parks the walker near a chair. Dad speaks eloquently telling us the story of his trip with Lewis in early 1941.

“Today Lewis and Barbara will take turns, driving a 1938 Buick Special sedan. We start our trip on Highway 17 leaving Charleston, driving to Georgia. We’ll spend the night in Savannah. Lewis’ car is a finely tuned automobile, burgundy with black interior. Chrome decorates the front bumper, four new white wall tires. The Buick has an engine that purrs like a kitten as we drive along the road, headed to the First Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama where Lewis and I will preach and sing the gospel. Afterwards, a church picnic will be served, complete with fried chicken, homemade biscuits, iced tea and desserts made for a king.”

The roads to Georgia and Alabama are narrow in 1941, traffic isn’t bad. Lewis and Dad are in the back seat, snoring. I cruise on the roads, not worried about rushing to get somewhere in a hurry. These are simpler times. I see green pastures, lots of farm land. Deer, cattle, horses, and other animals paint a picture of times past I never knew. While traveling through Georgia, I notice lots of red clay, the Chattahoochee River, cotton fields, barns, and people walking on the roadside. The air smells fresh as it brushes my face. When I get tired, Lewis will awaken me by singing in my ears. The luxury of a radio is not necessary while Dad and the Uncle I never knew entertain me with harmonies equal to a barber shop quartet.

Listening to Dad entertaining us with stories from his past, I long to step back in time, to meet Uncle Lewis, the identical twin brother of my father, the uncle who died in September 1941.

Watching my dad come to life again by sharing his stories encourages me to continue the journey, learning from his wisdom. I have no control over his disease. I cherish every moment we share, but I know soon the sunset will disappear. Dad will be gone, traveling into a promised, eternal life with his brother and family members.

Dad’s always been there for me, holding my hand, teaching me to walk, telling me about the beauty of life, the sunrises, and sunsets. When he’s gone, who will teach me? Will I still see life the way he does, or will I grow bitter? Will someone reach out steadying my footsteps as I travel to my sunset? Will my memory record the pleasant days of life like my father’s memory, or will I be a wilted vegetable?

Later, as I leave the nursing home, I look back at Dad. He stands at the doorway, waving goodbye. A welcomed smile fills his face. I will cherish that wave forever. As I open the exit door to leave Sandpiper Convalescent Center, I see Ms. Bee again. Her words describing Dad as a charming man ring in my ears. I suppose its true — with age comes wisdom. My dad shows me with his kindness and tranquility how people grow, prosper, and improve after adversity. When he’s gone, I’ll remember these irreplaceable contributions of his life. I’ll break away from the rat race of life, taking tiny steps, recording the memories of these special days together.

Free Writing

Happy Labor Day


Dearest Readers:

Today in America is Labor Day. According to the U.S. Department of Labor — “Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

I have always been curious why Labor Day is called “Labor Day…” I suppose one could say — now you know!

For most of us in America, Labor Day is the last day of summer. For my family and I, it is a day of rest…to do something relaxing. I’ve encouraged my husband to play golf today. Perhaps we will grill out, or perhaps we will go out to dinner. Who knows!

I have no plans for today, with exception of getting my nails done. They really need to be clipped and repainted. What color will I use? Haven’t a clue. Perhaps coral. Maybe white. Those who will see me later this week will know. So, I suppose my Labor Day will be one to relax…to give thanks for life…to be grateful for life…good health..and family.

Today is a beautiful day in Charleston, with warm sunshine beaming down. Yes, it would be a good day to relax on the beach, but I think I’ll just take the day off…to give thanks to the United States of America, and to the freedoms we have.

Happy Labor Day!

Press Releases

World War II Ship to Visit Decatur, Alabama


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Melinda Dunn, President & CEO
Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau
PHONE: 256.350.2028, 800.524.6181
EMAIL: mdunn@decaturcvb.org

World War II Ship to Visit Decatur, Alabama
The USS LST 325 Ship Museum to be open for tours September 4-9 at Ingalls Harbor.

Decatur, Ala. (August 18, 2014) – A 328 feet long piece of American history will be docked at Ingalls Harbor in Decatur, Alabama and will be available for public tours. The USS LST 325 is a World War II vessel that was part of the D-Day Invasion at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. This ship is one of the last of her kind and is the only working LST in the United States. The ship is now operated as a floating museum that sails to inland river cities each year as part of its mission statement to educate the public. By giving tours, the crew will educate everyone, young and old, as to the role these ships have played in our wars and honor those who built, sailed and served on these ships.

The USS LST 325 will arrive in Decatur on Wednesday, September 3 and will open for tours on Thursday, September 4 through Tuesday, September 9, 2014. Tours will take place from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm each day. Cost is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-17 and free for children ages 5 and under. A $20 family pass is also available for 2 adults and 2 minor children. Tours last approximately an hour. Group tour prices are also available and must be scheduled in advance through the Decatur Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Ten or more adults in a group will qualify for a rate of $8 per person. A rate of $3 per student will be given to groups of ten or more minors. (For every 10 students, 1 adult is admitted free.) For more information about the ship or to schedule group tours contact the Decatur Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 256-350-2028 or 800-524-6181.

Carrying 20 Sherman tanks in their giant holds, the LST (Landing Ship Tank) was developed during World War II to land vehicles and personnel directly onto enemy shores. On the main deck they could also carry 30-40 trucks, tons of fuels, ammunition or supplies and soldiers.
The USS LST 325 participated in the invasion and occupation of Sicily on July 10, 1943 (Operation HUSKY); Salerno, September 3, 1943; and the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944 under the command of Captain Clifford E. Mosier. Between June 1944 and April 1945, the LST 325 made 44 trips between England and France to aid in the delivery of supplies to Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno and the City of Rouen on the Seine River, earning 2 Battle Stars for her effort.
The use of LST’s continued through the Korean and Vietnam War due to the ship’s ability to navigate shallow waters. Through the years, the USS LST 325 has had a fascinating record of service and in 2000, she was acquired by the USS LST 325 Ship Memorial, Inc. through an act of Congress.

The National LST Association has over 5,000 members and the USS LST Ship Memorial Inc. has 2,000 members whose goal is to be able to sail the ship under its own power—up the inland rivers and along the coasts, allowing all to set foot on her decks and to provide a learning experience. The mission is to educate everyone about the role the LST played to keep America free and provide an opportunity for veterans to show their family and friends the ships on which they served. The ship also helps to preserve the memory of the men and women who built them and the men who served and died on them.

To learn more about the USS LST 325’s history, visit http://www.lstmemorial.org.

For more information on the upcoming visit, call Melinda Dunn of the Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau at 256.350.2028.

About The Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau (DMCCVB)
The Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau is a not-for-profit organization promoting tourism and economic growth in Morgan County. For information on special events and attractions in Decatur, contact the DMCCVB at 800.524.6181 or 256.350.2028; or visit its website at http://www.decaturcvb.org.

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On My Soapbox!

Happy Fourth of July 2014


Dearest Readers:

Today is one of the busiest party, barbecue and fireworks events for the United States of America. I would like to take a moment from our busy lives to thank those who have fought so bravely to keep America free so that we, the citizens, may enjoy our Independence Day.

Many in America complain about our politicians and our leadership, and I have certainly been guilty of complaining that America needs LEADERSHIP. Unfortunately, we do not appear to have strong leadership now. It is sad — so sad.

Nevertheless, today is the day to stand up, wave our flags, wear our red, white and blue, and appreciate our freedoms.

Let us remember all of our soldiers — from all of the wars. Without their sacrifices, we would not be able to wear our colors, or fly our flags, or voice our opinions.

So, I say THANK YOU! May we all enjoy this beautiful day. Originally, Hurricane Arthur threatened the coast of Charleston, SC; however, like the tides, the weather changed and today the sun shines brightly, beating down with warmth while we eat hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelons and other items we should be cautious about.

I hope all of you will enjoy the Fourth of July. Please take a moment to say thank you to God, and to thank our military. May we always be blessed to enjoy the red, white and blue!

Happy Independence Day!

Veterans

FOR THOSE AFFECTED VIA THE VIETNAM WAR — SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT


Received these statistics from a reputable source.

These stats and numbers are astounding and disturburbing when read carefully.  They tell a very interesting tale about our society and in my opinion a sickness in that society and sadness…………………….DD

 

A slightly different set of statistics about the veterans and casualties.
+++++

VIETNAM VETERAN STATISTICS

In case Vietnam veterans haven’t been paying attention these past few decades after they returned from Vietnam, the clock has been ticking.

The following are some statistics that are at once depressing yet, in a larger sense, should give Vietnam veterans a HUGE SENSE OF PRIDE.

Of the 2,709,918 Americans who served in Vietnam, less than 850,000 are estimated to be alive today, with the youngest American Vietnam veteran’s age approximated to be 54 years old.

So, if you are a Vietnam veteran reading this, how does it feel to be among the last 1/3rd of all the U.S. vets who served in Vietnam?

These statistics were taken from a variety of sources to include: The VFW Magazine, the Public Information Office, and the HQ CP Forward Observer – 1st Recon April 12, 1997.

STATISTICS FOR INDIVIDUALS IN UNIFORM AND IN COUNTRY VIETNAM VETERANS

9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the Vietnam Era
(August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975).

8,744,000 GIs were on active duty during the war (Aug 5, 1964 – March 28,1973).

2,709,918 Americans served in Vietnam, this number represents 9.7% of their generation.

3,403,100 (including 514,300 offshore) personnel served in the broader Southeast Asia Theater (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, flight crews based in Thailand, and sailors in adjacent South China Sea waters).

2,594,000 personnel served within the borders of South Vietnam (Jan. 1,1965 – March 28, 1973). Another 50,000 men served in Vietnam between 1960 and 1964.

Of the 2.6 million, between 1-1.6 million (40-60%) either fought in combat, provided close support or were at least fairly regularly exposed to enemy attack.

7,484 women (6,250 or 83.5% were nurses) served in Vietnam.

Peak troop strength in Vietnam: 543,482 (April 30, 1968).

CASUALTIES

The first man to die in Vietnam was James Davis, in 1958. He was with the 509th Radio Research Station. Davis Station in Saigon was named for him.

Hostile deaths: 47,378
Non-hostile deaths: 10,800
Total: 58,202 (Includes men formerly classified as MIA and Mayaguez casualties). Men who have subsequently died of wounds account for the changing total.

8 nurses died — 1 was KIA.

61% of the men killed were 21 or younger.
11,465 of those killed were younger than 20 years old.

Of those killed, 17,539 were married.

Average age of men killed:

Total Deaths: 23.11 years
Enlisted: 50,274 – 22.37 years
Officers: 6,598 – 28.43 years
Warrants: 1,276 – 24.73 years
E1: 525 – 20.34 years
1B MOS: 18,465 – 22.55 years
Five men killed in Vietnam were only 16 years old.
The oldest man killed was 62 years old.
Highest state death rate: West Virginia – 84.1% (national average 58.9% for every 100,000 males in 1970).

Wounded: 303,704 — 153,329 hospitalized + 150,375 injured requiring no hospital care.

Severely disabled: 75,000, — 23,214: 100% disabled; 5,283 lost limbs; 1,081 sustained multiple amputations.

Amputation or crippling wounds to the lower extremities were 300% higher than in WWII and 70% higher than Korea.

Multiple amputations occurred at the rate of 18.4% compared to 5.7% in WWII.

Missing in Action: 2,338

POWs: 766 (114 died in captivity)

As of January 15, 2004, there are 1,875 Americans still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.

DRAFTEES VS. VOLUNTEERS

25% (648,500) of total forces in country were draftees. (66% of U.S. armed forces members were drafted during WWII).

Draftees accounted for 30.4% (17,725) of combat deaths in Vietnam.

Reservists killed: 5,977

National Guard: 6,140 served: 101 died.

Total draftees (1965 – 73): 1,728,344.

Actually served in Vietnam: 38% Marine Corps Draft: 42,633.

Last man drafted: June 30, 1973.

RACE AND ETHNIC BACKGROUND

88.4% of the men who actually served in Vietnam were Caucasian; 10.6% (275,000) were black; 1% belonged to other races.

86.3% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasian (includes Hispanics).

12.5% (7,241) were black; 1.2% belonged to other races.

170,000 Hispanics served in Vietnam; 3,070 (5.2% of total) died there.

70% of enlisted men killed were of northwest European descent.

86.8% of the men who were killed as a result of hostile action were Caucasian; 12.1% (5,711) were black; 1.1% belonged to other races.

14.6% (1,530) of non-combat deaths were among blacks.

34% of blacks who enlisted volunteered for the combat arms.

Overall, blacks suffered 12.5% of the deaths in Vietnam at a time when the percentage of blacks of military age was 13.5% of the total population.

Religion of Dead: Protestant — 64.4%; Catholic — 28.9%; other/none — 6.7%

SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS

Vietnam veterans have a lower unemployment rate than the same non-vet age groups.

Vietnam veterans’ personal income exceeds that of our non-veteran age group by more than 18 percent.

76% of the men sent to Vietnam were from lower middle/working class backgrounds.

Three-fourths had family incomes above the poverty level; 50% were from middle income backgrounds.

Some 23% of Vietnam vets had fathers with professional, managerial or technical occupations.

79% of the men who served in Vietnam had a high school education or better when they entered the military service.

63% of Korean War vets and only 45% of WWII vets had completed high school upon separation.

Deaths by region per 100,000 of population: South — 31%, West –29.9%; Midwest — 28.4%; Northeast — 23.5%.

DRUG USAGE &CRIME

There is no difference in drug usage between Vietnam veterans and non-Vietnam veterans of the same age group. (Source: Veterans Administration Study)

Vietnam veterans are less likely to be in prison – only one-half of one percent of Vietnam veterans have been jailed for crimes.

85% of Vietnam veterans made successful transitions to civilian life.

WINNING &LOSING

82% of veterans who saw heavy combat strongly believe the war was lost because of lack of political will.

Nearly 75% of the public agrees it was a failure of political will, not of arms.

HONORABLE SERVICE

97% of Vietnam-era veterans were honorably discharged.

91% of actual Vietnam War veterans and 90% of those who saw heavy combat are proud to have served their country.

74% say they would serve again, even knowing the outcome.

87% of the public now holds Vietnam veterans in high esteem.

INTERESTING CENSUS STATISTICS
RELATIVE TO
THOSE WHO CLAIM TO HAVE “Been There”

1,713,823 of those who served in Vietnam were still alive as of August,1995 (census figures).

During that same Census count, the number of Americans falsely claiming to have served in-country was: 9,492,958.

As of the current Census taken during August, 2000, the surviving U.S. Vietnam veteran population estimate is: 1,002,511. This is hard to believe, losing nearly 711,000 between ’95 and ’00. That’s 390 per day.

During this Census count, the number of Americans falsely claiming to have served in-country is: 13,853,027. By this census, FOUR OUT OF FIVE WHO CLAIM TO BE Vietnam vets are not.

OTHER

The Department of Defense Vietnam War Service Index officially provided by The War Library originally reported with errors that 2,709,918 U.S. military personnel as having served in-country. Corrections and confirmations to this erred index resulted in the addition of 358 U.S. military personnel confirmed to have served in Vietnam but not originally listed by the Department of Defense. (All names are currently on file and accessible 24/7/365).

Isolated atrocities committed by American soldiers produced torrents of outrage from anti-war critics and the news media while communist atrocities were so common that they received hardly any media mention at all. The United States sought to minimize and prevent attacks on civilians while North Vietnam made attacks on civilians a centerpiece of its strategy. Americans who deliberately killed civilians received prison sentences while communists who did so received commendations.

From 1957 to 1973, the National Liberation Front assassinated 36,725 Vietnamese and abducted another 58,499. The death squads focused on leaders at the village level and on anyone who improved the lives of the peasants such as medical personnel, social workers, and school teachers. – Nixon Presidential Papers.

 

 

 

Holidays

Gobble…Gobble…Gobble…Happy Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dearest Readers:

On this date, November 28, 2013, we celebrate Thanksgiving. As we grow, there are many traditions made, and some traditions are broken. Growing up in the State of Georgia, my family taught me many traditions during the holidays, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The holidays were for family. I recall celebrating Thanksgiving with my maternal grandparents. Although when I was little, I often was curious why my maternal grandparents and paternal grandparents did not come together for the holidays. Later, I discovered how strange our families were and I did my best to welcome all of my relatives.

I remember my maternal grandmother always prepping, baking and cooking for the holidays. Our table was filled with most of the foods we celebrate and gobble down a bit too quickly. We always had a country ham, turkey, homemade biscuits that felt and tasted like a cloud and I recall eating too many of them. OK…so homemade biscuits are my weakness, and that is why I do not make them! Additional foods included cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, Southern potato salad, mashed potatoes, candied yams, and of course, we had a variety of desserts. My grandmother was a great Southern cook, so you can just imagine all of the food we ate. Another tradition we shared was always saying the blessing at the dinner table. Joining hands, we would ask my dad or grandfather to lead us into prayer.

Some traditions must be preserved, and that is why when Phil and I eat at the dining room table, or at the breakfast table, I always remind him we must ‘say grace.’ Phil did not grow up with that family tradition, and the more I discover about his family, the more I recognize that his family was more estranged than mine could ever be. His mother did not cook a Thanksgiving turkey or dinner. His mother said she hated turkey because it was dry. She changed her mind when tasting mine! After moving to Charleston, I went to the trouble of inviting Phil’s family for Thanksgiving Dinner; however, after the way his mother behaved, I was a bit annoyed with her. Just picture it. As the cook for the Thanksgiving Dinner you are tired. For many days you have prepped the foods, thawed the turkey and prepared it. Baked. Cooked. Cleaned the dishes. Dressed the dining room table with your finest linens, china, candles and all the fun things I enjoy doing for the holidays, only to be told — perhaps in a dictatorial tone — that you are hungry and want to eat…NOW!

I asked Phil if I could speak to him privately, letting him know I was furious that his mother was so demanding. He shook his head, refusing to speak with his mother. I returned to the kitchen, letting his mother know I had some peanut butter and bread and if she wanted to EAT NOW…she could fix a peanut butter sandwich. She growled at me… “Just give me a paper plate and I’ll dig in…”

“You’ll do no such a thing. Dinner isn’t ready!”

That was the last Thanksgiving I shared with Phil’s mother. New traditions were made, in hopes we as a family could teach our child that holidays were family days and were not to be dictatorial.

Now, our son is married, building new traditions with his wife and child. As for us, I still prepare a Thanksgiving meal, and I dress the dining room table with china, a lace tablecloth, and candles and we take the time to enjoy our meal. Occasionally, I invite our friends over but as life has a way, most people have plans for the holidays.

A new tradition we started two years ago is to decorate our Christmas tree on the weekend of Thanksgiving. Last year, I was so sick with acute bronchitis I did not feel like cooking Thanksgiving, although I did. Weak and exhausted by dinner time, I did something I rarely do.  I asked Phil to help with the clean up. That weekend he put the tree up. When I asked him to help with the decorating he grumbled, so like his mother —
“I HATE decorating the tree…”

I gathered the decorations and with tears in my eyes, I decorated the tree. Exhausted, I went to bed, furious with Phil and his hatred for the holidays.

This year, I’ve let him know how his cold, and demeaning words hurt me last year. There I was as sick and as weak I could be, and all he cared about was watching his stupid football games! How dare him! Never did he consider how sick I was and how hard I worked to keep the traditions going.

Traditions are important to me, and they should be for everyone, especially at the holidays. Much to my surprise, Phil has mentioned twice that we are decorating the Christmas tree this weekend. Sometimes I cannot help wondering just who is this strange man I married. His moods change quicker than the winds!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. We are sharing it with friends, and on Friday, I am cooking a Thanksgiving meal at home. After all, some traditions need to continue. Since early marriage I have cooked the Thanksgiving meal. That tradition must continue. Additional traditions will continue, and a few will change. We have a family of four-legged children to celebrate the holidays with. This year, all of them — Shasta Daisy Shampagne, our 12-year-old, frail Maltese will probably share her last Thanksgiving with us. She has seizures now. Until last evening, the last was three weeks ago. Our pet sitter describes her as a frail, little old lady most comfortable in her rocking chair. Only for Shasta, she is most comfortable curled on a pillow with her blanket at my desk. Last night’s seizure scared us and I prayed, “Please God, let her live just one more Thanksgiving!” She made it through the night, and she is curled at my feet now.  Thank you, God!

Our other children are Shakespeare Hemingway, a salt and pepper mini-schnauzer, Sandy Bear Sebastian, a blonde mini-schnauzer,  Sir Hankster the Prankster, a smaller mini-schnauzer who grumbles and grumbles and grumbles… Our youngest is our biggest, a giant wiry schnauzer named Prince Midnight Shadow. We adopted him from a shelter last year after my precious Prince Marmaduke Shamus crossed Rainbow Bridge. All of these precious children will enjoy a taste of Thanksgiving this Friday with us. Yesterday, the rescue I volunteer for requested for us to consider fostering a pup from a kill shelter. Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas needs fosters willing to help these little guys adjust to a life away from kill shelters and crates. At first, I thought “No, I cannot do this again.” If you recall, my last foster was Sweet Little Cleet…Cleet…the Pup Who Ran Away, But Came Back! I confess, I fell in love with Sweet Cletus and hated to let him go when he was adopted. I am happy to report he is progressing ever so slowly with his new parents. It has been a long process for him to forget the abuse he tolerated as a puppy mill stud, but now, he has a caring family who do everything they can to give him a life filled with love and tender care. Together, Cletus, now named “Little Buddy” and his family are taking baby steps. Baby steps leads to independence and trust, and I look forward to the day when I hear that Little Buddy is now a changed guy!

I am happy to announce, Phil has agreed to take in another foster – a Maltese. So now, this Thanksgiving, even though we do not have the newest foster in our household, we have much to be thankful for on Thanksgiving 2013. This year I have good health again! We are still together in this marriage. We have love and peace in our world at home. We are thankful for our soldiers who are away this year, and we are hopeful they return home safely, soon. We are thankful for our grandchild, William; and we are thankful and so appreciative of our good friends. May we all have a toast for Thanksgiving, and may we all give thanks to God for another Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your special day!