In Honor

Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Today is a holiday in the United States. Many people think of Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer. Schools are out (or will soon be) for the year. People begin to think of backyard barbeques and picnics or trips to the lake. For many, Memorial Day is just another three-day weekend.

Vietnam Memorial. The Wall lists the names of those who were killed in action or missing in action

But that’s not what this day is about. It is a time to honor and remember all Americans who have died in military service.

My husband and I have several family members who have served or are currently serving in the military. Two of my cousins were in Vietnam. My father-in-law was in World War II. My husband’s nephew spent twenty-one years in the US Army.  A great-nephew also serves in the Army. He recently returned to the states after a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.

Fortunately, we haven’t lost an immediate family member to war. But many people, including some I know, have lost loved ones in various wars.

So whether you’re having a backyard cookout or taking a trip to the lake, take a moment to remember those who lost their lives in service to our country.

American Revolutionary War—25,000
War of 1812—15,000
Mexican American War—13,283
American Civil War—625,000
World War I—116,516
World War II—405,399
Korean War—36,516
Persian Gulf War—294
Iraq, Afghanistan, and War against ISIS (2001-present)—6,774
And for those who have died in all other wars

Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia


December~Winter Solstice and More

December. The twelfth month of the year. It’s unbelievable almost a full year has passed since I began this series. Activities, holiday festivities and celebrations fill the month of December – one of the busiest times of the year. The winter solstice occurs on December 22. What else can we learn about this month?

December comes from the Latin word decem, meaning ten as it was the tenth month of the year in the ancient Roman Calendar.

“I heard a bird sing, in the dark of December. A magical thing, and sweet to remember.” Oliver Herford

A few more things about December:

  • Turquoise is the December birthstone
  • Narcissus is the flower
  • December is Universal Human Rights month, National Read a New Book Month, and National Stress Free Family Holiday Month (easier said than done). Nobel prizes are awarded in December.
  • Poinsettia day is December 12 and National Chocolate Day is December 27.
  • We celebrate Christmas Day on December 25.
  • On December 14, 1791, the Bill of Rights passed.
  • The Wright Brothers made their first flight on December 17, 1903
  • On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II
  • On December 3, 1967 the first heart transplant was completed.
  • Nine states joined the Union during the month of December. Delaware (our first state), Pennsylvania, and New Jersey by ratification in 1788, Indiana in 1816, Mississippi in 1817, Illinois in 1818, Alabama in 1819, Texas (my home state) in 1845, and Iowa in 1846.
  • The December full moon is known as the Full Cold Moon or the Full Long Nights Moon. I think it is one of the most brilliant moons of the year because of its high trajectory across the sky. To quote Clement C. Moore, “The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow gave the luster of midday to objects below.”
  • Famous people born in December include NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, poet Emily Dickinson, novelist Jane Austen, singer Jimmy Buffett, and actors Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt, and Anthony Hopkins.

I hope you have enjoyed this series about the months of the year. I’ve learned a lot of interesting and fun things while researching them. 2016 is a new year and new beginnings. But for now, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”

November ~A Time of Thanksgiving

In most parts of the United States, trees have already lost their leaves. However, where I live we often see the peak of fall colors in November. Daylight Saving Time ends and nights come early. But what else can we learn about our eleventh month?

November, the ninth month in the ancient Roman calendar, gets its name from the Latin word novem, meaning nine.

“November comes, and November goes. With last red berries, and the first white snows.” ~Elizabeth Coatsworth

A bit of November trivia:

  • Topaz is the November birthstone
  • The chrysanthemum is the month’s flower
  • On November 2, 1769 a Spanish expedition reached San Francisco Bay
  • Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded in California on November 1, 1776. San Juan Capistrano is known for the swallows that nest there. Each year swallows leave their nests at the mission around St. John’s Day on October 23 and return around the time of St. Joseph’s day on March 19.
  • Rutgers and Princeton Universities played the first intercollegiate football game in the US on November 6, 1869.
  • World War I ended on November 11, 1918 with the signing of the Armistice agreement between the Allied and Central powers. The agreement went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
  • November is Peanut Butter Lovers Month, National Sleep Comfort Month, and Aviation History Month
  • In the United States, we celebrate Veterans Day on November 11. Thanksgiving Day occurs on the fourth Thursday of the month (this year on November  26).
  • Six states joined the Union during the month of November. North Carolina (by ratification) in 1789, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington in 1889, and in 1907 Oklahoma became the first state admitted in the 20th century.
  • Famous people born in November include actor Matthew McConaughey, singer Glenn Frey of the Eagles, novelist Margaret Mitchell, folk singer Mary Travers of Peter, Paul, and Mary, painter Georgia O’Keeffe, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, and author C S Lewis.

Many people flock to stores on shopping malls on the day after Thanksgiving. What about you? Do you shop or prefer to spend time at home with family?

October ~Autumn’s Masterpiece

What can I say about October? That glorious month of the year when the trees are full of vibrant color, the sounds of migrating birds fill the air, and the days are crisp and sunny. L. M. Montgomery’s words sum it up:

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” ~L.M. Montgomery in Anne of Green Gables

October, the eighth month in the ancient Roman calendar, gets its name from the Latin word octo, meaning eight. Let’s learn a bit more about this glorious time of year.

  • The tourmaline and the opal are the October birthstones
  • The October flower is the calendula
  • Russia launched the first artificial satellite on October 4, 1957
  • President Harry Truman delivered the first telecast address from the White House on October 5, 1947
  • Christopher Columbus arrived in America on October 12, 1492
  • October is National Cookie Month, National Pizza Month, Lupus Awareness Month, and National Seafood Month
  • Other celebrations in October include Columbus Day (the second Monday of the Month) and Halloween on the 31st
  • Nevada became the 36th state on October 31, 1864
  • The October full moon is known as the Hunter’s Moon (some years the Harvest moon occurs in October). Other Native American names are the Blood Moon (not to be confused with an eclipse) or Sanguine Moon. The Hunter’s Moon is often accorded with special honor and serves as an important feast day in Western Europe and among many Native American tribes.
  • Famous people born in October include Sting, actor Matt Damon, the late John Lennon and his son Sean (both born on October 9th), former NFL star Jerry Rice, actress Angela Lansbury, artist Pablo Picasso (25th), and author Lee Child (29th)

It isn’t hard to guess that October is one of my favorite months (along with November). Do you have a favorite month or season? Please share in the comments.

September ~ The Golden Month

Kids have started a new school year, summer vacations have ended, and autumn begins later in the month. Leaves have started to turn, birds begin to migrate, and change is in the air. It must be September. Time to learn more about this ninth month of the year.

September gets its name from the Latin word septem, which means seven. September was the seventh month in the ancient Roman calendar.

“By all these lovely tokens September days are here, with summer’s best of weather and autumn’s best of cheer.” ~Helen Hunt Jackson

Here are some fun and interesting facts about September:

  • The birthstone is the sapphire
  • The September flower is the morning glory
  • On September 3, 1783 the American Revolutionary War ended when Great Britain signed the Treaty of Paris
  • The first permanent European-established settlement in the US was founded in Saint Augustine Florida on September 6, 1565
  • Elias Howe patented the sewing machine on September 10, 1846
  • September is National Chicken Month, National Rice Month, National Potato Month, and National All-American Breakfast Month.
  • In the United States we celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday of the month (this year on September 7) and Patriot Day on September 11. Other celebrations include the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashana (13th-15th), and Yom Kippur (23rd).
  • Only one state entered the union during the month of September; California in 1850.
  • The September full moon is known as the Harvest Moon. It is the full moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox, so on some years the Harvest Moon is in October. It happens in September this year and coincides with a lunar eclipse. Native Americans also called the September moon The Full Corn Moon as it was the time for harvesting corn.
  • Famous people born in September include Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, former Dallas Cowboy and NFL player Charlie Waters, (Confession: I still salivate when I see a photo of him.) novelist Agatha Christie, former baseball player Gaylord Perry, and singers Bruce Springsteen and Olivia Newton-John.

September is one of my favorite months. I love the changing of the season, the lengthening afternoon shadows, the cooler days, and of course that beautiful Harvest Moon. Maybe this year, I’ll capture that “perfect” photo. What do you find special about September? Please share in the comments.