Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Iditarod Trail

Since we celebrated Seward's Day in Alaska this week, I thought I would add some Alaska history about the Iditarod Trail. There were about 30 serious gold rushes in Alaska between 1880 and 1914, and they were a major part of the history of Alaska. The last old-fashioned, frontier-style gold rush in the United States came to life at Iditarod in 1909. Iditarod was located 629 trail miles west of the future site of Anchorage and half the distance to Nome. In 1910 Iditarod briefly became the largest city in Alaska with about 10,000 people. There were several banks and hotels as well as a newspaper, all of which were supplied by boat service up tributaries of the Yukon River, including the Iditarod River. By the early 1920's, settlers were streaming to Alaska by boat to Seward and Knik, two coastal towns; then they traveled by land to the gold fields. They followed a trail that is now known as the Iditarod Trail, which is one of the National Historic Trails designated by the United States Congress. The original Iditarod Trail started at Seward and wound along Turnagain Arm through the area known as Girdwood, over Crow Pass, down the uninhabited Eagle River Valley and northward to the tiny trading post of Knik. After leaving Knik, the trail went west through the wooded valleys of the Susitna and Yentna Rivers, climbed over Rainy Pass in the Alaska Range, and went across the Kuskokwim Valley to the hills west of McGrath to the town of Ophir. From Ophir, the trail went southwest through the Kuskokwim Mountains to the town of Iditarod. From there it went northwest to the Yukon River and then directly north to Kaltag. At Kaltag the trail went back southwest along the 90-mile Kaltag Portage to Unalakleet. From there it went north and then west through Shaktoolik, Koyuk, and Golovin. About fifty miles out of Nome, the trail dropped down to the beach and ended on Front Street in Nome. The Iditarod Trail soon became a way to travel through Alaska and was used to carry mail and people from place to place as well as transporting supplies. In the winter, the only means of travel was by dog team, particularly for judges, ministers and priests who traveled from one village to another. Dog teams were the standard mode of transportation for many years. When the gold mining began to lessen, the people went back to their homes, and there was far less travel along the Iditarod Trail. In the late 1920's airplanes began carrying the mail and passengers. The appearance of the snowmobile in Alaska ended the use of dog teams, and people soon forgot about the Iditarod Trail and the important part of Alaskan history played by dog teams. In the late 1960's, the late Dorothy G. Page, a resident of Wasilla, recognized that Alaskans needed to remember the importance of the Iditarod Trail and the dog teams that traveled along it. She presented an idea for a race along the Iditarod Trail to Joe Redington, Sr., a dog musher who lived in the Knik area. Redington and his wife liked the idea and helped promote the first Iditarod Race, which was held in 1967 and covered the first twenty-seven miles of the Iditarod Trail. A $25,000 purse was offered in that race. A second race was held in 1969. The organizers planned to have the race go to the ghost town of Iditarod in 1973. When the US Army reopened the trail as a winter exercise in 1972, the decision was made to take the race to Nome, a distance of more than 1,000. There were many people who thought that it couldn't be done and that it was ridiculous to send a bunch of mushers out into the Alaskan wilderness. The race took place, and twenty-two mushers finished that race. Since 1973, over 400 mushers have finished traveling the Iditarod Trail to Nome. Mushers have come from Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Japan, Austria, Austrailia, Swe3den, and the Soviet Union as well as about twenty different states in this nation. Dorothy Page is known as the "mother of the Iditarod," and Joe Redington is known as its "father." There are a couple of interesting traditions with the Iditarod Race. One tradition is the "Red Lantern" which is awarded to the last musher arriving in Nome. This tradition started as a joke but has become a symbol of "stick-to-itiveness" to people in mushing circles. The other tradition is the "Widow's Lamp." When sled dogs were freighting and carrying mail along the Iditarod Trail, the mushers relied on the roadhouses located between the villages. Word was relayed along the trail that a musher was coming so a kerosene lamp was lit and hung outside the roadhouse. The lamp was not extinguished until the musher arrived safely at his destination. Following this tradition, the Iditarod Trail Committee lights a "Widow's Lamp" at 10:00 a.m. on the first Sunday in March at the trail's end in Nome. The lamp is attached to the Burled Arch, the official finish line, and remains there until the last racer reaches Nome. The extinguishment of the "Widow's Lamp" signals the official end of the Iditarod Race each year. When my children were in elementary school, they would each choose a musher to "follow" along the Iditarod Trail, and we went to downtown Anchorage several times to see the ceremonial start of the race. The official start of the race takes place in Wasilla the following day. This year our oldest daughter had the opportunity to ride on a friend's sled for the first few blocks of the race, and her friend won the "rookie of the year" award this year.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Experience with History

History and geography were not my favorite subjects in school. I grew up on a farm out in the middle of no where and never went more than 150 miles from my home. Even though television was invented during my youth, my family did not own one. I had no personal experience with either geography or historical places and therefore felt no personal connection to either of them. After my marriage I began traveling outside of my small area and recognized that there was much to learn about this wonderful world. I was recently reminded of my own lack of interest in history as I tried to share some history with my grandchildren. I took a video with me entitled "This is America, Charlie Brown." The two-disk set shares the following eight adventures in American history with all the humor and fun of cartoons: The Mayflower voyagers, the birth of the Constitution, the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, the NASA space station, the building of the transcontinental railroad, great American inventers, the Smithsonian and the Presidency, and music and heroes of America. When I introduced the video to my grandchildren in Virginia (girls ages 6 and 3), they were excited about watching the video. They sat through both disks totally involved with them. The three-year-old requested to watch the video for quiet time for the next two days. While watching the video, the six-year-old would point out certain parts, such as the chair that George Washington sat in during the Constitutional Convention, and said, "I've seen that chair" or "I've been there." When I asked her if she learned anything new, she at first said no. Then she corrected herself and said that she had not previously known about the transcontinental railroad. Her family has lived in Virginia for the past four years while my son served in the United States Air Force at Langley Air Force Base. They have consistently traveled to various historical places such as Williamsburg, Yorktown, Gettysburg, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., so she has personal experience with history. The cartoon containing historical stories meant something to her because she had personal experience. I hope that her parents take her to Promontory Point in Utah so that she can experience being in the place where the transcontinental railroad came together. I then traveled to Texas where I met with three of my daughters and their children, ages 9 years to 9 months. I expected that these children would enjoy a cartoon video even if they didn't know the history. The babies were taking naps, but none of the children ages 3 years to 9 years were really interested in watching the video. It meant nothing to them. The older ones said that they didn't like Charlie Brown and didn't want to watch him. The seven-year-old boy found some parts interesting, particularly the space station. Even the three and four-year-old girls were not interested in watching it. I'm sure that there were numerous reasons for their lack of interest, but I believe that they would have been more interested if they had previous personal experience with the historical spots. I began watching the video from the viewpoint of my grandchildren, and I could understand why they were not interested. In a related family experience, my oldest sister shared family history, Church history, and national history with her children with the many stories that she knew. I did not take the same opportunity to teach my own children, and I feel that my children were cheated of important learning experiences simply because I did not know or did not take the time to share history with them. They learned Black History and Alaska history in school, but I did not add much to their historical understanding. Now I am trying to make up for that lack by sharing historical information in my blog. I highly recommend that you teach history to your children, whether it be family history, church history, or national history. Travel to the historical spots in your vicinity. Include historical spots on vacations. If you can do nothing more, find videos and books, which contain correct history, and share it with your children. Our future depends on knowing and understanding the past. I have recently been watching "The American Heritage Series" with historian David Barton. This is a ten-disk series that emphasizes our moral, religious, and constitutional heritage. I have found the series very interesting, particularly because it gives evidence of the United States being a Christian nation. David Barton explained the following five characteristics of Christian nations: 1) Christian nations have republican forms of government where the people choose their own leaders. 2) Christian nations have an institutional separation of church and state. The government does not run the church, and the church does not run the government. 3) Christian nations have freedom of conscience where the citizens can believe what they want and will not be killed for their beliefs. 4) Christian nations are able to distinguish between theology and behavior. He pointed out that the Ten Commandments are more behavior oriented than theology oriented. They tell us how to behave, not what to believe. 5) Christian nations have a free-market approach to religion. This is a Christian nation, but other religions are invited and welcomed to our country. We don't try to force people of other religions to become Christian. There have been Christian nations for the past five centuries, and none of them have been a theocracy. Our nation was built on Christian values but not on Christian theology. I highly recommend this series to all of you. I guarantee that you will gain much understanding about our heritage and why the progressives want to change our history. You can find out more about David Barton at

Monday, March 29, 2010

William Henry Seward

Alaska is celebrating Seward's Day today in commemoration of the day that Alaska was purchased from Russia. It is named for William Henry Seward who signed the treaty. William Henry Seward (1801-1872) was born in Florida, New York, and educated in Schenectady, New York. He became a lawyer at age 21 (1822) and was elected to the state legislature at age 29 (1830). He was governor of New York (1839-1842) and was elected to the United States Senate in 1849. He was against slavery and fought against its spread. He was the leading Republican in the nation in 1860, but Abraham Lincoln was nominated for President. Seward campaigned for Lincoln and became his secretary of state. Seward did such a good job in foreign affairs that no foreign nation joined the Confederacy in their fight against the Union. Seward was with Lincoln on the night he was assassinated. Seward was wounded by an accomplice of John Wilkes Booth. He recovered and remained as secretary of state for Andrew Johnson. An important accomplishment of Seward was the purchase of Alaska from Russia. The fur trade in Alaska had dwindled by the 1850s and Russia was weakened by the Crimean War (1853-1856). Russia was eager to sell Alaska. Seward accepted the sale price of $7,200,000 or about 2 cents per acre. Seward signed the Treaty of Cession of Russia America to the United States on March 30, 1867. Americans were divided about the purchase of Alaska. Many were in favor of the purchase, but others called it Seward's Folly or Seward's Icebox. Congress approved the purchase, and the United States flag was raised in Sitka by America troops on October 18, 1867. Seward has a town (Seward, Alaska) and a state holiday (Seward's Day) named in his honor. Facts for this post came from an article by Mark E. Neely, Jr. in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 17, p 331, and an article by Patrick Fitzgerald and Claus-M Naske in Vol. 1, p 301.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Represent 30,000 People

The nineteenth provision of the United States Constitution is found in Article I.2.3: "To avoid having too many members in the House of Representatives, each Congressman must represent at least 30,000 people." This provision represents the Right of the people to have a small Congress just large enough to make the laws for the people. It is good that the Founders put the minimum figure at 30,000 Americans rather than the maximum. We would have 10,000 members in the House of Representatives today if each member represented only 30,000 Americans. A bill was passed in 1929, which provided that the number of Congressman could never exceed 435 no matter how much the population grew. With approximately 300 million Americans today, each Congressman represents approximately 690,000 Americans today.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Life of Jesus Christ

When we were in the premortal world, Jesus Christ promised that He would come to earth and be the Savior of all mankind. Every person who has come or will come to earth is dependent on Jesus Christ fulfilling His promise. His mission as the Savior was one of the crucial pillars of the plan of salvation. Without Him, the plan would fail. His mission was so important that all of the prophets from Adam to Christ testified that He would come (see Acts 10:43). Every prophet since Christ has testified that He did come. In order to faithfully follow Christ throughout our lives, we need to study and learn about His life. Many of the prophets prophesied of Christ. Adam knew that the Savior would be known as Jesus Christ (Moses 6:51-52). Enoch, Noah, Moses, Isaiah, Nephi and King Benjamin all foresaw the Savior's life, ministry, and sufferings (see Moses 1:11; 7:55-56; 8:23-24; Isaiah 53:3-7; 1 Nephi 11:21; Mosiah 3:5-8). Information about the birth and life of the Savior can be found in the scriptures, particularly Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament. From the scriptures we learn that Jesus was born of Mary, a beautiful virgin who was engaged to marry Joseph when an angel appeared to her. The angel told Mary that she had been selected to be the mother of the Son of God. Mary asked how that would be possible (see Luke 1:34). The angel explained to her, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). God the Father became the literal Father of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only person on earth to be born of an immortal Father and a mortal mother. That is the reason that He is known as the Only Begotten Son. From his Father, Jesus inherited divine powers. From his mother, He inherited mortality and was subject to pain, fatigue, hunger, thirst, and death. No one had the power to kill Jesus Christ unless He was willing to be killed. He had the power to give up His life, and He had the power to take up His body again after dying. (See John 10:17-18.) Mary and Joseph guided Jesus, and He grew as other children grow. He loved and obeyed the truth. From the time of his youth, Jesus made good choices and obeyed all that Heavenly Father required Him to do. (See Luke 2:40; Doctrine and Covenants 93:12-14.) An incident in Jerusalem demonstrates that Jesus by age twelve had some understanding that He was on earth to do the will of His Father. He went with His family to Jerusalem to participate in the Passover. When they started on their trip home, His parents discovered that He was not in the group and returned to Jerusalem to find Him. They searched for Him for three days before they found Him in the temple "sitting in the midst of the doctors, and they were hearing him, and asking him questions" (Joseph Smith Translation, Luke 2:46). "And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers" (Luke 2:47). Joseph and Mary were of course relieved to find Him. When Mary asked Him why He had treated "thy father and I" as He did, He answered, "Wist ye not that I must be about my [Heavenly] Father's business?" (Luke 2:48-49). Jesus understood that His mission was to do the will of His Heavenly Father. He declared, "… I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things… I do always those things that please Him" (John 8:28-29). When Jesus was thirty years old, He went to the Jordan River to find John the Baptist and asked John to baptize Him in order "to fulfil all righteousness." John recognized that Jesus was greater than he, but he baptized the Savior, immersing Him completely in the water. Then he heard the Father speaking from heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." The Holy Ghost descended, as shown by the sign of the dove. (See Matthew 3:13-17.) Soon after His baptism, Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights to be with God. After this period of fasting was over, Satan tried to tempt Jesus, and Jesus resisted all of Satan's temptations and commanded Satan to leave. (See Matthew 4:1-11.) Jesus Christ was sinless, the only perfect person to ever live on earth. (See Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:21-22.) Jesus' mission on earth consisted of several different responsibilities. Among those duties were the responsibilities to teach us how to love and serve each other, to organize the only true church on earth, to save us from death, and to redeem our souls from our sins. Jesus taught us how to live by both His words and His example. He taught that there were two great commandments: The first is to love God with all our heart, mind and strength; and the second is to love others as we love ourselves. (See Matthew 22:36-39.) He showed us by His life how we should obey these two commandments. He demonstrated His love for God by trusting Him and by being obedient to Him. He showed His love for others by helping them to meet their physical and spiritual needs. Jesus spent His life serving others: curing people of diseases, causing the deaf to hear, the blind to see and the lame to walk. When He miraculously fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fishes (see Matthew 14:14-21), He demonstrated that we are to help the hungry, needy, cold or lonely all that we can. He taught by His words and actions that we serve God by helping God's children. (See Matthew 25:35-46.) Jesus loved people with all His heart. He wept with compassion for others. He loved little children, the elderly, the simple people who had faith in Him. He loved the sinners and taught them to repent. He loved those who sinned against Him and didn't repent. Even as He hung on the cross, He pleaded, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Jesus taught us to "love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12). Another part of Christ's mission on earth was to organize His Church. He taught the people. He chose and ordained His Twelve Apostles. He gave them the authority to act in His name and to do the works they had seen Him do. They were to testify of Christ and to teach, baptize and perform other ordinances in His name and with His authority. After the death of Christ, the Apostles carried on His work until the people grew so wicked that they killed the Apostles. Jesus Christ redeemed us from our sins and saved us from death. Jesus was condemned to death because He had testified that He was the Son of God. In preparation for the final events of His life, Jesus met with His Apostles in an upper room and introduced the sacrament to them. They sang a hymn and then went to a garden called Gethsemane. He was weighed down with much sorrow and wept as He prayed. He prayed, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: never the less not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39). Jesus described His suffering in a revelation to Joseph Smith, saying that it caused Him "to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit" (Doctrine and Covenants 19:18). The next day Christ was beaten, humiliated, and spit upon. He was forced to carry His own cross and then was lifted up and nailed to it. While Jesus was suffering on the cross, the Father withdrew from Him, allowing Christ to finish suffering the penalty for the sins of all mankind and have complete victory over the forces of sin and death. (See James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd Ed [1916], 660-61.) When He knew that the Father had accepted His sacrifice, the Savior exclaimed in a loud voice, "It is finished" (John 19:30). Luke 23:46 records that He said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." He then bowed His noble head and voluntarily gave up His spirit and died. A terrible earthquake shook the earth. Some of the Savior's friends took His body to a tomb where it lay until the third day. During the time His body was in the tomb, His spirit went to the spirit world where He organized the missionary work needed to teach His gospel to other spirits. (See 1 Peter 3:18-20; Doctrine and Covenants 138.) On the third day, Sunday, he returned to the tomb and took up His body again, becoming the first to overcome death and be resurrected. Soon after His resurrection Jesus appeared to the Nephites on the American continent and established His Church there. He taught the people and blessed them (3 Nephi 11 through 28). Jesus' willingness and humility to suffer in Gethsemane and on the cross showed His great love for the Father and for us. He fulfilled His part of the great plan of salvation that we might all receive the promised blessings. Now the responsibility is ours. In order to receive these blessings, we must put the Atonement of Jesus Christ into effect in our lives. We must repent of our sins, love Christ with all our hearts and follow Him.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Seek Education

Education is important to bringing freedom to our families, and there are many subjects that we can study. Doctrine and Covenants 93:36-37 reads, "The glory of God is intelligence, or in other words, light and truth. Light and truth forsake the evil one." We gain knowledge through education. The most important knowledge we can gain is the knowledge of God and His work. We should devote our time to studying the scriptures (Doctrine and Covenants 26:1). We can gain much instruction through studying the Book of Mormon and the other scriptures (see Doctrine and Covenants 33:16). Every parent needs gospel knowledge in order to teach their children effectively. If you have not yet developed the habit of daily scripture study, I encourage you to start today. The information in the scriptures can free you from the stresses of this life and prepare you for eternal life. Other knowledge is important to keeping families free. Studying about finances, budgets, and investing can save us from big problems such as debt and bad investments. Studying the United States Constitution can help to keep our entire nation free. Studying about nutrition can keep our families free from preventable health problems. Education can help us in many ways. President Thomas S. Monson taught, "Beyond our study of spiritual matters, secular learning is also essential…. I urge you to pursue your education - if you are not already doing so or have not done so - that you might be prepared to provide if circumstances necessitate such. "Your talents will expand as you study and learn. You will be able to better assist your families in their learning, and you will have peace of mind in knowing that you have prepared yourself for the eventualities that you may encounter in life" ("Three Goals to Guide You," Ensign, Nov. 2007, 119).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Religion Is Essential to Liberty

This principle of freedom is that religion is essential to a government of free people. Most, if not all, of our Founding Fathers believed that religion and morality were essential for good government as well as happiness and that these topics should be taught in the schools. No specific religion was to be taught, but the universal truths, which were acceptable to all religions, were necessary. W. Cleon Skousen quoted Benjamin Franklin when he summarized basic religious beliefs as "fundamental points in all sounds religion" in a letter to Ezra Stiles, Yale University president: "Here is my creed: I believe in one God, the Creator of the universe. That he governs it by his providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is in doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion." (Smyth, Writings of Benjamin Franklin, 10:84.) Skousen then explained Franklin's statement of the "five points of fundamental religious beliefs. 1) There exists a Creator who made all things and mankind should recognize and worship him. 2) The Creator has revealed a moral code of behavior for happy living which distinguishes between right and wrong. 3) The Creator holds mankind responsible for the way they treat each other. 4) All mankind live beyond this life. 5) In the next life mankind are judged for their conduct in this one" (The Five Thousand Year Leap, p 61). Even though the Founders considered these core beliefs to be America's religion, they wanted all religions to have equal protection under the Constitution. They wanted the citizens to have morality, religion, and virtue, but they did not want the federal government favoring any one religion or church. This is what Thomas Jefferson meant when he said that the Constitution created "a wall of separation between Church and State" (Beigh, Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 16:282, as quoted in The Five Thousand Year Leap, p 69).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


The Jewish Passover begins next week. Passover is a Jewish festival that begins in March or April on the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. This festival celebrates the flight from Egyptian slavery for the Israelites. The word Passover originated in the Biblical record of the ten plagues brought by God upon the Egyptians for refusing to let the Israelites leave Egypt. According to the record in Exodus 12, God killed the first-born child in every Egyptian home but passed over the homes of the Israelites. Passover could also mean passing over from slavery to freedom. The Passover festival usually lasts for eight days, but it lasts only seven days in some areas of the world. Passover is celebrated in Jewish homes at a ceremonial feast called Seder. At this feast, the story of the flight of the Israelites is read or told. The foods that are eaten for this feast are symbolic. The most important part of the feast is an unleavened or unraised bread called Matzah. According to Jewish tradition, the fleeing Israelites did not have time to let their bread rise so they made flat unleavened bread. This is the reason Jews eat matzahs during Passover. Facts and information for this blog post came from an article by Jacob Neusner, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 15, pp 191-192.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


What good is medical insurance if no doctor will accept me as a patient? My long-time family doctor is retiring, forcing me to find another doctor. I have no problem going to another doctor, but I am having problems finding a doctor that will accept me because my insurance is Medicare. The reason for this situation is that all family doctors in Anchorage have joined in a pact to not accept Medicare patients because Medicare does not adequately pay the physicians. Older patients require more of a doctor's time, but Medicare pays less for that time. There are about 26,000 residents 65 years and older who live in Anchorage and the nearby Mat-Su Valley, and the number is expected to top 36,000 by 2014. There is currently one clinic in Anchorage accepting new Medicare patients. When I called for an appointment, I was told that I would have to wait three to four weeks to see a doctor. I'm hoping that this long wait applies only to the first visit and not to every visit! There is however new hope on the horizon. A private group, headed by retired Anchorage cardiologist George Rhyneer, is offering a solution to the Medicare problem. This group wants to start a new medical clinic in Anchorage aimed at seniors on Medicare. This is a private sector solution to a government-caused problem. The medical group is seeking a one-time grant of $1.7 million from the Alaska State Legislature to fund the first few years while a patient base is established but expect that the clinic can pay its bills once the patient base is established. They plan to streamline the delivery of medical service by hiring an experienced internist or family practice doctor who could see as many as fifty patients per day and be assisted by nurses and other medical staff. The doctor would not be able to spend very much time with each patient, but patients like me, who do not have a doctor at all, will at least have a doctor to visit. The medical group expects operating costs to be lower because it would accept only Medicare patients. Billing would be more efficient because medical records would be electronic and would deal with only one payer (Medicare). The government created my health insurance nightmare. I once enjoyed wonderful health insurance and could get medical help anywhere in the United States. I was forced to go on Medicare at age 65, and now I can't get medical help in my own hometown. I am grateful that I am currently healthy, but I worry about what will happen if I become ill. This is why I say, get the government out of insurance and medical service and let private industry solve the government-caused problems!

Monday, March 22, 2010

John Tyler

John Tyler (1790-1862) became our tenth President upon the death of William Henry Harrison, the first Vice President to do so. Tyler was a Southern Democrat who left his party to run with Harrison on the Whig Party ticket. Harrison died thirty days after taking office, and Tyler became President. Tyler was born on March 29, 1790, at the Greenway estate in Charles City County, Virginia, the second son of John and Mary Armistead Tyler. His father served at various times as governor, speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, and a judge. Tyler went to William and Mary College in 1802 where he studied hard and became interested in politics. He enjoyed writing, poetry, and playing the violin. He graduated at age 17, studied law under his father's instructions and was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1809. Tyler was only 21 when he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. During the War of 1812 he was captain of some volunteers for a month in the summer of 1813. His company saw no action so he returned to the legislature. Tyler married Letitia Christian, the daughter of a Virginia planter, on March 29, 1813 - his birthday. They had five daughters and three sons. Mrs. Tyler was suffering from a paralytic stroke when her husband became President and died on September 10, 1842. Twenty-two months after her death, Tyler married Julia Gardiner in New York City in 1844, making Tyler the first President to marry while in office. Tyler and Julia had seven children. Tyler served in the Virginia House of Delegates. He also served in United States House of Representatives. He fought for strict interpretation of the United States Constitution and opposed any measures that extended the powers of the federal government. He opposed the American System, an economic plan that called for increased federal spending on roads, etc. and high tariffs to aid American manufacturers. He also was opposed to the Bank of the United States. He resigned his seat in the House because of ill health in 1821. Tyler was elected as governor of Virginia in 1825. In 1827 he was elected to the United States Senate. In 1840 he was elected Vice President of the United States. On April 6, 1841, he was sworn in as President of the United States upon the death of William Henry Harrison. When Tyler left the White House he retired to Sherwood Forest, his estate near Charles City, Virginia. He lived quietly until the Civil War. He went to Washington seeking a compromise on the issues facing the nation in February 1861. At the Virginia secession convention in April, he voted in favor of Virginia leaving the Union. He was elected to the Confederate House of Representatives but died on January 18, 1862, before being seated there. He is buried beside his second wife in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. Facts and information for this blog post came from an article by John T. Hubbell, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 19, pp 532-535.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Census Every Ten Years

Provision 18 of the United States Constitution is found in Article I.2.3: "A census of the population of each state shall be taken within three years after this Constitution is adopted, and every ten years thereafter." This provision gives every American citizen the Right to representation in Congress according to population in his state and to have the population corrected by a census taken every ten years. The first census took place in 1790 and has been repeated every ten years since. The Founders original idea was simply to count the population in each state. The federal census has evolved into a major investigation to determine many social and economic facts. States and individuals have fought the tendency to gather more and more information on citizens, but the Supreme Court has implied that the federal government remains within its authority. The census is very important because representation and taxes are determined by the population of each state. Parents could teach this information by telling their children how many people have joined their household since the last census was taken in 2000.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


From the time of Adam, God has commanded His prophets to record His revelations and His dealings with mankind. When prophets speak or write under the influence of the Holy Ghost, their words become scripture (see Doctrine and Covenants 68:4). The Bible is a book of scripture which is a collection of sacred writings. Its pages cover many centuries from the time of Adam through the years of the Apostles of Christ. Many different prophets wrote the words contained in the Bible, which is divided into two sections. The Old Testament contains much history of the people and many prophecies foretelling the coming of the Savior. The New Testament gives us information on the life of the Savior, who is Jesus Christ. Many truths lost from the Bible through the centuries were restored or corrected by Joseph Smith in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ. It is a sacred record of some of the people who lived in the Americas between 2000 B.C. and 400 A.D. It contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It tells of the visit of Jesus Christ to the people in America soon after His resurrection. Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon into English by the gift and power of God. He said that the Book of Mormon is "the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book" (introduction to the Book of Mormon). The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of modern-day revelations. This book contains revelations concerning the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ in these last days. The Pearl of Great Price contains the book of Moses, the book of Abraham and some inspired writings of Joseph Smith. The book of Moses is an account of visions and writings of Moses as revealed to Joseph Smith. It gives more information about the Creation as well as clarifying teachings and doctrines that have been lost from the Bible. The book of Abraham is a translation by Joseph Smith from a papyrus scroll taken from the Egyptian catacombs. This book contains information about the Creation, the gospel, the nature of God, the priesthood, and our premortal life. The writings of Joseph Smith include part of his inspired translation of the Bible, selections from his History of the Church, and the Articles of Faith. I treasure the words of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. I study them and try to live by them. I also treasure the words of our living prophets, which I also consider to be scripture. One of our Articles of Faith states, "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God" (Article of Faith 1:9). The scriptures are here for our benefit. We should study them every day and teach the truths from the scriptures to our children. Our children need to see us studying the scriptures and applying their teachings in our lives. Our children also need us to study the scriptures with them in order that they might learn to love the scriptures and live by the truths in them. We can avoid the evils of the world by feeding our minds with the truth and righteousness found in the scriptures. As we read, ponder, and pray about the scriptures, we will grow closer to God and to each other. When we sincerely and with real intent ask God to help us understand the scriptures, the Holy Ghost will bear witness to us of the truth of the scriptures. By studying the scriptures and receiving the testimony of the Holy Ghost, we can know the truth and avoid deception. I love to read the scriptures and feel the love of God through His words, through the words of His prophets, and through presence of the Holy Ghost.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Compassionate Service

Our hearts go out to the victims of natural disasters such as Katrina and the earthquakes in Haiti and Chili. We feel great compassion for them and want to serve them or at least send money to help their cause. Yet there are many people in our own families, neighborhoods, and communities who suffer from heavy hearts, loneliness, and despair. We can develop compassion for those who are suffering around us. The first step in doing this is to pray for compassion. The prophet Mormon taught his son Moroni to "Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ" (Moroni 7:48). The New Testament records the many acts of kindness and compassion shown by Jesus Christ in his short life upon earth. He healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf and caused the lame to walk. His disciples through all ages have followed His example of showing forth compassion. We can pray mightily for those who are in need of compassion, but we can do greater deeds by being the answer to their prayers. We can reach out to others and help them with their burdens. We can mourn with those who have cause to mourn. We can offer comfort to those in pain and be a friend to the lonely. We can extend our arms in love and kindness and give gifts of compassion and charity. We can bless, help, and strengthen each other. We can nurture and help the young, care for the poor and lift up those with broken hearts. We can become true followers of Christ by following His counsel to "Feed my lambs" (John 21:15).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Virtuous Leaders

This principle of freedom is based on the idea that virtuous leaders can help their people to be virtuous and morally strong. The Prophet Joseph Smith recognized this principle of freedom. When he was asked how he governed such a large group of people, he answered, "I teach them correct principles and then they govern themselves." There are numerous examples in the scriptures of good men leading their people in righteousness. One such man was Enoch, who taught his people so well that the entire city was taken into heaven (Moses 7:23-23). Another good man who led his people in righteousness was Melchizedek, who taught his people so well that he was able to establish peace in the land. He was known as the prince of peace (Alma 13:17-18). The Founders of our nation knew that leaders must be good men in order to have virtuous and moral people. They also understood the dangers of wicked rulers. James Madison wrote, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary" (The Federalist Papers, No. 51, p 319). Our Constitution was written for a moral people. There have been numerous times and places in our nation when wicked men were controlling the circumstances. At a time when some of his followers were being persecuted and killed, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the following revelation: "I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free. Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn. Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil" (Doctrine and Covenants 98:8-10). The Founders were good, honest and wise men who set up our government in such a way as to keep evilness in check. That is the reason why we have three branches of federal government as well as state governments. At the same time they encouraged good men to become public servants. They knew that a good example could encourage people to become better. Any person who reads about Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Adams, etc. should feel a sense of pride in the greatness of our Founders. Let us continue to seek for good, honest, and wise men and women to lead our states and nation. When we find them, let's support them!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

War of 1812

Some people consider the War of 1812 as the strangest war in the history of the United States. The chief reason for the war was that Britain was stopping American ships at sea, removing British-born sailors, and forcing them back into British naval service. The United States was very much against this practice. Britain was trying to regain the hundreds of British sailors who deserted the British navy and found work on American ships. They went too far and "impressed" many native-born Americans into the British navy.

Another reason for the war was that Britain was fighting France. Before 1806, American ships took goods to both Great Britain and France, and Americans were getting rich on the European war. Napoleon tried to destroy British trade by stopping all British trade with Europe. Great Britain issued orders to blockade all French ports and ports in Europe under French control. To keep from being seized by Britain, American ships bound for French ports had to first go to a British port for inspection and payment of fees. Napoleon issued orders telling all neutral ships to not stop at British ports for inspection or the French navy would seize their ships. America was caught in the crossfire between Great Britain and France.

The United States made several attempts to convince England to change their policy towards neutral shipping and impressments, and Great Britain finally decided to repeal their laws. Speedy methods of communication might have prevented the War of 1812 because Congress declared war on England two days after Great Britain repealed their laws - long before news of the repealed laws reached America.

The war was fought for freedom of the seas, but it started with an invasion of Canada on a three-prong attack. American forces started from Detroit, from the Niagara River, and from the foot of Lake Champlain. The first attempt to invade Canada failed because American forces were either captured or turned back. In the campaigns of 1813, an American army moving towards Detroit was defeated and captured.

Several months later, United States troops captured York (now Toronto), the capital of Upper Canada, burned some of the buildings and held the city for a short time. The British fleet on Lake Erie was destroyed, forcing the British to leave Detroit and much of the Michigan territory. General William Henry Harrison took his army across the lake and defeated the retreating British at the Battle of the Thames. Later in the year Britain captured Fort Niagara and burned Buffalo, New York, and neighboring villages.

By 1814 Napoleon had been defeated in Europe, and Britain was concentrating on the war with America. By this time America had a well-trained and disciplined army that crossed into Canada and held Fort Erie for several months before crossing back into America. This was the last attempt to invade Canada.

Meanwhile, another British army, escorted by a fleet to Chesapeake Bay, occupied Washington, D.C. and set fire to the Capitol, the White House, and other public buildings. The British army and the British fleet were repelled at Baltimore. Bombs bursting in the air over Fort McHenry during the attack on Baltimore inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The final battle of the war was the Battle of New Orleans. This battle started on January 8, 1815 - a full 15 days AFTER a treaty of peace had been signed at Ghent, Belgium, on December 24, 1814. General Andrew Jackson was the hero of this battle, a battle that might have been prevented with better communication.

The peace treaty was ratified by Congress on February 17, 1815, a month after this battle was fought. According to the peace treaty, all land captured by either side was to be returned. Nothing was said in the treaty about impressments or blockades, although they were supposedly the reason for the war.

The War of 1812 was called "Mr. Madison's War" because he requested Congress to declare war on England. William Henry Harrison and Andrew Jackson won military fame during the war, which helped them in their respective presidential campaigns. Information and facts for this blog post came from an article by Reginald Horsman, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 21, pp. 28-33.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Saint Patrick

Happy Saint Patrick's Day to all of you! Saint Patrick (about 389-461) is the patron saint of Ireland. He was known as the Apostle to the Irish. He is credited with converting the Irish people to Christianity. Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated by Irish Catholics throughout the world on March 17. Patrick was born in Britain. His father was Christian and a wealthy alderman. Patrick was captured by pirates when he was 16 and sold as a slave in Ireland where he served as a shepherd. He studied religion while in captivity and escaped after six years there. He returned to his home in Britain but was driven by the thought of converting the Irish to Christianity. He studied in a monastery on an island off the coast of France in an effort to prepare for his self-imposed mission. He also studied religion under a French bishop. His superiors were not supportive of sending him to Ireland as a missionary until the first Irish missionary died. Then the Pope sent Patrick to Ireland. Patrick chose to start his work in northern and western Ireland where Christianity had not been previous taught. He won the trust of several tribal leaders and developed friendships with them and was converting their people to Christianity. Patrick is credited with baptizing more than 120,000 people and starting more than 300 churches. Clergymen were brought from England and Frances to work in his new churches. Patrick's mission to Ireland lasted the rest of his life. Facts and information for this blog post are from an article by William J. Courtenay, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 15, p 197.

Monday, March 15, 2010

James Madison

James Madison (1751-1836), the fourth President of the United States, is better known as the Father of the Constitution. As a leading player at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, he helped design the system of checks and balances that operate among Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court. He also was instrumental in creating the United States federal system, which divides the power between the central government and the various states.

Madison was born on March 16, 1751, in the home of his maternal grandparents located about 12 miles from Fredericksburg, Virginia. He was the eldest of twelve children. His ancestors on both sides of his family settled in Virginia during the 1600s. The Madison plantation, Montpelier, was located near present-day Orange, Virginia, and was worked by many slaves.

Madison was sickly and frail as a child. He studied with private tutors as well as attended school. He entered the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) at age 18 and had an active interest in politics. He completed his college work in two years and graduated in 1771. He spent the next six months studying Hebrew, philosophy and other subjects searching for answers to his religious questions. He had a weak speaking voice, which kept him from becoming a preacher. He entered politics in 1774 as a member of the Committee of Safety in Orange, Virginia. In 1776 he helped to draft a new constitution for Virginia and the Virginia Declaration of Rights. These documents were used as patterns by other colonies.

Madison met Thomas Jefferson in 1776 while serving in Virginia's revolutionary assembly, and they became friends for life. In 1779 Madison was elected to the Continental Congress. Madison represented Virginia at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 at age 36. He fought for a stronger central government and drafted the Virginia Plan, which is also called the Randolph Plan. This plan foreshadowed the Constitution that was adopted.

Madison was knowledgeable about political history and knew of the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, the basic law replaced by the Constitution. Of all the people at the convention, Madison kept the most complete record of the debates there. Madison next served as a member of Virginia convention called to consider ratifying the new Constitution. He also joined Alexander Hamilton and John Jay in writing the Federalist, a series of letters to newspapers encouraging ratification. These letters are still considered the best explanation of the constitutional system in America.

Madison lost an election for a seat in the first United States Senate in 1788. The next year he defeated James Monroe in an election for the United States House of Representative. There he proposed ideas for organizing the Departments of State, Treasury and War, drafted most of the first tariff act, and helped draft the first ten amendments to the Constitution, which became the Bill of Rights.

Madison met and married a young widow named Dolley Payne Todd in Philadelphia in 1794. The couple had no children but raised Dolley's son from her first marriage. [Mrs. Madison gave lavish parties in the White House and is said to have saved national treasures from burning when the British burned the White House during the War of 1812.]

Thomas Jefferson appointed his friend James Madison as secretary of state. Together they achieved the most important success in foreign relations in Jefferson's presidency - the Louisiana Purchase. They failed to force England and France to respect the rights of American ships at sea. Jefferson favored Madison to succeed him as President.

The War of 1812 was known as "Mr. Madison's War." Madison knew that America was not prepared for war, but he also knew that the United States could not tolerate further insults from Great Britain. He recommended war with England, and Congress approved it on June 18, 1812. The war ended with the Treaty of Ghent, which went into effect in February 1815. The war preserved American territorial integrity, but it didn't settle any of the causes for the war. The war ended without a victory for either side.

Other historical events of President Madison's time were: 1) In 1811 the National Road, which went from Maryland to Illinois, was started and became a major route to the West. 2) Also in 1811, the steam-powered printing press, invented by a German printer, made newspapers cheaper to print in large numbers. 3) During the War of 1812, British troops captured Washington, D.C. and burned the Capitol, the White House, and other public buildings. 4) Jane Austen's novels established her as a great writer of English literature. Her novels included Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1816). 5) "The Star-Spangled Banner," which became our national anthem, was written by Francis Scott Key after watching the British attack Baltimore during the War of 1812. 6) Napoleon was defeated in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo, ending his plans to rule Europe. 7) The stethoscope, used to listen to the heart, etc, was invented by a French doctor in 1816. Facts and information in this blog post are from an article by Robert J. Brugger, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 13, pp. 32-36.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Taxes and Population

Provision seventeen of the United States Constitution is found in Article I.2.3: "Direct taxes (levied against the property of private individuals) shall be apportioned among the states according to population." This provision means that citizens have the Right to be taxed equally no matter where they live. The discussion on this provision was about whether population was the best measure to use to decide taxes. If population was chosen, should slaves be counted? The delegates to the Constitutional Convention determined that population was the most equitable measurement to determine taxes. There was a problem when discussing the slavery issue. The Southern states wanted to count slaves when determining their population for representation but not count them when determining their population for taxes. As a compromise, the delegates agreed that each slave would be weighted at three-fifths in determining population for both representation and taxation. This was merely a compromise deal and not intended as an insult to slaves. Representation and taxation would counter balance each other and made for a more honest and reliable census. States wanted the highest numbers of representatives as possible and therefore would count as many people as possible. At the same time, they wanted the lowest amount of taxes as possible and therefore would keep population numbers as low as possible. Parents could divide family into two groups and assign "taxes." Any item - jelly beans, cheerios, whatever - could be used as taxes. Each group could be assessed a certain number - maybe twenty - items. If a group has only two members, each member of that group would have to pay ten items, but in a group of five each member would pay only four items. This would not be equal taxation.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Prophets of God

"Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). Many people in the world do not know God's will for them. They believe that God no longer speaks to man and that man must face the dangers of life alone. How grateful I am to know that God does speak to His children and that He does so through His prophets. A prophet is a man that has been called by God to be His spokesman on earth. When a man speaks for God, it is as though God himself were speaking. A prophet testifies of Jesus Christ as His special witness and teaches the gospel of Jesus Christ. A prophet explains or interprets the word of God and teaches His truth. He calls all sinners to repentance. He receives directions, instructions, and other revelations from God to bless all mankind. He can see into the future and know of events to come in order to warn the world. A prophet may be old or young. He may be uneducated or highly trained. He may be an engineer, a doctor or a businessman. He does not look like the prophets of old with long beards, tunics, and staffs. Modern day prophets look like businessmen with their suits, briefcases, and Blackberries. A true prophet can be identified because he is always chosen by God and called through proper priesthood authority. The Lord's prophet for the people on earth today is Thomas S. Monson, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is a prophet, seer, and revelator. He is assisted by fourteen other men who are the two Counselors in the First Presidency and the members of the Council of Twelve Apostles. Adam was the first prophet on the earth, and there have been prophets on earth since the days of Adam. Enoch was a prophet whose people became so righteous that the whole city of Zion was translated and taken into heaven. Noah was a prophet who cried repentance for 120 years before he built an ark large enough to save his own family and many animals from a flood. Moses was a prophet who led thousands of people out of Egypt and slavery into the Promised Land. Nephi was a Book of Mormon prophet who left Jerusalem 600 years before the birth of Christ and came to the Americas. He was a great leader and left many important writings in the Book of Mormon. John the Baptist was one of the greatest of prophets whose mission was to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith was a modern-day prophet who translated the Book of Mormon, organized the Lord's Church here on earth again, and laid the foundation to prepare the people in our day for the Second Coming of Christ. Many people are able to believe in the prophets of old but do not believe in prophets today. Heavenly Father always works through His prophets on earth. We need prophets today to help us with today's problems. The information that God gave to Noah on how to survive the Flood or to Moses on leading the Israelites to the Promised Land will not help us to know what we need to do today. I know that the Lord speaks to his prophet today and tells him what we need to survive these troubled times. Our duty is to pray for the prophet and to pay attention when he speaks. We should be completely obedient to his teachings. When we follow the prophet obediently, blessings flow down from heaven. I know we have a prophet on earth today, even Thomas S. Monson. I have received many blessings through following the counsel of prophets. I was comforted with the counseled recently given by President Monson. He told us to look around to find someone who needs help and to give them that help. He reminded us that when we are serving God's children, we are only serving God. He said, "… we are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our kindness…. We are the Lord's hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us" ("What Have I Done for Someone Today?" Ensign, Nov. 2009, 86). I thank God everyday that He has a prophet on earth today to guide us through these troubled days.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Rising Generation

I have long been interested in our youth and have often noticed what the scriptures say about the "rising generation." Just before he died, King Benjamin gave a powerful speech from a specially built tower in the temple courtyard. The scriptures teach, "There were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the traditions of their fathers" (Mosiah 1:26). Less than forty years later, the prophet Alma traveled to the various cities and villages in the land in an attempt to reclaim the people who were falling away from the church. "And now I say unto you that this is the order after which I am called, yea to preach unto … everyone that dwelleth in the land; yea, to preach unto all, both old and young, both bond and free; … the aged … the middle aged, and the rising generation; yea to cry unto them that they must repent and be born again" (Alma 5:49). Another eighty to ninety years passed, and the prophet Nephi wrote, "And thus were the Lamanites afflicted also, and began to decrease as to their faith and righteousness because of the wickedness of the rising generation" (3 Nephi 1:30). It appears from these scriptures that we must be ever mindful of the rising generation because they stand at a critical intersection in their lives. Many voices are calling to them to come this way or that way. The teenage years are times of great decision. They are important times of needed guidance. Use them wisely and appreciate those quiet and reverent conversations that you may have with your young people. Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: "Reserved by the Lord for this time, [the rising generation] must now be preserved… and prepared for their special moment n human history! They have been held back to come forth at this time, but now they need to be pushed forward to meet their rendezvous" ("Unto the Rising Generation," Ensign, April 1985, 8). These wonderful young people are worthy of our best efforts to support and strengthen them. There is a great need for nurturing and strengthening of the rising generation. President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) taught, "Never forget that these little ones are the sons and daughters of God and that yours is a custodial relationship to them, that He was a parent before you were parents and that He has not relinquished His parental rights or interests in these His little ones…. Rear your children in love, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Take care of your little ones. Welcome them into your homes, and nurture and love them with all of your hearts. They may do, in the years that come, some things you would not want them to do, but be patient, be patient. You have not failed as long as you have tried" ("Excerpts from Recent Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley," Ensign, July 1997, 73).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Virtue and Morality

The second principle of freedom is based on the idea that a republican type of government needs virtuous and morally strong citizens to survive. The Founders had a great desire for independence but worried that they might not be good enough to make it work. They identified virtue and morality as being obedient to God's will, particularly the Ten Commandments. The Founders also understood that virtue comes only with effort and learning and that it must be cultivated and exercised. They wondered if their posterity would make the effort to teach the rising generations to be virtuous and moral. John Adams said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." (Quoted in John R. Howe, Jr., The Changing Political Thought of John Adams, p 189). Let us be virtuous and moral and teach our posterity to be the same. This is one way that we can protect the freedoms we enjoy.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Alamo

The Alamo is a historical structure located in downtown San Antonio, Texas. During the war for Texan independence from Mexico, a famous battle was fought at the Alamo from February 23 until March 6, 1836. The Alamo is a restored historic site. Padre Antonio Olivares, a Spanish missionary, established the Alamo at San Antonio in 1718 as a Roman Catholic mission. The mission consisted of a monastery and church enclosed by high walls. The mission was first called San Antonio de Valero but was later called the Alamo, the Spanish name for the cottonwood trees surrounding the mission. Texans sometimes used the mission as a fort for protection from the Indians. The people of Texas became dissatisfied with the Mexican government and decided to cut their relations with Mexico sometime during the winter of 1835-1836. Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and his troops approached San Antonio to end the move for independence by the Texans. The Mexicans' quick arrival surprised the Texans. Lieutenant Colonel William Barrett Travis with about 150 Texans tried to defend the city. Included in the defenders were Davy Crockett and James Bowie, two famous Americans. Travis sent out a plea for help. A relief party from Gonzales, Texas, increased the defenders in the Alamo to 189 after passing through the Mexican lines. Colonel J. W. Fanin left Goliad, Texas, with about 400 men but turned back to Goliad after equipment failed. The Mexicans laid a siege of the Alamo that lasted 13 days. There were 4000 Mexicans against 189 Texans. By March 5 the Texans were running low on ammunition and could not return Mexican fire. Santa Anna decided to attack the fort early the next morning by going over the walls. At the end, Texans were using their rifles as clubs. All Texan fighters either died in the battle or were executed afterwards. There were only four survivors: Susanna Dickinson, the wife of an officer; her baby; her Mexican nurse; and Colonel Travis' black slave Joe. "Remember the Alamo" became the rallying battle cry for Texans. The heroes who defended the Alamo gave General Sam Houston the time he needed to gather enough forces to save the independence movement of Texas. Houston retreated eastward, and Santa Anna pursued. At San Jacinto, Texas, on April 21, Houston turned on the Mexicans and made a surprise attack during an afternoon siesta. Houston's forces took just 18 minutes to capture or kill most of the Mexican army of more than 1200 men. Houston's troops captured Santa Anna the next day and forced him to sign a treaty giving Texans their independence. My husband and I visited the Alamo several times and were impressed with the structure. The history of the Alamo and the artifacts are very interesting and worth a visit; however, the famous memorial has become a tourist trap with all the trinkets for sale there. We enjoyed much more our trip to the location of John Wayne's movie "The Alamo" near the border with Mexico. The wide-open spaces around the fake Alamo are much more appealing to the Alamo story than the streets of San Antonio. The Texan defenders at the Alamo paid the ultimate price for independence. I encourage everyone to "Remember the Alamo" and stand tall as Americans. Independence is worth whatever price we must pay! Facts and information for this blog post came from an article by Joseph A. Stout, Jr., World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp 280-281,

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fifteen Minutes

Take a minute to think about what happens at your house when someone calls unexpectedly and says, "We'll be there in fifteen minutes to see you." I'll guess that you accomplished a lot in those fifteen minutes! I remember many times of scurrying around, picking up items that were left out, and generally trying to make the place look good. Now I want you to think about an average, ordinary day. Are there a few minutes here and there that simply get wasted? I am a habit-driven, task-oriented person, and I operate better with a schedule and a list of tasks to do. It is sort of like having a road map in that it tells me where I need to go next. The list keeps me moving from one task to another. I have many projects that I am currently working on. Most of them are long-range projects, tasks that will take many hours over many weeks, months and years. I found that without putting them on a list, I just didn't get to them at all. I also found that I sometimes didn't take the time to make my list each day or forgot to add these tasks to my list. Other times I made a short list and ran out of tasks before I ran out of time and therefore found myself floundering in attempt to decide what I should do next. I recently solved many of my work problems by making a master list on the computer. I typed a list of tasks that I wanted to accomplish, ones that I felt were very important to my success. I keep a copy of this list in my day timer and simply mark off the task when I complete it each day. My list is currently evolving because I keep adding tasks and revising the list. I now have a list of sixteen tasks that I work on daily. My daily list does not include chores such as cooking and dishes and personal items such as flossing my teeth, but it does have really important things like my morning prayer, scripture study, journal, exercises, and putting out my flag, all activities that I consider to be too important to be forgotten. I also include my long-term projects such as learning to play the piano, embroidering some special items for my children, and marking scriptures for my grandchildren. I've been making real progress on all of my projects by simply setting my kitchen timer for fifteen minutes per project. I work on a project for fifteen minutes until my timer goes off, put a mark by that item, and move on to another project. When I look at my list with all the daily tasks crossed off, I feel like I've accomplished a big thing! I've added weekly and monthly lists and a planning section to my form. My weekly list includes chores, such as vacuuming and laundry, tasks which need to be done every week, as well as a date night with my husband. My monthly list includes things like writing to my grandchildren, cleaning my stove top, and visiting teaching. I never run out of tasks to do, and I accomplish so much more than I did before I started my master list. Some people accomplish the same thing with an index card for each task. I like my list because I can see items actually checked off. It gives me a sense of accomplishment.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) was the first President to be born in a log cabin. Previous presidents were from wealthier families. Jackson was the son of poor Scotch-Irish immigrants but became an orphan at age 14. He grew up in the Carolinas but later moved to Tennessee. He became famous as an Indian fighter and as a War of 1812 general. He was known for being tough and was given the nickname of "Old Hickory." Jackson was born on March 15, 1767, in either North Carolina or South Carolina - no one knows which one. Jackson's parents were poor farmers from Northern Ireland, who sailed to America in 1765 with their two older sons, Hugh and Robert. His father built a cabin and started a farm. He died in 1767 just days before Andrew was born. Jackson had a quick temper and got in many fights. He was also a good reader. At age 9, he read the newly adopted Declaration of Independence to his neighbors. At age 11 he went to a nearby boarding school. At age 13 he and his brother Robert joined the South Carolina mounted militia. His brother Hugh died in an earlier battle. Andrew and Robert were captured by the British in April 1781. Andrew was severely cut with a sword when he refused to clean the British commander's boots. The officer forced the two Jackson boys to march 40 miles to a military prison where they caught small pox. Their mother was able to obtain their freedom during an exchange of prisoners. Robert died from the small pox, and Mrs. Jackson died soon after him. Andrew became an orphan at age 14 and was the only one of his family left living. Jackson studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1787. He served as solicitor or attorney general. He gained a large private law practice because of his success as a public defender. Jackson roomed at a boardinghouse in Nashville. There he met Mrs. Rachel Donelson Robards who was separated from her army officer husband. Believing that her husband had divorced her, she married Jackson in August 1791. They learned in December 1793 that the divorce was granted the previous September. Jackson and Rachel were remarried on January 18, 1794, in Nashville. The confusion surrounding their marriages made them targets of gossip for decades. The Jacksons had no children of their own. They adopted a four-day-old nephew of Mrs. Jackson in 1809 and named him Andrew Jackson, Jr. They also reared three other nephews of Mrs. Jackson. Jackson was a good businessman in addition to being a lawyer. He bought land at low prices and sold it for as much as thirty times the purchase price. He bought two plantations, Hunter's Hill and Hermitage. Hunter's Hill was later sold to pay debts, but the Hermitage remained his home. Jackson was a delegate at the state constitutional convention, which prepared for Tennessee's entrance into the Union. He may have be the one who suggested the name "Tennessee" for his state. Jackson was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1796 and the United States Senate in 1797 but resigned in April 1798. As a major general in the Tennessee militia, Jackson led 2500 Tennessee militiamen and offered their services to President James Madison when the War of 1812 started. While waiting for federal orders, the Tennessee governor directed him to reinforce troops in New Orleans. Jackson was in Natchez, Mississippi, when he received federal orders to demobilize his troops on the spot. Jackson was furious, refused to demobilize them and led them home through 500 miles of wilderness. Because his men considered him to be tough as hickory, he returned home to Tennessee with his famous nickname, Old Hickory. Jackson led 2000 men in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in a fight with Creek Indians. He dictated peace terms with the Creek, who gave up 23 million acres of land in present day Georgia and Alabama. The federal government commissioned Jackson a major general in the regular army and assigned him to command troops on the southern coast. On the way to New Orleans, Jackson seized Pensacola in Spanish Florida, which the British were using as a military base. When he arrived in New Orleans on December 1, 1814, he recognized that the city was defenseless. He set a furious pace putting up defenses. The British attacked at dawn on January 8, 1815, but were terribly defeated with losses of 300 men killed, 1250 wounded and 500 captured. American losses were 14 men killed, 39 wounded, and 18 captured. The victory made Jackson a hero but didn't affect the outcome of the war. A peace treaty had been signed two weeks earlier, but word didn't reach Jackson until after the battle. After the United States acquired Florida from Spain, Jackson served as the provisional governor in 1821 for a few months. Jackson was elected President of the United States in 1828 in spite of his marriage to Rachel becoming a campaign issue by John Quincy Adams. Mrs. Jackson died on December 22, 1828, from a heart attack and was buried at Hermitage. Before her death she expressed her desire that her niece should manage the White House for Jackson. Jackson was swept into office with the idea of reform. He wanted to destroy what he considered to be a monopoly of federal offices by wealthy individuals. He believed that no federal employee should have a right to a lifetime job. Jackson also took on the Bank of the United States. The bank had authority over the United States currency system. Jackson disliked the bank for both economic and political reasons and considered the law establishing the bank as unconstitutional. When the bank's charter came up for renewal, Jackson vetoed the bill (1832). In 1833 he removed the government funds from the Bank of the United States. The fight over the bank occurred at the same time as the opening of the West, heavy speculation in land, and increased foreign trade. The United States government was making more money than it was spending. [Wouldn't that be a wonderful situation?] Jackson used the surplus on January 8, 1835, to pay the final installment of the national debt. He was the only President to pay off the national debt. There were lots of problems for his administration involving Indians. In 1832, settlers drove the Black Hawk Indians from Illinois. In 1835, United States troops forced the Seminole Indians to retreat to the Florida Everglades. Texas declared its independence from Mexico in 1836. The Battle of the Alamo, the most famous battle in the war for Texan independence, took place in 1836. Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna defeated the Texans who were defending the Alamo. Famous Americans in the Alamo were Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie. Jackson thought Texas should be part of the United States but feared to recognize Texan independence. He thought it might damage Martin Van Buren's chances to become President. After Van Buren was elected, Jackson used his last day as President to establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Texas. Jackson retired to Hermitage, white-haired and ill with tuberculosis and dropsy but still standing very much erect. He supported Van Buren's unsuccessful bid for re-election in 1840. In 1844 he supported James K. Polk in his successful bid for the presidency. Jackson died on June 8, 1845, and is buried in the garden at Hermitage beside his wife. Facts and information for this blog post are from an article written by James C. Curtis, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 11, pp 6-14.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Representatives Decided by Population

The sixteenth provision of the United States Constitution is found in Article I.2.3: "The number of Representatives from each state will be apportioned according to population." This provision means that every citizen has the Right to be represented in Congress at the same ratio as every other citizen in the country. This provision caused a lot of problems at the Constitutional Convention. The smaller states thought that each state should have one vote. The larger states thought they should have more votes because they had more people. The problem was solved when the Founders decided that all states would be represented equally in the Senate but apportioned their representation in the House according to population. Senators were originally elected by state legislatures, and Representatives elected by a popular vote. Thus, the citizens of each state would be represented both as individuals and as a group. If possible, parents could divide the members of the family into two groups - males and females might work for demonstration purposes. Then "elect" representatives and discuss the number of people each representative actually represents and the lack of equal representation.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


"As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matthew 7:7-11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings" (Bible Dictionary, 752-753). Prayer is a sincere, heartfelt talk with our Heavenly Father. It is one of the greatest blessings we have in this life. It can be compared with visiting with a loved one on the telephone. There are many reasons why we should pray. The most important reason is to be obedient to a commandment given to Adam and Eve and never rescinded. They were told by an angel of God to call upon God in the name of the Son (Moses 5:8). We should pray for guidance and help in our lives and for family, friends, neighbors, homes and properties, our work and daily activities. We should pray for protection from our enemies and for strength to resist the temptations of Satan. We should pray to express our love to Heavenly Father and to feel closer to Him. Prayer will help us grow closer to God because it influences all of our thoughts, words, and actions. We should pray to thank Him for our many blessings and to confess our sins. We should pray when we want to talk with Heavenly Father - and even more when we don't feel like praying. We can pray silently or vocally, alone or with others. We can pray at any time whether day or night. We can pray kneeling or standing or in any other position when needed. We should pray individually every morning and every night as well as with our families every morning and every night. We should also give thanks for and ask a blessing upon the food that we eat. We should tell Heavenly Father what we really feel in our hearts, confide in Him, thank Him, ask Him for forgiveness, and tell Him that we love Him. We should always ask that His will be done. We should begin our prayer by addressing Heavenly Father, thank Him for our blessings received, ask for needed blessings, and close in the name of Jesus Christ. Heavenly Father answers every sincere prayer at a time and in a way that God knows will be best for us. When the answer is yes, we receive a warm, comfortable feeling about what we should do. When the answer is no, we continue to feel confused or unsure about the proposed action. Sometimes the answer is "not yet" or "wait awhile." At those times we need to exercise our patience. Sometimes prayers are answered with an idea of what we can do. At other times, the answer comes through another person. I am very grateful to know that I have a Father in Heaven that I can approach in prayer and receive the guidance, comfort, help, etc. that I need.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Live the Gospel of Christ

"The plan of happiness is available to all of his children. If the world would embrace and live it, peace, joy, and plenty would abound on the earth. Much of the suffering we know today would be eliminated if people throughout the world would understand and live the gospel" (Elder Russell M. Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Answers to Life's Questions," Ensign, May 1995, 23). This is a very profound and powerful statement. I know it is true. We must be like strong oak trees and extend our roots deeply in the basic truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When our foundations are solid and our roots are deep, we will have the strength to withstand and stand firm no matter what the adversity that comes our way. Just as our physical bodies need a nutritious and balanced diet, our spiritual bodies also need balanced nourishment. We gain nourishment by attending church and partaking of the sacrament weekly, by studying the scriptures daily, and by daily personal and family prayer. Our spiritual bodies, like batteries, do best when they are charged and frequently recharged. "As we strive to understand, internalize, and live correct gospel principles, we will become more spiritually self-reliant…. I testify as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ that He lives, that the gospel is true, and that it offers the answers to all personal and collective challenges the children of God have on this earth today" (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Christlike Attributes - the Wind Beneath Our Wings," Ensign, Nov. 2005, 101).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Natural Law

The first fundamental principle of freedom for a society is that the governing laws must be based on Natural Law or the laws of God. The Founders understood that basic rights come from God. In writing the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." Our Founding Fathers wanted a government that would overcome the evils of past civilizations. They knew that individual liberty and collective prosperity could only happen among a moral and virtuous people. They understood that their new law had to be based on God's Law. Jesus Christ taught that the greatest commandment is "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment." Jesus added, "And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:36-40). Every law of mankind should be based on these two great laws.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Plant Your Flag

"When General Victor `Brute' Krulak asked President Reagan what advice he would give young Marine officers, Reagan didn't hesitate: `Plant your flag.' He meant find those principles, those ideals, that plan or project on which you will stake your reputation, and plant your flag there…." (William J. Bennett, America: The Last Best Hope, Vol. II, p. 480).

Ronald Reagan planted his flag and stood on his principles. He said what he meant and meant what he said. He had three main goals for his administration: smaller government, lower taxes, and stronger defense. He was successful in achieving all three.

As Reagan stepped down from the Inaugural platform, he signed an Executive Order and with his signature destroyed price controls on oil that had been in place for more than a decade. The next day he abolished the Council on Wage and Price Stability and ended an energy crisis that had consumed the Carter administration. This meant that Americans were no longer forced to wait in long lines to buy gasoline.

As Reagan was being sworn in as the 40th President of the United States, 52 Americans were being held captive by Iranian militants. They had been in captivity for 444 days. Some time later on Inauguration Day, President Reagan announced at a luncheon with members of Congress that the American hostages had been freed. Even the militants recognized that Reagan said what he meant and meant what he said.

The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Union (PATCO) went on strike during the summer of 1981. Reagan warned the union members, who were all government employees, that he would fire all of them if they violated federal law by walking off the job. They walked, and he fired all of them.

During the years between 1981 and 1987 Americans enjoyed more labor peace because there were thousands fewer people going on strike. Not only labor unions took note that Reagan said what he meant and meant what he said.

Leaders of foreign nations also watched and marveled. The KGB noted in a background paper for the Soviet Communist leadership that with Reagan "word and deed are the same." When Libya sent Soviet-made MiG jet fighters to threaten U.S. Navy jets in the international waters of the Gulf of Sidra, Reagan ordered his military pilots to shoot them down. He told his military leaders that they could pursue Libyan jets into Libyan territory and even "… follow them into their damned hangers."

Reagan's resolve to build up and strengthen our defense took military morale to new heights. Reagan never wavered from his core principles and stayed committed to his basic beliefs. One of his basic beliefs was that communism was evil. His anti-communism stance began while he served as president of the Screen Actors Guild. He recognized that communism had a record of crushing human rights and was guilty of mass murder. He saw its hatred of God, hostility to democracy and its violence. Once he even called the USSR an "evil empire."

In June 1982 Reagan became the first President of the United States to address the British House of Commons. He told them, "In an ironic sense, Karl Marx was right. We are witnessing today a great revolutionary crisis, a crisis where the demands of the economic order are conflicting directly with those of the political order. But the crisis is happening not in the free, non-Marxist West, but in the home of Marxist-Leninism, the Soviet Union…. [T]he march of freedom and democracy …will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people." The British leaders recognized Reagan's toughness and his commitment. The relationship between Great Britain and the United States had never been closer than while Reagan was President.

In 1983 the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada - about 51 square miles - was torn with an uprising within its own government. Appeals were made for United States help. Reagan acted quickly because he viewed the situation with suspicion that Granada was the creation of another communist tyranny in the Western Hemisphere. On October 19 United States and allied forces invaded Grenada and quickly overwhelmed the "engineers" from Cuba who were helping island communists build a huge airstrip. It was supposedly being made to land Boeing 747s, but Reagan warned that it could also be used for Soviet long-range missiles. The invasion was cheered by the 100,000 natives of Grenada and rescued American medical students there. It was also an attempt by Reagan to push back at the periphery of the Soviet empire worldwide. Some people believe that Grenada was the turning point of the Cold War just as Gettysburg was the turning point of the Civil War.

Reagan went to West Germany in June 1987 to speak there as part of Berlin's 750th anniversary celebration. Reagan wanted to make a strong statement about divided Berlin. Reagan's speech writer visited Berlin in preparation for writing the speech. He saw the 60-mile long wall that separated West Berlin and East Berlin. He also saw that the wall separated two different types of existence. He saw that East Berlin was colorless and had buildings which still showed signs of bomb and bullet damage from World War II. In West Berlin he saw life, color, movement, modern architecture, traffic, etc. He talked with people in West Berlin who explained how the wall had separated members of their family. He returned to Washington D.C. determined to write something about the wall coming down. The State Department, the National Security Council, and the Secretary of State didn't want anything about the wall in the speech. They rejected draft after draft of the speech. Each time Reagan put the famous line about the wall coming down back into the speech. Reagan's speech at the Brandenburg Gate is regarded today as one of history's greatest speeches. He said what he wanted to say, and he said it with emphasis. "General Secretary, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Reagan believed that the United States must always negotiate from a position of strength. He was a man who believed in standing firm on true principles.

Reagan was a man of faith in God. He wanted to spend his remaining years doing what God wanted him to do. In a visit to St. George's Hall in the Kremlin, after a nice welcome from Gorbachev and surrounded by the gold, crystal, rich tapestries of the Tsars, and the paintings of saints, Reagan looked Gorbachev in the eye and said, "God bless you." This was the first time in 70 years that the name of God had been uttered aloud in that place. It was heard by every citizen across the Soviet Union. Reagan was a man with faith in God and love for his country. He was a great man and a great President because he stood firm on his principles. He said what he meant and meant what he said.

Ideas, information, and quotes for this blog post came from William J. Bennett, America: The Last Best Hope, Vol. II, pp 480-530.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Aging in Good Health

I once told my son who is a doctor that I wasn’t interested in getting old. My husband and I were deeply involved in caring for his parents who were both elderly and ill, and old age just didn’t look at all good to me. My son pointed out that his grandparents were ill and that being old and ill was much different than simply being old. After this discussion with my son, I decided that I would do everything I could possibly do to stay healthy. My goal is to be in good health until the end of my life – and then just pass away quickly. Only time will tell if I meet my goal, but I’ll die trying to reach it! I’ve been exercising seriously for about ten years ago as well as developing good eating habits for a long time previously, and I’m always looking for better ways to keep myself healthy. This is one reason why I was pleased to have my daughter-in-law loan her book from a recent book club discussion to me. The book is written by a man who is 71 years old but has a healthy forty-nine year old body and his much younger doctor who was tired of watching his patients’ health deteriorate as they aged. The authors are Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D. The book is entitled Younger Next Year for Women – Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy Until You’re 80 and Beyond. A quote from the back of the book says, “Smart women don’t grow older. They grow younger. A book of hope, Younger Next Year for Women shows you how to become functionally younger for the next five to ten years, and continue to live thereafter with newfound vitality. How to avoid 70 percent of the normal problems of aging and eliminate 50 percent of illness and injury. And how to live brilliantly for the three decades or more after menopause. The key is found in Harry’s Rules, a program of exercise, diet, and maintaining emotional connections that will be natural for you, as a woman, to implement. And the results will be amazing.” I found the book to be interesting reading, and I recommend it to every woman because it will help every woman. The book is full of fun stories and good information, all written in an entertaining style. The information can be boiled down to seven statements, which are called Harry’s Rules: “1. Exercise six days a week for the rest of your life. 2. Do serious aerobic exercise four days a week for the rest of your life. 3. Do serious strength training, with weights, two days a week for the rest of your life. 4. Spend less than you make. 5. Quit eating crap! 6. Care 7. Connect and commit” In the end of the book, Harry wrote: “This has been a deeply optimistic look at aging – and for good reason. First, you are likely to live for a long, long time. And second, you make a daily choice in how the rest of your life goes, and it can be great. The rules are straightforward: Exercise hard and you will grow younger. Care about other people and you will grow happier. Build a life that you think means something and you will grow richer. “… And the lessons are pretty simple when you get right down to it: exercise, care, and connect. …it’s a biological choice you make every day. Our bodies are still part of nature, …, and they still run like railroad trains, on tracks of steel laid down over aeons. The train keeps moving forward, but we control the switch. We can choose left or right, growth or decay. The choice we make by being sedentary or isolated is as powerful as the choice we make by exercising or connecting. Remember tonight, before you go to sleep, that you chose just a little bit of growth or decay today, and you get to choose all over again tomorrow…. “Exercise is absolutely the most important message of the book…. Most of our aging is just decay, and decay is optional; it’s under your control. Some of life’s changes are not under your control, but this one is. Taking charge of your life, physically and emotionally, is the best possible antidote to standard aging…. “Our advice is simple. Stay young until you die” (pp 348-355). Since reading this book, I increased my jogging time to forty-minutes a day for six days a week. I continued doing weight training three days each week. I’ll admit that most days I awake with a thought similar to this, “Oh no, today is a weight day” or “I just need to jog today.” The extra forty-five minutes doing weights really tires me, but it also is obviously helping my body to be younger. Since my husband was diagnosed with diabetes, I’ve been learning different ways to combine food groups – which is a healthier way to eat. I can’t tell yet if I’m actually losing weight or simply bouncing around, but I know that I feel better.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Wilson Reagan (RAY guhn) was born February 6, 1911, in Tampico, Illinois. His father was a shoe salesman, and his mother was a homemaker and occasional sales clerk. When Reagan was a baby, his father gave him the nickname Dutch. His only brother was nicknamed Moon. Reagan's mother loved the theater and took part in amateur productions. As a result of his mother's interest, Reagan also became interested in acting very early in his life. The family moved often looking for work until they settled in Dixon, Illinois, when Reagan was 9 years old. He finished grade school there and went to high school where he played football and basketball as well as competed in track and swim meets. He also took part in several plays and was president of the student council. He was a lifeguard during summer breaks. He entered Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois, in 1928. He paid for college with a partial scholarship, savings from his lifeguard job, and earnings from washing dishes at a fraternity house. He majored in economics and sociology. He played football, joined the track team and was swim team captain. He was in many college plays and was president of the student body. In 1932 he graduated and found work as a sports announcer for a radio station in Davenport, Iowa. His job was to give play-by-play accounts in major league baseball games, Big Ten football games, and other events. While on a trip to southern California in 1937 to report on the Chicago Cubs spring training session, he took a screen test for Warner Brothers, a large motion-picture studio. The studio signed him to an acting contract. He appeared in more than 50 feature films from 1937 to 1964. He became a star and was known for his roles as a wholesome, likable young man. He joined the United States Armed Forces in 1942 to fight in World War II but was disqualified for combat because of poor eyesight. He spent most of the war in Hollywood making training films and was discharged as a captain in 1945. He served six terms of office as president of the Screen Writers Guild (SAG). He married actress Jane Wyman on January 25, 1940. The couple had one daughter and adopted a son before divorcing in 1948. He met actress Nancy Davis in 1951. They were married on March 4, 1952 and later had a daughter and a son. Reagan, a Democrat, actively supported Republican Richard M. Nixon's campaign for President in 1960. In 1962 he switched parties and officially became a Republican. In 1966, he was successful in his campaign for governor of California and served two consecutive terms there. Even while governor of California, Reagan looked at the nation as a whole. He was considered to be a potential presidential candidate at both the 1968 and the 1974 Republican National Conventions. He won the Republican nomination for the 1980 presidential election and named George H.W. Bush as his Vice Presidential candidate. Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter for President. He carried 44 states and 489 electoral votes to Carter's 6 states and Washington D.C. and 49 electoral votes. When he took office as the 40th President, he became the oldest President of the United States to be elected. In 1984 he won a second term of office in a campaign against Walter Mondale. The Reagan-Bush ticket won in a landslide, winning 49 states and 525 electoral votes, the most electoral votes won by a presidential candidate. Somewhere along the line, Reagan became known as "the Gipper" and "the Great Communicator." On March 30, 1981, in Washington, D.C., only two months aft4er he became President of the United States, Reagan was shot in the chest in an assassination attempt by John W. Hinckley, Jr. The bullet barely missed his heart. Surgeons removed the bullet, and Reagan made a full recovery. He remains well remembered for his good humor both before and after his surgery. An example of his humor happened as he was being wheeled into the operating room when he looked at the doctors and quipped, "I hope that you are all Republicans." Three other people, including Reagan's press secretary, were shot. A jury found Hinckley insane at the time of the attack and therefore found him not guilty of the attempted murder charge. He was placed in a mental institution. I remember the day that President Reagan was shot. It was such a shock. My friend stopped by to drop something off to me and said, "We just get a good President and they shoot him!" The fact that the Pope was short just days or weeks later really concerned everyone. Reagan spent his time as president trying to cut taxes, lessening people's dependence on government and increasing national defense. He accomplished all three goals. He also met with Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev several times and made the first major move to end the Cold War when both men agreed to jointly eliminate some of their nuclear weapons. Reagan's health became a concern for the nation early in his second term. A cancerous tumor was found in and removed from his colon in 1985. He made a quick recovery. The Iran-Contra Affair brought scandal to his administration when it became known that our government traded weapons for hostages. Reagan at first denied knowing about it but later apologized, calling it "a mistake." The American people loved him so much that he was totally forgiven by the people. President and Mrs. Reagan brought elegance back to the White House, restoring much of the traditional pageantry which was ended by Jimmy Carter: Trumpeters again announced the President and First Lady and welcomed foreign guests; a color guard preceded the entrance of the presidential family and its guests of honor; military social aides accompanied members of the official party at state dinners. When Reagan left the White House, he moved to Bel Air, California. He continued to deliver speeches in support of conservative causes. He published his autobiography, An American Life, in 1990. The next year the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library opened in Simi Valley, California. It contains documents and other items related to Reagan and his presidency. Soon after Reagan retired, he was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, a degenerative brain disorder that causes a loss of memory and a failure of other mental abilities as well as weaken the physical condition. He decided to let the American people know of his disease rather than keep it a secret. He hoped that knowledge of his having Alzheimer's were encourage more research into a cure for the disease. He made his announcement in a hand-written open letter to the public on November 5, 1994. Reagan's health and memory continued to deteriorate. He passed away on June 5, 2004 at the age of 93. He lived longer than any other President in United States History. The outpouring of love and respect for a fallen American leader had not been seen since the funeral for John F. Kennedy. Tens of thousands of Americans filed past his casket in separate memorials in Washington, D.C. and California. Some people waited in line for several hours in order to pay their respects. Ronald Wilson Reagan was truly one of our great Presidents, totally deserving of our love and respect. Facts and information for this block post came from articles by the following people: Bill Boyarsky, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 16, pp 164-171; Alfred J. Smuskiewicz, World Book Encyclopedia Yearbook 2005, pp. 404-409; and Jennifer Rosenberg at Guide.