Happy Memorial Day…

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead” (Source: Duke University’s Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860′s tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

General John A. Logan
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [LC-B8172- 6403 DLC (b&w film neg.)]
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms.Michael and when she returned to France, made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children’s League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their “Buddy” Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.

Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.

There are a few notable exceptions. Since the late 50′s on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day. More recently, beginning in 1998, on the Saturday before the observed day for Memorial Day, the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye’s Heights (the Luminaria Program). And in 2004, Washington D.C. held its first Memorial Day parade in over 60 years.

To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.”

The Moment of Remembrance is a step in the right direction to returning the meaning back to the day. What is needed is a full return to the original day of observance. Set aside one day out of the year for the nation to get together to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country.

But what may be needed to return the solemn, and even sacred, spirit back to Memorial Day is for a return to its traditional day of observance. Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend in with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: “Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.”

On January 19, 1999 Senator Inouye introduced bill S 189 to the Senate which proposes to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30th instead of “the last Monday in May”. On April 19, 1999 Representative Gibbons introduced the bill to the House (H.R. 1474). The bills were referred the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Government Reform.

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To date, there has been no further developments on the bill. Please write your Representative and your Senators, urging them to support these bills. You can also contact Mr. Inouye to let him know of your support.

Visit our Help Restore the Traditional Day of Observance page for more information on this issue, and for more ways you can help.

To see what day Memorial Day falls on for the next 10 years, visit the Memorial Day Calendar page.

Sources and related links:

Boalsburg, Pa., Birthplace of Memorial Day
[www.rootsweb.com/~pacentre/memory.htm]

DC City Pages: History of Memorial Day
[www.cnn.com/US/9805/25/memorial.day.wrap/]

General Logan Biography
[www.jal.cc.il.us/johnlogan.html]

General Logan’s General Order 11
[www.usmemorialday.org/order11.html]

Help Restore the Traditional Day of Observance of Memorial Day
[www.usmemorialday.org/act.html]

Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920 from Duke University
[memory.loc.gov/ammem/award97/ncdhtml/hasmhome.html]

How to Observe Memorial Day
[www.usmemorialday.org/observe.htm]

Luminaria Program
[www.nps.gov/frsp/luminari.htm]

Memorial Day Events – Dept of Veterans Affairs
“The Office of Public Affairs provides this page of items that may be of special interest to veterans and customers.”
[www1.va.gov/opa/speceven/memday/index.asp]

The Origins of Memorial Day
[www1.va.gov/opa/speceven/memday/history.asp#hist]

Roy, Nuhn. Portfolio: To Honor The Memory of the Departed. American History Illustrated 1982 17[3]: 20-25.
S 189 and H.R. 1474, bills to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day.

[www.usmemorialday.org/act.html]

“S. Con. Res. 100″, resolution for a National Moment of Remembrance.
[www.usmemorialday.org/resolution.html]

Statement on Signing the National Moment of Remembrance Act
[www.usmemorialday.org/Speeches/President/dec2800.txt]

Taps Information
[www.usmemorialday.org/taps.html]

Today in History: May 30
American Memory project, The Library of Congress

[memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/may30.html]

VFW’s “Buddy” Poppy program
Waterloo, Official Birthplace of Memorial Day

[www.rootsweb.com/~nyseneca/memorial.htm]

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

To Bless The King
What the wise men teach us about worshiping our Savior

By Charles F. Stanley

Have you ever thought about offering a gift to God during the Christmas season? Perhaps you give presents to loved ones, friends, and neighbors, but have you considered how you might bless the Lord Almighty? After all, Christmas is a time to worship Jesus Christ, who emptied Himself and took the form of a bond-servant on our behalf (Phil. 2:7).

We can learn a great deal from the magi who went to visit Him in Bethlehem. From our perspective, their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh may seem like unusual presents for a baby, but Jesus was no ordinary child. These gifts symbolized who He was and what He had come to do.

Although the story of the wise men recorded in Matthew 2:1-16 is very familiar, we’d all benefit from looking at it through fresh eyes. God has something special for us in this amazing account as we contemplate the meanings of the gifts and how we should respond to Christ in worship.

The Magi

The wise men were leaders from the East—probably from somewhere in Mesopotamia near the city of Babylon. They were most likely astronomers who discovered an unusual star that indicated the birth of the long-expected Jewish king. But how did these men know about the Messiah? After all, they were from far-off pagan lands. Why would they even care?

The Bible helps us unravel this mystery. In the Old Testament book of Daniel, we find a connection between the Babylonian Empire and Israel. When Daniel was in his teens, the Babylonians overpowered the nation of Judah and took him, along with many other Jews, to Babylon (Dan. 1:1-6).

He grew up there and, together with other Hebrew boys, was trained for service to the king. Because the Lord gave him the gift of interpreting dreams, he rose to places of leadership in the Babylonian and Persian empires. Throughout his life, he was honored and respected by both rulers and wise men. The magi were most likely descendants of those who learned from Daniel and other Jews about the God of Israel and the promised Messiah.

Generations later, when the sign of the Jewish King appeared in the sky, the magi recognized its significance. Today we don’t usually think of stars as a means of divine guidance. But when God made the sun, moon, and stars, He designed them not only to provide light for the earth, but also for three other purposes—“let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years” (Gen. 1:14). So the use of a star as a sign to lead Gentile rulers to the Messiah should not surprise us.

A Contrast

The magi made the long journey to Israel after seeing the star in their homeland. Upon entering Jerusalem, they asked, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him” (Matt. 2:2). You can imagine that their question caused quite a stir in the city. What King? What are they talking about? These foreign visitors seemed to expect everyone to know about His birth, but the people were unaware that the Messiah had been born. Instead of being filled with wonder, both they and King Herod were troubled by this unexpected group of travelers and their strange announcement (v. 3).

In contrast, the magi’s actions were unselfishly focused on exalting the newborn King of the Jews. They were men of faith who believed the sign that the Lord had given them. Throughout their journey, they’d depended upon His divine guidance as they followed the star (v. 9). When they arrived at the house where Jesus was, in awe and humility, “they fell to the ground and worshiped Him” (v. 11). Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts fit for a king. Although we don’t know if they understood the ultimate significance of these offerings, each one was appropriate and prophetic for the Son of God.

The Gifts

Myrrh was a costly perfume used primarily for burials. In the ancient East, bodies of the dead were wrapped with linen cloth sprinkled with myrrh. This gift spoke prophetically of Jesus’ death and His role as our Redeemer. He didn’t come to live, but to die for sinful mankind, laying down His life so we could be saved from eternal separation from God. The prophetic symbolism was fulfilled when Nicodemus took Jesus’ body from the cross and wrapped it in linen and a hundred-pound mixture of myrrh and aloes (John 19:38-40).

Frankincense played an important role in Jewish worship in the temple. As the priests sprinkled it on the burning coals of the golden altar, fragrant smoke rose upward, symbolizing the offering of their prayers. Frankincense prophetically pointed to Jesus’ role as our great High Priest. In Latin, the word for “priest” is pontiface, which means “bridge builder,” and that is exactly what Jesus was for us. He is the only Mediator between sinful humanity and a holy God (1 Tim. 2: 5). He offered His own blood, which was totally effective in atoning for sin once for all time (Heb. 9:11-14). But Christ’s priesthood doesn’t end there; He’s still fulfilling His priestly role as He sits at the Father’s right hand, interceding on our behalf (7:25).

Gold may not seem like a fitting gift for a child born into the household of a lowly carpenter. But the symbolism of this present reveals why it was appropriate. In the ancient world, gold was given to show honor and high esteem. It was a gift befitting a king, and that’s exactly what Jesus is. Throughout His ministry, He claimed to have a kingdom. In fact, When Pilate asked Him if He was the King of the Jews, Christ answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world” (John 18:37, emphasis added). He further clarified the matter by stating, “My kingdom is not of this world” (v. 36).

If you’ve trusted Jesus as your Savior, you are a part of His kingdom even if you can’t see any physical manifestation of it. At the moment of salvation, you were transferred from the realm of darkness into the kingdom of God’s Son (Col. 1:13-14). But one day, this spiritual kingdom will become visible when Christ returns to earth to rule as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:11-16).

The Response

Though this story happened long ago, its lessons are always timely. The important issue today is to determine how you are reacting to Christ right now. The wise men came to worship the Messiah, humbly bowing before Him. They honored Him as Redeemer, High Priest, and King. If you’ll follow their example, you, too, can celebrate and enjoy the wonder of the Savior.

Jesus came to walk among men so that we could walk with Him forever. When you acknowledge Him as your King, Redeemer, and High Priest, you’ll discover the joys and unfathomable riches of His marvelous kingdom.

Herod in Conflict

Herod considered himself to be the king of the Jews, and from an earthly perspective, he was. He had been appointed to that position by the Roman Caesar Octavian in 37 B.C. The knowledge that there could be a competitor filled him with jealousy, and he was determined that this Jewish baby would not take his throne.

His first step was to gather the chief priests and scribes to discover where the Christ would be born (vv. 4-6). They informed him that the Scriptures foretold the Messiah would come from Bethlehem. Isn’t their calm response rather surprising? These were the religious leaders of the Jews, yet when strangers came looking for the Messiah—and Herod showed great interest—they simply gave him an academic answer.

His next inquiry was to the magi themselves (v. 7). He asked them when the star had appeared, but the passage doesn’t reveal what they told him. We can figure out a possible time frame by looking ahead to Herod’s later actions. When he realized that the magi didn’t return to him with the location of Jesus, he sent soldiers to kill all the male children in Bethlehem who were two years of age or younger (v. 16). So the star could have first appeared as much as two years earlier. From our future vantage point, we know his only interest in finding the young Messiah was for the purpose of killing Him.

Questions for Further Study

Jesus told a parable about various responses to His coming kingdom. Read Luke 19:11-27, thinking about how you respond to Him.

In the parable, who responds with hostility?
Who seems indifferent to the returning nobleman? Who seems to honor him?
On the basis of this story, how will our responses to Jesus determine our future in His kingdom?

Do You Know God?

The wise men may have traveled in search of Jesus, but you don’t need to go anywhere to seek Him. Revelation 3:20 reveals that He is always with us, knocking on the door of our heart, waiting to be invited in. By dying on the cross and rising from the grave, He became the Bridge between eternal life and us. Say yes to the Savior and receive the gift of salvation. You can use the following prayer or your own words:

Lord Jesus, I believe You are truly the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed. Please forgive all my wrongdoing, and let me live in relationship with You from now on. I receive You as my personal Savior, accepting the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross. Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You. Amen.

We will gladly send you our free All Things Are New kit to help you take the next step in your relationship with God. Contact our Customer Care department at 800-789-1473 for more information.

Copyright 2011 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

Look To The Stars Reports…. Ultimate Bad Guy Does Good At Childrens Hospital…

Actor/producer/director Scott L. Schwartz recently worked on his next film in Cincinnati, OH. While Scott was in town he visited the children at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, as well as The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati, on behalf of the Scott L. Schwartz Children’s Foundation.

Scott L. Schwartz is widely known as the “Ultimate Bad Guy” from his acting career including: Ocean’s 11, 12 & 13, Starsky & Hutch, Spiderman, Fun With Dick And Jane, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Star Trek Voyager, among other feature films. Scott L. Schwartz has been visiting children’s hospitals worldwide for the past 12 years after losing his sister to lung cancer in 1998. He realizes the value and impact of making a lasting impression on children with cancer and how important it is to make each child feel special. Scott enjoys visiting pediatric hospitals and bringing what joy he can into the lives of every child he visits. They are always smiling during his visits and usually begging him to return soon.


One of the newest missions that Scott L. Schwartz Children’s Foundation supports is Santa’s Gift. The mission of Santa’s Gift is to bring hope to hospitalized children during a traumatic time of their lives. An interactive visit with Santa allows children to forget their worries for a short period of time by bringing cheer to both the patients and their families. Each child receives an instant photo with Santa as well as an “I Am Loved” teddy bear.

The Scott L. Schwartz Children’s Foundation is making a difference in the lives of each child in need by continuing to visit hospitals worldwide, helping Santa’s Gift, Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), and Toys For Tots Foundation of Seal Beach.

For more information, visit www.scottlschwartzchildrensfoundation.wordpress.com.

Read more: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/6717-ultimate-bad-guy-does-good-at-childrens-hospital#ixzz1UHPSura2

Happy Fourth Of July….God Bless America…

The Declaration of Independence
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
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http://www.history.com/flash/VideoPlayer.swf?vid=14345310201

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