Memorial Day

Memorial DayMemorial Day is a day to remember the soldiers that lost their lives in the line of duty, serving our country and the people that live in it.  These soldiers gave their lives for Us.  For me, it’s also another day that I try to understand why we seem to always be in some kind of conflict and what the real reason is the decision makers are starting WARS.  I wonder if the men and women fighting these wars are really fighting for our freedom and to protect us against terrorism, or, are they fighting to keep the business of WAR alive?  Defense Contractors and others, including politicians, profit heavily during WAR time which, in the United States, seems to be all the time.  Our National Defense budget is much larger then our Heath Care budget, the numbers aren’t even close.  With all the capital that the US allocates towards defending this country it makes you think that we are in the business of WAR, and the politicians keep the WAR Machine turning.  What is the real reason we are still in Afghanistan, does any average citizen really know?  It’s been 11 years, what have we accomplished?  There have been some captures / murdering of terrorist leaders and we have weakened the strength of al-Qaeda and the Taliban but as soon as we leave that will all be abolished.  What are we really after, to protect the US citizens against terrorism?  In my opinion there’s just one answer to that….BULLSHIT!!  I find it hard to believe our government is that concerned about our well-being.  If that were true, we would have better Health Care Plans, a better Education System, better Crime Fighting Organizations, a better Drug Abuse Prevention Plan and the list goes on.  The Defense business does provide jobs, which does play a critical role in providing stability to our economy.  And since several major businesses farm out thousands of jobs to other countries to exploit cheap labor and make larger profits for themselves, it almost seems like our economy would collapse without WAR.   How sad is that, a country that is dependent on WAR to keep it’s economy stable.  “Hello Mr. Politician, I know you sit back in your big office and WAR to you means giving your approval by signing a piece paper, and this might be news to you, but people die in WAR, young people, men and women…do you realize that???”  “When that defense contractor greases your pocket so you will buy their WAR machines, does it concern you that the men and women that operate those machines might be killed in a battle using them?”  Do you ever wonder where Our Government gets the money to pay for those WAR machines?  They get the money from the Federal Reserve System which is a privately  owned bank that’s in charge of printing and controlling the money supply for the United States.  Simply stated, our government asks the Fed for more money to finance the WAR, in turn the Fed prints out and loans the money to our government and charges them interest. The money the Fed prints out is not backed by anything, it used to be backed by gold and silver but that is no longer the case, hence the primary reason for the out of control national debt.  So as you can see, the business of WAR is good for the Bankers, the Politicians and the Defense Contractors, but is it in the best interest of America and the people that live in this country?  That’s up to you to decide.   On Memorial Day we must remember Our fallen soldiers and the sacrifices they made…they gave up everything because they believed they were fighting for freedom, fighting for the right to be an American and fighting to preserve a better way of life.  A better way of life for every American citizen, not just the politicians, bankers and business men that profit from the business of WAR.  Below is some information you may or may not know.

Costs of the War in Afghanistan

June 7, 2011

As part of its “Cost of War” analysis, NPP has calculated the total cost of the war in Afghanistan. To date, $459.8 billion dollars has been allocated for the war in Afghanistan since 2001 in current, or “then year” dollars. Adjusted for inflation the total is $487.6 billion in constant 2012 dollars. This includes all of the funding that has been requested by the President and appropriated by Congress for the war through the end of the current fiscal year on September 30, 2011.

The cost of War since 2001 in Iraq and Afghanistan has reached $1.3 Trillion and growing. (Source)

US War Timeline Ending with WWII

Afghanistan War (October 7, 2001 to present)


The wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, marking the beginning of its War on Terrorism campaign, seeking to oust the Taliban and find al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The officially-stated purpose of the invasion was to destroy al-Qaeda and deny them sanctuary and freedom of movement within Afghanistan.

U.S. Casualties: 1098 deaths, 2379 wounded in action [source]

Iraq War (March 20, 2003 to December 15, 2011)


The Iraq War is an ongoing conflict in the Middle Eastern country of Iraq, which began with the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The U.S.-led coalition overthrew Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and occupied Iraq in an attempt to establish a new governmental regime.

U.S. Casualties: 4,404 deaths; 31,827 wounded in action [source]

Here’s a video on one of the reasons it’s taken so long to train the Iraqi Soldiers:

Gulf War (August 2, 1990 to February 28, 1991)

Persian Gulf

The 1991 Gulf War was a conflict between Iraq and a coalition force of approximately 30 nations. The Gulf War led by the United States and mandated by the United Nations in order to liberate Kuwait.

U.S. Casualties:  378 deaths, less than 1000 wounded in action

The Cold War (often dated 1947–1991)

The Cold War was a sustained state of political and military tension between the powers of the Western world, led by the United States and its NATO allies, and the communist world, led by the Soviet Union, its satellite states and allies. This began after the success of their temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany, leaving the USSR and the US as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences. The Soviet Union created the Eastern Bloc with the eastern European countries it occupied, maintaining these as satellite states. The post-war recovery of Western Europe was facilitated by the United States’ Marshall Plan, while the Soviet Union, wary of the conditions attached, declined and set up COMECON with its Eastern allies. The United States forged NATO, a military alliance using containment of communism as a main strategy through the Truman Doctrine, in 1949, while the Soviet bloc formed the Warsaw Pact in 1955. Some countries aligned with either of the two powers, whilst others chose to remain neutral with the Non-Aligned Movement.

Edward Teller claims that ”work on weapons during the cold war did not put a particularly heavy burden on the American economy,” and that ”at any rate, the cold war had the distinction of not costing any lives.” The term ”particularly heavy” is rather subjective; in fact, United States expenditures for nuclear weapons and weapons-related programs between 1940 and 1996 consumed nearly $5.5 trillion in adjusted 1996 dollars. That is 29 percent of all military spending and 11 percent of all Federal Government spending.

As for lives lost, while the United States and the Soviet Union did not fight on the battlefield, hundreds of thousands of American and Soviet citizens were exposed to the radioactive and toxic byproducts of nuclear weapons production and testing in their own countries. The human toll of these activities is only now beginning to be quantified.

Vietnam War (1959 to April 30, 1975)


U.S. military advisors first became involved in Vietnam as early as 1950, when they began to assist French colonial forces. In 1956, these advisors assumed full responsibility for training the Army of the Republic of Vietnam or ARVN. Large numbers of American combat troops began to arrive in 1965.

U.S. Casualties: 58,193 deaths, 153,303 wounded in action, 1948 missing in action [source]

Korean War (June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953)


The Korean War, occurring a civil war between the states of North Korea and South Korea that were created out of the post-World War II Soviet and American occupation zones in Korea, with large-scale participation by other countries.

U.S. Casualties:  54,246 deaths, 8142 missing in action.

World War II (December 8, 1941 to  August 14, 1945)

World War II

World War II, or the Second World War, was a worldwide conflict fought between the Allied Powers and the Axis Powers, from 1939 until 1945. Armed forces from over seventy nations engaged in aerial, naval, and ground-based combat. Spanning much of the globe, World War II resulted in the deaths of over sixty million people, making it the deadliest conflict in human history. Total includes the estimated 9 million lives lost in the Holocaust. The war ended with an Allied victory.

U.S. Casualties:  407,300 deaths, 670,846 wounded in action [source]

Memorial Day History

Civil War Commander in Chief John A. Logan

Civil War Commander in Chief John A. Logan declared the first official Memorial Day in 1868

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.

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.

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.

Mother’s Day: Where Did It All Begin?

Happy Mothers DayMost of us buy cards or go out for dinner to commemorate Mother’s Day, but we rarely realize how far back these celebrations date. Like many other holidays that have been commercialized in modern times, Mother’s Day has centuries-old antecedents. Cultures around the world celebrated (and still do) the mother goddess as a representative of nurturing and the giver of all life.

The ancient Egyptians celebrated the mother goddess Isis, while the Greeks celebrated the goddess Rhea, who was the mother of most of the major deities including Zeus. In ancient Rome, Cybele was the major mother figure; and as early as 2250 B.C., the Romans celebrated a festival of Hilaria, which occurred in the spring and was dedicated to the mother goddess. In Taoism, the end of May is celebrated as the “mother of the world” day, recognizing the goddess as the origin of all things. Incense is burned and the focus is on meditating on divine harmony.

During the Middle Ages, people in remote villages attended the main church in their parish — the “mother” church — for a special service. In England, a day known as “Mothering Sunday” fell on the fourth Sunday of Lent and was a day when working people were allowed to take time off to go home to visit their mothers.

Calling for Peace and a Respect for All Life

The first North American Mother’s Day was actually a call for peace. Julia Ward Howe wrote a proclamation in 1870 that called for mothers to stop their sons from killing the sons of other mothers. She asked for an international Mother’s Day of Peace.

Our current Mother’s Day was started in 1908 by a West Virginian, Anna Jarvis, to honor her own mother, who held a Mother’s Friendship Day in order to bring together families and friends that had been divided during the Civil War. Anna Jarvis gave her mother’s favorite flower to every mother who attended. Today, white carnations are used to honor deceased mothers, while pink or red carnations pay tribute to mothers who are still alive. Finally, in 1914 Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day Around the World

Many cultures use this day to enjoy traditional dishes that their mothers taught them to cook. In Mexico, a mother is serenaded by her family or a hired band, while in Japan, children enter drawings of their mothers in a contest that celebrates mothers and peace. Sweets and flowers — especially violets — are given to moms on Mother’s Day in the United Kingdom. There, it is also customary to serve Simnel cake, a glazed fruitcake inspired by a folk tale about a married couple, Simon and Nell.

In addition to flowers, cards, jewelry and chocolates, it is customary for Australians to exchange perfume and teas on Mother’s Day. In Canada, there seems to be an added emphasis on helping Mom do chores and cooking her supper. Sweden’s Mother’s Day, which takes place on the last Sunday in May, has a strong charitable focus: The Swedish Red Cross sells small plastic flowers leading up to the holiday, and the proceeds raised are given to poor mothers and their children. The Native American culture celebrates Mother Earth as our mothe,r and counsels us to take care of her.

A Modern-Day Ritual to Celebrate Your Mother Figure

This Mother’s Day, be creative and make an Appreciation Box (adapted from The Joy of Family Rituals). With the changing configuration of families today, we need to also be sure to honor the stepparents, foster parents, godparents and mentors — both alive and deceased — who have played an important role in our “mothering” and of the “mothering” of our children.

To make an Appreciation Box you can use a shoebox, hatbox, cigar box, or any kind of container that appeals to you. Decorate it with markers, ribbons, flowers, photographs, beads, feathers, or jewels. Use your imagination. This is great to do as a family project, and can include small children as well as adults.

Place drawings, home-baked cookies, Mom’s favorite bath oil, a poem or any other objects and symbols that show love and appreciation for your mother. Write down something that you love about her: “I love the way you bake me banana bread on my birthday,” or ” I love the way you always see the bright side of life.” Also, include written promises to do something special for Mom. A 10-year-old might promise to cook dinner once a month, while a child living out of the home may want to take Mom out for a day of spa delights.

As an example, my friend David is a great musician and made his mother a special CD that included her favorite songs as well as one he wrote especially for her. My son Jourdan (an animator) always includes a unique cartoon that he draws on my cards. By taking the time to really appreciate your mother, you will be giving her the best gift possible. And let us not forget Mother Earth, who is responsible for the bounty of all of life.

I’m wishing you all a beautiful Mother’s Day, and would love to hear about your favorite rituals or traditions in the comments below.

Barbara Biziou

Author, ‘The Joy of Ritual’ and ‘The Joys of Family Rituals’

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is celebrated throughout most of the world and means many things to many people. It has nothing to do with religious beliefs or political events or some famous person’s birthday.  Mother’s Day is simply a day to give thanks to all the Mother’s in the world and should be recognized by everyone that was ever born.  We would not be here if it wasn’t for our Mother, she gave us the greatest gift of all, LIFE.  For me, Mother’s Day is a time to remember all that my Mother has done for me, all the sacrifices she has made for me and all the times she was there for me.  There is only one person that you call your Mother, no one can ever replace her and no one will ever love you like she does.  When you fall, she picks you up, when you cry she wants to know why, when you laugh she laughs with you, when you need someone to talk to, she will open her ears and heart and be there for you.  Our Mother is the most important person in our lives and the most influential.  However, not all Mother’s are perfect, they are human and do make mistakes which is why we must watch over them as they have watched over us to make sure they know we are there for them too.  Mother’s Day is also a day to remind us to let our Mothers know how important they are to us.  We sometimes get caught up in our daily routine and forget that she’s waiting for us to call or contact her just to hear us say “I love you Mom”.  Here is a poem I found that made me smile and I’d like to share it with you:

A Poem for Mothers, and Mine

The love of a mother is beyond compare
One who dearly loves and is always there
From scraped kneesMothers Day
To falls from trees
A mother cares for all
From “I told you so”
To “That’s a no-no! ”
A mother answers the call
Mothers cook, mothers clean, some even work a job
Even with all their strength, a mother still knows how to sob
Mothers should be honored for all they have done
Every day of the year, not just one
There is nothing better than a mother’s love
For her time on this earth thank God above
A mother’s love endures forever
Its unbreakable bonds no on can sever
No matter how much I have grown
My mother’s love is always shown
She has become a mentor and a guide
Within her always I am able to confide
No better payment for her I can find
Then to love her with heart, and with mind
To the one who bore me; I share my emotion
To the one who raised me; Absolute devotion
To this woman I express my joy
You will always be my “mommy” and I your “baby boy”

Whether your Mother is here in body or in spirit, please take time to show her how much you appreciate everything she has done for you.  Some of the best Mother’s Day gifts come from the heart, not the mall, and everyone can afford to give a gift from the heart.  The gift of LOVE is the best gift a person can receive from another, it’s a gift that lasts forever.  You are one of a kind and are very special to your Mother, on Mother’s Day, let your Mother know how special she is to YOU.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mothers out there, enjoy your special day.

Mother’s Day: May 13, 2012

– Eric White –

7 Things You May Not Know About Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo, which takes place this Saturday, has become enormously popular in the United States, often serving as a reason to throw a “gran fiesta.” Yet despite its ubiquity, the holiday remains widely misunderstood. In fact, many people still falsely believe it is Mexico’s independence day, rather than a celebration of the undermanned Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla. To mark that event’s 150th anniversary, here are seven other things you may not know about Cinco de Mayo’s origins.


Cinco de Mayo

Participants appear in costume at a Cinco de Mayo parade in Puebla, Mexico. (Credit: Ulises Ruiz/EPA/Corbis)


1. Mexico had just gotten over a civil war in 1862.
The so-called War of the Reform broke out in 1858 soon after liberals drafted a new constitution aimed at reducing the power and influence of the Catholic Church. During the armed conflict, Mexico had two governments: a conservative one in Mexico City led by General Félix Zuloaga and a liberal one in Veracruz led by Benito Juárez, president of the supreme court. The conservatives, who had the support of the pope, won a series of initial skirmishes, but the liberals controlled the ports and were therefore better able to equip their troops. They emerged victorious in January 1861 when they retook Mexico City. The country remained starkly divided, however, with conservatives plotting their revenge.

2. European troops invaded because Mexico was broke.
After the War of Reform, Mexico had virtually no money in its treasury and owed tens of millions of dollars to foreign debtors. The sale of expropriated church property brought very little relief. As a result, newly elected President Juárez suspended payment of all foreign debt for two years, a move that prompted an immediate backlash from Spain, France and Great Britain. With the United States too distracted by the Civil War to enforce the Monroe Doctrine, troops from those three European powers began arriving in Veracruz in late 1861. Spain and Great Britain almost immediately withdrew, but about 6,000 French troops pushed inland toward the capital, backed by Mexico’s vanquished conservative leaders.

Cinco de Mayo

3. France was considered extremely potent militarily when it attacked Mexico.
In 1862, the French had one of the best armies in the world. Arriving at Puebla on May 4, they were coming off a series of victories in Southeast Asia and Northern Africa and were loaded with firepower, including long-range rifles that put the Mexicans’ creaky muskets to shame. They were so overconfident, in fact, that they didn’t even bother to properly prepare their artillery. On the morning of May 5, the French tried to intimidate the Mexicans with screeching bugle calls and advanced bayonet maneuvers. But after a full day of fighting, including three unsuccessful uphill charges, they were forced to retreat due to heavy casualties.

4. After losing the Battle of Puebla, France went on to win the war.
Mexico’s victory at Puebla slowed, but did not stop, France’s assault. In the wake of the battle, an infuriated Emperor Napoleon III ordered that almost 30,000 more troops be sent to Mexico. This time around, under a new commander, they were able to overrun Puebla and easily conquer Mexico City. Juárez and his supporters then fled to the mountains to conduct guerilla operations while Napoleon III installed Ferdinand Maximilian von Habsburg, second in line to the Austro-Hungarian throne, as Mexico’s ruler.

5. The French occupation of Mexico was short-lived.
Back in France, Napoleon III was growing increasingly concerned that Prussia, fresh off victories against Denmark and Austria, would next try to reclaim the perpetually disputed territories of Alsace and Lorraine. Meanwhile, the Civil War had wrapped up, and U.S. officials were exerting diplomatic pressure on the French and supplying weapons to Juárez’s army. With his coffers running low, Napoleon III decided in 1866 to end France’s occupation of Mexico. Maximilian unwisely stayed and briefly fought on, surrendering only after his troops were routed at Querétaro. On June 19, 1867, he and his top generals were executed by a firing squad.

6. Porfirio Díaz began making a name for himself at Puebla.
Porfirio Díaz, Mexico’s longest-serving president, was a relatively unknown cavalry commander until the Battle of Puebla, where he outflanked the French on their third charge and sent them into a disorderly retreat. Over the next few years he won battles at Oaxaca and elsewhere. Following the war, however, Díaz became so disillusioned with his onetime friend Juárez that he unsuccessfully ran for president against him. He later launched a couple of coup attempts, finally seizing power in 1876. Except for one four-year break, his reign lasted until 1911, when he was finally disposed by the Mexican Revolution.

7. Cinco de Mayo is more widely celebrated in parts of the United States than in Mexico.
Juárez declared Cinco de Mayo a holiday immediately after the Battle of Puebla, but for many Mexicans it has always taken a backseat to such events as the September 16 Independence Day, which commemorates the start of hostilities against Spanish rule in 1810. In the United States, on the other hand, Cinco de Mayo gained traction during the 1960s, when Chicano activists began looking for a way to honor their history and culture. Today, the biggest Cinco de Mayo celebrations are held in U.S. cities with large Hispanic populations, such as Los Angeles, which every year attracts hundreds of thousands of people to its Fiesta Broadway festival.

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Earth Day: The History of A Movement

Earth Day: The History of A Movement

Each year, Earth Day — April 22 — marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

The height of hippie and flower-child culture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Protest was the order of the day, but saving the planet was not the cause. War raged in Vietnam, and students nationwide increasingly opposed it.

At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news. Although mainstream America remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962. The book represented a watershed moment for the modern environmental movement, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries and, up until that moment, more than any other person, Ms. Carson raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and public health.

Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center.

Watch Video:

The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.

As a result, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”

As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes to organize another big campaign. This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995) — the highest honor given to civilians in the United States — for his role as Earth Day founder.

As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. With 5,000 environmental groups in a record 184 countries reaching out to hundreds of millions of people, Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. It used the Internet to organize activists, but also featured a talking drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa, and hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on clean energy.

Much like 1970, Earth Day 2010 came at a time of great challenge for the environmental community. Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all contributed to a strong narrative that overshadowed the cause of progress and change. In spite of the challenge, for its 40th anniversary, Earth Day Network reestablished Earth Day as a powerful focal point around which people could demonstrate their commitment. Earth Day Network brought 225,000 people to the National Mall for a Climate Rally, amassed 40 million environmental service actions toward its 2012 goal of A Billion Acts of Green®, launched an international, 1-million tree planting initiative with Avatar director James Cameron and tripled its online base to over 900,000 community members.

The fight for a clean environment continues in a climate of increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. We invite you to be a part of Earth Day and help write many more victories and successes into our history. Discover energy you didn’t even know you had. Feel it rumble through the grassroots under your feet and the technology at your fingertips. Channel it into building a clean, healthy, diverse world for generations to come.

Who is the Easter Bunny?

The meaning of the many different customs observed during Easter Sunday have been buried with time. Their origins lie in both pre-Christian religions and Christianity. In one way or another all the customs are a “salute to spring” marking re-birth.

The white Easter lily has come to capture the glory of the holiday. The word “Easter” is named after Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. A festival was held in her honor every year at the vernal equinox.

People celebrate Easter according to their beliefs and their religious denominations. Christians commemorate Good Friday as the day that Jesus Christ died and Easter Sunday as the day that He was resurrected. Protestant settlers brought the custom of a sunrise service, a religious gathering at dawn, to the United States.

Who is the Easter Bunny?Easter Bunny

Today on Easter Sunday, many children wake up to find that the Easter Bunny has left them baskets of candy. He has also hidden the eggs that they decorated earlier that week. Children hunt for the eggs all around the house. Neighborhoods and organizations hold Easter egg hunts, and the child who finds the most eggs wins a prize.

The Easter Bunny is a rabbit-spirit. Long ago, he was called the “Easter Hare”, hares and rabbits have frequent multiple births so they became a symbol of fertility. The custom of an Easter egg hunt began because children believed that hares laid eggs in the grass. The Romans believed that “All life comes from an egg.” Christians consider eggs to be “the seed of life” and so they are symbolic of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Why we dye, or color, and decorate eggs is not certain. In ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and Persia eggs were dyed for spring festivals. In medieval Europe, beautifully decorated eggs were given as gifts.

In England, Germany and some other countries, children rolled eggs down hills on Easter morning, a game which has been connected to the rolling away of the rock from Jesus Christ’s tomb when he was resurrected. British settlers brought this custom to the New World.

Dolly Madison – Queen of Egg Rolling

Easter Basket In the United States in the early nineteenth century, Dolly Madison, the wife of the fourth American President, organized an egg roll in Washington, D.C. She had been told that Egyptian children used to roll eggs against the pyramids so she invited the children of Washington to roll hard-boiled eggs down the hilly lawn of the new Capitol building! The custom continued, except for the years during the Civil War. In 1880, the First Lady invited children to the White House for the Egg Roll because officials had complained that they were ruining the Capitol lawn. It has been held there ever since then, only canceled during times of war. The event has grown, and today Easter Monday is the only day of the year when tourists are allowed to wander over the White House lawn. The wife of the President sponsors it for the children of the entire country. The egg rolling event is open to children twelve years old and under. Adults are allowed only when accompanied by children!

Easter Parades

Traditionally, many celebrants bought new clothes for Easter which they wore to church. After church services, everyone went for a walk around the town. This led to the American custom of Easter parades all over the country. Perhaps the most famous is along Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Good Friday is a federal holiday in 16 states and many schools and businesses throughout the U.S. are closed on this Friday.