Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Best Ways To Show Off Your Colors and Patriotism: Before, During and After Holidays

Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day celebrate the United States of America. Patriotic gatherings around the country include parades, cemetery memorials, and fireworks. Many people identify themselves as United States citizens by wearing patriotic attire or displaying patriotic banners. Yet our country continues protecting its citizens and providing freedom long after the holidays end. To show gratitude to the U.S.A., display colorful patriotism in numerous venues.

Old Glory waves high while the wind whispers of the blood shed by brave men and women throughout the U.S.A.’s history. Display flags on an outdoor flagpole or in a house window all year long. Obey proper flag etiquette by lighting the flag overnight and maintaining the flag’s unsoiled condition. Decorate a vehicle with patriotic decals or paint the mailbox red, white, and blue. Waving flags to honor the brave citizens and country that the flag represents needs not be confined to a few days during the year.

Patriotic clothing and jewelry decorate any outfit with style. From formal occasions to casual picnics, pins, buttons, hats, and ties celebrate freedom. By wearing patriotic clothing, one proudly declares his or her identity as a citizen of the U.S.A.

Flag shirts celebrate the U.S.A. all year long. Proudly wear the red, white, and blue in allegiance to the country that stands united before the world. Any occasion gives one an opportunity to wear patriotic apparel. Celebrate freedom, democracy, and the U.S.A. before, during, and after any holiday.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Highlights From Glenn Beck's Jerusalem Rally

Conservative pundit Glenn Beck put the finishing touches on his "Restoring Courage" tour of Israel with a rally Wednesday near the disputed holy sites of Jerusalem's Old City. Beck's visit has proven so controversial in Israel that the political left and right have forged a rare alliance to oppose the former Fox News personality. While Israel's far-right is supportive of Beck's "unabashedly pro-Israel, anti-Muslim rhetoric," the AP notes, "religious Jews are worried he is here to spread the Christian gospel" (at the sacred Western Wall, no less) while "dovish Israelis reject Beck's support for West Bank Jewish settlements and his criticism of peace efforts." Wednesday’s event attracted over 1,000 Beck supporters, "mostly Evangelical Christians from the U.S.," according to Yedioth Ahronoth.. Let's take a look at some of the highlights:

Scathing Commentaries The left-wing newspaper Haaretz has been charging hard at Beck all week, running articles in which American Jews and an expert on Christian Zionism warn Israel not to be friends with the Christian commentator. The paper's live blog of Wednesday's rally might more accurately be described as frequently updated sarcasm on Beck's "supportarama roadshow." Take this entry, which begins by quoting Beck: "'To overcome fear we just need one thing: Courage. Truth and courage.' Er, that's two things."

Glowing Commentaries In its write-up of the rally, the right-wing settler news site Arutz Sheva calls the event "inspirational."

A Dramatic Entrance and Exit Before appearing before the crowd for the first time, Beck noted offstage that Jerusalem was where man first walked the earth, adding "We always come back to God, and we always come back to Jerusalem." Talking Points Memo adds that Beck walked out to the blowing of the Shofar (a ram's horn used on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) and left to a rendition of "Sabbath Prayer" from the musical Fiddler On The Roof.

Praise From a Sheikh David Brog The executive director of Christians United for Israel, read a letter that a Hebron sheikh had sent to Beck applauding him for arranging the rally and informing him that "my heart and soul feel connected to you."

'Restoring Courage' Awards Beck gave out an award to the Fogel family, who were killed in their West Bank home by Palestinians in March. Beck also bestowed awards on Maxim, Jewish-Arab restaurant in Haifa that was targeted by a suicide bombing in 2003, and on a supermarket entrepreneur named Rami Levy for his charity. Beck proclaimed, "In Israel, there is more courage in one soldier than in the combined and cold hearts of every bureaucrat at the United Nations."

A Penchant for Prophesy According to Haaretz, Beck told the crowd that he predicted the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. housing crash, and the recent spate of terrorist attacks in Israel.

Protests A group of left-wing protesters outside the rally held banners saying "Glenn Beck, go home," according to the AP. Likud lawmaker Danny Danon defended Beck, stating, "We are proud of this relationship and not embarrassed by it. Anyone who supports Israel in such a brave way must be supported."

In his speech, Beck declared , "When the world turns its back on Israel and the Jewish people, the world turns its back on human rights. Without the Jewish people, humanity would never know that every single individual life has dignity, that every single life is sacred."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Show Your Support. Send a Care Package to a Soldier

Sending care packages to overseas soldiers is a great way to show your support. Whether you are sending to a loved one, or to “Any Soldier”, it is sure to boost their morale. Here are some helpful ideas for sending the package.

1- Shop for items to go in the care package. This may be for a family member or you may be sending a generic care package to be forwarded to a military service person, who may not have much support on the home front.

2- Include in your care package a large variety of items such as non-perishable food and snacks like sunflower seeds, beef jerky, hard candy, gum and snack crackers. Useful items like toothpaste, hand lotion, baby powder, wet wipes, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, shampoo, chap-stick, disposable razors and bath soap are always appreciated as these are of better quality than the standard military issue equivalents. Also include CDs, DVDs, magazines, small games, note pads and pens. If you are preparing a care package for a family loved one, include personal items like photos, family videos, hand written letters and copies of the local newspaper.

3- Follow the restrictions established for military care packages. Do not send perishable foods or candies that melt. Alcohol is not permitted in care packages, nor is any type of firearm or weapon. Do not send any product that may be considered harmful or is in an aerosol spray can.

4- Use the guidelines established for the care package itself. The package cannot weigh more than 70 pounds. The box or container that is sent must be no more than 130 inches total combined girth and length. The completed care package needs to be sent by way of the United States Postal System by "Priority Mail." If not sent by Priority Mail, the package will take 8 weeks or even longer if during the holiday mailing period.

5- Make sure that you have the exact correct military address to mail your care package, as these packages will pass through the MPO or Military Post Office to be processed to the correct military base or location.

6- Join forces with other military families in the same unit as your loved one to work as a group to make sure that all the members of the unit have care packages arriving from home. Check with the home front commanding officer or the assigned contact to keep updated on the location of the military unit.

7- Talk to organizations in your community about doing service projects for various military units that may not have a lot of home front support. Groups like Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, Elks Lodges, some schools, church groups and business associations many times will take on care packages as a project and can send mass numbers of care packages at one time.

8- Get in touch with the USO. They can help you with addresses, etc.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

American Traditions: Why We Raise The Flag and Sing The National Anthem At Concerts and Sporting Events

In the early years of the 20th century there were always live bands in the stands at major league baseball games. It was part of the fun and atmosphere of baseball in those days.

During the seventh inning stretch at game one of the 1918 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs, the band decided to play The Star Spangled Banner. The Cubs and Red Sox players stopped their casual stretches, spontaneously stood to attention, doffed their caps, and all faced the center field flagpole with their hands over their hearts. The crowd began to sing along and applauded wildly when the anthem was over.

An American Tradition was born.

The song continued to be played at baseball games, but only on special occasions like Opening Day, the 4th of July and during the World Series, even after the song officially became our national anthem by Congressional Resolution in 1931.

During World War II, baseball became a focal point for patriotic displays to rally the Home Front, and the national anthem was played before the start of every game throughout the war. By wars end, the pregame singing of the anthem and salute to our flag had become a solidly embedded tradition, and since has spread to other sports and venues.

Today it’s American as apple pie to see the stands at every sporting event large and small crowded with fans wearing patriotic shirts and doffing patriotic hats to hold over their hearts as they sing along to The Start Spangled Banner.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The U.S.O and Bob Hope's Legacy During Times Of American Crisis And War

Bob Hope was one of the major mainstay Hollywood actors entertaining and providing morale building diversion to armed service members as part of the United Service Organizations. His 199 USO appearances from 1941 through the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and Desert Storm made him a USO folklore symbol for which he received many rewards.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt provided the stage for the USO to come into being when he asked several volunteer organizations representing several religions, including the Salvation Army, to come together to help support the morale of United States troops serving in World War II. The USO had great success raising funds and providing entertainment centers overseas.

Today, the USO continues with 160 centers in 23 states and 10 countries. Citizens reflect the same spirit and regard which the USO shows troops by purchasing flags, flag t-shirts, and wearing patriotic caps. Bob Hope's effort was a humanitarian one. He created a legacy whereby he and the other actors, entertainers and men and women volunteered to help the troops. Flag shirts, flags and patriotic caps also serve to support the spirits of the troops. Flag t-shirts permit patriotic citizens to continue the humanitarian legacy of Bob Hope.

Keeping the moral of the troops positive and forward-moving is an important duty for all citizens. Troops must know that citizens understand the extremes sacrifices they make. This is what the USO does. It continues to boost morale with entertainment and services given to U.S. troops all over the world.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

American Traditions: Why Our Fallen Soldiers and Sailors Are Covered By The American Flag

Our soldiers deserve the utmost respect, in life and in death. When one of our soldiers or veterans dies, as long as he or she has not been labeled ‘dishonorable’, they are given a full military funeral. A full military funeral means that a military chaplain performs the ceremony, an American flag is draped over the casket, a team of riflemen of three to seven members fire a three-volley salute, and ‘Taps’ is performed by a bugler as a final salute.

The most common item people see in a soldier’s funeral is the flag draped coffin. The blue portion of the flag is placed at the head of the coffin directly over the soldiers left shoulder. This custom began in the eighteenth century when a flag was placed over the deceased as they were being carried off of the battle field.

After the flag is folded, it is presented to the next of kin with the straight edge facing the recipient. This is done by an honor guard who is representing one of the five branches of the Armed Forces. The folding of the flag represents religious significance to the ceremony itself and to those who participate in the funeral.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Veterans Of Foreign Wars

The first Veterans of Foreign Wars' post was set up in 1899 in Denver, Colorado and named after John S. Stewart by veterans of the Spanish-American War who had served in the Philippines. The fledgling organization of veterans originally went under the name American Veterans of Foreign Service. In 1914 this post merged with several other veterans' organizations that had formed after the war with Spain and the subsequent war in the Philippines. Together they took the name Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The primary purpose of the organization is to look after veterans by lobbying Congress about veterans' concerns, such as health care and disability claims. Individual members assist veterans by filling out paperwork for the Department of Veterans' Affairs. They also help veterans secure loans for education and home purchases. The member veterans also perform community service and collect donations to assist soldiers in need. One of their programs, Operation Uplink, permits soldiers living overseas to make free phone calls to the United States.

Since its humble beginning, the Veterans of Foreign Wars has expanded and now has 1.5 million members in more than 7,000 posts around the country. This government-chartered, non-profit organization restricts membership to those who have served in combat. It is the largest such organization in America. Its headquarters is located in Kansas City, Missouri.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Best Ways To Instill American Patriotism In Your Children and Our Youth

With patriotism waning and a cohesive American identity in decline, there ought to be some measures taken to instill a sense of patriotism in America’s children. Pride in America is important and if this nation is to remain as strong as it has been in generation past, today’s children should feel just as proud to be Americans as their parents and grandparents had been when they were growing up.

One very effective way to instill national pride in America’s youth is through the preservation of historical memory, that is to say that children should be taught and reminded of their ancestor’s accomplishments. After all, this nation has a long and storied past of monument achievements. From fighting for human rights, to a strong military, to exploring new frontiers, America has done it all and done it well. Children should be reminded of that.

Another way to instill patriotism in children is to have them participate in community service organizations which foster a pride in being American. These sorts of youth organizations are numerous and include the Boy Scouts, The Girl Scouts, The Civil Air Patrol, and can even just be a local unaffiliated service group in the child’s community.

Finally, keeping American iconography prominently displayed will go far in creating a sense of patriotism in children. Items such as American flags, paintings or prints depicting great moments in American history, listening to patriotic music, or even just a patriotic t-shirt will make a real impact on a child and will help grow their sense of national identity and American pride.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The American Legion

The American Legion is a very important patriotic organization that has its roots in the muddy, trench scarred battlefields of World War I. The organization was founded by veterans in 1919 to assist their brothers in arms who were returning from their fight against the Germans in Europe. The American Legion was later chartered by the United States Congress under Title 36 of the United States Code.

With its current headquarters located in Indianapolis, Indiana, the American Legion has about 14,000 posts and some 3 million members across the globe. The American Legion’s major contemporary initiatives involve a lot of advocacy for veterans, especially with the increase that American has seen in its number of combat vets due to the Global War on Terror. As a result, lobbying for better veterans’ benefits and improvements in the Veterans Administration System are among the American Legion’s top priorities.

On a micro level, individual posts often serve an important role in the communities in which they are located and tend to host various community events and happenings. This is especially true during patriotic celebrations.

Until the most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the demographic of American Legion Members tended to be on the older side as member required a period of active duty military service during a time of conflict. However, now with ongoing hostilities, a new generation has become eligible and the average age of a member has gone down in the last decade.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

This Day in History: JFK

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On this day in 1943, future President John F. Kennedy is serving as commander of a torpedo boat in the Solomon Islands when his ship is fired upon by the Japanese navy.

As a young man, Kennedy had desperately wanted to go into the Navy but was originally rejected because of chronic health problems, particularly a back injury he had sustained playing football while attending Harvard University. In 1941, though, his politically connected father used his influence to get Jack, as he was called, into the Navy. In 1942, Kennedy volunteered for PT (motorized torpedo) boat duty in the Pacific.

In July 1943, according to the official Navy report, Kennedy and the crew of PT 109 were ordered into combat near the Solomon Islands. In the middle of the night on August 2, their boat was rammed by a Japanese destroyer and caught fire. Several of Kennedy's shipmates were blown overboard into a sea of burning oil. Kennedy dove in to rescue three of the crew and in the process swallowed some of the toxic mixture. (Kennedy would later blame this for chronic stomach problems.) For 12 hours, Kennedy and his crew clung to the wrecked hull, before he ordered them to abandon ship. Kennedy and the other good swimmers placed the injured on a makeshift raft, and then took turns pushing and towing the raft four miles to safety on a nearby island.

For six days, Kennedy and his crew waited on the island for rescue. They survived by drinking coconut milk and rainwater until native islanders discovered the sailors and offered food and shelter. Every night, Kennedy tried to signal other U.S. Navy ships in the area. He also reportedly scrawled a message on a coconut husk and gestured to the islanders to take it to a nearby PT base at Rendova. Finally, on August 8, a Navy patrol boat picked up the haggard survivors.

On June 12, 1944, while he was in the hospital recuperating from back surgery, Kennedy received the Navy and Marine Corps' highest honor for "courage, endurance and excellent leadership [which] contributed to the saving of several lives and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service." The future president also received a Purple Heart for wounds received during battle.