Me, Myself, and the Voices in My Head

A place to ramble and maybe make some sense about a thing or two.

Archive for the tag “Civil War”

Memorial Day — You’re doing it wrong!

On this Memorial Day, we sit out on our decks and party.  Three days we’ve got off from work with burgers on the barbie.  But if you take a moment to reflect, away from your party scene, the radio will remind you what this day truly means.

It’s time to save, I said SAVE, on a waterbed!  It’s time to buy a great mattress at an even greater price!  I’ve got two words for you — It’s “Tire Sale!”  We’ve got rock-bottom prices and the time is running out!

You’ve got one full year, that’s right — one full year!  No interest!  No payments!  This could be the Memorial Day Weekend you enjoy for years!

Oh, yeah, and something about guys who died for our country…..  (“Memorial Day” parody by Heywood Banks)

Sadly, that song which was written as a joke to show just how out-of-touch we are with what Memorial Day really means is truer than you think.

I’ve seen and heard lots of people talking about their holiday weekend.  The “fact” that it’s the first weekend of summer.  About how much they’ve enjoyed their mini-family vacations and days spent on the lake or fishing or perfecting their barbeque techniques.  I’ve also seen a lot of people posting photos/cartoons and statements thanking veterans for their service.

Memorial Day is not the day we say “thank you” to our veterans.  EVERY DAY should be a day we say “thank you” to our veterans.  But for those who can’t be bothered to do that every day you see someone in uniform or someone wearing a hat or jacket showing they were one who promised to put their life on the line for our country, then at least say “thank you” on Veterans’ Day (11 November).

Memorial Day is when we should stop what we’re doing and remember that it’s the day set aside to say “thank you” to those veterans we CAN’T thank in person anymore.  They gave the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefields, wherever they were.  And we remember those veterans who have passed-on and the service they so proudly gave to our country.

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and was started by Major General John A. Logan from Southern Illinois and the GAR, the Grand Army of the Republic.  The GAR was an organization of Union veterans.  Three years after the Civil War, in 1868, he said that on May 30th all the graves of our war dead should be decorated with flowers (which would be in bloom across the country at that time).  In his orders, he stated:

We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. … Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners.  Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

This was done because in many areas immediately following the Civil War, only those of either Union or Confederate forces were being remembered and the graves of the “enemy” were falling into neglect.  One of the first records of equal decorations came in 1866 when women visiting the sites of the Confederate dead from the Battle of Shiloh near Columbus, Mississippi, noticed the graves of Union casualties being ignored and desecrated because they were they “enemy.”  Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the ladies placed flowers there as well.

Many Union or Confederate Decoration Day ceremonies are still held every year.  Memorial Day, however, was made a Federal holiday by an act of Congress in 1971 and the last Monday in May was selected as the date in order to be fairly consistent with the orders given by Maj. Gen. Logan as well as coinciding with the local/regional celebrations that had been occurring since.

Every grave in every national cemetery will have an American flag placed upon it today.  Some are placed by soldiers, some by civic groups such as the Boy and Girl Scouts.  Many family members will also decorate the graves of their loved ones in national, state, and private cemeteries.  Speeches will be made and politicians will “pay tribute” across the country today.  But it shouldn’t be just them making an effort.  And it shouldn’t be just the veterans who were able to come home to their country and families and who live with the memories of how their comrades gave the ultimate sacrifice.  It should be all of us — every single person who enjoys the freedom for which those brave men and women laid-down their lives.

It’s not about the sales; it’s not about the picnics; it’s not about a day off with or without pay.  It’s about gratitude; it’s about honor; it’s about those we can never say “thank you” personally to again.

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Spike TV – Get off my lawn!

Yeah, I know.  Spike TV is supposed to be the “all-guy”/”testosterone-only” television network with shows like Deadliest Warrior and 1000 Ways to Die.  But, as I’ve fully admitted, I’m not a typical female.  I’ve never been comfortable in frilly dresses or with lots of makeup (unless it’s special effects makeup for Halloween or the theatre).  I can’t stand to walk past the annoying pink aisle in every toy store where every incantation of Barbie and her “friends” live.  I like hunting, fishing, reenacting, shooting — typical “guys-only” activities.  The only dresses I own are either for Halloween/theatre costumes and my wedding dress (which I certainly can’t fit into anymore).

So, anyone who personally knows me knows that watching Spike TV isn’t that unusual for me.  Tonight, Husband said he wanted to be sure to catch the season premieres of Auction Hunters and American DiggersAuction Hunters usually isn’t that bad.  The personalities on the show — Ton Jones and Allen Haff — aren’t annoying and do admit that they don’t always strike it rich with what they buy.  There’s not a lot of staged “drama” as shown on other storage-unit-purchasing-shows.  The guys are funny, honest about what they don’t know, and occasionally find some really awesome items that make me wonder why I can’t find the neat stuff they find around where I live.

But tonight’s premiere of Auction Hunters was supposed to be a live show where the guys and other buyers would get to bid on four large vaults stuffed with a variety of items.  Watching them were an invitation-only group of experts in militaria, precious metals, firearms, and other collectables; each of them were waiting for their chance to see what was pulled out of them and hoping to land a great bargain.  Ton and Allen spent $5000 on one vault that they felt had the most items they could resell and make a big profit.  Spike TV also agreed that whatever the profit they make, the network would match it dollar-for dollar to Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.  They even kept a countdown clock running throughout the show and commercials because the guys were limited to one hour to bid, buy, dig, and resell the items in any vault they purchased.

They found a lot of collectible toys, but no really valuable items in the toy pile that would have made them worth a lot.  They also found a 1920s-era electric guitar made of aluminum and an amplifier made by the same company that sold for a decent price.  They sold a business safe as well which was probably from the 1930s and received a decent amount of money.  But, throughout the show the host kept telling them how much time they had left and Allen kept complaining that it was rude and distracting for him to do that.  The clock kept ticking and they sold a 1980s boombox and a reproduction Dr. J uniform (packaged with an authentic autographed photo), but they still weren’t out of the red.  Finally, the last item they pulled out of a trunk — a wheel-lock pistol — sold for enough to give them a decent profit and the network said they’d boost the donation to $25,000.  How scripted is that?  It was painful to watch them sift through items and stack things in different areas instead of trying to sell something.  I’d have pulled out a box, seen what was inside of it, and put it up for auction to the crowd.  They were invited there to purchase items, so you know they had money to spend.   But, Allen and Ton just kept digging and arguing until the last second (literally) when they sold the huge pile of “collectible” toys.  And I say “collectible” in quotation marks because the types of toys they found were made for the collectors’ market, which means they’re not because no one would ever play with them.

After that was over, I figured I’d give American Diggers a chance since it’s only a 30-minute show.  That was 30 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

The idea behind American Diggers is that Ric Savage, a former professional wrestler (of only 7 years) and his crew drive around America looking for places that might have a historical significance and ask the property owners if they can dig on their land.  Tonight’s premiere episode was in Alaska as they were trying to find relics from the gold rush.  I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically as the first houses they went to had owners that didn’t want them anywhere near their property.  One guy finally agreed to let them dig and agreed to a 70-30 split of the profits.  So, Ric and his crew went out and found a few cool items (a bear trap, pick axe head, two-man saw, panning tin) and brought them into town and sold them at a local antique mall.  They then returned to the land-owner and divvied-up the profits.

They’re lucky they weren’t in our area or where I used to live.  The people in these areas are well-known for greeting strangers at the door with a minimum of one firearm and perhaps a large growling animal.  I’m also not sure about this show because in the description online it says they “target areas such as battlefields and historic sites.”  If they attempt to do their digging on a national battlefield, they’ll have a nice surprise when the historic preservation organizations and the law enforcement authorities show up since unauthorized relic hunting is illegal.  Even if they don’t find anything “of worth” in their digs, going onto national park lands and many historical sites with the intention of relic hunting is illegal.

And the Spike TV website says that they have found lots of Civil War bullets, Civil War artillery shell fragments, and Native American arrow and axe heads.  By the way, “arrow heads” are called “projectile points” in the archeology/anthropology/historic preservation communities.  Obviously, these guys aren’t really interested in preservation of any sort, except for their bank accounts.

I don’t think the show will last past the episodes already taped, but I could be wrong.  I doubt it, but I could be wrong.  There are already lots of preservation/collection publications that also educate their readers on what they’ve found and how to avoid being scammed.  This guy’s show (and magazine by the same name) is just wading into the deep end of a genre that doesn’t really need another player and more than likely will sink instead of swim.

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