Monday, November 30, 2015

Colonial Williamsburg Thanksgiving Weekend

This past Sunday got to spend the day in Colonial Williamsburg! I have no idea if we'll get to return in December because college finals are late this year.  Therefore we were looking forward to history, colonial atmosphere and an opportunity to shop for Christmas presents.

Looking at all the Christmas wreaths on the doors has become a fun tradition for us. Although they are not historically accurate to the 18th century, they were a concession during the restoration of the historic area in 1936. I wrote more about it here. It was a wonderful compromise for those who still lived in the restored historic area. We like to see the creativity. However we were sad that there weren't many wreaths on display. Even though many are up by Thanksgiving, the decorators have until Grand Illumination to finish hanging all the wreaths. That was another week away. At least we got to see a few.

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We also got to see James Madison, set in 1773. He shared his fascinating with the study of liberty for mankind. With his collegiate studies complete, he was wondering what to do with his life.  
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He kept emphasizing his love of books. He was a lso quite articulate on his ideas of freedom, which many of us today recognize in the Constitution. Madison actually had his ideas that influenced the Constitution years before he helped to make them happen in 1787. 
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A cold front had begun to descend on the town so we escaped into the Silversmith Shop to keep warm. 
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Then of course we had to visit the milliner/tailor shop.
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We got to visit with Colonel George Washington...
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...and of course we did lots of shopping!
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Monday, November 16, 2015

The Legacy of Sgt York

Every Veterans Day we watch Sgt York, a true story about a man from the back country of Tennessee. He grew up in Daniel Boone territory in poverty with only 9 months education. Alvin York, himself, became a legend in WWI.  Although his marksmanship skills made him legendary, something deeper became his legacy. Even though I've watched this movie nearly every single year since I was a teenager, York's story powerfully affected me and my family especially more this season. Perhaps, the shooting in Paris had a lot to do with that.  (We didn't actually see the movie until the night after the shooting.)

York's marksmanship skills were legendary, as was his drinking and carousing. After becoming a Christian he reformed to become a model citizen of his community. Then the European war came to the backwoods when he received a telegram to report to duty. As a conscientious objector, he refused on religious grounds. However the law over ruled so he reported to Camp Gordon for training.

While there York drilled with superior sharpshooting skills, yet it was known that he was a conscientious objector. Therefore he met for many evenings with Maj. Buxton, a history scholar, and Capt. Danforth to discuss his concerns about fighting. The officers shared much Scripture, as well as history with York. Coming from the backwoods, York did not have a strong education. His schooling totalled only 9 months. (This was quite obvious to me when I read his diary.)

York was not familiar with his history. Yet after many talks with the major and captain, York was given a 10 day leave to think things through. I he still wanted to be discharged from the army, that would be granted. However York decided to stay in the army. 

During one of the battles on October 8, 1918 during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, sharpshooter York led an attack (which was mostly done singlehandedly) taking 32 guns, killing 20 Germans and taking 132 Germans prisoner, then marching them with the last few remains of his infantry ten miles to the American forces. (Video clip from the movie can be scene here.)

York received the highest honors of America and France. Why? Because he killed people? No, because he saved people. This awful war had been dragging on endlessly. York's heroism helped the allied cause in a most stunning way. A month later the entire Allied forces claimed victory with their many heroes when the war finally ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

Of course York did not want to be remembered for the killing. No soldier does. One does not become a soldier to kill. One becomes a soldier to save lives and defend freedoms, putting down tyranny.

When York returned home, he was offered wealth and fame, which he refused. He did not want to benefit from war even though he and his family were financially struggling.

However the state of Tennessee did gift York with a lovely home, something York would never have been able to afford on his own. Through the years he fell into debt, (as I recall from one of his biographies I read years ago, in part to trying to keep up with taxes). Furthermore numerous guests dropped in (literally) on a daily basis so they could meet the war hero. He always invited them to dinner, and feeding them cost a pretty penny that he rarely had. He never discussed the war though. (This is actually reminiscent of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who also went into debt, in part in daily hostings of 20 or more for dinner and/or lodging so all could meet their heroes.)

After York's experiences with the war, he began to speak at public functions with the hope to raise  money for a school, so that the young people of his part of Tennessee could have a better education than he had.

By the1930's, as Hitler grew in power, York became unsettled. More and more he understood his role in WWI and became a firm advocate for fighting the tyranny of Europe, to put down the despots and free the innocent.

As a result, he eventually consented with Hollywood to make a movie of his life.  It was now expediently important to him, and the producers, to make a movie about fighting for freedom. While they were making the movie, America entered the war.

Sgt. York entered the movie theaters in 1941. After watching the movie, men headed straight to the recruiting office.

Alvin York still didn't like war, or what he had to do in WWI. However the allies were not the one who started the war. Despots do not merely seek one corner of the world, but worldwide domination and the conquering of freedoms. The allies job was to conquer tyranny to restore freedom to mankind. That is what Veterans Day is all about. Today in America, we have the freedom to agree or disagree, because of those who have risked/given their lives to defend that freedom. It is important to know our history to understand the battle between freedom and tyranny throughout the history of mankind so that we can recognize it and stop it before it gets out of control.   

Resources:

Sgt. York: His Life, Legend and Legacy: The Remarkable Untold Story of Sgt. York by John Perry

The War Film by Robert Eberwein

Sgt. York movie, 2-disc special edition with documentaries

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The French American Alliance

France and America has held a special friendship since the American Revolution, which amazingly began with the Marquis de Lafayette. In 1777 he arrived to help America fight for freedom. He had nothing to gain and everything to lose.
Lafayette fought in the Continental Army without pay. His own money fed and clothed the  men in his charge. Officially Lafayette was aide de camp to General Washington. Personally he was an adopted son to the Washington. 
Lafayette later returned to France to convince his king, who was quite angry with him for having left France, to support America. Many other dignitaries were also involved, but Lafayette played his part.
The French American alliance began in 1778. In 1780 French troops arrived on American soil to help fight. An amazing sequence of events unfolded in 1781, with France and Lafayette as the key players. As a result, America gained independence from the powerful Great Britain.

The friendship between America and France did not stop there. The journey to learn more about this kinship has become a fascination for me, at one point resulting in an amazing experience for me to be surrounded by our allies at Yorktown. (see below)
Exploring the French American Alliance has been a fascinating journey for me. Although I began my journey simply with a book, it was fueled by meeting the Colonial Williamsburg interpreter who brings Lafayette to life. Along the way I've been sharing some of what I'd learned. In light of the recent events, I thought I'd collect the relevant posts here for those who are more interested in learning about the special friendship between France and America.   

Lafayette, We are Here...a Key to the Future

Castroville, Texas


Surrounded by the French at Yorktown Day

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Yorktown Celebrates American Victory and French American Alliance 2010



Airplanes in the Great War and...Lafayette?

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National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC

Lafayette Quotes....and a Book

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Lafayette by Harlow Giles Unger

l'Hermione Craftsmanship, Significance and Yorktown Port of Call

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l'Hermione at Yorktown


l'Hermione, Lafayette, George Washington, Mount Vernon Port of Call

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l'Hermione at Mount Vernon


Bastille Day, America, and WWI




Friday, November 13, 2015

Tonight...

...we are all French.

Praying for Paris.

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French American Alliance Cockade on an 18th Century Hat from the American Revolution

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Pumpkin Cheesecakes for Tea

Today the ladies from my Bible Study Fellowship group came over for lunch/fellowship so I made some dessert. I have some lovely magazines from Tea Time Magazine but I rarely cook from them. I felt that this opportunity presented itself to pretend this was a tea. After poring through recipes I decided upon mini-pumpkin cheesecakes. The recipe was a bit of a challenge, however the one that I sampled was delicious. My family decided to sample some too the night before the fellowship. Yum! All of the ladies enjoyed them too. Some of the ladies asked to take an extra one home for their husbands. After they left I finally remembered to take a photo. This is all that was left. I made an extra batch for my family, because I had more crust than I had filling. I couldn't get the crust to stick up the sides either. However they were quite handy as finger food type desserts. Everyone agreed it was a wonderful bit of decadence.
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Waving Flag Quilt

One of my goals is to build an Americana quilt collection. I started my first one last spring, with the hopes to be finished with it by Memorial Day. That was pushed to 4th of July...then Veterans Day. I finally finished it the night before Veterans Day. Here's a look at the process.


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I bought this pattern years ago in Fredericksburg, Texas. I've been collecting fabrics eversince to finally put this together...not that it takes a lot of fabrics. Only a few are needed, but I was looking for just the right fabrics. I'm picky about blues and even more picky about reds.

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The yellow was not in the original plan, but scavenged from the scrap pile. I love this yellow fabric.
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At this point I had to slice up my quilt in various widths, since that is the technique to make this particular style of quilt...a bargello quilt. This was my first bargello.
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At this point (photo below) I only needed to trim the fabric and finish everything off. However it seemed incomplete so I decided to add my own touch to this quilt.
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I decided make stars for cornerstones set into the border...
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Trimming...
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Auditioning borders...
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I didn't like the light border for this quilt...
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Free motion quilting...
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Finis...
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