A Reason to Celebrate

Celebrate the true meaning of the day

Once again it is time to celebrate the Fourth of July.  Do you know the origin of the day, or has it become just another holiday?  A video I saw this morning showed a young You Tuber asking people about the historical origin of the day.  Can you imagine there are many Americans who can not give a good answer?  Some just see it as a day to have a giant party.

Here in the Midwest, some towns began the party last night with fireworks while others are going for the more traditional 4th of July celebration.  I am all in favor of the traditional celebrations.  To me, moving the special events around is a signal that it is all about the party and I don’t think that should be it.

Assembly Room

Independence Hall, Photo credit: Antoine Taveneaux, taken with Pentax K-5

The day is actually about an event that was a long time in the making.  The final draft of the action of the Second Continental Congress was finished on July 2nd 1776 and passed on July 4th.  The famous signing of the document did not take place for a month while waiting for all participants to be assembled.  It did not lead to fireworks although the Revolutionary War had already begun.  The Liberty Bell probably was not rung on the 4th according to historians.  In fact, there likely was no party at all, as the matter was serious business for the delegates of the 13 colonies.

The group had already been meeting for over a year when the Declaration was made.  During the previous July they had adopted The Olive Branch Petition in an attempt to avoid all out war with Great Britain.  The very next day the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms was issued.  The Continental Army was formed and strategies were adopted.  The bitter struggle that followed led the colonies to declare independence.

Three committees were formed in June 1776.  One drafted a Model Treaty to establish a way to deal with foreign powers.  Another was to write the Articles of Confederation to put together the model for governance of the colonies.  A third committee of 5 members wrote the Declaration of Independence although it is largely considered the work of Thomas Jefferson.  Some of his language was likely the source of lively debate.  The result proves that difficult work can be done quickly and compromises can be reached across the many members.

When I put out my flag this morning, I noticed only a few others flying on the block.  It made me wonder how many appreciated the events that went into the making of this holiday.  How many really know the history of the Second Continental Congress that forged the nation we have today?  How many think it is just some sort of day we set aside for picnics and fireworks?  Has the meaning of the most important day in our nation’s history been lost?

It’s your party.  That’s for sure.  As a matter of fact, it is the party for everyone who calls these United States of America home.  When you see the red, white and blue, let them have meaning for you today.  If there was no particular meaning to the colors at the time they were adopted, let them be a symbol today.  They stand for the freedom that allows us to live in a country where we can celebrate our freedoms openly.  The people of many other countries can not throw such a party.

Source: National Archives

DOING WHAT WE MUST: SURVIVING IF YOU CAN’T PAY FOR DRUGS – A GUEST POST

Healthcare has been a hot topic for years. Meanwhile, some are relying on alternate methods of treatment. Drop over to SERENDIPTY to read a guest post.

SERENDIPITY

Case Management

When you are diagnosed with an illness for which there is no cure, but long time survival is possible, you quickly learn that the most important case manager you will ever have is yourself.  You need to learn everything you can to survive — legally and, if necessary, illegally.  You tend to drop your concern for law when your life is at stake, especially when you will “First, do no harm” (Primum non nocere), the oath of doctors and others helping people survive.

Support group members will urge you to not merely educate yourself about the disease, but to get a good case manager. After you understand all your treatment options and the decisions you will have to make, your case manager can help you navigate the maze of health care bureaucracy. This is important for everyone, whether or not they have a job or insurance. Anyone can be…

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ONE THING I DID NOT WANT TO BE

I visited my doctor yesterday for a periodic checkup. Every time I go to him, I think of these things.

SERENDIPITY

Old, by Rich Paschall

When you think of all the things you want to be when you grow up, “old” probably is not on the list.  You may think about being a doctor or nurse.  You may consider lawyer or politician.  Fireman or police officer may be on your list.  In fact, in your elementary school days you may have changed your mind many times. It is OK to dream about the future and fantasize about what you should do some day.

If superhero is on your list, you may have to give that one up rather quickly, unless you are Robert Downey, Jr.  He is playing Iron Man at the ripe old age of 50.  I guess that is a commentary on keeping yourself in good shape.  Of course, he is just play acting, like we do as kids, and he certainly has a stunt double.  Your own life…

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Medellin, Colombia

The weather in Medellin is just about the same all year long.  Yes, there is a rainy season, but they get a lot of rain where they are at.  I have made two visits there and enjoyed the people and culture each time.

Click on any of the pictures and look through the larger versions.

For a short article on my trip to Medellin, head over to SERENDIPTY here.

A LIFE TOO SHORT

By now, he may have been a huge international star.  There may have been concert tours and record deals.  There may have been television appearances and interviews.  His good looks and winning smile may have captivated generations.  All that was not to be.  It was on this date ten years ago that the young singing star, enjoying what was the beginning of a storybook success story, died in a Paris hospital waiting for a lung transplant.  Once you have seen the young man perform, you will immediately recognize the tragedy of this tale. You may then understand why fighting the battle Gregory was forced to fight is one of the saddest tragedies our youth can face. When I wrote this originally, Gregory was new to me.  I had just discovered his story and the odyssey launched by his dream to sing.  Now at the 10th Anniversary of his passing, I would like to introduce you, or reintroduce you, to this talented Frenchman: 

Grégory was not even two years old when he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. That is a genetic disease of the lungs primarily, also the liver and intestines. Its name comes from the scarring and cyst formations in the pancreas. CF can rob you of your breath and then your life.

While he did consider sports journalism as a career path, Grégory decided to pursue a singing career. Perhaps some would see that as a futile choice for a boy suffering with cystic fibrosis, but it was his real passion. In 2003 he was involved in musical comedy theater, but his big break came in 2004 when he joined in the competition on Star Academy. That would be the French version of the Idol programs in the UK and America. While on the show he got the chance to sing with Yannik Noah, former tennis star and father of a well-known Chicago basketball player. Grégory won the competition in a final landslide vote an American politician can really appreciate. It launched him on a red-hot career.

Grègory had become himself, the person he wanted to be. Appropriately his first album was Je deviens moi (I become me). Television shows, personal appearances and even a concert tour followed the release of his first single and its radio popularity. A live album and DVD of his concerts was an immediate hit in Europe. Music videos of his popular singles were released and can be found on You Tube. He sang mostly in his native French, but also English and Italian. His good looks, great vocal range, albums, dvd, and European popularity would make it seem like he had it all, but he was being robbed. CF was taking his breath away. In 2007 Grégory said his doctor ordered him to take a few weeks off to recuperate. He died waiting for a lung transplant. (He was 23.)

The story would just be ultra sad if we ended it there, but it did not end. Besides the outpouring of emotion in France, a posthumous album earned money for the Association Grégory Lemarchal to aid those with the disease. His sister published a photo book “Mon frère, l’artiste” of her pictures of her brother with the proceeds going to the cause. His mother wanted to put Grégory’s earnings after his death into helping those with CF, so that others would not suffer like her son did. Millions and millions have been raised, and yet young people are still dying.

If you know someone who is suffering or has passed you may want to consider helping here: http://www.cff.org/ Charitable giving is down but the need remains. It is tragic to lose anyone so young. Grégory’s short but successful career helps to shine a light on that.
I learned of his songs five years after his death, but like many, I wonder how great a career he might have had. I also wonder if the bright future of many others can be saved.

From Olympia 06, the only live album and DVD.  This tour was cut short, as was Gregory’s life. It is not high quality but the entire concert is here and begins with Je deviens moi.

Growing Up

I read so slowly,
Falling behind in everything.
My friends are on the next book;
I’m still on Chapter 2.
They say it is about hate, sex, war,
The downfall of society.
I thought it was about love, childhood,
Playing games.
Maybe they taught something
The day I was absent.

Old friends are no longer close to me.
I thought they were standing still.
Now I meet new people.
Should I move on anyway?

Why do they run when
Walking is much easier?
They are calling for me to catch up.
I can’t turn the pages that fast.

Maybe I’ll buy the “notes.”

 

All Rights Reserved

April is National Poetry Month

 

Grandma’s Gone Home

I

You flew home.
We drove –
Across long, lonely Sunday highways.
The sky glared down at us
Through hazy eyes.
The air was filled with static
And thoughts of bears and bird dogs.
The road led us past sights
No longer familiar.
Time has no sympathy for trips like these.
Still, we must go home again.

II

You waited peacefully.
We came in our Sunday best.
Friends and relatives gathered
From places you’d been years earlier.
Some held vague remembrances
Of family experiences.
Some wore faces no longer familiar.
Time gives no comfort at occasions like these.
Still, we will come home again.

III

You led the way.
As always, we followed.
Slowly you took us
Across streets wet with morning rain.
The air was heavy
With memories we couldn’t express.
The clouds had gone but
The mist stayed in our eyes.
On a hilltop you joined
Friends and relatives who left years earlier.
Although carved in stone,
Some held names no longer familiar.
Time moves on toward days like these,
When we’ll all go home again.

 

Copyright Richard Paschall

April is National Poetry Month

YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING

Last fall in the midst of a bitter political campaign, we reran this article about Don Rickles. Now seems a good time to run it again.

SERENDIPITY

With the presidential campaign going strong there are plenty of news items for late night comedians to poke fun at, but no one today could possibly be as biting as the King of the Insult Comics.  Not only has he been doing this for many decades, he is still at it.  From Johnny Carson to Jimmy Fallon as well as all the other late night hosts, this comedian has brought a brand of humor like no other.

NO JOKING AROUND, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Imagine a comedian who insults everyone by race, gender, ethnic background and every other quality you can poke fun at. The audience loves it. No one walks out.  No one calls for him to be banned or fired.  Social media do not go ablaze with attacks. No Facebook postings, hash tags, capital letter tweets, re-tweets, shares, or re-blogs.

Everyone loves it. That probably would not happen today…

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National Poetry Month

We have come around to National Poetry Month again and I see I have one from long past on the shelf. I am pleased to share it.  Maybe someone will write a blues song with it.

You Were the One

You were the one
with the sparkling eyes
Alive whenever they
looked into mine,
But they no longer shine
like they used to do.
Now the just give me
the blues.

You were the one
who smiled with ease,
Knew when to laugh,
knew how to please,
But you no longer smile
like you used to do.
Now it just gives me
the blues.

I still see the places
we spent so much time.
I still pass the inns
where we wined and we dined.
And all of these things
that remind me of you
Are all of the things
that give me the blues.

You were the one
with the tender touch,
That made me feel good;
that I wanted so much.
You no longer touch me
like you used to do.
It’s loss just gives me
the blues.

You were the one
with the right things to say,
That had soothed my soul
almost every day,
But your voice doesn’t sound
quite the way it used to.
The words no longer
ring true.

I still see the friends
we cherished so much.
I still have the gifts
you gave me with love,
But all of these things
that remind me of you,
Are all of the things
that give me the blues.

Copyright Richard Paschall

See also:
Subtle and Not So Subtle – Poetry, SERENDIPITY