Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year!!!

The chances are 99.9% that you will sing, hum, or listen to someone sing "Auld Lang Syne" at midnight on New Year's Eve. So why do we sing this song?  Very few people know the words...and even fewer people know the true origins/ meaning of the song that has become "The New Year's Eve National Anthem" since how did this tradition come about?
This Robert Burns poem/ song originated as a Scottish folk tune and was originally written as an emotional response to the massive exodus of Scottish immigrants to America and Canada in the late 18th century.  The song asks the sad and beautiful question...
"Should auld acquintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?"
The interpretation...
"will we forget our old friends and the good times we had with them...never...
let's lift a strong drink to help us remember the times gone by..."
Auld Lang Syne Statue...Central Park in NYC

In 1929, "Auld Lang Syne" truly became famous when band leader- Guy Lombardo played it live on national radio from The Roosevelt Hotel Dance Hall in New York City. May we never forget our friends, family, etc. who have made a difference in our lives in "times gone by"!
My Scottish ancestors buried near Lockerbie, Scotland in "times gone by"
Listen to "Auld Lang Syne"

Monday, December 24, 2012

WWI: Christmas Peace

British and German troops in No Man's Land "Peace"

December 24, 1914...temporary humanity, empathy, and peace found a place on WWI battlefields as British and German soldiers initiated an unofficial ceasefire...singing songs, exchanging gifts, helping each other bury the dead, playing soccer, eating meals...
Christmas Truce 1914

Watch the you tube clip (00:30-5:20) for interviews and stories of this amazing story:
German and British substitute soccer for bullets!

"We must never forget that there is something within human nature that can respond to goodness..."

                                                     -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Kill the Jellyfish: Nativism

NATIVISM aka Anti-Immigrant Xenophobia...a movement to ensure that native-born Americans receive better treatment (government policy, jobs, etc.) than certain "undesirable", "barbaric" , or "un-American" immigrants.
1920 Raids...Arrests...Deportations
Over the past 20 years, America has experienced an alarming rise of anti-immigrant hatred and violence mostly from groups who call themselves "True Americans" or "Patriots". There are currently over 200 nativist/ anti-immigrant groups in America proving that the "jellyfish is alive and well".  
This "new growth" of anti-immigrant xenophobia is really nothing new...
As America makes the claim to be a "Nation of Immigrants",  consider some of our actions toward certain "undesirable" immigrants..
1840-1920...many Anti-German, Irish, Catholic, Jewish Laws
1850's...The Know Nothing Party forms 
1882...Chinese Exclusion Act
1920's...KKK & government led "Red Scare"
1924...Immigration Quota Act
1942...Executive Order 9066 & 9102...Internment Camps
1950's...McCarthyism and "Red Scare"
Post 9-11...Patriot Anti-Terrorism Act
2005...Minuteman Border Patrol
2007...Aztlan Conspiracy
2010-2012...164 new anti-immigrant laws passed

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

America: The Hope of the World

Ellis Island & The Statue of Liberty
"A symbol of hope to the outcasts and downtrodden of the world"

I often wonder about... my immigrant ancestors...
I know their names but...who were they as people...
how did they survive...what did they think...
how did they feel...what did they believe...
what questions would I ask them...
would I be proud of them?
 maybe a better question...
would they be proud of me?
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses...
yearning to breathe free!"

Monday, December 17, 2012

A True American Hero...Dead

Daniel Inouye, a WWII veteran (Bronze Star...Purple Heart...Distinguished Service Star...Congressional Medal of Honor) and longtime U.S. Senator (since 1963) from Hawaii has passed away today at the age of 88.  His amazing strength of spirit, ability to overcome extreme racial prejudice, and unrelenting service to our country can be an inspiration to us all.

Watch the attached youtube...
as Mr. Inouye describes his actions in Italy during WWII.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


"Nothing can stand in my way... that didn't stand in yours more."

"PSA: A Girl Interviews Her Mother"

This short video clip (2:57)...
helps me appreciate the sacrifices of my parents...
I hope it helps you appreciate yours and work hard to make them proud!!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

What Is The Cost?

What is the cost of knowing our past?
What is the cost of not? 


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fool's Gold

Wounded Knee Massacre
"The Cost of Black Hills Gold"
December 1890

To what...extreme of wickedness...dost thou not drive the hearts of mortals, accursed hunger of gold?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Winter Storms

Today, while shoveling snow (over12 inches) and watching the Vikings trounce the Bears...I thought about my top 5 most memorable snowstorms. I was living in Chicago (1983-1995) so I missed some monster storms like the 1991 Halloween Blizzard...Here goes...

Number 5...April 1979: Ada, Minnesota- A mid-April snowstorm cancelled our track meet and later helped contribute to major spring flooding...which at that time was called the "Flood of the Century". We got several days off from school to build sandbag dikes.
Sandbag Dike
Number 4...December 31, 1971: Glyndon, Minnesota- The "New Year's Eve" Blizzard made it a very quiet and cold night. I remember listening to the radio announcer tell stories of "Snowmobile Ambulances" bringing pregnant ladies to the hospital in Fargo to deliver their babies.
1970 Artic Cat Puma

Number 3...January 1975: Glyndon, Minnesota- After this 3 day storm called the "Super Bowl" Blizzard, I remember digging down 6 or 7 feet to try and find my dad's 1972 Plymouth Fury buried under a huge drift. We finally found the antenna and dug her out! What made it even worse...theVikings lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 16-6.

1972 Plymouth Fury III
Number 2...March 1966: Hankinson, North Dakota- This "spring" storm produced snow drifts 20-30 feet high.  I remember driving into the country for my piano lessons through a "tunnel of snow"!!!
1966 North Dakota

Number 1...December 1983: Leeds, North Dakota- The worst combination of snow, wind, and cold I've ever experienced!  We spent Christmas suffering through a blinding blizzard and several days of -100 below wind chills. It was so cold your spit would freeze before it hit the ground!!! I fondly remember finding the barn with my grandpa to help with chores, being "stuck" inside with 20+ relatives, and raiding my grandma's Christmas cookies every chance I got! 


Saturday, December 8, 2012


Dave Brubeck Quartet
Dave Brubeck, jazz pianist and composer passed away December 5th at the age of 91. He was famous for organizing Dave Brubeck's Quartet and for using uncommon time signatures like 5/4 and 9/8 time (as compared to the more common 4/4 and 3/4 time meters) to create a very "groovy" sound.  His death in combination with our current studies on Westward Expansion and it's negative effect on Native American culture have caused me to wonder...what if?

What if our Founding Fathers would have lived up to our nation's guiding axiom of "All Men Are Created Equal" and not exterminated/ marginalized the "beautiful sounding instrument" of Native Culture?!?

What beautiful music they could have made together...instead they chose the "dissonance of superiority and singing out of tune in a minor key"...

Listen to Brubeck Quartet's most famous song
 "Take Five"...the "Harmony of What If"...

My hope is that my students and our great nation will keep striving toward that intended "Harmony" of "All Men Are Created Equal"! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Day Which Will Live In Infamy?

Bob Kerr, a veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor (less than 5% of 75,000 are still alive) was being introduced while speaking at a high school near his home and the teacher said, "Mr. Kerr will be talking to you today about Pearl Harbor..."

One of the students raised their hand and asked, "Pearl Harbor?  Who is she?"

Can you imagine anyone not knowing December 7, 1941?!? 

Maybe it isn't that astounding when you consider that students (and most adults) really don't know much about their history.  Results of national testing revealed that only 13% of high school seniors could be considered proficient in U.S. History according to the National Assessment of Education Progress Report.

This pathetic statistic should motivate all of us to do our best to remember our past! Not just to get a grade or pass a test...but to really think critically about our history so it can inform us about our present and lead us to a better future!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hitler and The American Holocaust

How many Native Americans lived in the area now known as the United States pre-Columbus 1492?

Scholarly estimates generally tend to range between 8 and 20 million indigenous people! By 1900, the United States census showed the Native American population at 250,000...this was truly an American Holocaust.  A genocide of massive proportions planned and deliberate! A few examples:

1803- Thomas Jefferson...Indian Civilization Program
1817- James Monroe...Indian Assimilation Program
1829- Andrew Jackson...Indian Removal Act
1860's- Abraham Lincoln...Indian & Dakota Wars
1860's- 1870's- U.S. Grant...Total War Strategy
1887- Grover Cleveland...The Dawes Act
American Holocaust Full Documentary (30 minutes)

Hitler's ideas for concentration camps and genocide owed much to his reading of American History books and it's treatment of Native Americans. He often praised "the efficiency of America's extermination by starvation and combat of the red savages".  The land where "All Men Are Created Equal" inspiring a mad man...

Let us never remember only one Holocaust and forget another!

More empty words?
President Obama signing the Native American Apology Resolution
December 2009