If you do not know me (I mean, really know me) then there is something you need to understand before you read this blog: I value the truth above everything else... except a good laugh. A good laugh will almost always beat the truth as far as I’m concerned. Everything you read on this blog will be true, somewhat true, or something I made up in an effort to get a laugh. Sometimes I will go on a rant that I don’t really mean (or only kind of mean). Sometimes I will mean what I write only to completely change my mind a year, month, or day later. Such is life. By reading this blog you agree not to get offended by anything I write (or, at the very least, you agree not to tell me or anyone else that you are offended). It is worth noting that my employer does not endorse my blog (or even read it, to tell you the truth). The Wife also does not endorse my blog (though she will read it from time to time). I am not paid to write this... it’s just my way of giving back to the community. I have, and will, touch on a wide range of subjects and will give my opinion on these subjects. Again, most of what I say is for laughs but every now and then I will say what I really think and feel (see my views on Westboro Baptist Cult). How will you know when I’m serious and when I’m trying to get a laugh? You’ll know. And if you don’t know, well... maybe this isn’t the best thing for you to be reading. So, sit back, read and enjoy. Leave comments if you want and don’t be afraid to publicly follow me.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

HAPPY 70th BIRTHDAY MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Know Your Medal of Honor Recipients:

Major/aide-de-camp Ernest Von Vegesack (US Army) received his Medal of Honor for his actions on June 27, 1862, at Gaines Mill, Virginia. His citation reads:

While voluntarily serving as aide_de_camp, successfully and advantageously charged the position of troops under fire.

Technical Sergeant Forrest L. Vosler (US Army) received his Medal of Honor for his actions on December 20, 1943, over Bremen, Germany. His citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry in action against the enemy above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a radio operator-air gunner on a heavy bombardment aircraft in a mission over Bremen, Germany, on 20 December 1943. After bombing the target, the aircraft in which T/Sgt. Vosler was serving was severely damaged by antiaircraft fire, forced out of formation, and immediately subjected to repeated vicious attacks by enemy fighters. Early in the engagement a 20-mm. cannon shell exploded in the radio compartment, painfully wounding T/Sgt. Vosler in the legs and thighs. At about the same time a direct hit on the tail of the ship seriously wounded the tail gunner and rendered the tail guns inoperative. Realizing the great need for firepower in protecting the vulnerable tail of the ship, T/Sgt. Vosler, with grim determination, kept up a steady stream of deadly fire. Shortly thereafter another 20-mm. enemy shell exploded, wounding T/Sgt. Vosler in the chest and about the face. Pieces of metal lodged in both eyes, impairing his vision to such an extent that he could only distinguish blurred shapes. Displaying remarkable tenacity and courage, he kept firing his guns and declined to take first-aid treatment. The radio equipment had been rendered inoperative during the battle, and when the pilot announced that he would have to ditch, although unable to see and working entirely by touch, T/Sgt. Vosler finally got the set operating and sent out distress signals despite several lapses into unconsciousness. When the ship ditched, T/Sgt. Vosler managed to get out on the wing by himself and hold the wounded tail gunner from slipping off until the other crewmembers could help them into the dinghy. T/Sgt. Vosler's actions on this occasion were an inspiration to all serving with him. The extraordinary courage, coolness, and skill he displayed in the face of great odds, when handicapped by injuries that would have incapacitated the average crewmember, were outstanding.

Sergeant Reidar Waaler (US Army) received his Medal of Honor for his actions on September 27, 1918, near Ronssoy, France. His citation reads:

In the face of heavy artillery and machinegun fire, he crawled forward to a burning British tank, in which some of the crew were imprisoned, and succeeded in rescuing 2 men. Although the tank was then burning fiercely and contained ammunition which was likely to explode at any time, this soldier immediately returned to the tank and, entering it, made a search for the other occupants, remaining until he satisfied himself that there were no more living men in the tank.

With today being Mom’s birthday, we’re going to look at 70 random things about Mom and events (perhaps worldwide) that have taken place in her lifetime… (thanks to Wikipedia for the info that didn’t come from my memory).

1. Mom was born on a Thursday, January 24, 1946… The same day that the first resolution of the UN General Assembly (UN Resolution 1) created the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission.

2. Every morning on our way to school, I would ask Mom what our plan was for the day. I always wanted to know what we were doing after school.

3. There were times when I was little that Mom would make a tent with a sheet and tell me stories.

4. On the day Mom was born, Igor Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements was performed for the first time (by the New York Philharmonic orchestra).

5. Mom was born in the same month as John Baldwin (aka John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin), actress Diane Keaton, Syd Barrett (of Pink Floyd), Robby Krieger (of The Doors), Diana Ellen Judd (aka Country singer Naomi Judd), singer/actress Dolly Parton, film critic Gene Siskel and Terry Kath (of the band Chicago).

6. Just a few days after Mom was born, the Civil Censorship Department in Japan was established by the American occupation authority, to cut prohibited material from Japanese films before release. Prohibited subjects included scenes favorably depicting revenge, racial or religious discrimination, violence, militarism, Japanese nationalism, feudalism, or the exploitation of women or children. Censorship continued until June 1947.

7. When I was little and we (Mom and me) would get in the car to go somewhere, we would sing a little song “Buckle up for safety, buckle up”. (It would repeat a couple of times).

8. Harry Hopkins (the advisor to FDR for New Deal policies) and British composer Sidney Jones died the month Mom was born.

9. When I was far too young to be allowed to do so, Mom and Dad would take me to Clemson’s Homecoming football game and let me sit on The Hill while they sat in their seats in the upper deck. According to Mom, she spent most of those games watching me through binoculars.

10. Mom worked two jobs (three during “Wedding Season”), raised three children and still found time to keep the house clean and cook us breakfast and dinner every day.

11. She was still able to wear her wedding dress on her 5th wedding anniversary… just 2 ½ months after giving birth to her second child. This, along with #10, are why her daughter and two daughters-in-law hate her. Haha… just kidding, they don’t hate her.

12. Mom spent many (many… many) years teaching music to the fine public schools children of James Island.

13. Mom had a habit of falling asleep while helping me study. Often times, she would call out a spelling word and before I could finish spelling it (most likely incorrectly), she would be asleep.

14. In the same month Mom was born, Japan's Emperor Hirohito surprised his subjects with the news that he was not descended from the Shinto Sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami, and that "The Emperor is not a living god". He added that his people had to "proceed unflinchingly toward elimination of misguide practices of the past", including "the false conception that the Emperor is divine and that the Japanese people are superior to other races and fated to rule the world". The admission was published in newspapers throughout Japan.

15. Mom has 8 grandchildren… the oldest is 17 and the youngest is 4.

16. During the month Mom was born, General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP) during the occupation of Japan, began a purge of the Japanese government, with the goal of removing "undesirable personnel" from office. Over two and a half years, there were 210,287 people removed or barred from public office.

17. Mom started playing the piano (or maybe it was the organ) for church when she was a teenager (filling in while her teacher/mentor was on leave).

18. Weeks before Mom was born, the first democratic elections were held in Vietnam and the Viet Minh Party (led by Ho Chi Minh) won 230 of the 300 seats in the National Assembly.

19. A couple of days after Christmas in 1999, my right ear looked a little swollen to me (I’d lost hearing in on Christmas Eve). Mom called my ear doctor and the nice lady on the phone told Mom the next available appointment was after the New Year. Mom hung the phone up and told me to get in the car. She then drove me to the doctor’s office and showed my ear to the nice lady who had been on the phone. The nice lady then went and got my ear doctor… and about one hour later we were on the way to the hospital for my second ear surgery.

20. After this second ear surgery, Mom slept on the sofa in the den to be close to me (my room was at the other side of the house from Mom and Dad’s room). I woke up in the middle of the night and yelled for her… and yelled… and yelled. Finally, I got up and got a drink of water… then woke Mom up to let her know I had everything covered.

21. At a congressional hearing held the month Mom was born, Admiral Harold R. Stark testified that more than two months before the United States entered the Second World War, President Roosevelt had ordered American warships to destroy "German and Italian naval, land, and air forces encountered" if requested by British officers.

22. The first meeting of the United Nations General Assembly convened a couple of weeks before Mom was born, with delegates from 51 nations meeting in London. British Prime Minister Clement Attlee opened the session. In secret voting for the first President of the UNGA, Paul-Henri Spaak of Belgium won the post, 28–23, over Trygve Lie of Norway. Lie would be selected for a more powerful post as first Secretary-General of the United Nations.

23. Project Diana (conducted the month Mom was born from a laboratory in Belmar, New Jersey, by the Evans Signal Laboratory) bounced radar waves off the Moon for the first time, measuring its exact distance from the Earth (a mean of 238,857 miles or 384,403 kilometers), and proving that communication is possible between Earth and outer space.

24. A few weeks before Mom was born, Malcolm Little, 22, was arrested in Boston for breaking and entering. During his six years in prison, he joined the Nation of Islam, and changed his name to Malcolm X.

25. Mom gave birth to three beautiful babies (Sonny in 1970, Teresa Lynn in 1972 and me in 1979)… but I’m the only one who still looks good. Honestly, if you were to ask Mom to use the letter “S” to describe each child, she would most likely say: “Sonny – Silent; Teresa Lynn – Sweet; Greg – Spectacular”. I mean, that’s just a guess on my part… she might say Sonny – Soundless; Teresa Lynn – Smart; Greg – Sensational.

26. The last Japanese prisoners of war in the United States departed, on board a ship from Angel Island (California), for repatriation just a couple of weeks before Mom was born.

27. A little over a week before Mom was born, the SCAP force in Japan revealed the scope of Japan's operation of sending bombs to the United States on balloons. Between the summer of 1942 and March 1945, nine thousand bombs were launched, of which 225 landed in America.

28. Just days before Mom was born, Harry S. Truman (by presidential directive) created the post of Director of Central Intelligence and established the Central Intelligence Group, predecessor to the CIA.

29. Just one day after Mom was born, the Soviet Union's quest for the atomic bomb began as Soviet physicist Igor Kurchatov was summoned to Moscow by Joseph Stalin for a 50-minute meeting that began at 8:15 pm Kurchatov was ordered to spare no expense in getting nuclear weapons. At the time, only the United States had "the bomb". By 1950, there were 400,000 people working on the project.

30. The expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia began the day after Mom was born as hundreds of Sudetenland residents were loaded onto trains at Mariánské Lázně.

31. The first multiparty elections, in almost 15 years, to take place in Germany were conducted in the American occupied zone a few days after Mom was born. The new Christian Democratic Union (CDU) won more local offices than any other, and the revived Social Democrat Party (SPD). Similar elections followed in the French, British and Soviet zones. In 1949, parliamentary elections for the Bundestag would be allowed.

32. When I was a young lad, Mom was asked around October or November to play the organ and be the choir director at Johns Island Presbyterian Church just long enough to get them through Christmas. She agreed… but I guess they never said which Christmas they wanted to get through… Mom ended up doing that job (while also teaching full time) for over 20 years.

33. The United Nations Security Council held its first session (a week before Mom was born), called to order by Norman Makin, at 3:10 p.m. GMT, at Church House, Westminster. Convening around the horseshoe-shaped table were representatives from the five permanent members (the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, France and China), each of whom had veto power, and the first six non-permanent members, whose membership would change from year to year. The first rotating spots were occupied by Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, the Netherlands and Poland.

34. In Japan, the Civil Censorship Department was established just days after Mom was born by the American occupation authority to cut prohibited material from Japanese films before release. Prohibited subjects included scenes favorably depicting revenge, racial or religious discrimination, violence, militarism, Japanese nationalism, feudalism, or the exploitation of women or children. Censorship continued until June 1947.

35. During the month after Mom was born, NBC Radio commentator Drew Pearson broke the news of what would become known as the "Gouzenko Affair": a Soviet spy ring had been operating in Canada, and that the spy agency GRU had been transmitting American atomic secrets from Ottawa to Moscow.

36. Dancer/actor Gregory Hines, actor Alan Rickman and actor Anthony Daniels (aka C3PO) were born a month after Mom.

37. Charles "Lucky" Luciano, an American Mafia boss, was transported from a New York prison to an ocean liner, and deported to his native Italy a month after Mom was born.

38. The Revised Standard Version of the New Testament was formally introduced by the International Council of Religious Education at its 1946 meeting, at Central High School in Columbus, Ohio a month after Mom was born.

39. A month after Mom was born Lt. Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, who led the Japanese conquest of Singapore and the Philippines, was hanged in Manila for war crimes, followed by Lt. Col. Seichi Ohta, who had headed security for Japan's "thought police" (kempei tai), and interpreter Takuma Higashigi.

40. Mom graduated from Columbia College in 3 ½ years.

41. While she was at Columbia College, Mom roomed with 2 wonderful young ladies. They liked each other so much that they have gotten together every Labor Day Weekend since before their favorite child (me) was born.

42. Hungary was proclaimed a Republic under a new constitution that formally abolished the monarchy in the same month Mom was born.

43. A month after Mom was born the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (SED) was started in the Soviet Zone of Germany, when the Social Democratic Party was pressured to unite with the Communist Party. The SED, Communist in all but name, would rule East Germany for all but the last six months of that nation's existence.

44. In his speech at Westminster College, in Fulton, Missouri a couple of months after Mom was born, Winston Churchill talked about the Iron Curtain.

45. Mom first met Dad on Folly Beach.

46. Former U.S. President Herbert Hoover was asked by President Harry Truman to assist in persuading Americans to assist in famine relief worldwide a month after Mom was born.

47. Japanese Lt. General Masaharu Homma is executed outside Manila, the Philippines the year Mom was born for leading the Bataan Death March.

48. Frozen french fries were introduced the month after Mom was born. Pre-fried by Maxson Food Systems of Long Island, New York, and made to be baked in the oven, the product was first sold at Macy's in New York, but were not immediately popular. American per-capita potato consumption had declined since 1910, and was not measured at previous levels until 1962, when french fries were a fast-food restaurant staple.

49. The United States recognized Josip Broz Tito's government in Yugoslavia the year Mom was born.

50. Mom grew up on land that The Wife and I plan to build on.

51. The first scheduled Trans-Atlantic commercial airplane flight was made a month after Mom was born when the "Star of Paris", a TWA Constellation, took off at 2:21 pm from New York's La Guardia airport. The plane landed in Paris 14 hours and 48 minutes later.

52. The League of Nations, in its last meeting, transferred its mission to the United Nations and disbanded itself the year Mom was born.

53. A month after Mom was born, Ho Chi Minh (the newly elected President of Vietnam) sent a telegram to U.S. President Harry S. Truman, asking that the United States use its influence to persuade France not to send occupation forces back into Vietnam, and to "interfere urgently in support of our independence". Truman's reply was that the U.S. would support France, and Ho sought assistance from the Soviet Union instead.

54. Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering (later renamed Sony) was founded the year Mom was born with about 20 employees.

55. While watching me play baseball, Mom never failed to yell “Hit that ball!” whenever I’d walk up to bat.

56. The Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge was established in Oklahoma (the month after Mom was born) by order of President Truman.

57. The Interpol organization was re-founded the year Mom was born with the telegraphic address "Interpol" adopted.

58. The War Relocation Authority was abolished the year Mom was born.

59. The Federative People's Republic of Yugoslavia was established in the same month Mom was born with the promulgation of a new constitution that established a federation of six constituent republics, and Slovenia) and replaced the Kingdom of Yugoslavia with a presidential government.

60. When Mom and Dad moved into their current home, it was in the “country”. Now the area is very much developed.

61. After more than 380 years of Western dominance, the Philippines attained full independence the year Mom was born.

62. Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini became the first American saint to be canonized the year Mom was born.

63. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis staged their first show as a comedy team at Club 500 in Atlantic City, New Jersey the year Mom was born.

64. The United States Atomic Energy Commission was established the year Mom was born.

65. The year Mom was born is the same year the Havana Conference began between U.S. organized crime bosses in Havana, Cuba.

66. It’s a Wonderful Life featuring James Stewart and Donna Reed was released the same year Mom was born.

67. Bikinis went on sale in Paris the year Mom was born.

68. Just a month after Mom was born, ENIAC (the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer) was introduced to the public by the U.S. Army, in a press conference at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The world's first electronic computer weighed 30 tons, had 18,000 vacuum tubes, and was 8 feet tall, 3 feet deep, and 100 feet long. One of the computer's first tests was computing trajectories for rocket launching, "completing in ten days a job which would have required three months of concentrated effort by a mathematician".

69. On the day after Mom was born, General Douglas MacArthur recommended in a telegram to the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff that Japan's Emperor Hirohito not be put on trial for war crimes, noting that "No specific and tangible evidence has been uncovered" and adding that "his indictment will unquestionably cause a tremendous convulsion among the Japanese people, the repercussions of which cannot be over-estimated." Hirohito continued to reign as Emperor of Japan until his death in 1989.

70. Every time I talk to Mom on the phone, she ends the conversation with “I love you the most”… At least, I assume that’s how she ends it. We usually hang up before she can actually say it.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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