Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Service Without Question

Here we are in the month of September relishing the splendid changes within nature's landscapes. The crispness of the air infiltrates our nostrils while visions of majestic changes in color mesmerize our senses. Yet, it has not always been this way during the autumnal season. Nor is it so pleasant for all everywhere at this time.

There have always been times of war. Biblical war. Civil war. World war. Cold war. Unnecessary war. War is WAR! War is hell. So many lives taken. Young. Old. Age knows no boundaries when it comes to war. The visions of war are woven with bloody images and broken bone. Within battlefields reside ghosts of our ancestry. 

Today let's embrace the past and take a look at the first world war...

The battle at Passchendaele
World War I (WWI), a global war centered in Europe, began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. Four years of fighting resulted in over one million deaths and 20 times that many soldiers with severe injuries.  

World War I took place on foreign soil with America being drawn into its midst in 1917. American losses48,000 killed in battle, 56,000 lost to disease seemed trifling compared to the staggering costs paid by other countries.

“The horror of it all kept me awake for weeks, nor has the awfulness of it all deserted me, but at first it seemed a horrid dream.”

The Great War: WWI

With war in Europe, all eyes and ears remained keenly aware of its presence and acutely alert to its impact on the United States. Courage and allegiance to America remained stalwart in the face of imminent danger; battles were won and lost on foreign soil.

Landscapes collapsed under the brutality of war
Relinquishing timeless relics unto life’s plight
Variegated shades of crimson covered the hillsides
Capturing lifelessness within dawn’s early light

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The encumbrance of blight, life in death
 Shrouded fields once lush from flowing streams
Spoils and scars saddled the countryside
While endless flames blazed even in dreams

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Night became bright as day
As flashes riveted across a star-shelled sky
Blood curdling sights and sounds
Echoed within each and every battle cry

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One water bottle for forty men
Such anguish one could not ignore
The ghastly stench of death and dying
One could only gravely abhor

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Anticipation of life’s last breath
Made even the brightest day pale
Yet in the midst of such bleak darkness
Hopes of peace nonetheless prevailed

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Singing and whistling heard from the trenches
Authenticated life still truly existed
Despite the cold, hunger and suffering
Never once was the question why I enlisted
  ©2013 Awakenings
 Sharla Lee Shults

“A man who is good enough to shed his blood for the country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards.”
—Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919)


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Autumn: A Time of Change


Change. An overplayed word in many instances, inevitable in others. The changing of the seasons relies on the hands of Mother Nature, rather than the hands of man. We have arrived at a delightful time much like life itself. For many of us, the autumnal years provide a time to look back and reflect on what worked well and what didn't make the grade. There is greater freedom to do what we want without fear of reprisal for just being ourselves. A time for change.

What about America? Is she in her autumnal years?

The Write Room Blog
America has undergone much change and often times not for the betterment of the people, for the people, by the people. Standing united seems to be scattering in the wind much like the falling leaves of autumn. In retrospect, autumn is a decline leading to conditions reflective of dying. For America, let it be a time for explosion! As the landscapes erupt in riotous colors, may the hearts of Americans swell with the fiery emotions needed to keep her strong. 

Voice of America: Change?

Thoughts remain unsettled as America strives
to uphold its liberty, freedom, and the constitution. 
America runs on the courage, faith, and hope of its people! 
What are your campaigns for change?

Time, totally uncontrollable
Steals our moments and our days
It passes without hesitation
As we move about in a daze

With time comes change
And change is surely here
Racism echoes uncertainty
Does it fall on a deaf ear?

With change comes progress
All things just don’t remain
Within ambiguous walls
What progress will abstain?

With progress comes growth
Not always gauging prosperity
Stability wanes
Who profits in a community?

With growth comes opportunity
Yet challenges often are never met
Long-term, short-term promises
Do signs of affluence remain unset?

With opportunity comes responsibility
The demand for ethical leadership
With values, honesty, integrity outdated
Will the next step be total censorship?

A time to break silence
Stand up, be tough!
A voice inside our heads
Cries out—Enough!

 ©2013 Awakenings
 Sharla Lee Shults

Friday, September 20, 2013

Word of the Day: Bacon

Bacon on burgers, BLTs
Gimme that bacon
With eggs, please! 

I love trivia! Do you? And what better subject than BACON! Perhaps all you know about bacon is that it is a meat product prepared from a pig and it goes with just about anything! We will get to some bacony combinations (usual and unusual) later but right now let's take a walk down history lane and when, where, how this succulent meat found its way to the table, especially America's breakfast table.

Let's begin with a little humor and your familiarity with the catchphrase "bringing home the bacon." More than likely you have related it to money when in actuality it bears relationship to the spirit of matrimonial harmony. Here's how the story goes:
A church in the English town of Dunmow, Essex promised a flitch (side) of bacon to any married man who could swear before the congregation and God that he had not quarreled with his wife for a year and a day. A husband who could bring home the bacon was held in high esteem by the community for his forbearance, self-control, patience and ability to serve an English breakfast.
What was then the town of Dunmow, became the town of Great Dunmow which still holds The Dunmow Flitch Trials every 4 years and awards a flitch of bacon (a salted and cured side) to married couples if they can satisfy the Judge and Jury of 6 maidens and 6 bachelors that in twelve months and a day they have not wished themselves unmarried again.
The phrase bring home the bacon later evolved into meaning generate household income, but sometimes the person saying it may have actually said it literally, historically the European peasant diet included bacon as it was a relatively inexpensive kind of meat compared to other cuts. [Source: The History of Bacon]
Embrace the Past...

Bacon dates back as early as 1500 BC. During that era, the Chinese began curing pork bellies with salt. That's a long time ago, folks! In the early 5th century, Anglo-Saxons used bacon fat for cooking & salad dressing. In the 1600s, smoked bacon was noted as the bacon of highest quality. Then, in 1770, John Harris set up the first bacon processing plant in Wiltshire. From there, bacon popularity grew and grew with Wiltshire in England being the center of bacon since the 18th century and is still considered the bacon capital of the world. It wasn't until 1924 that Oscar Mayer introduced pre-sliced, pre-packaged bacon to America.

With 2 billion+ pounds of bacon being produced yearly in the USA, that means people are devouring bacon beyond the simple menu of bacon and eggs at breakfast time. Of course, there is knowledge to be gained as to how this combination first adorned the American breakfast table. Check out...

How ‘Bacon and Eggs’ Became the American Breakfast

Empower the Present...

What is it about bacon that makes it so-o-o-o-o-o-o good? Got to be it's aroma, as well as its distinct flavor! 

There is: bacon ice cream; bacon-infused vodka; deep-fried bacon; chocolate-dipped bacon; bacon-wrapped hot dogs filled with cheese; brioche bread pudding smothered in bacon sauce; hard-boiled eggs coated in mayonnaise encased in bacon — called, appropriately, the 'heart attack snack'; bacon salt; bacon doughnuts, cupcakes and cookies; bacon mints; 'baconnaise', which Jon Stewart described as 'for people who want to get heart disease but are too lazy to actually make bacon'; Wendy's 'Baconnator' — six strips of bacon mounded atop a half-pound cheeseburger — which sold 25 million in its first eight weeks; and the outlandish 'bacon explosion' — a barbecued meat brick composed of 2 pounds of bacon wrapped around 2 pounds of sausage.
— Arun Gupta, The Indypendent
Test your Bacon IQ: 

Bacon Me Crazy: Bacon Quiz

Enrich the Future... 

Who knows what to expect in the future when it comes to bacon. Stores now offer turkey bacon and veggie bacon. The toaster bacon of 1975 already flopped so not much hope of that coming back. Without any doubt, bacon is here to stay, just the way it is served will continue to be different!

Perhaps you have some favorite, unique, totally different ways to serve bacon. Enrich bacon's future by sharing more and more ways of preparing those bacony dishes so folks will always want more and more! Just remember...
What is your favorite bacon dish?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Capitol Cornerstone Laid

This Day in History: September 18, 1793

On September 18, 1793, George Washington lays the cornerstone 
for the United States Capitol - a most impressive monument 
for its builders, the American people and the government.

Embrace the Past, Empower the Present, Enrich the Future
The history of the United States Capitol Building begins in 1793. Since then, the U.S. Capitol has been built (1793-1829), burnt (1814) rebuilt (1815-1819), extended (1850-1868) and restored (1970-present). The Capitol that we see today is the result of several major periods of construction; it stands as a monument to the ingenuity, determination and skill of the American people. Read MORE. . .

[Photo Credits: en.wikipedia.org]
Design for the U.S. Capitol, "An Elevation for a Capitol", by James Diamond was one of many submitted in the 1792 contest, but not selected.
The Capitol when first occupied by Congress (painting circa 1800 by William Russell Birch)
The Capitol after the burning of Washington, D.C. in the War of 1812 (painting 1814 by George Munger)
Daguerreotype of east side of the Capitol (1846 by John Plumbe)
The fresco painted on the interior of the Capitol's dome titled "The Apotheosis of Washington" was painted by Constantino Brumidi in 1865 (photo 2005)
US Senate chamber (photo circa 1873)
The Capitol Building with flowers in the foreground (photo 2010)
The US Capitol dome at night (photo 2010)
15 July 2013 (Wikipedia Commons)
A mighty fortress
Stalwart frame of mind
The heart of a free nation
Beating to the rhythm of time

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The U.S. Constitution

This Day in History: September 17, 1787

Howard Chandler Christy's Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States

Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org

U.S. Constitution signed. . .

The signing of the Constitution of the United States took place barely a decade after the Revolutionary War. Not all attending the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia were in favor of such a document. Many were suspicious of making the federal government stronger and as a result, it did indeed meet opposition.

The U.S. Constitution contains about 4,400 words and is the oldest and the shortest written constitution of any representative government in the world. The original document consisted of four pages and is laced with fascinating facts.

James Madison 1751-1836
Do you know who is known as the "Father of the Constitution?" If you named George Washington, you missed the mark. James Madison first wrote the constitution for his state of Virginia and was dubbed the nickname at the age of 36. However, President George Washington submitted a list of 12 amendments to Congress in October 1789. They, too, were written by James Madison. Two of these were eliminated, but in 1791 the other ten were added as the Bill of Rights.

How knowledgeable are you on the U. S. Constitution? Check your understanding!

Did you know? 10 Things You Didn't Know About the U.S. Constitution

Test Your Knowledge: Trivia Quiz - US Constitution

More Testing: How much do you know about the US Constitution? A quiz.

This infographic was created in 2010.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Voyage to America

This Day in History: September 16, 1620

Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882)
The spirit of European expansion stirred adventurers to set sail for the New World. Having already been discovered much earlier, the richness of this new land beckoned voyagers to set sail in 1620 for a more profound purpose. Such exploits resulted in surveillance of the terrain and possibilities for settlements.

While the life left behind may have been disturbing with visions of a new life being much better, the travelers found themselves facing far greater challenges than anyone ever expected. Yet, this never deterred their spirit for they were intent on staying. 

A strong-willed people from very diverse backgrounds crossed treacherous waters, enduring hardships unimaginable to us today. Hope, faith, and courage remained resolute even in the face of serendipitous challenges.

Hope for an improved life
Led ships to set sail for America
Why did they leave their homes,
Those ancestors of our generation?

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Great fortunes some would seek
While others simply settled for freedom
All were hard-working folks
Laborers with varied education

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Some traveled as prisoners
Each hoped for a better life
Built on faith’s determination

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Faith the Christian cornerstone
Inspired stabilization of belief
Preparing for the unexpected
Confirmed watchful eyes of conviction

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Enormous challenges emerged
Within an era of self-belief
All answered their call to duty
When courage was commonplace

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Courage to overcome
Took strength larger than life
An innate part of who they were
Hearts and minds did embrace

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Thousands of years of descendants
Left their mark for generations to come
Enduring sickness and hardships
With perseverance and innovation

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Each has a name, a family
And they are still all together
So who do they proclaim to be?
Our ancestors—Our foundation 

  ©2013 Awakenings
Sharla Lee Shults

Awakenings is not only America’s ancestral story handed down through generation after generation but it is also their story.

“Do not wait; the time will never be “just right.” Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.”
—George Herbert (1593–1633)