Labor Day

Labor Day

A holiday for the American worker, Labor Day is celebrated to praise the working man –and woman.

It is the unofficial end of summer and a tribute to everyone who works to help keep this great country running.

These are just a few things I am thankful for on this day:

I am thankful that I come from several generations of hard workers, who taught me to have a work ethic.

I am thankful that my husband also has a strong work ethic and always puts his family first.

I am thankful that our daughters are also hard workers.

I am thankful that this is a country in which you can get ahead and live a good life–thanks to the past workers.

So on this Labor Day I want to say Thank You to everyone who puts in an honest days work and help keep America able to celebrate.

Happy Labor Day 2018!

The Loss of Fear

The Loss of Fear

I feel, having reached the ripe age of 50, that I now have a certain amount of experience, knowledge and understanding about how the world works.  I can objectively judge a person’s character and I now have enough time behind me that I can remember how our society was and how far we have come.

One of the things that has evolved–to our detriment–has been the loss of fear.

I’m not talking about the fear of the boogeyman. I am talking about the fear from safety.

Let me explain.  As I was growing up–I had a lot of fears.  I did not see those fears as a bad thing.

I was afraid of strangers–so I never strayed far from my mother and father when in public.

I was afraid of getting sick–so I wore my gloves and my scarf in the cold, an umbrella in the rain.

I was afraid of big dogs–so when I walked home from school with my little sister, I made her cross the street with me so we could avoid the house on the corner with the big german shepherd.

As I got older I was afraid of different things.

I was afraid of failing–so I made sure to study and get the best grades I could–in high school and college.

I was afraid of drugs–so I stayed away from them and anyone that used them–even if it was just “one time”.

I was afraid of being attacked, mugged or abducted–so I made sure to never go out at night by myself.

These fears, to me, were healthy. They kept me safe. And I did not “miss out” on anything.

Kids today, I am finding, have lost their fear.  They are not afraid of vicious animals–they instigate them. They do not take care of their health–often walking through the rain in no hurry to get where they are going, or wearing the inappropriate clothes for the weather.

But worse–they are not afraid of strangers talking to them, calling them or connecting with them on the internet.

They are not afraid of drugs, drug users or drug dealers–seeing it as a right of passage.

They are not afraid of guns or violence often running to see what is happening when a serious situation takes place.

They are not afraid to walk around late at night in the dark by themselves.

This new generation has lost their fear–and with it they have lost their safety.

As a middle aged woman now, my new fear is these young people. Not for what may happen to them because of their lack of fear–but for what may happen to us due to their disregard of actions and decisions that keep us all safe in our community.

The loss of fear is hurting our youth and our society.  The world around us has not changed that much–it is how we choose to view the threats in our world that has changed.  I will chose the healthy fear–every time.

Reinventing The Library

Reinventing The Library

I am a reader and I love books.  I have been reading books for as long as I can remember and I have been a patron of my city library practically all my life, in every city I have ever lived in.

My earliest memory of going to the library to check out books is one of myself at about age 6, walking several blocks to the public library on Belmont Avenue. I remember choosing the books I would read and hugging them to my chest all the way home in anticipation of the stories I would enjoy.

When I had my own children, a trip to the library was an exciting outing–each of us with our own library cards–to choose the next adventure we were to read. Both my girls are readers too.

Over the last 45 years I have continued to borrow books from the library.  But as technology has changed my borrowing habits have changed as well. Now that I have an e reader on my phone and as a separate tablet–all I have to do is  download the app, borrow the book and enjoy it.  I never even have to leave the comfort of my home.

When I have gone to the library for an actual book these days, I have found that it is very empty and understaffed–with staff that is not as knowledgeable as they once were. Also, I found something disturbing.  A library patron, who seemed to be homeless, was bathing herself in the library restroom.

That in itself is a sad situation. For the lady and for others who witnessed it. I am not saying she was unwelcome to use the facilities at the library–but clearly she was not there to check out a book.

So I began thinking of how times have changed and how the original reason for the city or state to provide libraries has now changed as well.

The public library was established to provide all citizens the right to borrow books to read and have a place of sanctuary in which to read them, regardless of income, race, religion or creed as a public service.

Over time the public service expanded to include computers, job search and job training classes, children’s reading sessions and a myriad of other programs for the public good.

And–of course–it is all free to the public.  But–of course,– it isn’t free.  The public library is funded from a portion of homeowner’s property taxes–so it is not a free service at all. We are paying for it.

More and more people are not using the library to check out books and many buildings are lonely.  Each city, is different, but the libraries have changed none the less.

Librarians are not paid a very high wage and in fact, I found after a bit of research that most libraries now have very few full time positions–opting for part time positions in which they do not have to provide benefits for the librarians–who have to have a bachelor’s degree to even be considered for the job.

The hours of the library have also been cut. The library closest to me now is even closed on Sundays when it would actually be the most convenient for me to browse and pick books up.

The libraries in out country seem to be dying.

It is this avid reader’s opinion that perhaps we should reinvent the library.  We should consolidate multiple libraries that exist in the same area to save the money on the upkeep of the buildings and reinvest that money to provide more books in electronic format that can be managed by  less people but provide more availability to the actual patrons that read the books (electronic though they may be.)

Certain libraries can be maintained as the Main Library– in cities in which people can still visit and check out a physical book if they choose–still providing that service.

While it is sad that libraries are dying, what is important is that people–especially children–are still being encouraged to read.  The skill that is needed the most by an informed nation is the ability to read and comprehend–not the physical building in which to house the multitude of books that are being left on the shelf.

I still enjoy searching for authors and books that I might enjoy. I still am eager with anticipation at the start of a new book.  The love of reading has never left me even though the technology has changed. Reinventing the library can keep the flow of the written word alive for many generations to come.

What say you? Should we reinvent the libraries–for the public good–so that they will still provide a service and be of use? Or should we just let them fade away and lose the treasure of being able to have thousands of books (electronic books) at our fingertips?

The Lighthouse That Guides Us

The Lighthouse That Guides Us

As you know by now I love learning new things. Especially when those new things are about subjects that I enjoy like travel and history and America.

One thing I like to visit, especially in any coastal city, are lighthouses. Whenever possible we climb them to the top.

These are magnificent buildings that were built expressly to lead ships to harbor.

Fishermen and military ships alike could depend on lighthouses to light their way home through dark, fog and storms.

They were a beacon leading them to safety– and home.

But I wonder how many people know that one of the most important lighthouses in America was the Statue of Liberty?

In November of 1886, ordered by President Grover Cleveland, the Statue of Liberty was maintained and operated as a lighthouse in New York Harbor.

Not only has Lady Liberty served as a beacon for sailors during this time but forevermore the light–and the hope–in her torch, has welcomed so many immigrants to this wonderful nation.

She served as a lighthouse until 1902. And while that function may have ended–her light has never diminished.

Lady Liberty is our symbol of freedom and hope and the opportunity that leads us all to strive for a better life.

She is the lighthouse that leads us home.

From The New Colossus: “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

On this 4th of July

On this 4th of July

I am the first American born person in my family. That is a badge of honor I carry with me as part of my identity.

These days it is also a reminder, in the current political climate that I am a child of immigrants.

Why did my family chose to come to this country? For the same reason everyone comes–America is the best country in the world!

It does not matter what country my parents are from but it is important to note that the United States did not have to accept them and it did.

The United States took in my family because my family did it right.

They applied properly for asylum, my family worked hard and sacrificed to save the money needed for the fees and my family followed all the steps required of them to be accepted as citizens of this great country.

Even before their citizenship was granted they began to assimilate. They learned the language, they learned the laws, they filed and paid their taxes.

My family did not lose their culture or their traditions–we still follow them as part of the melting pot that is this great nation.

As a family we embraced the new culture of being American–which means to embrace other cultures together under one vision of freedom under the one flag that unites us all.

My family did not come here to recreate the old country. They came here to start a new chapter.

And each family member that chose to come here, accepted the rights gratefully and share in the responsibilities that make this country so strong.

We vote, we serve on juries without complaining, several members of my family have served in the armed forces defending our rights, including my dad.

Those first brave family members, my parents, that came here were not sure they would be granted citizenship but they went through the process in hopes that it would be so.

They did not come to this country expecting to be taken care of, and demanding rights they did not have as non citizens in order to coerce the government to accept them.

They also have never supported politicians that were offering the handout in exchange for their vote–they knew these were the people that can ruin a country.

In this heated climate over immigration today we should remember that if things are done right–by the people seeking citizenship–not the politicians, there would not be a debate raging.

On this 4th of July I am thankful for this country, its strength and its values! I am thankful that we can help others but that we are intelligent enough to help ourselves first.

On this 4th of July I acknowledge that without our strength, our stability and our moral compass, we would not be able to help the rest of the world.

On this 4th of July I want to share with you that we are looking at things the wrong way–immigration is not a problem–it is an opportunity!

God Bless America!!!

 

 

My President on President’s Day

My President on President’s Day

Today is President’s Day and the History Teacher in me has a few things to say.

Back in the 70s when in elementary school we the students would commemorate Presidents day by making paper plate President’s faces. We would attach a popsicle stick and hold them up in front of our faces.

We students had no idea what a President was back then–but we knew he must be important because the only other faces we put on paper plates were Jesus and Santa Claus. Very important folks to the little ones.

In the late 70s and early 80s we students in middle school, recited parts of important speeches–primarily by George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

We students knew that the President was the leader of our country, that he had tremendous responsibilities and pressures and that some were better than others.  We understood that the Office of the President was an important and sacred one.

By the mid to late 80s we students in high school celebrating President’s Day in school was a little more exciting. We were allowed to pick the President of our choice, research his background, policies, positives and negatives. Most of us wrote research papers about our choice–some had classroom debates about the merits of our chosen Presidential Administration.

We students felt empowered to be allowed to have an opinion. I do not recall a teacher ever telling us our opinion was incorrect. We respected the Office of the President and knew the job was a hard one and that most people did not agree with everything each President did but we would defend our President because he was ours and Ours was the Best Country in the World. We students were optimistic.

And we all, students and teachers alike, got President’s Day off. It was a national holiday, schools closed, the Post Office closed and the banks closed.

Fast forward 30 years and a great deal has changed. Now it seems we teach less and less about our Presidents, our Founding Fathers, our Government structure and our Constitution.

Most of my former and present students don’t know who the Presidents are and don’t feel that the job is that difficult, prestigious or important. They don’t understand how to love their country and they don’t recognize “Hail to the Chief” when it is played.

As a History Teacher of course, this makes me sad.

On most school calendars, many schools around the nation still have the day off in observance of President’s Day, but more and more I notice district calendars observing it one year and maybe not the next–I guess it has become an optional thing.

It is not that important to me whether I get the day off or not, but it is important to me when I realize there is no “observance” of the Office of the President as it used to be.

Many students today have no idea who George Washington was, what Abraham Lincoln did for slavery, how John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Not to mention so many other Presidents–who may not all have been very effective–but at least left us with beautiful traditions for our nation.

I think we have lost something very important along the way.

Nonetheless I am very proud to be an American. I still believe we live in the Best Country in the World and I honor the Office of the President–no matter who is occupying it.

Have a happy Monday!  Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think of President’s Day.  Have fun!