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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Memorial Day, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 54
1. Memorial Day 2016: Let's Celebrate Memorial Day by Barbara deRobertis

Did you know that Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day?  During the Civil War, people began to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers and flags to honor them and their service.  The tradition continues after the Civil War ended and the day eventually became Memorial Day.

I have to be honest and say I didn't know that Memorial Day began with the Civil War.  I did know that when it became Memorial Day, it also became a day to honor those fallen soldiers of all of the wars the United States has been involved in - from the Revolutionary War to our present day conflicts, but apparently I still had things to learn.

Like me, kids probably know the true meaning of Memorial Day from school, especially since it means a day off for lots of them, and the official start of summer, with swimming, picnics, barbecues and getting together with friends and family.  And that's all good.

But if you would like your kids to know and appreciate the day more, then Let's Celebrate Memorial Day by Barbara deRobertis is an excellent place to begin.  This slender book covers not just the history of Memorial Day, but explains traditions associated with it, such as why poppies are associated with it and different kinds of celebrations.

There is a section on war memorials around the country, although most are in Washington DC and if you have''t visited yet, prepare for an emotional but rewarding experience and bring tissues.  There is also a section on different kinds of observances around the country, many of which have sadly been cancelled this year due to poor weather conditions.  And the book acknowledges the veterans, boy and girl scouts around the country that decorate the graves of every single soldier buried in a national cemetery, so no soldier goes unrecognized on Memorial Day.  And last but not least, the book reminds us that "Freedom is never free."

There are lots of photos throughout the book, large print for beginning readers, and easy to understand text.  All in all, Let's Celebrate Memorial Day is an excellent book for learning about Memorial Day, for anyone who doesn't know or needs a little refresher.

Oh yes, and it reminds us to take a moment at 3:00 PM to stop what we are doing and remember our fallen heroes, and thank those presently serving in our Armed Forces.

This book is recommended for readers age 6+
This book was sent to me by the publisher.

In Memoriam
FCP 1955-2001

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2. Memorial Day Prayer

On this Memorial Day, we pray for those who courageously laid down their lives for the cause of freedom.  

May the examples of their sacrifice inspire in us the selfless love of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Bless the families of our fallen troops, and fill their homes and their lives with Your strength and peace.

In union with people of goodwill of every nation, embolden us to answer the call to work for peace and justice, and thus, seek an end to violence and conflict around the globe.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Credit http://www.diocesepvd.org/a-prayer-for-memorial-day/) 


Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

Dee and Deb Off They Go Kindergarten First Day Jitters ~ December 2015 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2016 Story Monster Approved
A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2015 Purple Dragonfly Book Award Historical Fiction 1st Place, Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2015 Purple Dragonfly Book Award Honorable Mention Picture Books 6+, New England Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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3. Happy Memorial Day!

Memorial Day

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4. What does peace mean for our children?

Peace is an Offering

Words by Annette LeBox, pictures by Stephanie Graegin


It seems more than ironic that I am writing this post of a picture book on peace, on the day after Memorial Day, originally termed Decoration Day. 

Decoration Day, instituted following the Civil War by General John A. Logan, was begun on May 30,1868 to honor the war dead from both sides of the conflict. Flowers  “decorated” the graves of those who died “in defense of their country during the late rebellion.”

On the first Decoration Day, May 25, 1868, more than 20,000 Union and Confederate graves were decorated at Arlington National Cemetery by over 5,000 participants. And if we’re really being precise, the decorating of graves of the Civil War dead even predates 1868, as it first began in the South where black communities in Charleston, South Carolina, around 1865, honored the Civil War soldiers that died, and their ultimate sacrifice.   

Before reading Annette LeBox’s picture book, “Peace is An Offering”, I took a look at the number of soldiers who have died from all wars and military conflicts that the United States military has been engaged in, in some form or another. The numbers are pretty staggering.

And yet.. I feel even as we read books on peace to young readers, we need to impart to them, some other facts and values. And those are, that there are some values, such as family and freedom, that are very much worth protecting, and even defending.

Gala Truist, a medical anthropologist, and contributor to the Library of Congress History Project, talked with recent veterans in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. And she has some pretty interesting observations:


     “Today, out of a nation of 320 million

     people, 1.3 million Americans are in

    active duty military, and another 1 million

     serve in the reserves, according to the

     Department of Defense….That small fig-

     ure influences the way the general pub-

     lic thinks about the cost of conflict.

     Now, less than 1% of our population has

     served…So few have served, and that

     it’s very easy for people to say now that

     “I didn’t want these wars”, but that 

     doesn’t mean that we aren’t all part of



And, as we as a nation pray, teach and hope for peace, the reality is that only a very small percentage of Americans have, not to put too fine a point on it, “skin in the game,” because of an all volunteer military and the elimination of the draft.

I often wonder what the effect would be in this country if the draft were re-instituted and, as a result, the military draft cut across all lines.

Would families still allow sons and daughters that are drafted to defend and serve? Or would they consider the sacrifice too great? It’s a question worth pondering.

Annette Le Box, in her picture book, travels through a neighborhood of everyday children enjoying everyday things. It’s filled with pictures of sun filled days, and softly shaded nights; of young ones and their families and friends, sharing the day to day joys of childhood. And it touches gently on the sometimes subtle and unsettling conflicts that may sometimes arise. Stephanie Gregins’s pictures provide a wonderful complement to the picture book in their softness and simplicity. 

The inference is that peace is something that may be sought and found in our every day interactions with the people that come our way. And that is a truly wonderful message to impart to young readers. 

But, I also hope that as parents read “Peace is An Offering” to their young readers, they also remind them that peace, on a world wide scale, often does come at a price, and that it is preserved, as it has been in the past, by many that are very deserving of their thanks and prayers.

Maybe then Memorial Day may continue to mean, for their generation, so much more than beaches, barbecues and bargains.  





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5. Getting Ready to Honor Memorial Day

Bill Mauldin:  Everyman Cartoonist and Enlistee in World War ll



This Memorial Day you may be wondering why I am shining The Snuggery spotlight on a particular enlistee named Bill Mauldin from World War ll. There were millions of men that enlisted and served.

But this particular one is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist who was honored with a United States postage stamp issued in 2010 depicting this baby faced GI right alongside his two famous cartoon creations, named “Willie and Joe.”

Even the Commander of the European Theater of Operations during WW ll, one General Dwight D. Eisenhower was a big fan, though another famous general named Patton, wanted to tone down the grittiness and accuracy of Mauldin’s praiseworthy portrayal of men at war.

Eisenhower won that debate, of course, with the terse words, “Mauldin draws what Mauldin wants.”

With the cartoons that appeared in the military magazine called “Stars and Stripes,” Mauldin, a young cartoonist, showed his two cartoon buddies, named Willie and Joe, amid the muddy weariness and casual heroics that were part of the reality of the everyday infantryman’s life in WW ll.

And the GI’s loved both the cartoons, and the artist because he was one of them. He was an enlisted man just like they were, showing, through his cartoons, their lives on the front lines of battle.

As I mentioned, Maudlin got literal flack from General Patton who wanted the celebration of the average GI Joe toned down, with less laughs in Maudlin’s cartoons that were pointedly directed, at times, at the cost of the officers in charge.

No go, said General Eisenhower, as I referenced above, with his famous quote on the subject.

This Memorial Day, please have a look at the black and white drawings that lifted the lives of men on the front lines via a cartoonist named Bill Mauldin.

Take a look at this cartoonist whose face appeared on the cover of Time magazine in July, 1961, while his cartoon character of Willie made the cover of the same magazine in a June 1945 issue.

Other iconic renderings of Bill Mauldin include his depiction of Lincoln’s figure at the Lincoln Memorial, bent over with head in hands, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Please allow your child a peek into a cartoon world like no other; the world of former GI, Bill Mauldin.

He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

I hope we continue to see such cartoon lampooning of figures in our culture, both military and civilian, that perhaps need a poke or two with the pen of someone with the equal honesty of a cartoonist like Bill Maudlin.

And along with those pokes, may we see an equal and honest bit of honor, in cartoon form, to the men and women in the front lines who around the world both stand and serve in defense of our country.



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6. Honoring Memorial Day with LEE & LOW BOOKS

Memorial Day weekend is upon us and we can’t think of a better way to remember and celebrate than with some of our award-winning books!

Teachers- Looking for a way to talk to your students about war this Memorial Day?

Parents- Trying to make your kids understand the importance of remembering those who gave their lives for our country?

We have some great titles that will get your kids interested and help them understand the great sacrifices made by our men and women at arms, what really makes someone a hero, and the impact of war on a level they can relate to.

Heroes by Ken Mochizuki, illustrated by Dom Lee

Set during the ’60s with the Vietnam war going on and World War II popular in the media, Japanese American Donnie Okada always has to be the “bad guy” when he and his friends play war because he looks like the enemy portrayed in the media. When he finally has had enough, Donnie enlists the aid of his 442nd veteran father and Korean War veteran uncle to prove to his friends and schoolmates that those of Asian descent did serve in the U.S. military.

Check out the Teacher’s Guide for additional discussion ideas! Purchase the book here.

Quiet Hero: The Ira Hayes Story written and illustrated by S.D. Nelson

A biography of Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian who was one of the six soldiers to raise the United States flag on Iwo Jima during World War II, an event immortalized by Joe Rosenthal’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph.

Don’t miss out on the interview with S.D. Nelson, or the accompanying Teacher’s Guide. Purchase the book here.

When the Horses Ride By: Children in the Times of War by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist

Through rhythmic words, photos, and original art, this collection of poems about children throughout history focuses on their perceptions of war and how war affects their lives. A great way to introduce the topic of war into discussion with your children and the ramifications they may not have considered.

For some insight from the author, take a look at this interview with Eloise Greenfield. Purchase the book here.

Be sure to leave comments below on how discussions about war went in your classroom or with your own children; we’d love to hear from you!

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7. Memorial Day, and Giveaway Reminder

We're taking a day off in honor of today's Memorial Day holiday. If you'd like to read the Memorial Day "thank you" post I wrote two years ago, you can find it here

Our next post will be Friday, which also happens to be the last day of our current giveaway. If you haven't entered yet, I encourage you to do so soon on this page.

Happy writing!

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8. Happy Memorial Day from the Snuggery

mem day image

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9. Memorial Day and the 9/11 museum in American civil religion

By Peter Gardella

Unlike the 4th of July with its fireworks or Thanksgiving with its turkeys, Memorial Day has no special object. But the new 9/11 Museum near the World Trade Center in New York has thousands of objects. Some complain that its objects are for sale, in a gift shop and because of the admission fee. Together, the old holiday and the new museum show what has changed and what remains constant about American civil religion.

For a century after Memorial Day began, it had its own date, May 30. That was lost in 1968, when Congress passed a law moving Memorial Day to the last Monday in May. Rather than interrupting the week whenever it falls, as July 4th still does, Memorial Day became the end of a long weekend. A search for Memorial Day parades finds as many parades happening on Sunday as on Monday. Some happen on Saturday.

These parades are not nearly as important as they were in the decades following World Wars One and Two, when veterans were much more numerous than they are now. The unpopularity of Vietnam also hurt Memorial Day parades. In my childhood, all grammar school children in my town marched on Memorial Day, but now even high school bands march reluctantly. Having parades to honor war dead came to seem to be celebrating war, and after Vietnam celebrating war was unacceptable. Memorial Day was once called Decoration Day, a day for visiting and decorating graves, and this quieter ceremony persists. On Memorial Day, the president still lays a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and a small crowd gathers for a speech.

Memorial Day Flagged Crosses, Waverly, Minnesota. By Ben Franske (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Memorial Day Flagged Crosses, Waverly, Minnesota, by Ben Franske. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

But the site of the World Trade Center drew large crowds in the first weeks after the attack. The 9/11 Memorial has been drawing millions since it opened in 2011, and the new Museum will draw millions more. It will become a pilgrimage site of American civil religion.

As Mayor Bloomberg said at the dedication ceremonies, the site of the World Trade Center will join Gettysburg, Pearl Harbor, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as a “sacred marker” and a “solemn gathering place.” The word “sacred” was used by many at the dedication, and this sense of being set apart marks the sites of civil religion. The word “solemn” was identified more than a century ago as an aspect of religious feeling by the psychologist and philosopher William James. Expressions of religion involve solemnity, respect for what is held sacred, even when triumphal pride or ecstasy may also be expressed. Such solemnity can be felt at older sites of American civil religion, like the Capitol or the White House, the Washington Monument, and the memorials to Lincoln and Jefferson. The new Martin Luther King Memorial continues a mood of solemnity combined with triumph. It’s a place where clean white stone invokes eternity.

But the 9/11 Memorial belongs to another tradition, finding the sacred in dirty objects. Twisted beams of steel and mangled fire trucks dominate a seven-story atrium. More intimate objects, like displays of sweatshirts that were for sale on that day, now covered in ash, and shoes worn by survivors as they fled the Twin Towers, and melted fax machines and rolodexes, are displayed under glass to help visitors identify with the human victims and their suffering. Voices from last cell phone calls can be heard. This power in everyday objects has appeared before in memorials to the Holocaust and in the museum on Ellis Island. Leaving objects on graves and memorials is new to American civil religion, but it is a practice with old roots, seen on the graves of slaves in the South and in the tombs of Egypt. Visitors to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial surprised groundskeepers by leaving objects at that memorial when it opened, and people left objects along the fences that separated the streets of New York from Ground Zero in the months after September 11.

Questions have been raised about the stress on objects in the new museum. Some think that unidentified human remains should not be in the same building as a museum visited by tourists. According to some family members of victims, the gift shop profits from the deaths of their loved ones to support the salaries of administrators. Some object to the cafe. Even more object to the $24 admission fee. One answer might be to keep the gift shop and cafe but to eliminate any admission fee, following the examples of Smithsonian and National Park Service sites, some of which also contain human remains.

Many new forms of American civil religion stress death and the ancestors, not God and the future. The new museum goes down into the earth to bedrock, rather than rising toward heaven. Like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which follows the line of its landscape and honors the dead, and the Pearl Harbor Memorial, which centers on the sunken wreck of the U.S.S. Arizona and the dead that it contains, the 9/11 Memorial and the 9/11 Museum both emphasize descent. In the Memorial, cascades of water, the largest man-made waterfalls in the world, flow from bronze parapets etched with the names of the dead into the former footprints of the Twin Towers. The sound of the water cancels street noise. The sight of the water falling into the squares at the center of each footprint suggests the underworld journey.

But next to the Memorial and Museum rises the spire of One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. This pairing echoes the rise of the Statue of Liberty, next to the buildings of Ellis Island where immigrants were examined and sometimes rejected. However much expressions of American civil religion change, they still affirm personal freedom, the triumph of the human person over all difficulties, and even over death.

Peter Gardella is Professor of World Religions at Manhattanville College and author of American Civil Religion: What Americans Hold Sacred (Oxford, 2014). His previous books are Innocent Ecstasy (Oxford, 1985), on sex and religion in America; Domestic Religion, on American attitudes toward everyday life; and American Angels: Useful Spirits in the Material World. He is now working on The World’s Religions in New York City: A History and Guide and on Birds in the World’s Religions (with Laurence Krute).

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The post Memorial Day and the 9/11 museum in American civil religion appeared first on OUPblog.

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10. Remembering the “good” and “bad” wars: Memorial Day 40, 50, and 70 years on

Memorial Day is always a poignant moment -- a time to remember and reflect on the ultimate sacrifice made by so many military personnel over the decades -- but this year three big anniversaries make it particularly so. Seventy years ago, Americans celebrated victory in a war in which these sacrifices seemed worthwhile.

The post Remembering the “good” and “bad” wars: Memorial Day 40, 50, and 70 years on appeared first on OUPblog.

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11. Memorial Day: Respect and Remember

by Sally Matheny

Respect and Remember (Photo courtesy of flickr.com)
Respect and remember.  
They defended your right to worship freely and to speak passionately and publicly for change.

They carried arms in hopes that you would not have to, but also they protected your right to bear arms if you so desire.

Even though they did not know you, they placed themselves as a shield to prevent evil from entering your homes.

They fought with all their might for your life and liberty
even though it cost them their own.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

Enjoy your day off from work. Relish in time spent with friends and family. Our fallen heroes would want you to enjoy the freedoms they fought so hard to protect.

But, surely, the least we can do is lay down our golf clubs, our T.V. remotes, and cell phones to respect and remember those who laid down their lives for us.

Photo by Sally Matheny

Please pause at 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day and thank God for those who have served and died for our country and our freedom.

Respect and remember.


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12. Memorial Day is on its way!

The Poppy Lady : Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans

By Barbara Elizabeth Walsh

Paintings by Layne Johnson


There is a saying that things can be lost in the “fog of war.” People are certainly lost, families disrupted and freedom compromised.

But there are people, thank goodness, that have the conviction that, in some sense, everything is not lost, as long as memory of what was lost is commemorated, revered and remembered.

Almost one hundred years ago, a woman named Moina Belle Michael, via a small red poppy did just that. And the legacy of her commitment echoes down the years to 2015. You can still see it, for it will be visible this coming May 25, on Memorial Day in parades, town bandstands and lapels, if you look for it.

Ms. Michaels had a motto that she relied on since her youth, and I believe it is a motto worth sharing with young readers today. Her motto said, “Whatsoever your hands find to do, do it with all your might.” Fine words for a new generation that is struggling in some sense to find its way true north. Heck, even we parents are still muddling through at times. aren’t we all on a learning curve together?

A school teacher from Georgia during WWI, Ms. Michael felt family and friends that were part of this “War to End All Wars”, were in need of a symbol. They needed a symbol that spoke to the courage and sacrifice involved in war.

She began a campaign to designate the poppy, the scarlet flower that spotted the famous Flanders Fields of Belgium, where so many fallen soldiers were buried, as such a symbol.

She imagined the poppy as a symbol for a lasting lifetime reminder of the sacrifice of war. And she accomplished that.

From a magazine left on her desk, Ms. Michael read the turned down page that marked a poem written by Lt. Colonel John McCrae. A Canadian physician, frustrated by the many lives he could not save, he wrote, “We Shall Not Sleep.” The version she saw happened to be illustrated in color, and she was struck by the red poppies that covered a field awash with white crosses, unnamed. The last lines of the poem stuck with her:


      “Take up our quarrel with the foe:

     To you from failing hands we throw

     The torch; be yours to hold it high.

     If ye break faith with us who die

     We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

               In Flanders Fields.”


Turning over the poem in an envelope, she wrote on its flap this pledge:


      “And now the torch and poppy red

     We wear in honor of our dead.


    Fear not that ye have died for naught,


     We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought


     In Flanders Fields.”



Working with primary sources, experts and the great-nieces of Ms. Michael, the picture book author uncovered the story of this remarkable woman of dogged determination.

Referencing the poppy as the Miracle Flower, the author also interviewed veterans and their families, and members of The American Legion and The Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Illustrator, Layne Johnson, whose own father, brother and uncles served in WWII, had his biggest inspiration from an art teacher he had in high school that served as a B-24 bombardier in WWII.

Named by Bank Street College of Education among “Best Children’s Books of the Year” in 2012, part of that honor must certainly go to Mr. Johnson.

His paintings in this picture book of such events as the sinking of the British ship, the RMS Lusitania, in March 1917 with 128 American lives lost, setting the U.S. entry into WWI in motion in April of the same year, Lt. Col. John McCrae, kneeling amid crosses set in a flood of red poppies in Flanders Fields, juxtaposed with Ms. Michael “poppy hunting” in novelty shops in New York for artificial poppies to represent the real ones in Flanders Fields, is clearly done with respect and reverence to this woman on a memory mission. His subject is realized with both humanity and honor – and beauty. Well done!

This Memorial Day, May 25, 2015, please let your young reader discover the legacy of the woman named Moina Belle Michael that took a poppy, and made it a yearly paper preserved patriotic symbol, both to veterans of foreign wars, and to all lives lost in the “fog of war.”

And if you see a poppy, please pin one on!

Maybe the poppy field in the “Wizard of Oz,” set on the route directly before the glorious Emerald City was no mere coincidence! How oddly prophetic that field of poppies also featured largely in this children’s classic written in 1900, some 15 years before the events that set the world at war.

And it is the poppy that, instead of lulling us into forgetfulness and sleep, as it does Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz”, in Ms. Michael’s picture book, it serves as a reminder of what and who should be remembered, as classic children’s books still are – with love!




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13. Memorial Day 2015

This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day, a day to take some time and think about those men and women who served their country and are no longer with us.

I found this poem on the International War Veterans' Poetry Archives: War and its Consequences, a site where veterans' and their families can post poems about their experiences.  The poem below was written in 1981 by Kelly Strong when he was in high school.  It is a tribute to his dad who was a career marine and served two tours of duty in Vietnam.  I think this poem speaks for itself this Memorial Day.


I watched the flag pass by one day,
It fluttered in the breeze;
A young Marine saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.

I looked a him in uniform,
So young, so tall, so proud;
With hair cut square and eyes alert,
He'd stand out in any crowd.

I thought…how many men like him
Had fallen through the years?
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers' tears?

How many pilots' planes shot down
How many died at sea
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves
No, Freedom is not Free.

I heard the sound of Taps one night,
When everything was still;
I listened to the bugler play,
and felt a sudden chill;

I wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant "Amen"
When a flag had draped a coffin
of a brother or a friend;

I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea,
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No. Freedom is not Free!

Used with permission ©Copyright 1981 by Kelly Strong
You can contact him at kellystrong@aol.com

In Memoriam
FCP 1955-2001

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14. Prayer for Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, we pray for those who courageously laid down their lives for the cause of freedom.  

May the examples of their sacrifice inspire in us the selfless love of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Bless the families of our fallen troops, and fill their homes and their lives with Your strength and peace.

In union with people of goodwill of every nation, embolden us to answer the call to work for peace and justice, and thus, seek an end to violence and conflict around the globe.We ask this through Christ our Lord.Amen.

(Credit http://www.diocesepvd.org/a-prayer-for-memorial-day/) 


Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ New England Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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15. For Our Faithful Followers. . .

    Yes, it's Memorial Day. I am not going to open a political can of worms by telling you how to spend your day (although "holiday" and "celebrate" never seemed appropriate words to use in connection with
a day originally called "Decoration Day"...a day the families of Union soldiers "decorated" their graves.)
Somehow along the way, Decoration Day became Memorial Day and Memorial Day became the unofficial first day of summer.
     I am choosing to honor the unofficial start of summer by frying myself at the beach. And being a writer of historical fiction, I am contemplating those who have served our country in the military, past and present.

However you feel about a particular war or "conflict" (Neither Korea or Vietnam was ever officially designated a war, to say nothing of whatever you call the current action in the Middle East), the important thing for a writer is to not allow the world to forget the men and women who believed in sacrificing their own dreams and lives in service to their country.

    I am from the generation whose parents were in WWII. "What did your father do in the war?" was a question we kids asked as a matter of course. My parents were Navy cryptographers. My father-in-law, a Naval commander had not one, but two boats sunk from under him in the Pacific. My first boyfriend's father was in the infantry invasion of Italy. One of my distant relatives who had lied about his age to get into the service, died at D-Day, age fifteen. I had brothers who fought brothers during the  Civil War.
            (This is my mom the WAVE, home on leave. Note service flag in window. The five stars were
for my mother, her three brothers, and a young man who boarded with my grandmother.)

 So today, as you are sizzling up those cheeseburgers or trying to find a place to park your towel at the beach, remember.  It's not our personal politics that matter, but those of our ancestors. We should honor their choice. Memorial Day...a day of memory.

Posted by Mary Ann Rodman

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16. Never give up!


Image by Dana Lookadoo - Yo! Yo! SEO via Flickr

What are you determined to do?

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17. There's no place like home

There's no place like home.

On our way back to the tree house we stopped to visit hubby's mom, Nanny. She was recognized as an outstanding alumni at the community college where she attended. The whole evening was amazing. Her speech. The honor. Meeting new people. Hearing their stories. A lady who'd known my father-in-law in high school shared a story about how she had a rattle snake in her backyard and it was so big her husband had to shoot it in between the eyes with a pistol.

There were about 400 graduates, only about 100 attended the ceremony. Each and every graduate got a turn at the microphone to say whatever they liked just before they were handed their diploma. Most chose to speak Spanish. There were tears. And heartfelt thank yous. Show stopping moments. One Japanese girl, who had been sponsored by a local family, declared she loved them more than her boyfriend. One Latina invited everyone over to her house for a party. That brought back memories. I'll be off to Texas for my nephew's high school graduation on Thursday. If you are ever sad, and going to give up go to a graduation.

And so, afterwards, we all went out for a little celebratory dinner. We raised a glass to hubby who had a birthday the next day. It didn't take long before the conversation came around to our other nephew serving with the marines as a machine gunner in Afghanistan. What Mx and Nanny have included in their care packages to him. Nanny said she sends him a carton of cigarettes every month with an note that he better quit when he comes home. We all hope that he is getting everything OK. We arrived home around 2AM. Hubby got to wake up at home, the best birthday present of all.

Happy Memorial Day!

Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


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18. BOOK OF THE DAY: The June 2012 List!


Plan in advance for father’s day! The month of June is dedicated to books for dads and boys…don’t worry, a few dads & daughter books thrown in too! Good list for reluctant readers as well as summer vacation. Enjoy!

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19. SundayMorningReads

I was in Mexico this time last year!

I sure was going to stop after posting my review of Perfect Shot, but then I started reading the blogs, tweets and newspapers and I just had to reflect on my SundayMorningReads!

I have to say goodbye to Amy at Bowllan’s Blog on the SLJ website. I met Amy through her Writers Against Racism series where I posted my own story. I actually met Amy and presented with her at the National Diversity in Libraries conference back in 2010. She’s one of my few online friends that I’ve actually met in person and that makes her quite special to me! Her energy, intelligence and charm will be missed!

When you reflect on what you’re doing and start to feel like you’re preaching the same message to the same choir and getting no results, one has to wonder who has to make some changes? My blog feeds been given quite a transformation lately, along with a resolution to post comments more often. Who knows what the results will be!

We lovers of books talk about inspiring young people to want to read, but I know firsthand that all it takes is the right reading material matched to the right reader. We honest to goodness have it so easy! Imagine if we were math teachers and had to inspire students to like math! I’ve been thinking about this since responding to a comment lately, how easy it is to get students to read if they’re given the right stuff to read. All they need is the freedom to choose and that comes from availability not only in terms of representing the vast diversity of people who read but in realizing the vast diversity of what teens want to read: magazines, newspapers, manga, non-fiction, graphic novels, almanacs, books of records… They’re not all into novels!

Hey, if you’re a librarian reading this and looking for diversity in what you do, why not try writing about librarians in a non-librarian publication? Let the world know what we do! Enter your piece in the Great Librarian Write Out and win some cash!

Summer for you means hot fun but it’s back to work for me! This week, I’ll begin working at Indiana State University as an Asst. Reference Librarian.   Summer for bookies means ALA , BEA, Comic-Con,  ChLA, SBCWI  or the Mazza Conference in Findlay, OH??? Perhaps you’re a bit more international and headed for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content ? What conferences will you be attending? How do you anticipate them upping your game?

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20. So what do we think? Heaven in her Arms

Hickem, Catherine. (2012). Heaven in Her Arms: Why God Chose Mary to Raise His Son and What It Means for You. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. ISBN 978-1-4002-0036-8.

What do we know of Mary?

 What we know of Mary’s family is that she is of the house of David; it is from her lineage Jesus fulfilled the prophecy. Given the archeological ruins of the various places thought to have been living quarters for their family, it is likely the home was a room out from which sleeping quarters (cells) branched. As Mary and her mother Anne would be busy maintaining the household, with young Mary working at her mother’s command, it is likely Anne would be nearby or in the same room during the Annunciation. Thus Mary would not have had a scandalous secret to later share with her parents but, rather, a miraculous supernatural experience, the salvific meaning of which her Holy parents would understand and possibly even witnessed.

 Mary and Joseph were betrothed, not engaged. They were already married, likely in the form of a marriage contract, but the marriage had not yet been “consummated”. This is why he was going to divorce her when he learned of the pregnancy. If it were a mere engagement, he would have broken it off without too much scandal.

 Married but not yet joined with her husband, her mother would prepare her by teaching her all that she needed to know. This is further reason to assume that Mary would be working diligently under her mother’s eye when the Annunciation took place.

 We know that her cousin Elizabeth’s pregnancy was kept in secret for five months, and not made known until the sixth month when the Angel Gabriel proclaimed it to Mary. We know Mary then rushed to be at her elderly cousin’s side for three months (the remaining duration of Elizabeth’s pregnancy), and that this rushing appeared to be in response to Elizabeth’s pregnancy (to congratulate her), not an attempt to hide Mary’s pregnancy. Note how all of this is connected to Elizabeth’s pregnancy rather than Mary’s circumstances. As Mary was married to Joseph, he likely would have been informed of the trip. Had the intent been to hide Mary, she would have remained with Elizabeth until Jesus was born, not returned to her family after the first trimester, which is just about the time that her pregnancy was visible and obvious.

 So we these misconceptions clarified, we can put Mary’s example within an even deeper context and more fully relate to her experience. We can imagine living in a faith-filled family who raises their child in strict accordance of God’s word. The extended family members may not understand, and certainly their community will not, so Mary, Anne and Joachim, and Joseph face extreme scandal as well as possible action from Jewish authorities. But they faced this together steep in conversation with God, providing a model for today’s family.

 Although sometimes scriptural interpretations are flavored with modern-day eye, overall this book will be more than just a quick read for a young mother (or new bride, or teen aspiring to overcome the challenges of American culture, or single parent losing her mind). It is a heartwarming reflection with many examples that open up conversation with God. As an experienced psychotherapist, the author’s examples are spot on and easy to relate to. We do not need to have had the same experiences to empathize, reflect, and pursue meaning; we see it around us in everyday life. As such, a reflective look upon these examples can help one overcome an impasse in their own relationship with God and also open the reader up to self-knowledge as Hi

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Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story

By Deborah Hopkinson; illustrated by Steven Guarnaccia


Memorial Day is May 26th this year and for those that are not old enough to remember its beginnings, it started off as Decoration Day following the Civil War. One General John A. Logan initiated the decorating of the Arlington Cemetery graves in Washington, D.C. of both the Union and Confederate soldiers that had died in the War Between the States. That tradition started in 1868 with a proclamation to observe Decoration Day “annually and nation wide.” Earlier ceremonies in Charleston, South Carolina in 1865 preceded even that marking of the tradition. Since then, it has morphed into Memorial Day when ALL men and women in our country that have died in wars are honored. Today, it is celebrated on the last Monday in May. It seems also to have become a line of demarcation that heralds the beginning of the summer season starting on Memorial Day and ending on Labor Day.

It also began the start of a long series of weekends when families could gather for concentrated time together. And that’s a good thing. But something may have gotten lost in the message of Memorial Day. That something is remembering and honoring those for whom time is a memory; the men and women that have given their lives in service of our country.

It should be an essential that as our young people grow, as part of their life lessons of service and sacrifice for others, one highly teachable moment comes certainly during the observance of Memorial Day. We hope it will continue to mean more than an opportunity for sales at malls and a barbecue at the beach. And for it to mean more, we as parents and educators have to teach more in what we model to them.

In 2000, a National Moment of Remembrance was instituted at 3pm on Memorial Day, meaning in whatever way what one sees fit, one is asked to set aside a moment to honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. And what more teachable vehicle is available for young ones than the picture book?

Enter “Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story.” Starting out as “the war to end all wars,” it frankly failed in that regard as history tells us. But in “Knit Your Bit”, young readers will encounter a stirring historical fiction picture book based on a real event that occurred in Central Park in 1918. It was preceded by a wave of practical patriotism that swept a nation and showed that those “also serve who stand and wait”, otherwise referred to fondly as the “home front!”

Enter Ellie and Mikey, a young elementary brother and sister whose dad is off to war. What else can they do but wait and worry? Well, they can KNIT! Huh? Yes, this grass roots movement, begun by the Red Cross, stirred the country, young and the not-so-young, to knit much-needed hats, gloves, and scarves for soldiers like Mikey’s dad that were far away from home. And knit they did – men and women and boys and girls!

Naturally the young male contingent would be a mite put off by the thought of girly knitting bees, but boys will always rise to the challenge of a COMPETITION with the GIRLS!! A weekend knitting contest in Central Park that actually took place is the impetus for Mikey and his pals to “purl” up a storm and put hand to knitting needle. For the young boys it means contributing to the comfort of those far away and learning a new skill at the same time. It’s a sort of “two ‘fer.” But will the boys be up to the challenge? Will anything less than a win be a success in their eyes? Read and see.

The inside front and back covers of the picture book are filled with amazing black and white photos of actual groups of boys and girl in theirs knitting classes in action! One in particular shows a group of about 20 young boys, yarn and needles in hand as they do their best to keep the soldiers warm.

Knit Your Bit is a story of events that don’t hit you over the head with a patriotic plug or the generic “thank you for your service to our country”. The meeting between Mikey and a young soldier just returned from the war brings the meaning of real sacrifice home to Mikey and I think it will to the reader as well. As Mikey sees the empty pant leg of the soldier on crutches, he realizes that his male pride has suffered not half as much as has the young soldier.

Knit Your Bit is a good piece of historical fiction that allows picture book readers a window into a past that seems to have less and less relevance to them as we become further removed from these events.

Such reminders as Knit Your Bit serve as great picture book vehicles that model to children just one of many ways to become compassionate and caring of those to whom we owe much as a nation.

Now just how does that pattern for the sock go? Knit one. Purl two? Oops, dropped a stitch, darn it!



*You can STILL Knit Your Bit! Knit Your Bit groups continue TODAY and if you want more information, here is a web address to find out more about participating.

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22. Sunday Funnies #16: Memorial Day 2014

This Memorial Day weekend please take some time to think about those who served their country and are no longer with us.  And then, like Nancy, take a moment to thank those who are still with us.

Beetle Bailey by Mort Walker May 30, 2010

Hi and Lois by Brian and Greg Walker May 28, 2012
Red and Rover by Brian Basset May 28, 2012

Nancy by Guy Gilchrist May 28, 2012

In Memoriam
FCP 1955-2001

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23. In Honor of Memorial Day


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24. Memorial Day- Teach the Next Generation

Memorial Day-Teach the Next Generation
by Sally Matheny
     Memorial Day—it’s more than a day off from work, more than grilling delicious food, and more than sashaying in the days of summer.

     Originally, the holiday commemorated those soldiers who died during the Civil War. Over time, it has developed into a day of remembering every person who has served in the military and given the ultimate sacrifice.
     Memorial Day is also an excellent opportunity to teach the next generation about:
courage, and respect, 
hard work and perseverance,
preserving peace when possible and fighting for what is right, when necessary.

Preserving peace when possible--
fighting for what is right when necessary.
     One way to appreciate these men and women is to hear their stories through books, lectures, letters, and films.
     Another approach is talking with the veterans who did survive; gleaning wisdom from them while we still can.     
     One thing is for certain—we must pass on to our children our sense of gratitude to those who fought and died to protect our way of life.
     We can’t rightly do that to those who are no longer with us. But, we can teach our children to appreciate those currently serving in the military and our retired veterans.
     Teach the next generation to honor them with:
Say Thank You
a firm handshake of gratitude,
attentive eye contact,
whether the person is standing, or in a wheelchair,
and somehow, either in word or deed,
say thank you.

     By God’s sovereignty, what our military has done, and continues to do, is one reason we are able to
enjoy that day off,
grill delicious food,
and sashay in the days of summer.
     God bless our military, our veterans, and especially the families of those whose loved ones gave their all.


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25. Psychology, veterans, war, and remembrance

By Michael D. Matthews

My daily walk to work takes me through West Point’s cemetery. Founded in 1817, the cemetery includes the graves of soldiers who fought in the American Revolution, and in all of the wars our country has fought since. I often stop and reflect on the lives of these men and women who are interred here. Many headstones are of West Point graduates who were killed in World War II, including several on D-Day. Others fell in the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and Korea and Vietnam. One section holds special significance for me, since it contains the graves of former cadets and colleagues I have known in the past 14 years who died in Iraq or Afghanistan. No matter how preoccupied I may be with the vagaries of day to day life, a sense of peace and calm envelopes me as I stroll among the headstones. I feel I am among friends and comrades and there is a sense of connectedness with the past.

One of the soldiers interred at West Point is Lieutenant Christopher Kurkowsi. Chris graduated from West Point in 1986 with a degree in Engineering Psychology. He became an artillery officer and was killed on 26 February 1988 when the helicopter he was in crashed while on a routine training mission. At the time of the accident, Chris’s academic mentor at West Point, Lieutenant Colonel Timothy O’Neil, had initiated paperwork to send Chris to graduate school in psychology with a follow-on assignment to his old department at West Point. According to Lieutenant Colonel O’Neil, Chris would have made a tremendous psychologist and professor. Chris’s death exemplifies the loss of talent and potential of all of the soldiers buried at West Point.

Earlier this month, West Point held its annual “Inspiration to Serve” cemetery tour. All members of the West Point Class of 2016, who are finishing their second of four years of academic study and military training at West Point, participated. On this day, classmates, family, or friends of the fallen stand by a gravesite, and tell the story of the deceased to the cadet attendees. Of special interest this year, MaryEllen Picciuto, one of Chris Kurkowski’s classmates, told his story of service and sacrifice. The cadets stood respectfully and listened intently, as Ms. Picciuto brought Chris back to life through her remembrances. As she did this, other cadets stood by other graves, hearing the life story of other West Point graduates who gave their lives in the service of our country.

As a Nation, our move to an all volunteer force has distanced most Americans from direct experience and knowledge of the military and the men and women who serve. Cognitive psychologists make a distinction between semantic and episodic memory. The former is memory of generalized facts that are not part of our own personal experience. The latter, in contrast, are of events personally experienced. Think about your own memories. Those that are episodic are likely more vivid and tangible, and perhaps have more meaning in your own life story. You “know” from semantic memories, but you can “feel” in episodic memories.

Perhaps this Memorial Day, in between picnics and family activities, you can visit a veterans cemetery. Walk among the headstones, read the inscriptions, and reflect on what these men and women sacrificed for our Nation. Like Lieutenant Kurkowski, they had dreams, ambitions, life goals, and family and friends who loved them. Through such a visit, perhaps you can form an episodic memory by honoring the fallen for their service, and in doing so forge a more personal connection with these American heroes.

Note: The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the position of the United States Military Academy, the Department of the Army, or the Department of Defense.

Michael D. Matthews is Professor of Engineering Psychology at the United States Military Academy. Collectively, his research interests center on soldier performance in combat and other dangerous contexts. He has authored over 200 scientific papers and is the co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Military Psychology (Oxford University Press, 2012). Dr. Matthews’ most recent book is Head Strong: How Psychology is Revolutionizing War (Oxford University Press, 2014).

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Photos courtesy of Michael D. Matthews. Used with permission.

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