Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sunday, July 10, 2011

How do I know I Love this Country

Dear Brothers and Sisters: I am grateful to have this opportunity to speak today.
When given this assignment I was asked: How do I know that I love this country?
My first thought was that surely some one else could do this topic more justice than me.  This is the month of July and a time of great reflection of why we love America.  So I want to ask you why you love America?  Think in your own hearts of your great feeling that you have for this wonderful county.
I want to tell you that I love a parade.  I always have and always will.  It does not matter how big or how small a parade is.  I love to be there.  In fact on my bucket list of life.  I desperately want to go to the Rose Parade in Pasadena California on New Years Day: Some year and sometime in my lifetime. I pray I will be able to attend that parade.  In a few short days we will have the 24th of July parade and as a tradition with our family we will have our folding chairs, umbrellas and cooler of ice cold water.  Charlotte, Corbin and I will be anxious for the parade to begin. I love the floats, the bands, the clowns, the beauty queens and the horses.  I love the atmosphere of the crowd.  Without fail as the parade begins the soldiers in full uniform carrying our flag will walk by.  Then there I will be standing with my hand over my heart and each and every time I get all choked up and a tear or two will fall.   
Several years ago I attended a workshop and training in Denver, Colorado.  I was in a cabin in the mountains for a few days with a large group of men.  We had long and tiring days. Finally the training was complete on a Sunday afternoon. I was driven to the airport outside of Denver.  As usual on a Sunday evening the airport was crowded beyond it’s capacity.  There I stood in the security line. the line was not moving.  The line criss-crossed back and forth within the roped barrIcades.  I just wanted to get through the line and get to my plane and get home.  I have to say that my spirit and my countenance was anything but happy.  In fact my feelings were shared by everyone else in the crowd.  After standing in the line for a long while I heard some commotion in the line behind me. Repeatedly I heard: “let them ahead, let them go ahead.” My heart sank and wondered what famous person, group or athletic team was being let ahead.  When I finally turned around,  I turned I saw four soldiers in camouflage uniforms.  Three young men and a young lady.  As they passed me I heard applause and shouts of “God bless you!   Where they were going I do not know.  I just knew that they were not going home.  My disposition change, the crowd seemed to change from those soldiers walking by.  I knew I would make it home to my family but a feeling of gratitude came as I am grateful for those men and women who valiantly serve our country. Again the tears came into my eyes.
Two years ago over Memorial Day, I was talked into going on a backpacking trip in Arizona.  Don’t laugh, I had never been on a back packing trip in my life.  I have some wonderful friends that helped me and encouraged me the entire time.  Sometime I would be glad to show you the pictures and tell you more about it.  The truth is that I did do it. It was a struggle and I learned so much.  I flew with a friend and met some other friends in Phoenix.  We traveled by car for several hours to the beautiful mountains.  We stopped at a little town in a little town  and got some treats in a little grocery store.  My friends were ahead of me and as I was walking out the store was an older gentleman standing by the door.  He was selling poppies. How many of you know what poppies sold by the veterans are? I purchased a poppy.  I wound it around a button on my shirt.  Tears welled in my eyes remembering my father always had one on his bib overalls on Memorial Day.  Some of you know about the poppies and are smiling.
I researched about poppies and refreshed my memory

Each year around Memorial Day, Veterans of Foreign Wars members and American Legion Auxiliary volunteers distribute millions of bright red poppies in exchange for contributions to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans. The program provides multiple benefits to the veterans and to the community. The hospitalized veterans who make the flowers are able to earn a small wage, which helps to supplement their incomes and makes them feel more self-sufficient. The physical and mental activity provides many therapeutic benefits as well. Donations are used exclusively to assist and support veterans and their families. The poppy also reminds the community of the past sacrifices and continuing needs of our veterans. The poppy has become a nationally known and recognized symbol of sacrifice and is worn to honor the men and women who served and died for their country in all wars.
   A brief history of the artificial poppy:
   In the World War I battlefields of Belgium, poppies grew wild amid the ravaged landscape. How could such a pretty little flower grow wild while surrounded by death and destruction? The overturned soils of battle enabled the poppy seeds to be covered, thus allowing them to grow and to forever serve as a reminder of the bloodshed during that and future wars.
   The poppy movement was inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields" written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian forces in 1915 before the United States entered World War I. Selling
I was raised during a time by wonderful parents who loved this country.  Parents that lived through the depression, those that knew the ravages of war and had lost family members through war.  I experienced the wonderful songs by Irving Berlin and remember Kate Smith singing “God bless America.”  I have tapped my toes to many a song by John Phillip Sousa. 
I remember seeing the daily death toll in paper from the Vietnam war.  I even remember seeing the army officers come to a home in my hometown of Aberdeen, Idaho to share the news that one of our own had been killed in the war.  A close family friend was a POW in Vietnam. We were delighted each time we would hear any news about him while in captivity.  I am no stranger to seeing flag draped coffins of veterans from my own family.
I remember like it was yesterday in my third grade class when my teacher Mrs. Bartholoma was called to the door.  After talking to another teacher she dropped her book and went to her desk, put her head down and sobbed.When she regained some composure she then informed us that President Kennedy had died.  Soon after the flag was lowered. 
These experiences are not unique just to me they are memories  many of you share.  Many of you know far more about the prices that have been paid for our freedoms we have in our country.
We have a new generation that can tell the stories of where they were on September 11th. They know the ravages of war that are prevalent today. A street just off from my Vine street was lined with flags a few years ago because a death of a soldier. The young men and women of our ward know the value and honor of placing flags on designated holidays.  
The Boy Scouts of America honor and respect the flag of the United States they instill in a new generation the love of our flag. The Boy scouts are the ones given the honor to retire flags.  We have a new anthem sung by school children that was not sung when I was young.  We had Kate Smith and now this generation has Lee Greenwood’s: God Bless the USA.  I teach in an elementary school where the Pledge of Allegiance is said each and everyday,  We sing the Star Spangled Banner.  We have patriotic programs and honor our country.  American pride is still alive and here today.  We as parents, grandparents and teachers are to continually share with a new generation our love for this great country.
in April 1898, after he became President of the Church, President Woodruff declared that "those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits . . . [and] were inspired of the Lord" (CR, April 1898, p. 89). We honor those men today. We are the grateful beneficiaries of their noble work.
I ask once again:  How do you know that you love America?  What experience have you had in your life?  Are you sharing your love of America with the people around you?

Friday, April 1, 2011


I HATE THE SCALES!!!!! So I am exercising every day and feel great but the *&$#* scales don't budge. Gaining muscle and losing fat but gaining more muscle than fat and on and on and on! So I have dropped two pant sizes and a shirt size. I just want the scales to go down ...is that too much to ask? I will hang in there yet another day and another week.

My fate is sealed!

We were talking about Hoover Dam in class. I got interrupted 5 times in a row bam, bam bam. I got frustrated! To lighten the mood I jokingly asked my class if I should shoot myself or die a slow painful death being a teacher? Cute little 2nd grader Ashley smiled and told me to die the slow painful death as a teacher. My fate is sealed.