The Joy of Changing A Life

august-brill
Photo Credit: August Brill via CC Flickr

The joy and satisfaction of making a life-long difference in a person’s life is an experience and accomplishment of untold fulfillment. I have been a teacher for more than 30 years and have had the opportunity to teach thousands of people. It is such a gratifying and rewarding sentiment when I see my “kids” grow up, go to college, and become successful men and women in their professions and families.

Personally, there is honestly one thing that I have always felt that has been satisfying more than this…and that would be the instances when I had the chance to encourage and support a “less fortunate” individual. Watching them gain confidence and self-esteem as they journeyed down the “road of life”, gives me an amazingly sense of accomplishment.

Today’s story is a tremendous illustration of times when we judge people wrongly, by their looks and actions…then, fortunately, open their eyes to their REAL situation . The following is a heartwarming, inspirational true story of such an instance.

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Mrs. Thompson stood in front of her fifth grade class on the first day of school and told a lie, a big lie.  As she welcomed the students, she said that she would treat them all the same.  But that was not true because there was one student she would not treat the same – his name was Teddy Stoddard.

The school district hired Ms. Thompson the year before and she couldn’t help but notice Teddy last year.  He was a known problem child with a lousy academic record. He didn’t play well with others; his clothes were a mess; he always looked like he needed a bath, and he had a bad attitude.  Consequently, Mrs. Thompson delighted in marking Teddy’s papers with a broad red pen and placing big bold ‘X’s on all his wrong answers.  She loved putting a large ‘F’ at the top of his papers so other students could see his grade when she handed them out.

School policy required that each teacher review the records of their students during the first week of December.  Mrs. Thompson held Teddy’s file off until last.  When she finally sat down to review his file, she was taken aback.  Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child who does neat work and has excellent classroom manners. He is a joy to have in my class – I will miss him next year.”

His second grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an above average student who is well liked by his classmates.  He has been having trouble lately because of his mother’s illness, and life at home has really been a struggle for him.”

His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s recent death has been very hard on Teddy.  He tries hard to do his best, but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life is negatively affecting him.”

Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a withdrawn child who doesn’t show much interest in school.  He has few friends, often comes to class unprepared, and is frequently disruptive.”

Mrs. Thompson was now ashamed of her behavior. She felt even worse a few weeks later when her students brought in their Christmas presents for her.  All were wrapped in holiday paper and tied with ribbons except for one.  Teddy’s was clumsily wrapped in brown paper from an old grocery bag with no ribbon.  Mrs. Thompson opened Teddy’s present first.   Some children laughed when they saw a rhinestone bracelet with several stones missing and an old bottle of perfume only 1/4 full; but Mrs. Thompson quickly stifled their laughter by commenting on how beautiful the bracelet was as she put in on.  She then dabbed some perfume on each wrist, inhaled deeply and said it smells wonderful.

Before he left class that afternoon, Teddy walked up to Mrs. Thompson’s desk, slowly leaned in and said, “I just want you to know you smell just like my Mom use to.”  Then he ran out of the room.  When all the other students left, Mrs. Thompson cried at her desk. That was the day she vowed to quit teaching.  Never again would she teach reading, writing or arithmetic, instead she would start teaching children.

She began to pay attention to Teddy.  As she worked with him, his mind came alive.  The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded.  By the end of the school year, Teddy was one of the brightest students in her class.   Despite “her lie to treat all students the same,” it was obvious Teddy was her pet.  The following year, Teddy transferred to middle school and Mrs. Thompson never saw him again.

Towards the end of the next school year, Mrs. Thompson found a note under her door.  It was a note from Teddy telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Seven years passed before she received another note.  This time Teddy wrote he had just finished high school – third in his class – and that he would be going to college and that, by the way Mrs. Thompson, you are still the best teacher I ever had in my whole life.

Four more years went by when a letter from Teddy arrived explaining he had graduated from college and was planning on going to medical school in the fall and, by the way Mrs. Thompson, you are still the best teacher I ever had.

Several years passed before another letter arrived.  In this letter, Teddy stated he met a woman and they would be getting married in June.  He explained that his father died a few years earlier and he was wondering if she, Mrs. Thompson, would agree to sit in the place of honor reserved for the groom’s parents at the head table. This letter was signed Theodore J. Stoddard M.D.

Of course Mrs. Thomson agreed. She arrived at the plush wedding ceremony wearing an old rhinestone bracelet with several rhinestones missing and carried a scent of a perfume that Teddy once said reminded him of his mother.  Dr. Stoddard came forward and hugged her.  As he inhaled the fragrance of her perfume, he whispered in her ear, “Thank you Mrs. Thompson for making me feel important and thank you for making a difference in my life.” Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back, “No Teddy you have it wrong.  I need to thank you. You taught me. You taught me I could make a difference.”

Author Unknown

Things Kids Teach Us About Life

children
Photo Credit: USDA

Most of you who have been following my blog over the years, know that I am a Physical Education/Health teacher and a coach and have loved my job throughout the past 31 years. The one constant during those years have been the joy and excitement that I receive from my students. Their passion, zeal, and enthusiasm about life is contagious. This kind of positive atmosphere usually always uplifts my spirits, enlightens my soul, makes me smile. Every day of school is a new adventure..you never know what is going to happen…what will be said or what will be done by these young people. Usually, the younger they are, the funnier things happen.

So, it should be no surprise, that one of the things that I enjoy posting from time-to-time are some of the silly, hilarious, and downright goofy things that kids do…and sometimes teach us. Such is the case with today’s article. The following is a collection of some of these kinds of things. I hope that these bring a smile to your face and a chuckle to your heart. Hey! You may even learn some things about ceiling fans today as well 🙂


Play Dough and Microwave should never be used in the same sentence. …

Super glue is forever. …

No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool you still can’t walk on water.

Pool filters do not like Jell-O.

DVD players do not eject PB&J sandwiches even though TV commercials show they do.

Garbage bags do not make good parachutes.

Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving. …

You probably do not want to know what that odor is. …

Always look in the oven before you turn it on.

Plastic toys do not like ovens.

The fire department in Orlando, FL has an 8 minute response time.

The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earth worms dizzy.

The spin cycle on the washing machine does make cats dizzy.

Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.

If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite. …

A 3 year-old’s voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant. …

When you hear the toilet flush and the words “Uh-oh”, it’s already too late. …

Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke, and lots of it. …

A six year old can start a fire with a flint rock even though a 36 year old man says they can only do it in the movies.

A magnifying glass can start a fire even on an overcast day.

A king size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2,000 sq foot house 4 inches deep.

Legos will pass through the digestive tract of a four year old.

If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42 pound boy wearing Batman underwear and a superman cape….

It is strong enough, however, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20 by 20 foot room. …

You should not throw baseballs up in the air when the ceiling fan is on. …

When using the ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit.

A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way.

The glass in windows (even double pane) doesn’t stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.


Have an AWESOME Day!

Aspire to Inspire.

18 Famous Quotes of Muhammad Ali

Ian Rensley
Photo Credit: Ian Rensley via CC Flickr

America and the world lost a great human being a few days ago at the passing of boxing legend, Muhammad Ali. Ali rose to prominence in the 1960’s and 1970’s when he not only became the world heavyweight boxing champion, but also became a advocate for peace and accepted people of all races, religions, and beliefs…despite proclaiming himself as a Muslim and giving himself over to the nation of Islam.

Ali was a unique sports figure. He not only was one of the top, well-known athletes of his time but he was also known around the world. Unlike many well-known athletes of today, he infused poetry, wisdom, and humor together to spread his message of peace and unity around the globe. His humorous quips are known around the globe.

So, in today’s blog, I decided to list some of Muhammad Ali’s famous quotes for you to ponder, think about, smile, and maybe, in some small way, apply to your everyday life!

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  1. To be a champion, you must believe that you are the best. If not, pretend you are.
  2. It is lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges.
  3. Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.
  4. It isn’t the mountain ahead of you that will wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.
  5. He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.
  6. It is hard to be humble when you are as great as I am.
  7. Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are.
  8. Impossible is not a fact. It is an option.
  9. Inside a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It is staying down that’s wrong.
  10. The man who has no imagination has no wings.
  11. I am the greatest, I knew that before I knew I was.
  12. Don’t count the days; make them count.
  13. Not only do I knock them down, I pick the round.
  14. I should be a postage stamp, that’s the only way I ever get licked.
  15. Last week, I murdered a rock, I injured a stone, hospitalized a brick, I am so mean, I make medicine sick!
  16. A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.
  17. I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.
  18. Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.

The Lesson of the Black Spot

black_spot_on_white_background_by_sukiroseessence-d321hr6

Sometimes, simple illustrations teach us simple but important life lessons…..

One day a professor entered the classroom and asked his students to prepare for a surprise test. They waited anxiously at their desks for the test to begin. The professor handed out the question paper, with the text facing down as usual. Once he handed them all out, he asked his students to turn the page and begin. To everyone’s surprise, there were no questions….just a black dot in the center of the page. The professor seeing the expression on everyone’s face, told them the following:

“I want you to write what you see there.”

The students confused, got started on the inexplicable task.

At the end of the class, the professor took all the answer papers and started reading each one of them aloud in front of all the students. All of them with no exceptions, described the black dot, trying to explain its position in the middle of the sheet, etc. etc. etc. After all had been read, the classroom silent, the professor began to explain:

“I am not going to grade on you this, I just wanted to give you something to think about. No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot – and the same happens in our lives. We have a white paper to observe and enjoy, but we always focus on the dark spots. Our life is a gift given to us by God, with love and care, and we always have reasons to celebrate – nature renewing itself everyday, our friends around us, the job that provides our livelihood, the miracles we see everyday…….

However we insist on focusing only on the dark spots – the health issues that bother us, the lack of money, the complicated relationship with a family member, the disappointment with a friend etc

The dark spots are very small compared to everything we have in our lives, but they are the ones that pollute our minds.

Take your eyes away from the black spots in your life. Enjoy each one of your blessings, each moment that life gives you.

Be happy and live a life positively!

 

The Importance of Self-Confidence

Robin Zebrowski
Photo Credit: Robin Zebrowski via CC Flickr

Self-confidence and a strong belief in oneself and the things that you can achieve is a strong trait that an individual can have. When a person has a good self-image, they find that they can not only accomplish their goals but they can achieve things far and above anything that they ever imagined. In other words, sometimes a person who possess a high level of self-confidence, can discover something within themselves that they might not have thought never existed.

Today’s story is a great illustration of this power of self-confidence.

One of the greatest violinists of all time was named Niccolo Paganini. He was born in 1782 and he enjoyed a well-known and memorable career before his death in 1840.

One day as Paganini was about to perform before a packed opera house, he suddenly discovered that he had walked out on stage with the wrong violin. What he was holding was not his valued instrument but one that belonged to someone else.  His cherished violin was made by the master violin maker, Guarneri.

Paganini was horrified and panic-stricken but knowing that he had no other choice, he began to play with all of the skill that he possessed. Everyone agreed, after the performance, that he had given a performance of a lifetime. When he finished his concert, the audience gave him a standing ovation.

After the concert, in his dressing room, he was praised and commended for his marvelous performance, Paganini replied, ” Today, I learned the most important lesson in my entire career. Before today, I thought the music was in my violin but today I learned that the music is in me.”

 

 

 

15 Life Skills That Teenagers Need to Know

GotCredit
Photo Credit: GotCredit via CC Flickr

According to Google, the definition of a “Life Skill” is “a skill that is necessary or desirable for full participation in everyday life.” Sadly, many young people (and scores of adults) don’t know how to perform many of these everyday skills.

What are these skills? Well, I am glad that you asked because the following is a list of fifteen of these skills that everyone should know.

  1. Basic first aid.
  2. How to say “No.”
  3. How to use a credit card.
  4. How to write an essay.
  5. How to grocery shop on a BUDGET.
  6. How to jump-start a car.
  7. How to do their laundry.
  8. How to cook something that doesn’t come in a box with powder labeled “sauce.”
  9. Basic car and home repair and maintenance.
  10. How to send a professional email.
  11. How to budget and pay bills.
  12. How to change a tire.
  13. How to study.
  14. How to proof read.
  15. How to be kind to others

~ Source: Face Book


What are some “Life Skills” that YOU think a person should know how to do??

 

The Influence of One

stevepb
Photo Credit: Stevepb via CC Flickr

Years ago a John Hopkin’s professor gave a group of graduate students this assignment: Go to the slums. Take 200 boys, between the ages of 12 and 16, and investigate their background and environment. Then predict their chances for the future. The students, after consulting social statistics, talking to the boys, and compiling much data, concluded that 90 percent of the boys would spend some time in jail.

Twenty-five years later another group of graduate students was given the job of testing the prediction. They went back to the same area. Some of the boys – by then men – were still there, a few had died, some had moved away, but they got in touch with 180 of the original 200. They found that only four of the group had ever been sent to jail.

Why was it that these men, who had lived in a breeding place of crime, had such a surprisingly good record? The researchers were continually told: “Well, there was a teacher…” They pressed further, and found that in 75 percent of the cases it was the same woman.

The researchers went to this teacher, now living in a home for retired teachers. How had she exerted this remarkable influence over that group of children? Could she give them any reason why these boys should have remembered her? “No,” she said, “no I really couldn’t.” And then, thinking back over the years, she said amusingly, more to herself than to her questioners: “I loved those boys…”

Read more at http://www.motivationalwellbeing.com/motivational-stories-9.html#ixzz3rhUCfhUD

The Birth of a Brother – Through the Eyes of a Seven-Year-Old

Photo Credit: Carissa Rogers via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Carissa Rogers via CC Flickr

I have been a teacher for 30 years and one of the great things about my profession, is that you never know what might happen each day when I come to school. So, it is with much amusement, that when I find (or experience) something funny, I enjoy sharing it with others.

So it is with today’s story. It is told from the perspective of a veteran teacher during one of her “Show and Tell” sessions which she had in her class on a weekly basis.

Enjoy!


I’ve been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second-grade class a few years back.

Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her sweater. She holds up a snapshot of an infant. “This is Luke, my baby brother, and I am going to tell you about his birthday. First, Mommy and Daddy made him a symbol of their love, and then Daddy put a seed in my mother’s stomach. He ate for nine months through an umbrella cord.” She’s standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I’m trying not to laugh and wishing I had a video camera rolling. The kids are watching her in amazement.

“Then, about two Saturdays ago, my mother starts going, “Oh, oh, oh!” Erica puts her hand behind her back and groans. “She walked around the house for, like an hour, “Oh, oh, oh!” Now this kid is doing this hysterical duck-walk, holding her back and groaning. “My father called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn’t have a sign on the car like the Domino’s man. They got my mother to lay down in bed like this.” Erica lies down with her back against the wall. “And then, POP! My mother had this bad of water she kept in there just in case she got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like pssshhheeeww!”

The kid has her legs spread and with her little hands is miming water flowing away. It was too much!

Then the middle wife starts going push, push, and breath, breathe. They start counting, but they never even get past 10. Then, all of a sudden, out comes my brother. He was covered with yucky stuff they said was from the play-center, so there must be a lot of stuff inside there.”

The Erica stood up, took a big theatrical bow and returned to her seat. I’m sure I applauded the loudest. Ever since then, if it’s Show-and-Tell Day, I bring my camcorder – just in case another “Middle Wife” come along.

Five Ways to Remember During the Hard Times

AloneEverything is going to be alright, may be it won’t happen today but eventually everything is going to be fine. Sometimes in our life, it looks like everything is falling apart and whatever you do fail. But you need to be strong in such hard times. It’s the hardest times that teach us the most valuable lessons of our life. Every struggle in your life has shaped you into the person you are today. You must be thankful for the hard times as they can only make you stronger.

Strength doesn’t come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength. So learn to be strong even in the hardest times of your life. Don’t worry about the hard times. Because some of the most beautiful things we have in life come from only changes and mistakes. So you need to understand the value of hard times and how it helps and ultimately be strong. Here are 5  ways you must remember to be strong in hard times.


Remember, Hard Times Don’t Last Forever.

As previously mentioned, everything is going to be alright.  May be not today, but eventually it’s going to happen. Your strength is not in the way you surrender, but in the way you fight with the difficulties. Hard times are not going be there in your life always. It’s only you who can make it stay in your life for a long time. You need to learn how to be strong in the hardest times of your life. Because this is something only you can do.

You can only make yourself stronger. Not anybody else. You can’t give up. Because anyone can give up. This is perhaps the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that is real strength.

Remember, Every Struggle in Life Only Makes You Stronger.

Struggles increase your inner strength. You can’t always realize what you can do until or unless you get a chance to actually do that. The hard times in your life gives you the opportunity to prove yourself. Every struggle in your life makes you stronger and helps you become more confident and productive. Hard times help you realize your inner strength. Remember, Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the heroes within us is revealed.

Be strong because things will get better one day. It might be stormy now. But it can’t rain forever. It’s really hard to believe that the most important lessons in your life you learn only through hard times and struggles. So discover your inner strength and find out what you can for yourself in best way possible. The most difficult phase of life is not when nobody understands you. It is when you don’t understand yourself.

Stay Positive with all Your Positive Thoughts.

Don’t wish away your days waiting for better times ahead. Right now is the only moment guaranteed to you. This is in your hand to live it in the best way possible. Don’t keep negative thoughts and wait for positive times. Learn to make your negative thoughts positive. Just because something is not happening for you right now, doesn’t mean that it will never happen in your life. You will never get positive results withnegative thinking. Be strong enough to believe in your inner qualities.

Be strong to think highly of yourself. Because the world takes you at your own estimate. The struggles you face in life are not supposed paralyze you. They are supposed to help you discover who you are. Positive thinking is not about expecting the best to happen every time. Be strong enough to believe that whatever happens in your life is the best for this moment. Whatever life gives you, even if it hurts you, just be strong and act like the way you always do.

Find the Right Person to Be with You.

You can’t love everyone. But can’t leave someone who never leaves you in hard times. You can’t leave someone who always gives you the right lesson. True friends help you understand your inner qualities. They help you become more productive. Right guidance can solve even the most difficult problems of your life easily. So it’s very important to find the right person to be with. True guidance helps you become stronger and more productive.

It’s not about finding someone who won’t fight with you or make you sad. It’s about finding someone who will still be standing there wiping the tears away, holding you in their arms after a fight. The person who will never leave you. It doesn’t matter how hard things get. Be strong and live everyday of your life as the last day of your life. Don’t be afraid of hard times that come in your life only to make you stronger. Live with noregrets. Because everything happens for a reason.

Learn to Smile Through the Hard Times.

A smile is the first thing to fixing things. The trick is to enjoy life by noticing what’s right. Sometimes you just have to smile to make things easier. A smile is a gift to yourself in hard times. A smile acts like nothing is wrong or everything is going to be fine. Peace begins with a smile. A smile is perhaps the most beautiful expression in the world.

Be strong and learn to smile through the hard times. Let your smile change your world and don’t let the world change the way you smile. Smile at things that make you sad. Sometimes hard times don’t seem to get any better. But a smile is the first thing that can make the things easier to solve. Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile. But sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.

When times get hard, don’t give up. Smile and start fighting until you win. You might make a lot of mistakes. But this is first step to unlock your inner strength if someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, it means that they have never tried a new thing in their life.

Credit: http://uniquelifeguide.com / Other Source: http://karinasussanto.wordpress.com

Comforting Thoughts About Life – Part 1

Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn via CC Flickr

Life is strange. At one moment, it might seem tough, unfair, and if it just can’t get any worse while at other times, we are happy, joyful, or plain delighted with the good things in life.

I decided that it would be a great idea to collect some thoughts and ideas from other people that will encourage and uplift our minds and souls every day. The power of positive thinking is a tremendous asset to have. When we will feel good about ourselves there are many, many ways in which we benefit from these optimistic thought patterns and habits…less stress, lower blood pressure, we are happier, kinder to other people…just to name a few.

So, as you read some of the following thoughts, I hope that you may find comfort in them and that they will help and guide you on your path and you continue your journey through life.


We often forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but of deeply appreciating what we do have.

The story of your life has many chapters. One bad chapter doesn’t mean it’s the end of the book. Just turn the page.

You’ll never be able to see the great things in front of you, if you only look at the bad things behind you.

A big smile is the lighting system of the face, the cooling system of the mind, and the heating system of the heart.

We don’t stop dreaming and exploring because we grow old. We grow old because we stop dreaming and exploring.

When the right things aren’t adding up in your life, start subtracting the wrong things.

Surround yourself with positive people who will support you when it rains, not just when it shines.

Don’t make too much time for people who rarely make time for you.

The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success.

We spend money that we do not have, on things we do not need, to impress people who do not care.

Friends who believe in you when others doubt you, friends who tell you can do it when you doubt yourself… these friends are a gift.

Life is too short to worry about needless issues. Have fun, live through love, explore, regret nothing, and don’t let others bring you down.

Remember, people who try to bring you down are already below you.

Enjoy the little things in life for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.

You may not have everything that you want in life but you are blessed enough to have all that you need.

Never lose hope, because as night falls, a new day is about to dawn and you never know what a new day will bring.

Having a thousand credentials on the wall will not make you a decent human being…but genuinely helping one person everyday will.

If you’re smiling right now, you’re doing something right.

The American Flag: 13 Folds of Honor

Photo Credit: Beverly & Pack via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Beverly & Pack via CC Flickr

Memorial Day is a day observed by millions of people in the United States of America in remembrance of men and women who sacrificed their time, careers, and lives for their country.  America is not the only country which honors their military…many countries around the world do the same in some fashion.

The history, rituals, and the customs of the United States Military has always fascinated and intrigues me. I hold in highest esteem and respect, all people who have sacrificed their time and/or their lives for their country.

A military tradition that has always been deeply moving to me, is watching the person of a fallen spouse or child, receive the folded American flag during a funeral ceremony.

I often wondered the story behind the folded flag. Why is it folded in that particular manner? What does each fold represent? What is the history behind it?

I recently read a short article on the internet site, Folds of Honor, which answered my questions. It is for this reason that I thought that this would be a great article to share with you. I hope that this story will enlighten and encourage your heart as much as it did mine!

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The folded flag has long been a dual symbol of sacrifice and the cost of freedom as well as hope and admiration for those defending our country. As we transition into using the folded American flag as the Folds of Honor logo, please take a moment to read what each of these folds represents:

The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

The fourth fold represents our weaker nature; as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace, as well as in times of war, for His divine guidance.

The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”

The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The seventh fold is a tribute to our armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.

The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty, and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.

The 10th fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first born.

The 11th fold, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The 12th fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.

When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it has the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under Gen. George Washington and the sailors and Marines who served under Capt. John Paul Jones and were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the U.S. Armed Forces, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.

Have a Wonderful Memorial and that the ones who serve for us now and remember the ones who paid the ultimate price for the freedom that we can enjoy today!!

Fascinating Facts About The Day That Will Live In Infamy

Photo Credit: via WikiMedia
Photo Credit: via WikiMedia

Today, December 7, 2014, is the 73rd Anniversary of the day which President Franklin Roosevelt declared, “a day that will live in infamy”, the bombing of Pearl Harbor. During that fateful day, more than 2,300 people were killed and over another 1,100 individuals were wounded. One day later, the United States declared war on Japan. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on America…placing America right in the middle of World War 2.

I decided to do something a little different today and list some interesting and fascinating facts about this tragic day. I am sure that you will learn some new details that will present you some further insight and give you a deeper appreciation of what our military personnel faced that day.

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The Japanese reportedly had intended to declare war prior to the attack. However, the message never got to the President.*

The entire attack lasted just under two hours, 110 minutes.

The Japanese also used submarines, including smaller ones called midget submarines, in the attack.*

The Japanese only lost 64 people that day.

When the USS Arizona was destroyed, it took with it, the lives of 1,177 servicemen.

The reason for choosing the attack on a Sunday morning was because the Japanese felt that Americans would be less alert on a weekend. Many U.S. servicemen were having their morning breakfast when the Japanese aircraft hit the U.S. Naval base. **

Eighteen ships, including five battleships, were sunk and 188 aircraft were destroyed while another 159 others damaged. The Japanese only lost 29 aircraft, five midget submarines and just 64 men.***

Although the Japanese aerial attack was very successful, their submarines failed to finish off any wounded ship inside the harbor.#

A U.S. army private who noticed the large flight of planes on his radar screen was told to ignore them because a flight of B-17’s from the continental US was expected at the time.#

Twenty-three sets of brothers died aboard the USS Arizona.##

The USS Arizona’s entire band was lost in the attack. It is the only time in American history that an entire military band had died in battle.##

The USS Arizona, the division 1 battleship docked at Pearl Harbor, is still leaking fuel. The ship had filled up her massive 1.5 million gallon tank the day before the attack. While much of the fuel was burned up in fires from the attack, experts say as much as 9 quarts leaks into the water daily. ###

Lt. Annie Fox was the first woman to receive a Purple Heart for being wounded in action and her leadership during the attack.###

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*Ducksters.com http://www.ducksters.com/history/world_war_ii/pearl_harbor_attack.php

**Facts Barn.com – http://www.factsbarn.com/facts-about-pearl-harbor/

***Learnodo-newtonic.com – http://learnodo-newtonic.com/pearl-harbor-facts

# Erikanderson.net – http://www.erikanderson.net/pearlharbor/facts.html

##History.com – http://www.history.com/news/5-facts-about-pearl-harbor-and-the-uss-arizona

### Fallenheroesfund.org – http://fallenheroesfund.org/News-and-Blog/IFHF-Blog/5-Little-Known-Facts-About-Pearl-Harbor.aspx?sf34261619=1

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A Story of “True” Thanksgiving

Photo Credit: Army Corps of Engineers via Cc Flickr
Photo Credit: Army Corps of Engineers via Cc Flickr

This is a re-post of a story that I posted a year or so ago on another blog of mine that was written by Steve Goodier.

At first it sounded like a Thanksgiving story, but the more I reflected on it, the more appropriate it seemed for any time of the year. The way I heard it, the story went like this:

Thanksgiving Day was near. The first grade teacher gave her class a fun assignment — to draw a picture of something for which they were thankful.

Most of the class might be considered economically disadvantaged, but still many would celebrate the holiday with turkey and other traditional goodies of the season. These, the teacher thought, would be the subjects of most of her student’s art. And they were.

But Douglas made a different kind of picture. Douglas was a different kind of boy. He was the teacher’s true child of misery, frail and unhappy. As other children played at recess, Douglas was likely to stand close by her side. One could only guess at the pain Douglas felt behind those sad eyes.

Yes, his picture was different. When asked to draw a picture of something for which he was thankful, he drew a hand. Nothing else. Just an empty hand.

His abstract image captured the imagination of his peers. Whose hand could it be? One child guessed it was the hand of a farmer, because farmers raise turkeys. Another suggested a police officer, because the police protect and care for people. Still others guessed it was the hand of God, for God feeds us. And so the discussion went — until the teacher almost forgot the young artist himself.

When the children had gone on to other assignments, she paused at Douglas’ desk, bent down, and asked him whose hand it was. The little boy looked away and murmured, “It’s yours, teacher.”

She recalled the times she had taken his hand and walked with him here or there, as she had the other students. How often had she said, “Take my hand, Douglas, we’ll go outside.” Or, “Let me show you how to hold your pencil.” Or, “Let’s do this together.” Douglas was most thankful for his teacher’s hand.

Brushing aside a tear, she went on with her work.

The story speaks of more than thankfulness. It says something about teachers teaching and parents parenting and friends showing friendship, and how much it means to the Douglases of the world. They might not always say thanks. But they’ll remember the hand that reaches out.

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Have an AWESOME Thanksgiving!!

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So…You Think You Know People?

Photo Credit: Darren Johnson via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Darren Johnson via CC Flickr

Sometimes in life…you THINK you know what other are people are like…you think that you understand how other people feel and the struggles that they deal with. But do you REALLY know them?

Consider this:

The “gay boy” you punched in the hall today…committed suicide a few minutes ago. Remember that girl that you called a “slut” today in class? She’s a virgin. How about that boy that you called lame? He has to work every night to support his family. What about the girl that you pushed down yesterday because she was too slow and annoying? She’s being abused at home. Remember that girl that you called fat? She is slowly killing herself by starving herself. How about that old man that you made fun of because of the ugly scars that he has on his face? He fought for our country. What about the boy you laughed at because he was always crying? His mother is dying.

You think you know people? Chances are very good that you don’t. Be careful of your words and the judgments that you make towards others.  Your tongue is one of the most powerful weapons in the world…it can tear down someone and slice them to ribbons or it build them up and encourage them with one simple, kind word.

The choice is yours.

 

Soldiers Remembrances of D-Day

Photo Credit:  Joint Staff Public Affairs via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Joint Staff Public Affairs via CC Flickr

I recently read an article written by Kim Willsher on TheGuardian,com in which she told many stories of servicemen that participated in D-Day and World War 2. I thought that it would be a great share with all of you. I hope that you would take the time to remember these people and the things that they experienced during this awful time of war.

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They stood to attention as straight as their creaking backs would allow and saluted briskly as a lone bugler high up on the old Pegasus Bridge played the Last Post. A minute’s silence followed; the men bowed their heads, dabbed their eyes and remembered the fallen.

Some made one last heroic effort to rise from their wheelchairs, others leaned on sticks or the arms of relatives and friends. Medals glinted in the morning sunshine; rows and rows of them, pinned to still-proud chests.

It may be 70 years on, but the camaraderie remains strong. The old soldiers addressed each other as “brother” and with a valiant slap on the back, as if seven decades had not passed. There were shared nods of recognition between veterans in black and wine-coloured berets, and serving military officers who share the common bond of conflict. Schoolchildren who were hearing about history first hand were hanging on every word.

“One of the reasons it’s wonderful to be here is because everyone is interested in you,” said Neville Foote, 94. “Back home, nobody is interested in us. We’re just old people. I am sometimes asked to go to schools to talk, but the children don’t know about the war and don’t want to know.”

Foote, from Tottington in Lancashire, has no shortage of stories to tell. He arrived in Normandy on D-day on Juno beach with the 51st Highland Division of the Scottish Horse Regiment and spent the rest of the war moving across Europe. He was with the Allied forces that relieved the Bergen-Belsen Nazi concentration camp in 1945.

Foote was just 23 when he jumped off the landing craft along with Canadian troops from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders and ran on to the French beach “at tea time … don’t ask when that was because we didn’t knowwhat day it was let alone the time,” he says.

“I remember every detail of the landing even now. It was a terrifying experience,” he adds. “We just kept moving. It was the same after D-day, we kept moving across Europe fighting all the way.”

At one point crossing the Rhine, the troop carrier Foote was in hit a mine, killing the man sitting next to him. The survivors had to scoop up the dead man’s remains and carry on. It is hardly surprising that for many decades, the men who returned from D-day and the battle to liberate France, did not talk about their experiences.

“So many were lost. I’m fine about coming back, but certain parts are hard. When you go to the graves and see your mates, just 22 or 23 who never made it, you just feel it here,” as he taps his chest, his eyes fill with tears.

“Still, I like to think I made up for them in life.”

The taking of the bridge in the village of Bénouville, and a second bridge in nearby Ranville, was the first operation of D-day. Troops of the 6th Airborne Parachute Regiment, led by Major John Howard of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry, landed at 00.16am in six Horsa gliders and neutralised the two bridges held by German forces in ten minutes, with the loss of only two lives.

Operation Deadstick, as it was known, was the start of the Longest Day. Howard, who died in 1999 aged 86, was later played by actor Richard Todd – himself a D-day parachute veteran – in the Hollywood film of the Allied landings. Howard received a Distinguished Service Order and a Croix de Guerre.

On Thursday, Howard’s daughter Penny Bates laid a wreath at Bénouville, where plaques, monuments, a large sculpture the Avenue de Major Howard, are testimony to the heroism of him and his men.

“I’m here to remember my father and his men and I’m very proud to pay my respects. I have come back here many, many times and it is always an honor and always very emotional and moving. Of course to me he was a hero, but then he was my father.”

Photo Credit: John W. Schulze via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: John W. Schulze via CC Flickr

Joan Woods, whose husband Lt Corp Tom Packwood was in the same glider as Howard, buried her husband’s ashes near Pegasus Bridge after he died eight years ago. “Whenever we traveled on the continent, he always insisted on coming here to pay tribute to friends buried there. He never talked about what happened until the 40th anniversary when he met other veterans here. Only then did he tell me what happened.

“Of course, by then they all had different versions of what had happened because so many years had passed, so they couldn’t agree.”

She added: “Pegasus Bridge defined his life, but like many of the men, my husband’s attitude was that they were trained to do a job and they just got on and did it well.”

After a renovated Centaur tank, found near Pegasus Bridge and one of only five remaining, was inaugurated, the Last Post, Reveille and the Canadian, British and French national anthems were played. Veterans cheered as a dozen second world war planes, including an old Lancaster bomber, flew past.

A group of 12-year-old French schoolchildren from nearby Troarn – which was heavily bombed by the Allies and liberated more than two months after D-day – wore red T-shirts saying: “I am a Child of Freedom. Merci Dear Veteran.”

The youngsters clustered around the old soldiers, listening to their stories and asking questions. Their teacher Jean-Pascal Auvray said: “We brought them here so they can be witnesses to this later. Today they are 12 years old, but when they have their own children and grandchildren, they will remember coming here and meeting the veterans. They will have a direct line with the history.”

Testimonies from Pegasus Bridge

Walter James Baker, 92, from Blackpool

Baker landed on Omaha beach with the Canadian Régiment de la Chaudiere – the only French-Canadian regiment to participate in Operation Overlord. He helped to train the 1st American Infantry Division.

“You just did what you had to do. You didn’t stop to think about being brave, because you were so bloody terrified. I was with boys who were 17, but who would never see their 18th birthday. They were the brave ones, not me. I was older, I learned my bravery from them. They faced the machine guns and opened their shirts. We owe a lot to them.

Sgt Steve Garrard, 91, from Bude, Cornwall, glider pilot

“It’s the first time I have come back. It means a hell of a lot to do this. It’s still very vivid even though many years have passed. I have forgotten many things in between, but not here. The whole D-day operation was so climatic. It was my birthday on June 7th, and I spent it fighting Germans.”

Joe Bruhl, 36, from Missouri

Based with the US army in Italy, Bruhl has served in Africa and Afghanistan.

“I wanted to come here just to talk to these guys, hear the stories of those who were here, who took part in the operation. It is probably the most humbling experience of my life. My grandfather was in the navy in command and control on D-day off Omaha beach and my great uncle was wounded on Utah beach, so there is a family interest.”

John Dennett, 89, from Wallasey, Liverpool

Dennet, a sailor on landing craft depositing troops on Sword Beach, said: “We went back and forth ferrying men onto the beach. The most amazing thing was the sheer volume of ships and boats. You couldn’t see the water there were so many. I have come back to remember them. I was 19 at the time. I go to the cemeteries and see the graves of the 19 and 20-year-olds and I think, that could have been me. You have to remember, the young have to remember. That’s why I visit schools.”

Titus Mills, headmaster of Walhampton School in the New Forest

Mills was at Pegasus Bridge with his son Raffi, 10, carrying a placard saying: “The Young Are Grateful”. “I hardly have the words necessary to explain why it’s important for children to know about this. This is probably the final year the men will come back and I feel it’s enormously important for the younger generation to be able to connect with this period of history and appreciate what these fine old men and women went through. They are living history.”

Raffi said: “It’s really interesting listening to the stories of the war and definitely better than reading it in history books.”

Robert Sullivan, 91, of 3 Para Squadron

Sullivan parachuted into France at 1.30am on the morning of the 6th. His unit had instructions to blow up a bridge at Dives. “Like many others, I missed the landing area. Fortunately I landed. Many of the others drowned. We had to make our way to the bridge. I got there at 9am and it had been partially destroyed, but not completely. So we blew it up. Then we came under heavy fire from the Germans. Coming back, I think that unlike my colleagues, I had the chance to live my life, have my family, and they did not. That’s the main thing I think.”

Let Us Never Forget!

Your Life Is No Longer Your Own (Tissues Required)

Photo Credit: Wikimedia
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Read an amazing account of incredible sacrifice during World War 2 involving simple towns people.

Around this time each year, Memorial Day, I am reminded of a story that I once heard. Though the exactness of it I cannot confirm, I am assured its basis is quite factual, and its message definitely deserves to be retold.

The story is of a man, Andrew, who was known all his life for selfless sacrifice and good works. He always stood in defense of the defenseless, and toiled without tiring, standing up for the downtrodden and underprivileged. As he grew old, and people tried to honor him for his well-lived life of service, he was reluctant to accept the praise and attention that his community desired to heap upon him. It was then, for the first time, that he told a story that had burned deep in his heart and was hard for him to relate.

Andrew was a young man, thirteen years old and living in Austria, when the Germans invaded. The Austrians, brave and proud, decided to fight back. In the town where Andrew lived, the men and teenage boys organized and destroyed a power plant that the Germans relied on to continue their war effort. The men and boys all knew this would cause great hardship on themselves as well, for they also relied on the power from the plant. But the thing they had not counted on was the swift and severe retribution that would come from the Nazi invaders.

The next morning, before the sun was even up, trucks rolled into town. Soon, the sound of marching soldiers was heard in the streets. The men and boys of the town, twelve years old and older, were ordered to the town square. Andrew found himself standing in a line with the other men and boys, still trying to wipe the sleep from his eyes.

The commanding officer berated them, and told them they were fools to think they could stand against the might of the German army. He told them they were nothing, and their minuscule efforts would not slow down the German war effort, but it would hurt them because a price was going to be paid for their rebellion. He then said that every 20th man in the line would be shot.

As each 20th man was pulled from the line and marched away, Andrew looked down the line and started counting. With horror, he realized that he stood in a 20th position. He trembled with fear as the soldiers moved closer and closer to him, and the shots started to ring out at the edge of town where the unfortunate men were being taken.

As the Germans continued to move down the line, Andrew could see others counting and their eyes turning to him with a look of pity and concern. Andrew found himself wanting to flee, but too frightened to move. Even if he tried to run, the soldiers on the trucks, with the mounted machine guns, would cut him down before he could get ten yards.

But then, in the instant that the last man before Andrew was pulled from the line, the Germans turned their eyes away, and Andrew felt a hand on his shoulder. The hand tightened quickly, and before he knew what had happened, he was jerked forcibly over one spot, and the old man who had been standing next to him moved swiftly to switch positions.

Andrew looked up at the silver haired man and the man smiled. Just before he was taken from the line and led away, the old man spoke quietly to Andrew. “Your life is no longer just your own. Live it for both of us.”
Andrew watched silently as the old man disappeared from view toward the edge of the village. His heart jumped as the shots sounded, shots that Andrew knew should have been his own. In that instant, tears flowing down his face, he determined he would indeed live his life for both of them. From that day he had tried to live so that the unknown old man would have felt his sacrifice was well repaid.

Each time I consider the flags flying by the many graves in the cemetery, thinking back on Andrew’s story, I realized that no one’s life belongs just to them. Each of us owes a debt to many who have paid prices through hardship, hard work, and even the sacrifice of their lives, from which we have benefited.

With the wind gently whipping the flags in the breeze, I, too, renewed my own dedication in how I live my life.
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(Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at daris@darishoward.com; or visit his website at http://www.darishoward.com)

 

What Students Remember Most About Teachers

Photo Credit: www.audio-luci-store.it
Photo Credit: http://www.audio-luci-store.it

As most of you know (or don’t know), I am a teacher and coach. I have been doing both for 28 years now and I have loved every second of it. I really enjoy teaching my students in an atmosphere where they can have loads of fun, learn concepts, exercise and get rid if some stress. 

The most annoying thing about things about my job are the meetings, political decisions and other stuff but honestly, just about every other workplace has the same thing going on. Just give me my kids and my gym or field…and I am happier than a meadowlark!

One of the great joys of teaching and the most fulfilling, is knowing that I a making an impact on some child’s life…one that they will never forget and use it throughout their lifetimes. That’s why, when I read on my friend’s site, “Pursuit of A Joyful Life”, the following letter…it reminded me of why I enjoy and love the jobs that I do! 

“Dear Young Teacher Down the Hall,

I saw you as you rushed past me in the lunch room. Urgent. In a hurry to catch a bite before the final bell would ring calling all the students back inside. I noticed that your eyes showed tension. There were faint creases in your forehead. And I asked you how your day was going and you sighed.

“Oh, fine,” you replied.

But I knew it was anything but fine. I noticed that the stress was getting to you. I could tell that the pressure was rising. And I looked at you and made an intentional decision to stop you right then and there. To ask you how things were really going. Was it that I saw in you a glimpse of myself that made me take the moment?

You told me how busy you were, how much there was to do. How little time there was to get it all done. I listened. And then I told you this:

I told you to remember that at the end of the day, it’s not about the lesson plan. It’s not about the fancy stuff we teachers make — the crafts we do, the stories we read, the papers we laminate. No, that’s not really it. That’s not what matters most.

And as I looked at you there wearing all that worry under all that strain, I said it’s about being there for your kids. Because at the end of the day, most students won’t remember what amazing lesson plans you’ve created. They won’t remember how organized your bulletin boards are. How straight and neat are the desk rows.

No, they’ll not remember that amazing decor you’ve designed.

But they will remember you.

Your kindness. Your empathy. Your care and concern. They’ll remember that you took the time to listen. That you stopped to ask them how they were. How they really were. They’ll remember the personal stories you tell about your life: your home, your pets, your kids. They’ll remember your laugh. They’ll remember that you sat and talked with them while they ate their lunch.

Because at the end of the day, what really matters is YOU. What matters to those kids that sit before you in those little chairs, legs pressed up tight under tables oft too small- what matters to them is you.

You are that difference in their lives.

And when I looked at you then with tears in your eyes, emotions rising to the surface and I told you gently to stop trying so hard- I also reminded you that your own expectations were partly where the stress stemmed. For we who truly care are often far harder on ourselves than our students are willing to be. Because we who truly care are often our own worst enemy. We mentally beat ourselves up for trivial failures. We tell ourselves we’re not enough. We compare ourselves to others. We work ourselves to the bone in the hopes of achieving the perfect lesson plan. The most dynamic activities. The most engaging lecture. The brightest, fanciest furnishings.

Because we want our students to think we’re the very best at what we do and we believe that this status of excellence is achieved merely by doing. But we forget- and often. Excellence is more readily attained by being.

Being available.
Being kind.
Being compassionate.
Being transparent.
Being real.
Being thoughtful.
Being ourselves.

And of all the students I know who have lauded teachers with the laurels of the highest acclaim, those students have said of those teachers that they cared.

You see, kids can see through to the truth of the matter. And while the flashy stuff can entertain them for a while, it’s the steady constance of empathy that keeps them connected to us. It’s the relationships we build with them. It’s the time we invest. It’s all the little ways we stop and show concern. It’s the love we share with them: of learning. Of life. And most importantly, of people.

And while we continually strive for excellence in our profession as these days of fiscal restraint and heavy top-down demands keep coming at us- relentless and quick. We need to stay the course. For ourselves and for our students. Because it’s the human touch that really matters.

It’s you, their teacher, that really matters.

So go back to your class and really take a look. See past the behaviors, the issues and the concerns, pressing as they might be. Look beyond the stack of papers on your desk, the line of emails in your queue. Look further than the classrooms of seasoned teachers down the hall. Look. And you will see that it’s there- right inside you. The ability to make an impact. The chance of a lifetime to make a difference in a child’s life. And you can do this now.

Right where you are, just as you are.

Because all you are right now is all you ever need to be for them today. And who you are tomorrow will depend much on who and what you decide to be today.

It’s in you. I know it is.

Fondly,

That Other Teacher Down the Hall”