Just One More Breath

adult air beautiful beauty
Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on Pexels.com

Life. It is so precious. It is the essential thing that allows us to experience the beautiful things in the world around us. Whether it be by smelling a lovely aroma, tasting scrumptious food, listening to soul-moving music, seeing the beauty and grandeur of some scenic location, or simply touching something meaningful to you…all of life should be prized and cherished.

But how many times throughout our lives do we forget the gift of life and all that goes along with it and take it for granted? Enjoying time with your family and friends, having dinners or parties with your loved ones? Traveling to some destination, experiencing good (or bad) times with others, or simply just spending time by yourself relishing and appreciating the world around us. Life is good and worth living.

But it all can be gone in a second.

I recently came across a copy of letter written by a miner to his loved ones that was posted in the “United Mine Workers Journal,” in August 1974. The letter (see the image below) was written in 1902 by Jacob L. Vowell, in Fraterville, Tennessee. In the short letter, he tells his dear wife how much he loves her and the kids. He tells her to take care of the children and actually communicates to her where to bury him. The amazing thing about this letter, was how he kept referring to the important things in his life…the things that really mattered…his family and God.

You see, he only had moments to live…for he was slowly suffocating to death in the 1902 Fraterville, Tennessee mine disaster. The second to the last sentence he wrote really touched my heart and reminds me how precious life really is and how much we should value it each and every day of our lives.

This is a picture of a copy of the letter that Mr. Vowell wrote:

MIne Disaster
Photo Credit: United Mine Journal, 85th Year, No. 17, August 16-31, 1974

 

In case you had problems reading this letter, this is what was stated:

“Ellen, darling, goodbye for us both. Elbert said the Lord has saved him. we are all praying for air to support us, but it is getting so bad without any air.

Ellen, I want you to live right and come to heaven. Raise the children the best you can. Oh how I wish to be with you, goodbye. Bury me and Elbert in the same grave by little Eddy. Goodbye Ellen. Goodbye Lily. Goodbye Jemmie. Goodbye Horace. Is 25 minutes after two. There is few of us alive yet.

                                                                                                    Jake and Elbert

Oh God for one more breath. Ellen remember me as long as you live. Goodbye darling.”


This is quite a sad letter but it a terrific reminder to all of us…to be thankful for the breath of that life we have each day and for the things that really worthwhile.

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life – is to be happy – it is all that matters.”              ~ Audrey Hepburn

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The Value of a Virtuous Legacy

pexels-photo-1021051.jpegA Legacy. One of the biggest desires that a mother or father wants to do as they parent their child throughout their lives, is to pass on all their dreams, wants and desires onto their children. Some people think of a legacy as gifting their money, wealth, or property to their loved ones but for the purpose of this posting, I am referring to the legacy of unseen things such as kindness, mindfulness, thoughtfulness, love, etc., the list can go on and on.

I recently read two stories on “Gabe’s Fascinating Stories” of which I thought that would be an interesting read and demonstrate to you…the importance and beauty of what a real legacy is.

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FIRST STORY

Many years ago, Al Capone, the notorious criminal, was involved in everything from booze to prostitution to murder. Al had a personal lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie” and Eddie’s skill at legal maneuvering was the primary reason Big Al was kept out of jail for so many years.

Capone paid Eddie well and Eddie lived the high life.  He and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion that filled an entire Chicago city block.  Though involved deeply with the mob, Eddie had one soft spot, his son whom he loved dearly.  Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education and despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie tried his best to teach his son right from wrong.  Eddie wanted his son to grow up to be a good man.

One day, Eddie decided to rectify wrongs he had done and went to the authorities to tell the truth about Al Capone so he could clean up his tarnished name and offer his son some semblance of integrity.  Eddie knew the cost for testifying against the mob would be great … and he was right.  Within a year, Easy Eddie’s life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago side street.  But in his eyes, Eddie gave his son a great gift.  When the police emptied his pockets, they found a rosary and a poem Eddie had clipped from a magazine.

The poem read:

“The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop.  Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will.  Place no faith in time, for the clock may soon be still.”

Now an unrelated — but necessary parallel to the above story —- please read you won’t be disappointed.

 

SECOND STORY

World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Navy Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare, a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific.  One day his squadron was sent on a mission.  After he was airborne, Butch looked at his fuel gauge and realized the ground crew did not top off his fuel tank.  He knew he would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and return to his ship.  Butch’s flight leader ordered Butch to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, Butch dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.

On returning to the fleet, Butch saw in the distance a squadron of Japanese aircraft heading toward the fleet.  Since the fleet’s fighters were all out on their missions, the fleet was now virtually defenseless.  Butch was unable to raise his squadron leader on the radio to bring them back in time to save the fleet.  There was only one thing for Butch do … he had to stop the Japanese planes from attacking the fleet.

Without hesitation or regard to his personal safety, Butch dove into the formation of enemy aircraft; with his wing-mounted 50 caliber’s guns, he blazed in, attacking one surprised aircraft after another.  Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent.

Even though his ammo was gone, Butch continued his assault by diving at planes, trying to clip a wing or hit a tail in hopes of damaging them and rendering them unfit to fly. Totally exasperated, the remaining Japanese aircraft headed home and Butch perished in the ocean.

Butch’s hometown vowed not to allow the memory of this WWII hero to fade from their memory.  They named their city airport after him.  The City of Chicago decided to pay tribute to its courageous native son.

So, for all you travelers who fly in or out of Chicago’s O’Hare airport here is my recommendation:  The next time you find yourself waiting for a flight at O’Hare Airport, give some serious thought to visiting Butch’s memorial.  Take a look at his statue and his Medal of Honor he earned.  It is located between Terminals 1 and 2.

Now, you may be asking…what do these two stories have in common?

Butch “Edward” O’Hare – the World War II Hero was “Easy Eddie’s” son!

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Now I ask you…what do you want your legacy to be? What are some of the positive character traits that you have would you like to pass on to your children? Even if you don’t have children (or maybe you don’t plan on having them), how do you want other people to remember you? Your name, your legacy…is EVERYTHING! Consider what the things that you would like to see in your children, grandchildren, and the impact that you can have on your family tree.

Legacy is not something that you leave FOR people, it’s something that you leave IN people!

Leadership in Troubled Times

cowpie21 commons.wikimedia org
Photo Credit: cowpie21 via commons.wkimedia.org

The Civil War was a bloody and vicious war. At least 618,000 Americans died and some say the toll reached 700,000. Casualties exceeded all of America’s other wars from the Revolution through Vietnam.

In the winter of 1862, General Robert E. Lee’s forces had claimed several key battlefields in the Eastern Campaign. One of those key battles was as one-sided as a battle could be. It was the Battle of Fredericksburg. On December 13, 1862, Union forces began what was termed a desperate and eventual doomed assault on a heavily fortified position known as “the stone wall at sunken road.”

After crossing a river, the Union confidently took the town of Fredericksburg with little resistance. The Confederate army had voluntarily given up the town so that they might fortify themselves along a stone wall at the base of a sloping hill. As the Union army began to approach the wall, they were attacked and by the morning of December 14th over 8,000 Union soldiers had been shot in front of the stone wall. Many of those remaining on the battlefield were still alive, but suffering from their wounds, the cold, and thirst.

During the night, both sides were forced to listen to the cries and moans of those soldiers for hours. A Confederate soldier stationed near the wall later stated that it was “weird, unearthly, and terrible to hear and bear the cries of the dying soldiers filling the air – lying crippled on a hillside so many miles from home – breaking the hearts of soldiers on both sides of the battlefield.”

Richard Rowland Kirkland, an infantry sergeant for the Confederacy could not rest or sleep due to the suffering of the Union soldiers and that morning he asked his commanding officer if he could scale the wall and, the shooting stopped. provide water for the suffering Union troops. The commanding officer was reluctant at first because of the danger to Richard but later allowed to do so. As Richard climbed the wall, several shots were instantly fired thinking that Kirkland’s motives were to wound more, but after realizing what was happening, the shooting ceased. Richard Rowland Kirkland made his way to each soldier comforting them the best he could by laying his jacket over one and providing water to the thirsty lips for all. For the next hour and a half, he would scale the wall several times with his canteen to get more water for his enemy.

It was a moment that temporarily stopped the Civil War.

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You see, Mr. Kirkland showed an incredible sense of courage and leadership to his men and the enemy in an extremely adverse situation. He most likely was very scared and fearful knowing that his decision to help others might have been his last…but he made a commitment and stuck to it to its conclusion.

How much more should people, as leaders, step up, stay focused on the task at hand and work together with others, to achieve their goals! There is a huge difference between a Boss and a Leader…a Boss has people work for THEM to get a job completed, while a Leader works together with people, to accomplish a task. I doubt very much that anyone will experience a situation as extreme as Mr. Kirkland, but will have the opportunity each day to demonstrate their leadership skills to those around them.

The Fog and The Swimmer

Ozge Can
Photo Credit: Ozge Can via CC Flickr

Throughout every person’s life, an individual may have one, or many goals, that they set for themselves. There are many kinds of goals. Whether they are short term, long term or just temporary, the important thing is that we stay consistent, focused and keep our eyes on the goal. There are times when attaining a goal may be easy or other times when it seems like a goal is far, far away and we will never be able to reach it but if we don’t lose heart and keep working hard, a goal can be accomplished. Today’s story is a great example of a person who learned from her weakness, became a stronger, more determined individual and met her goal.

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When she looked ahead, Florence Chadwick saw nothing but a solid wall of fog. Her body was numb. She had been swimming for nearly sixteen hours.

Already she was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. She had managed to finish that swim in a record time, 16 hours and 22 minutes on August 8, 1950. Now, at age 34, her goal was to become the first woman to swim from Catalina Island to Palos Verde on the California coast.

On that Fourth of July morning in 1952, the sea was like an ice bath and the fog was so dense she could hardly see her support boats. Sharks cruised toward her lone figure, only to be driven away by rifle shots. Against the frigid grip of the sea, she struggled on – hour after hour – while millions watched on national television.

Alongside Florence in one of the boats, her mother and her trainer offered encouragement. They told her it wasn’t much farther. But all she could see was fog. They urged her not to quit. She never had . . . until then. With only a half mile to go, she asked to be pulled out.

Still thawing her chilled body several hours later, she told a reporter, “Look, I’m not excusing myself, but if I could have seen the land I might have made it.” It was not fatigue or even the cold water that defeated her. It was the fog. She was unable to see her goal.

Two months later, she tried again. This time, despite the same dense fog, she swam with her faith intact and her goal clearly pictured in her mind. She knew that somewhere behind that fog was land and this time she made it! Florence Chadwick became the first woman to swim the Catalina, eclipsing the men’s record by two hours!

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~ Author Unknown ~

Source: inspirationalstories.com

Hooray! 1,000,000 Viewers!!

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Photo Credit: Victor Bjorkund via CC Flickr

It really is unbelievable…in February, 2013, I decided to create a blog for something that I enjoy doing…simply put, to make people feel good about themselves, laugh, and give them stories, anecdotes, pictures, and ideas that would bring a kind of joy to their soul.

I remember the first day that I posted my first blog and discovered that a whopping 8 people had visited my site. At the time, thinking that my blog would ever have over 1,000,000 viewers never dawned on me. Little did I know that in the past two years, during the month of May, I have had 500,00+ visitors!

The number of viewers doesn’t really interest me…it is the opportunity to uplift and encourage as many individuals that I can through the “Good Time Stories” blog. It is my hope that I can continue to find and create short heartwarming and inspirational stories enrich and deepen a person’s level of self-worth and confidence.

Have a wonderful day and I challenge you…try to find as many people today to encourage by a spoken word, loving touch, or in some other way that you see fit.

 

 

 

The Amazing Luck of the Irish

JD Hancock
Photo Credit: JD Hancock via CC Flickr

I love to find and read all kinds of stories. I like tales that warm the heart, stir the soul, fire up the imagination, explore history, and discover lessons that I can apply throughout my lifetime. Well, today’s true story is one that is a fascinating account of…what some people refer as…the “Luck of the Irish.”

I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!

In the Young Irish disorders, in Ireland in 1848, the following nine men were captured, tried and convicted of treason against their majesty, the Queeen, and were sentenced to death: John Mitchell, Morris Lyene, Pat Donahue, Thomas McGee, Charles Duffy, Thomas Meagher, Richard O’Gorman, Terrance McManus, and Michael Ireland.

Before passing sentence the judge asked if there was anything anyone wished to say. Meager, speaking for everyone in the group said, “My lord, this is the first offense, but not our last. If you will be easy on us this once, we promise, on our word as gentlemen, to try to do better next time. And next time, we sure won’t be fools enough to get caught.”

Thereupon the indignant judge sentenced them all to be hanged by the neck until dead and then drawn and quartered. Passionate protest from all over the world forced Queen Victoria to commute the sentence to transportation for life…to the far…wild Australia.

In 1874, word reached the astounded Queen Victoria that the Sir Charles Duffy who had been elected Prime Minister of Australia was the same Charles Duffy who has been transported 25 years ago. On the Queen’s demand, the records of the rest of the transported men were revealed and this is what was uncovered….

Thomas Francis Meagher – Governor of Montana

Terrance McManus – Brigadier General, United States Army

Patrick Donahue – Brigadier General, United States Army

Richard O’Gorman – Governor General of New Foundland

Morris Lyene – Attorney General of Australia

Michael Ireland – Succeeded Morris Lyene as Attorney General

Thomas D’Arcy McGee – Member of Parliament Montreal, Minister of Agriculture and President of Council Dominion of Canada

John Mitchell – Prominent New York politician. He was the father of John Purray Mitchell, Mayor of New York at the outbreak of World War 1

  • Author Unknown

 

Simply Amazing!!

The Wonderful World of Albert Einstein

DonkeyHotey
Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey

Albert Einstein, the legendary German physicist is a person that has always fascinated me. This genius who developed the theory of relativity and E=MC2, loved his music, had a remarkable sense of humor, and, surprisingly, valued money very little.

So, I have decided to share with you, a few interesting short stories about him that I think that you will find not only fascinating but also entertaining. They will also give you a little insight and appreciation for one of the smartest men the world has ever known.

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Albert Einstein used to have a personal driver that drove him to each one of his lectures. During his speeches, his chauffer would sit at the back of the hall and listen to Einstein’s words of wisdom. After a period of time, the driver remarked to the famous researcher that he could probably give the lecture himself because he had heard it so many times.

At the next lecture stop, Einstein and the driver switched places…with Einstein sitting at the back of the room, dressed in the driver’s uniform. The driver gave the lecture flawlessly..

At the end of the lecture, a member of the audience asked a detailed scientific question about some kind of scientific matter. Without missing a beat, the “lecturer” replied, Well, the answer to that question is so simple, I’ll let my driver, sitting at the back there, answer it.”

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When Albert Einstein was in residence at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton during his later years, a guest asked him if Einstein would show him his laboratory.

The famous scientist and mathematician smiled, held up his fountain pen and pointed to his head!

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Money meant very little to the legend, Albert Einstein. When he first joined the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, he requested a salary so low, officials had to double it to preserve some semblance of institute standards.

He once used a $1,500 check from the Rockefeller Foundation as a bookmark…then lost the book! The foundation’s records were out of kilter for months. When they finally sent a duplicate check, Einstein wrote back, “What’s this for?”

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Einstein, who thought himself as an accomplished violinist, was rehearsing a Haydn composition with a string quartet.

When Einstein failed for the fourth time to get his entry in the second movement, the group’s cellist looked up and somewhat annoyed and said, “The problem with you, Albert, is that you can’t count.”

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Einstein was once asked by the press for an explanation of his theory of relativity which would be meaningful to the common, everyday lay person. The scientist then gave a statement to his secretary which read, “An hour sitting with a pretty girl on a park bench passes like a minute, but a minute sitting on a hot stove seems like an hour.”

The Acre of Diamonds

Zach Dischner
Photo Credit: Zach Dischner via CC Flickr

The following story was told by Dr. Russell H. Conwell to raise millions of dollars to help fund the formation of Temple University in Philadelphia. He used the story to fire the imagination of his listeners during more than 6,000 fund-raising lectures. The story gives us a tremendous illustration of a way that a person can find true happiness in their own “Acres of Happiness.”

Many, many years ago, a young American was traveling down the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Middle East and was accompanied by an old Arab guide that he had hired in Bagdad.

During the trip, the guide told him a story about an ancient Persian Ali Hafed. Hafed owned a very large farm, orchards, grain fields, gardens, and money coming in from loans that he made. He was a wealthy and contented man.

One day Hafed was visited by an ancient Buddhist priest who told him how the earth was created and, particularly, about the most valuable thing in the world – diamonds!

Said the priest, “A diamond is a congealed drop of sunlight.” The priest told Hafed that, if he had one diamond the size of his thumb, he could purchase the entire county, and if he had a mine of diamonds he could place his children upon thrones through the influence of his great wealth.”

This set Hafed’s mind ablaze with a lust for such great wealth. So he sold his farm, left his family in charge of a neighbor, and began a search for diamonds in places the priest had said might contain them. Hafed spent all of his money on his lifelong, unsuccessful search and died, far from home, a penniless, suffering, disappointed old man.

The man who purchased Hafed’s farm one day led his camel into the garden to drink and as the camel put its nose into the shallow water of the garden brook, Hafed’s successor noticed a curious flash of light emanating from a black stone in the stream. He pulled out the black stone and placed it on the mantel of his fireplace in his home, and forgot about it.

A few days later the same Buddhist priest who had taught Hafed about the diamonds came to meet the new owner and saw the black stone. “That is a diamond!” he shouted. When his host said that it was just a pebble he had picked up in the garden, the priest replied, “I tell you, I know a diamond when I see it. I know without a shadow of a doubt, that the stone is a diamond.”

It turns out that the farm became the famed diamond mine of Golconda, the richest diamond mine in all of history. The Kohinoor diamond and the crown jewels of England and Russia came from that mine.

The moral, of course,  is that, if Hafed had spent his time and energy exploring his own farm, he would have discovered riches beyond his wildest dreams. This story should teach us all, that if you wish you find greatness, and even wealth, you must first begin where you are…NOW! If you serve your community in a positive way, if you are an honest person, if you are a good provider for your family, whether you work in a shop, in a factory, or whatever your occupation may be, you can find happiness and recognition if you do it well. To find success in whatever endeavor that you choose, you must first look for your “acre of diamonds” right where you live.

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Source: “Wisdom Well Said”

The Wonderful Traditions of New Year’s

jay-haung
Photo Credit: Jay Haung via CC Flickr

The annual celebration of New Year’s Eve is one of my favorite times of the year. It is during this time that we reminisce about the past year and, at the same time, look ahead, plan, and make resolutions for the future. Millions and millions of people around the world take part in the festivities and revelry as they welcome in the New Year.

As with many of the holidays that we have throughout the year, I always find it very interesting and enjoyable to find some history and fun facts about each day. This holiday is no different. So, I decided to share some interesting facts with you about the celebration of New Year and some other intriguing things…so…here we go.

Interesting Things That Are Dropped New Year’s Eve

Most people from around the world, know that every year, New York City welcomes in the New Year in Times Square, by dropping a big “ball” which gradually descends from the top of a pole to the bottom, where it rests while all kinds of lights blink and shine as the new year begins. It all started in 1907 after there was a fireworks ban. In 1907, the iron and wood ball weighed 700-pounds and was covered with 25-watt bulbs made of iron. Today, it weighs 11,875 pounds, is 12 feet in diameter and is adorned with 2,668 Waterford crystals. Meanwhile, close to a million people in the square, dance, party, hug and kiss, and have a good time at this joyous moment. Around the world, approximately 1 billion people watch world-wide festivities from their televisions or computers.

But are there other things that are dropped in celebration of New Year’s instead of a giant ball? You bet there is!!! Here are some remarkable objects that are “dropped.” So, without further ado, here are some things from around the United States that I think you will find entertaining.

In Brookville, Florida, a giant tangerine was dropped 40 feet in 2009.

In Traverse, Michigan, a cherry is dropped.

In Flagstaff, Arizona, a pine cone is dropped from a hotel.

In Prescott, Arizona, a boot is dropped

In South Lake, California, a gondola is lowered.

In Temecula, California, a bunch of grapes is dropped.

In Niagara Falls, Ontario, a 10 foot guitar is dropped from a specially designed 120-foot scaffold at the Hard Rock Café.

In Easton, Maryland, a red crab is dropped.

In Lebanon, Pennsylvania, a 100-pound stick of bologna is dropped.

In Easton, Pennsylvania, and giant M&M is dropped

In St. George’s, Bermuda, a paper-Mache Bermuda onion covered with Christmas lights is dropped.

In Black Creek, North Carolina, a large red heart drop is lowered.

In Eastover, North Carolina, a three-foot tall, thirty-pound flea is dropped.

In Elmore, Ohio, a sausage is dropped.

In Cincinnati, Ohio, a flying pig is “flown”, not dropped, demonstrating to everyone that there is at least one occasion “when pigs fly.”

In Red Lion, Pennsylvania. A wooden cigar held by a lion, is raised.

In Panama City, Florida, a 800-pound beach ball is lowered from a tower 12 stories high.

In Praire du Chien, Wisconsin, A carp (real but dead) caught by a local fisherman and weighing between 25-30 pounds is lowered.

In Vincennes, Indiana, a giant 18-foot, 500 pound steel and foam watermelon is raised 100 feet during the final 60 second countdown to midnight.

…..and there are many, many others!!!

 

Several Amazing Facts About the New Year Celebration

The Babylonians celebrated New Years over 4,000 years ago.

The New Year’s song, “Auld Lang Syne,” means, “times gone by.”

If you want to have a happy new year, don’t eat lobster or chicken. Lobsters can move backward and chickens can scratch in reverse, so it is thought these foods could bring a reversal of fortune.

The Jewish New Year is called Rosh Hashanah. Apples and honey are usually eaten to celebrate.

In Italy, people wear red underwear on New Year’s Day to bring good luck all year long.

In some countries, the use of fireworks are used for more than just celebrations…they are also believed to scare off evil spirits and bring good luck

44% of American adults plan to kiss someone at midnight.

61% of people say a prayer.

Over 1 million people line the 40 miles of shoreline of the city of Sydney, Australia.

In Japan, at the stroke of midnight, Buddhist monks strike the gongs 108 times in aneffort to drive out the 108 human weaknesses.

New Year’s Day is the oldest celebrated holiday.

Many people in America, eat Black Eyed Peas, cabbage, and ham on New Year’s Day for good luck.

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Well, I hope that you enjoyed these tidbits and facts. I would like to personally wish each and every one of you the healthiest and happiest New Year!!

And here’s to many, many more! J

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Sources:

Ducksters.com

Ibtimes.com

Qualitylogoproducts.com

CNN.com

History.com

Three Great Life Lessons From Alexander the Great

Jean Simon Berthelemy
Painting by Jean-Simon Berthelemy

I am a big fan of history. I love reading and listening to books and documentaries of all kinds of history that ha spanned over the centuries. It is fascinating to see how past world leaders, inventors, athletes, armies, scientists, politicians, wars, etc.

One of the people who has always fascinated me was Alexander the Great. He was a supreme commander who, believe it or not, was actually tutored under the great philosopher, Aristotle! He wasn’t a big man…he was actually a short and stocky man who had two different color eyes…one brown and one blue. He also founded over 20 cities that bore his name…the greatest being the famous city of Alexandria in Egypt. At the peak of his reign, he ruled over 2007731 square miles of the world!!

So, it is no surprise that when I read the following story about Alexander the Great on Speakbindas.com, it fascinated me and actually reminded me of me some really good concepts and lessons in life, that we all, should never forget! I encourage you to take the lessons that you will read and put them into your heart!!


There is very instructive incident involving the life of Alexander, the great Macedonian king. Alexander, after conquering many kingdoms, was returning home. On the way, he fell ill and it took him to his death bed. With death staring him in his face, Alexander realized how his conquests, his great army, his sharp sword and all his wealth were of no consequence.

He now longed to reach home to see his mother’s face and bid her his last adieu. But, he had to accept the fact that his sinking health would not permit him to reach his distant homeland. So, the mighty conqueror lay prostrate and pale, helplessly waiting to breathe his last. He called his generals and said, “I will depart from this world soon, I have three wishes, please carry them out without fail.” With tears flowing down their cheeks, the generals agreed to abide by their king’s last wishes.

“My first desire is that,” said Alexander, “My physicians alone must carry my coffin.” After a pause, he continued, “Secondly, I desire that when my coffin is being carried to the grave, the path leading to the graveyard be strewn with gold, silver and precious stones which I have collected in my treasury.

“The king felt exhausted after saying this. He took a minute’s rest and continued. “My third and last wish is that both my hands be kept dangling out of my coffin.”The people who had gathered there wondered at the king’s strange wishes. But no one dare bring the question to their lips.

Alexander’s favorite general kissed his hand and pressed them to his heart. “O king, we assure you that your wishes will all be fulfilled. But tell us why do you make such strange wishes?”

At this Alexander took a deep breath and said: “I would like the world to know of the three lessons I have just learnt. I want my physicians to carry my coffin because people should realize that no doctor can really cure any body. They are powerless and cannot save a person from the clutches of death. So let not people take life for granted.

The second wish of strewing gold, silver and other riches on the way to the graveyard is to tell People that not even a fraction of gold will come with me. I spent all my life earning riches but cannot take anything with me. Let people realize that it is a sheer waste of time to chase wealth.

And about my third wish of having my hands dangling out of the coffin, I wish people to know that I came empty handed into this world and empty handed I go out of this world.”

Alexander’s last words:  “Bury my body, do not build any monument, keep my hands outside so that the world knows the person who won the world had nothing in his hands when dying“.

With these words, the king closed his eyes. Soon he let death conquer him and breathed his last.

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.

Fun Facts About Memorial Day

Bruce Tuten
Photo Credit: Bruce Tuten via CC Flickr

Memorial day, here in America, is a solemn and somber day in America in which people from around the country can stop, remember, and thank the men and women who have fought and have given parts of their lives for our freedom.

It was once said that Freedom is a lot like oxygen: when you have it, nobody notices it…but go without it, and, wow, do you wish you had it!! It is SO true!

Even though I have celebrated Memorial Day every year since I was a kid, I was wondering the other day…what is the truth and facts behind this hallowed day? In today’s blog, I decided to find out and then, let you know by sharing my findings with you!

Enjoy!

  • Memorial Day originally started during the Civil War.
  • Approximately 750,000 Americans died in the Civil War which made it the deadliest war in American history (just for the record, there were more deaths in the Civil War than all of the other wars combined).
  • Memorial Day used to be known as Decoration Day and was meant to honor both the Union and Confederate men who lost their lives during the Civil War. By the 1900’s it became a day to celebrate and remember all of the soldiers who died in the military.
  • One of the earliest ceremonies honoring the fallen was organized by freed slaves!
  • Memorial Day actually didn’t become an official federal holiday until 1971.
  • In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson named Waterloo, New York, as the official birthplace of Memorial Day.
  • According to custom, the American flag is to fly at half staff until noon, and then raise it to full staff until sunset.
  • In 1915, a Georgian school teacher named, Moina Michael, began a movement to make the Red Poppy the national symbol of tribute to veterans and for “keeping the faith with all who died.” The idea of wearing Red Poppies originated from a poem written in 1915, by John McCrae, “In Flanders Field.”
  • It is common for volunteers to place American flags on the graves in the national cemeteries.
  • It has been estimated that 30-35 million people travel by car over the Memorial Day Weekend.

 

 

The Mother Who Became A Hero

I have always found that the power of words and what people say to other individuals, a fascinating thing. We all know how much words can affect people…whether they be good or bad…we all need to watch and be careful what we say. Sometimes words that are spoken wrongly, can hurt or crush a soul, while transversely, words that are vocalized in a positive manner, can uplift and encourage a person…sometimes more than they could ever imagine.

Thomas Edison
Photo Credit: Unknown

Such is a story that I found on the web site, The Meta Picture.com It a story about a mother who changed her son’s life forever. The son later became a famous American inventor and enjoyed world-wide fame. This is a great lesson about the power of words.

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One day, when Thomas Edison was just a boy, he came home after school one day and gave a paper to his mother. He told her, “My teacher gave this paper to me and told me to only give it to my mother.”

His mother’s eyes were tearful as she read the letter out loud to her child: “Your son is a genius. This school is too small for him and doesn’t have enough good teachers to teach and train him. Please teach him yourself.”

Several years later, after Edison’s mother died and he was now one of the greatest inventors of the century, Thomas was looking through some old family things when he came across a folded paper in the corner of a drawer in a desk. He took it and opened it up. On the paper it read: “Your son is addled (mentally ill). We won’t let him come to school anymore.

Edison cried and cried for hours and then he wrote in his diary: “Thomas Alva Edison was an addled child that, by a hero mother, became the genius of the century.”

A Beautiful Story of  911: God Bless Our Military

Instapinch
Photo Credit: Instapinch via CC Flickr

AFTER FLIGHT 77 hit the Pentagon on 9/11, the following incident occurred:

A chaplain, who happened to be assigned to the Pentagon, told of an incident that never made the news. A daycare facility inside the Pentagon had many children, including infants who were in  heavy cribs. The daycare supervisor, looking at all the children they needed to evacuate, was in a panic over what they could do. There were many children, mostly toddlers, as well as the infants that would need to be taken out with the cribs.

There was no time to try to bundle them into carriers and strollers. Just then a young Marine came running into the center and asked what they needed. After hearing what the center director was trying to do, he ran back out into the hallway and disappeared. The director thought, “Well, here we are, on our own.”

About 2 minutes later, that Marine returned with 40 other Marines in tow. Each of them grabbed a crib with a child, and the rest started gathering up toddlers. The director and her staff then helped them take all the children out of the center and down toward the park near the Potomac River.

Once they got about 3/4 of a mile outside the building, the Marines stopped in the park, and then did a fabulous thing – they formed a circle with the cribs, which were quite sturdy and heavy, like the covered wagons in the Old West. Inside this circle of cribs, they put the toddlers, to keep them from wandering off. Outside this circle were the 40 Marines, forming a perimeter around the children and waiting for instructions. There they remained until the parents could be notified and come get their children.

The chaplain then said, “I don’t think any of us saw nor heard of this on any of the news stories of the day. It was an incredible story of our men there.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. The thought of those Marines and what they did and how fast they reacted; could we expect any less from them? It was one of the most touching stories from the Pentagon.

It’s the Military, not the politicians that ensures our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s the Military who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag. If you care to offer the smallest token of recognition and appreciation for the military, please pass this on and pray for our men and women, who have served and are currently serving our country, and pray for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

Your Life Is Not Your Own

german
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

This is a re-post of an article that I posted a couple of years ago around Memorial Day. It is a powerful message that you will not soon forget. This an amazing account of incredible sacrifice during World War 2 involving simple towns people. Warning: Tissues WILL be required!

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 athttp://www.darishoward.com)

July 4, 1939: A Day That Will Never Be Forgotten

Photo Credit: Harris & Ewing via Wikimedia
Photo Credit: Harris & Ewing via Wikimedia

He is a tribute to one of the greatest baseball players of all time…

I am a 60’s kid. I started watching baseball on the old black and white TV when I was about 7 or 8 years old. The first team that I ever watched was the New York Yankees and from that point on, I was forever a Yankees fan and a baseball fanatic. I tried to learn about as many famous ball players that I could and I loved so many of them.

My all-time favorite baseball player let alone my all-time favorite ATHLETE was “the Iron Horse”, Lou Gehrig…the Hall of Fame first baseman for the Yankees. I remember watching the movie “The Pride of the Yankees”, the Lou Gehrig story, totally mesmerized. I used to try to hit like him, play like him, etc.

One of the things that Lou Gehrig was so famous was two things: A disease that would later take his life, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) otherwise known as “Lou Gehrig Disease,” and his famous “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech. It was July 4th, 1939 and the Yankees had decided that they were going to honor Gehrig and staged a “Gehrig Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium.” Ruth and other members of Murderer’s Row returned for the ceremony, along with Yankee officials and dignitaries.

At first, Gehrig was too overwhelmed to speak, but the crowd chanted: “We want Gehrig!” He stepped to the microphone, blowing his nose and rubbing his eyes. Cap in hand, he spoke: “Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for 17 years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? … “When you have a father and mother who work all their lives so that you can have an education and build your body, it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed, that’s the finest I know. So I close in saying that I might have had a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for. Thank you.”

Two years later, Gehrig was gone.

To me, that speech showed the kind of man that he was. Gehrig not only was an astonishing player (he was actually voted as the BEST first baseman of all-time), famous, and well known through-out America, he was an incredibly humble and soft spoken man. He would let his stats do his talking. I used to think that when I played baseball (or any sport) I would emulate his character.

Well, twenty-one years ago, my oldest son was born and we named him Luke Eric. What does that mean? Say his name fast….pretty cool huh? The funny thing about it is that we got the name by accident but once it was said, we decided to keep it. (just a little note: my other son was born on Joe DiMaggio’s birthday but we couldn’t decide on a good Yankee name for him BUT if he was a girl, do you know what his name MIGHT have been? Jody. Get it? Jo-dy (Joe D)…Joe DiMaggio’s nickname.”

Anyway, in remembrance of Mr. Gehrig, here are some remarkable facts about Lou that shows just exactly how good he was.

1. Lou played fullback while he was at Columbia college and studied engineering.

2. Lou was the only one out of four children who survived past infancy in his family.

3. Lou won the Triple Crown in 1934. His batting average was .363, 49 homeruns, and 165 RBIs!

4. The Yankees had actually tried to trade him to the Red Sox but they DIDN’T WANT HIM!

5. Gehrig played in 2,130 consecutive games. During that time, he suffered 17 fractures in his hands at different times (see how tough he was?)

6. Because of his durability, people affectionately gave him the nickname, “The Iron Horse.”

7. When Gehrig’s consecutive game streak was in full effect, he played first base the entire

8. period except for one game in which he played left field (September 28, 1930).

9. Gehrig accumulated 1,995 runs batted in (RBI) in 17 seasons, with a career batting average of .340, on-base percentage of .447, and slugging percentage of .632!

Celebrating America’s Freedom: July 4th

Photo Credit: Jill111 via Pixabay
Photo Credit: Jill111 via Pixabay

Independence Day is one of my favorite times of the year. The picnics, barbecues, fireworks, parades and spending time with family and friends make it a day of great fun. In remembrance of our freedom, I decided that for the next few blogs leading up to July 4th, I will post some stories that give us a historical background as to how some things in America came to pass. Today’s story: The Birth of the Fourth of July.

Celebrating America’s Freedom: July 4th

Independence Day also known as 4th of July is the birthday of the United States of America. It is celebrated on July 4th each year in the United States. It is the anniversary of the day on which the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress – July 4, 1776.

This was the day that America announced to the world that the 13 colonies no longer belonged to Great Britain. The thirteen colonies were: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia. In May, 1776, after nearly a year of trying to resolve their differences with England, the colonies sent delegates to the Second Continental Congress. Finally, in June, admitting that their efforts were hopeless; a committee was formed to compose the formal Declaration of Independence. Headed by Thomas Jefferson, the committee also included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Philip Livingston and Roger Sherman. On June 28, 1776, Thomas Jefferson presented the first draft of the declaration to Congress. Independence Day was first observed in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776.

On July 4, 1777, the night sky of Philadelphia lit up with the blaze of bonfires. Candles illuminated the windows of houses and public buildings. Church bells rang out load, and cannons were shot from ships breaking the silence. The city was celebrating the first anniversary of the founding of the United States.

The Fourth of July soon became the main patriotic holiday of the entire country. Veterans of the Revolutionary War made a tradition of gathering on the Fourth to remember their victory. In towns and cities, the American flag flew; shops displayed red, white, and blue decorations; and people marched in parades that were followed by public readings of the Declaration of Independence. In 1941, Congress declared July 4 a federal legal holiday. It is one of the few federal holidays that have not been moved to the nearest Friday or Monday.

Some Fun July 4th Facts:

The first public Fourth of July event at the White House occurred in 1804.

Before cars ruled the roadway, the Fourth of July was traditionally the most miserable day of the year for horses, tormented by all the noise and by the boys and girls who threw firecrackers at them.

The first Independence Day celebration west of the Mississippi occurred at Independence Creek and was celebrated by Lewis and Clark in 1805.

Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on Independence Day, July 4, 1826.

On July 4th, 1776, only two people actually signed the Declaration of Independence. (Thomas Jefferson and Charles Thompson)

There was actually a country that declared their independence from America on July 4th, 1946…the Philippines!!!

The average age of those who signed the Declaration of Independence was 45. The youngest at 27, was Thomas Lynch, Jr. of South Carolina. The oldest delegate was Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania at age 70. Thomas Jefferson was 33.**

Have an awesome and safe 4th of July everyone!!


** resource: list25.com

We Have Come A Long Way!

Photo Credit: Dzz via morguefile.com
Photo Credit: Dzz via morguefile.com

Happy Moon Day!!!

It was 44 years ago today, July 20, 1969, that one of the biggest accomplishments of mankind happened…it was the day that man first walked on the moon. The astronauts, Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, Jr. became instant worldwide heroes It had only been a short 22 years earlier that the Soviet Union had become the first nation to ever launch an artificial satellite out of the earth’s atmosphere and enter space.

Upon landing at the moon base, “Tranquility Base”, Neil Armstrong announced from the space module “Eagle”, “the Eagle has landed.” Hours later, Neil Armstrong, stepped off of the Eagle’s ladder, put his foot upon the moon’s surface and declared: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”.

Well, since then, our world has grown, discovered and developed things faster than anyone could imagine.

It is hard to believe how far we have come as a world in forty years. Consider what been invented and developed since then…here are a few examples….

The development of the home computer

Flat screen and plasma TV’s

Cell Phones

The internet (for public use)

Digital Cameras

The Space Shuttle

The Space Station

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope in 1999

Face Book, Twitter, Instagram, and eBay

GPS (Global Tracking Systems)

Video Game Consoles (Play Station, Xbox, Nintendo)

Digital music and cameras

MRI’s

ATM’s

Hybrid Cars

Doppler Radar

Camcorders

Smart Phones

Google (and other Search Engines)

Electronic Word Processing

Caller ID

Blog Pages

And much, much more!

Today’s world is a fascinating place. Technology and life styles are developing at incredible rates. It is mind-boggling to think about what things may be around in another 40 years from now. Some things, such as cell phones which screens will be able to be rolled up like scrolls (while still being able to read the screen), totally transparent cell phones, or planes such as the FAXX Concept fighter which has no vertical tail fins and will have “skin” that will be able to repair itself….and maybe…someday soon…trips to the moon and Mars!

It is an exciting time in the world’s history to live. We need to enjoy every minute that we experience here on this earth and appreciate all the awesome technology and information that we have at our fingertips. Some day in 40, 50 or 100 years from now, people will look back at our time and say… wow…we have come a long way!