Remembering our Fallen

Memorial Day is often thought of as just another three-day weekend, a chance for barbecues, awesome sales or even a day at the beach. I like all of those things too and will probably participate in some of them this weekend. But I also like to take some time to reflect on the hundreds of thousands of men and women who  gave their lives so that we can enjoy our freedoms. Please pray for our fallen and their families.

 

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American Sniper – Movie Review

I wanted to see American Sniper for a while but my bad, never got around to catching it in the theater. Or maybe I just knew that it was the kind of film I didn’t want to watch in public because certain stories are so gut wrenching.

I watched it last night and I’m still affected by it. Which I suppose is the mark of a good film – that you’d be thinking about it the next day.

Clint Eastwood approached the story in his usual understated style and treated it with respect and sensitivity. His depiction of war, military life on and off the battlefield, and our troops was real without the usual Hollywood romanticization or exploitation that so many of these types of films possess.

The film is the story of Chris Kyle, distinguished by having the highest number of recorded sniper shots of any soldier in American military history. His nickname was the Legend. But Kyle wasn’t the kind of man who cared about fame or flattering nicknames, he cared about his fellow soldiers and keeping them out of harm’s way. He cared about keeping our guys alive. And it’s what drove him to do four tours in Iraq.

The film chronicles Chris’s military life and family life in between his tours. And it’s hard to evaluate the story because it’s not a story, it’s what happened to one man. It’s his story. The story of a man who wanted to make a difference and did. The story of a man who put others before himself. The story of a man who lived his beliefs and principles. A man that most of us would’ve liked and been happy to share a beer with or call a friend. Sadly, his devotion and desire to help, ultimately led to his death. Not on the battlefield but at home.

I highly recommend this film not because it glorifies war but because it celebrates the perseverance of the human spirit. It shows that one man can make a difference and did. And it honors those who stand the watch so that we can have the freedoms we enjoy and take for granted every day.

chris-kyle1

I thank Chris Kyle for his service. I thank his family for their sacrifice.

Writer Chick

I Rember Peggie M. Hurt – a 9/11 Tribute

She was warm, friendly, could belt out a tune and was loved by many. Peggie M. Hurt had only worked at the Pentagon as an army accountant, for two weeks before the plane struck on September 11th.

On the night of September 10th Peggie and a longtime friend, Phyllis Adams, took Peggie’s godmother out for dinner to celebrate her 86th birthday. It was a night of love and celebration and one on which they stayed out perhaps a little too late for a week day.

The 36-year-old Kenbridge, Virginia native had many friends and a large extended family of cousins and church members. And loved being a part of the Hurt family gospel singing group. Her favorite song was “The Battle Is Not Yours, It’s the Lord’s,” and she sung it often and by all accounts well.

I never knew Peggie and can only tell you what I’ve read about her, but her friends and family can tell you who she really was:

Peggy and I worked for the State at night (part-time) She was the first person I met when I arrived for orientation. Peggy was so friendly. We would chic chat at break time. What a sweet angel that is gone much too soon. – Priscilla

Peggie was my first cousin and like a big sister to me. Though the reports state Crewe, Va, her home is really Kenbridge, VA. She NEVER resided in Crewe. I have a picture to place here soon. You all are right about her sweet and kind demeanor. Her spirit was genuine and true and still lives on…I didn’t know about this memorial, but I am glad I stumbled upon it. Thank you all… Alesha Williams

I remember Peggy from high school. She had a sweet quiet demeanor about her. I was stationed in Northern California when I received the news that she was killed 9/11 and thought how could something so terrible happen to someone so sweet. Remember you always. Connie Foster-Daniels

Peggy, we love you, and we miss you! Virgie Dow

Peggy was one of my favorite cousins. Always a pleasure to be around, Peggy always had a beautiful spirit and a kind soul. One of the last times we spent together was at my sisters wedding (Wanda). We had a ball doing the “bump” down the soul train line. Every time I see a picture it breaks my heart. Peggy you will never be forgotten. Love Always – Lorinda Ridley

I worked with Peggy along with ten other ladies at the USPFO in Richmond, VA. We came to be known as the “Girls Night Out” Group. Peggy was so special to all of us. We teased her, but she was such a good sport about it, never taking offense. She had a special quality about her that was never touched by the ills of the world. What I will always remember about Peggy is that she never lost her small town, down-home personality. Peggy, we’ll always love you, and we miss you, still. The Girls Night Out Group – Mary Reede

I met Peggy Hurt in August of 2000 at the Army National Guard Readiness Center we worked in close proximity. Peggy had a loving and warm personality. She loved her church family at home and in Arlington, VA. I remember how excited she was when she received a call regarding being selected for her new job/promotion at the Pentagon. The 911 attack happened within 2 or 3 weeks after Peggy reported to her new position and the Pentagon. Remembering you always Peggy, – Wanda Thurman

Peggie was a spiritual person. Every first and third Sunday, she returned to her hometown church in Kenbridge, Virginia. It’s about a three- to four-hour drive from Northern Virginia. She sang in the choir, and with the Hurt family singers which consisted of aunts and cousins. She loved that song a lot. She was the lead vocalist on this song, and it was sung at her funeral service. –Delores Hardy, cousin

Peggie is my niece; we were much closer than that. We were raised in the same home together and were more like sisters. Over the years we were like mother/daughter relationship. I miss your beautiful smile and crazy jokes. You are miss by so many people who loves you. Margaret

Clearly Peggie will always be missed by her many friends and family members and you have to wonder what we have missed by her absence in this world. Her warmth, her kindness, her smile…

I’d like to think that she is in a better place, in another celestial choir singing this song:

With respect,
Writer Chick

For other 9/11 tributes please check project 2996

All Gave Some – Some Gave All

You know, it is easy to forget that the personal freedoms we take for granted are not entitlements – but privileges hard won. And won through the efforts and often lives of others. People we likely never knew but who nonetheless were willing to and often did give their lives to secure our freedoms.

While Americans like to celebrate Memorial Day with barbecues, holiday sales, fireworks and alcoholic beverages it wouldn’t hurt any of us to stop at least for a moment to silently thank those who gave us our freedoms. Prayers, good thoughts, wishes spoken aloud, meditation – whatever floats your boat. Please find a way to say thank you – not just to those who have secured our freedoms and continue to do so but to the families of those injured and fallen men and women.

Regardless of the side of the political spectrum to which we align, we have much to be thankful for and many to whom we owe our gratitude. To all veterans, past, present and future and to their families I say, Thank you.

As the saying goes, ‘Freedom ain’t free.’

A Day to Remember

Memorial Day is that first big picnic and three day outting holiday of the year in the states. And I have many fond memories of the family gatherings at local parks, the smell of burgers and hot dogs on the grill – juicy watermelon dripping down my chin, mom’s macaroni salad and of course the waiting for nightfall so we could light our sprinklers. It’s all part and parcel of this holiday.

Though, I would ask, that we all take a moment of silence to thank God for those who have spilled blood and given their lives so we can celebrate this holiday. And to say a prayer of thanks and Godspeed to all our troops worldwide – who carry on the tradition of standing the watch.

It’s days like these that I wish I had the wherewithall to send a home made bbq to Iraq and Afghanistan – with vat’s of mom’s special macaroni salad on ice. Unfortunately, I haven’t so…I offer the recipe instead. I suppose it is possible that one or two of our troops might find the recipe and be able to convince somebody to make it for them???

Okay –

2lbs of large elbow macaroni

1/2 small brown onion, minced fine

3 stalks minced celery

1 very small jar of pimentos

2 large dill pickles, minced fine (are you sensing a trend here?)

3 large hard cooked eggs minced fine

1/4 cup of dill pickle juice

3 TBS yellow mustard

paprika

1 can of tuna (optional)

1-2 cups of whole egg mayo (depending on how dry or wet you like your mac salad)

Cook elbow macaroni and drain and rinse. Place in large bowl in fridge and let completely cool. Once mac is cooled pull out of fridge and set aside (it works well if you make the mac the night before and leave in fridge over night – cooled mac does not absorb the liquids as much and keep the salad much more moist). Take mayo, mustard, pickle juice and mix in separate bowl, set aside.

To the mac, add the celery, onion, egg, pimentos, pickles and tuna (if you are using) and toss thoroughly. Then again, put in fridge for about an hour. This lets the flavors marry and seep into the mac first.

Then pull out of fridge and add ‘sauce’, again tossing thoroughly. Sprinkle with paprika on top, cover with plastic wrap and keep cool until ready to serve. If you find that the mac has absorbed the liquid too much and is a little dry, just add a little water to bring it back up. Quite yummy.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day.

WC

Independence Day

  

The 4th of July is a significant day to most Americans and is certainly to me. It reminds me of how much I love my country and what sacrifices were made that I might live in a place so wonderful as America. I love the picnics and parades and fireworks to be sure, but mostly I love my country. I wanted to share our national anthem with everyone in its entirety. For more info on the 4th of July go here. Happy 4th everyone – and especially to our troops who continue to stand the watch, ever vigilant.  Respectfully, WC

“The Star Spangled Banner”


The Defense of Fort McHenry

by Francis Scott Key

20 September 1814

Oh, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wiped out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner forever shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

An Undeniable Force

 

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever, is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. [Philippians 4:8].

I have always believed in the lesson of Easter. The ascension of good over evil, light over darkness. To reflect on the idea that there was someone so purely good that he would die for the transgressions of the rest of humanity is staggering. Even if you don’t prescribe to Christainity or believe in any aspect of it, the story of Christ must give one pause.

I know that it is cool and hip to bash Christianity and in fact, organized religion in general these days. That depicting Christ as a criminal, a pervert or even a monster is what passes as art or edgy dialogue – but I reject that as having any validity. To disagree with something does not mean to denigrate it.

The lessons and teachings of Christ are valuable, in fact, most of the moral and belief systems in the world follow the architecture of those lessons. Ponder that for a moment.

Though I was raised as a Catholic (strong Christian attitudes there) I don’t identify myself as a Catholic. The reasons for this are not important to anyone but myself. Nonetheless, I don’t reject Christ as a saviour. Even if he was merely a man, the effect he had and continues to have on the world is worthy of respect and awe. And I can think of few who have had a comparable impact on the world, perhaps no one has.

Even if he was only a symbol of peace on Earth, that symbol brought mankind out of darkness and gave the light of hope. How could this be a bad thing? What could be a better gift to your fellows?

When I was a little girl, I always loved the stories of Jesus and his teachings – they made me feel that there was true goodness in the world. Something the world needed desperately and still does.

So over this weekend, while I am enjoying myself with food and celebration – chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs, I will reflect on how this incredible man changed the world.

Happy Easter everybody.

WC

What Do Movies Meme?

 

Using AFI’s list of 100 Top Movies, bold the ones you’ve seen, ital ones you’d like to see and add up to three that you think should be on the list.

1. CITIZEN KANE (1941) Brilliant mostly for its cinematic features, the story itself is over-rated in my opinion.
2. CASABLANCA (1942) A real classic – love it still.
3. THE GODFATHER (1972) To me, the epitome of gangster movies which meant for me I no longer had to see any more ganster movies which generally are boring as hell.


4. GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) a movie I was satisfied to see once.
5. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962) a movie that was almost as hard to watch as Reds.
6. THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) still afraid of those flying monkeys.
7. THE GRADUATE (1967)
8. ON THE WATERFRONT (1954) The speech with Brando and Malden in the cab is the best part.
9. SCHINDLER’S LIST (1993) Truly touched me.
10. SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952) Who doesn’t love this one?
11. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) always gets to me.
12. SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950)
13. THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (1957) I never really ‘got’ this movie. What was the big deal?
14. SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959) Nothing funnier than Curtis and Lemon in drag.
15. STAR WARS (1977) Once was more than enough to see any of these movies.
16. ALL ABOUT EVE (1950) If  you haven’t seen this, you must the dialogue alone is worth watching it.
17. THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951)
18. PSYCHO (1960)


19. CHINATOWN (1974) The sequel The Two Jakes is decent too.
20. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST (1975)
21. THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940)
yawn!
22. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) yawn!
23. THE MALTESE FALCON (1941)
24. RAGING BULL (1980)
25. E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982)
26. DR. STRANGELOVE (1964)
27. BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967)
28. APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)
29. MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939) Classic
30. THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948)
31. ANNIE HALL (1977)
32. THE GODFATHER PART II (1974)
33. HIGH NOON (1952)
34. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962) I dare you to watch this movie and not feel changed by it.
35. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934)
36. MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969) Very sad and tragic I thought.
37. THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946)
38. DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944) True Film Noir.


39. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965)
40. NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959) I was fascinated by the shine in Eva Marie Saint’s hair in this one. How did they do it?
41. WEST SIDE STORY (1961) Urban Romeo and Juliet which has never been improved upon.
42. REAR WINDOW (1954)
43. KING KONG (1933)
44. THE BIRTH OF A NATION (1915)
45. A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (1951)  Blanche Dubois is one of the most unique characters ever written in my opinion.
46. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971) Ugh, hated this
47. TAXI DRIVER (1976)
48. JAWS (1975) One of the best scary movies ever.
49. SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937)
50. BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969)
51. THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940)
52. FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953)
53. AMADEUS (1984)
54. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930)
55. THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965)
56. M*A*S*H (1970)
57. THE THIRD MAN (1949)
58. FANTASIA (1940)
59. REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955)
60. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981)
61. VERTIGO (1958)
62. TOOTSIE (1982)
63. STAGECOACH (1939)
64. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977) The mashed potato scene is my favorite.
65. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991) Chianti and fava beans, yummy.
66. NETWORK (1976)
67. THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962) This version was superior to the recent remake.
68. AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (1951)
69. SHANE (1953)
70. THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971)
71. FORREST GUMP (1994)
72. BEN-HUR (1959)
73. WUTHERING HEIGHTS (1939)
74. THE GOLD RUSH (1925)
75. DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990) I only remember how I longed for this movie to be over.
76. CITY LIGHTS (1931)
77. AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973)
78. ROCKY (1976) Despite all the terrible sequels the original was one of the best movies every made.
79. THE DEER HUNTER (1978)
80. THE WILD BUNCH (1969)
81. MODERN TIMES (1936)
82. GIANT (1956)
83.
PLATOON (1986)
84. FARGO (1996)
85. DUCK SOUP (1933)
86. MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (1935)
87.
FRANKENSTEIN (1931)
88. EASY RIDER (1969)
89. PATTON (1970)
90. THE JAZZ SINGER (1927)
91. MY FAIR LADY (1964)
92. A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951)
93. THE APARTMENT (1960)
94. GOODFELLAS (1990)
95. PULP FICTION (1994) totally over-rated and stupid.
96. THE SEARCHERS (1956)
97. BRINGING UP BABY (1938)
98. UNFORGIVEN (1992) Not bad, but did it really deserve all those oscars?
99. GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER (1967)
100. YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942) It was a hoot to see Cagny dancing and singing after all those ganster movies.

I have seen 78 out of 100 – wow, even I’m surprised. The three I would add to the list are:

101. THE CAINE MUTINY
102. BODY HEAT 
103. WHITE CHRISTMAS

The three I’d remove from the list are:

1. Lawrence of Arabia
2. The Godfather Part II
3. Grapes of Wrath

What are your picks?
WC