Hanukkah

December 16, 2014

HannukaHistorically, the story of Hanukkah begins around 165 B.C. After three years of struggle, the Jews in Judea defeated the Syrian tyrant Antiochus. The Jewish people held festivities in the Temple of Jerusalem, and rededicated the Temple. After removing all Syrian idols from the Temple, the Jews found only one small cruse of oil with which to light their holy lamps. Miraculously, the cruse provided oil for eight days. Judas Maccabaeus, the Jewish leader, thus proclaimed a festival in celebration, to be observed by Jews.

Hanukkah is the Jewish Feast of Lights or Feast of Dedication.The Hebrew word Hanukkah means dedication. Hanukkah is also written Hannuka or Chanukah. The holiday begins on the eve of the 25th day of the Hebrew Month of Kislev and lasts eight days. Hanukkah usually falls in the month of December, but occasionally can start in November.

During Hanukkah, gifts are exchanged and contributions are made to the poor. Each evening, one additional candle is lit on the Hanukkah menorah (candelabra). By the last evening, eight lighted candles stand together.

I am not Jewish, but I have many Jewish friends. I always enjoy the diversity that is our country. Tonight starts Hanukkah for the season at sundown.

Happy Hanukkah!

**Jacquie


Christmas Around the World – Part 1 of 3

December 10, 2014

mexicoOver the recent years, I have been learning new Christmas traditions and rituals in other parts of the world, particularly the UK. In one of my recent posts, I talked about Christmas crackers which was something new to me. Growing up in California, Christmas was a totally different thing. For one, we didn’t have snow unless we went up to the mountains and the ski resorts, so our holidays were usually perfectly sunny and clear or gray and rainy. With my dad being from Mexico and having spent a Christmas one year with his relatives, we celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve with tamales until midnight on Christmas day when we got to open our presents. Then after the births of my nieces and nephews, we started doing Christmas presents late in the day instead of the morning because we waited for my oldest sister to arrive from her husband’s family’s traditions. We switched up the days we did Christmas. Some years it was Christmas Eve, other years it was Christmas Day. Usually it depended on the circumstances of my oldest sister.

In today’s post as a part of my holiday series, I’m going to talk about traditions. My family doesn’t have an entirely regular tradition but at least we all try to get together for the holidays. I’m trying to incorporate more tradition into my life, like eat tamales, try to watch A Christmas Story and Elf at least once a year, and to try something new, like the Christmas Crackers which the nieces and nephews really enjoyed.

MinceWhile people in the US have their own traditions and customs, the British have something a little more different. The British call Santa Claus “Father Christmas” who will leave presents in stockings or pillow cases at the ends of the beds, by the beds of the children, or by the fireplace in homes. Instead of the standard milk and cookies left out for Father Christmas, he gets a nice brandy and mince pie. Letters are written to Father Christmas but instead of being put to the post, they are tossed into the fireplace where the smoke is drifted to Father Christmas so he can read them. The people of Britain also send Christmas cards, buy gifts, sing carols. The Queen delivers a Christmas Day message to the Commonwealth broadcast from her home reflecting on the year gone by.

cakeAnother thing the British and Americans have in common is that nearly everyone bakes and eat goodies for the holidays. While the Americans make Christmas cookies, fudge, and peppermint bark, the British celebrate the holidays with mince pies, Christmas puddings, and the Christmas cake. Today I will talk about the mince pie.  In the US, these are relatively unknown but huge in Britain. A mince pie nowadays consists of candied peels, vine fruits like currant and sultanas, which is a type of raisin in Britain, and apples inside a pastry crust. These are the most common ingredients inside the mincemeat. You can enjoy them hot or cold and you can either make them yourself (a lovely recipe here on our very own blog and get the mincemeat here or even try these.

Mince pies originally had various chopped meats in them, hence the name mincemeat pie. It is believed mince pies were made to use to use up leftovers in the 16th century in order to keep the meat supply going but over the years, the recipes have been adjusted to what people know today. The pies were originally oblong in shape to represent the cradle of the Christ but they are round today and the meat has been omitted.

Next time I will discuss Christmas cake and Christmas pudding.

~CD


Fly Your NFL Team’s Banner High! – Product Review

November 24, 2014

They say, Pittsburgh is the City of Champions!  Most years it’s true!  Pittsburghers love their sports and teams!

No doubt other NFL teams invoke their own brand of team pride. At Online Stores, we’ve got you covered – no matter who you support! The United States Flag Store carries all the NFL, College, MLB & NASCAR officially licensed team flags. These banners are made from durable nylon fabric and are embroidered, not printed. We also carry 3′ x 5′ durable polyester team flags, car flags, garden flags and hard hats. One stop shop for any sports fan! Don’t forget our portable tailgate flag pole to cheer your team on while you’re tailgating!

These quality crafted 24″ x 44″ banner style NFL flags are made in China of 100% Nylon with an appliquéd nylon team logo and lettering. Each NFL flag is beautifully sewn and NOT printed. These are high quality flags at a price that can’t be beat! Flag poles and other display accessories are available separately.

Some of our specialty items include car flags with your choice of team. These flags look great flying down the highway with you any time but especially on game days.

There are pennants and garden flags for baseball and car racing, plus fun flags like the classic racing checkered flag. This design comes in streamers, as well, and is perfect for any themed birthday party.

The United States Flag Store carries college football teams, so you can join other local fans in supporting your or your child’s school of choice.

ISteelersf you are a die-hard Steelers fan, this is made just for you!

Pittsburgh Steelers Banner Flag

Whichever team you cheer for, we pretty much have banners and more in stock ready for shipping!


Volunteering

November 17, 2014

I believe in volunteering, my first time when I was 16 and got into trouble at school and instead of being put in detention, Coach said be here at 7:30, Saturday morning! Well being 16, on a Saturday, that early, I was thinking no way. But I showed up and was required to work the Special Olympics. It was one of the best days of my life!

dog flag bannerI volunteer for Dogs on Deployment. It is an online network for Military members nationwide to search for volunteers and resources able to help their pets during their time of service commitments. You may be active duty, reservists, veterans, wounded warriors and their families.

To be a volunteer you need not be military. You must have love for our troops and pets. At this time we do not have the facilities to be foster parents for animals. We live in a duplex with no fence. So we volunteer our time. We set up our booth at events, festivals, games, parades etc.

This past couple of weekends we attended our booth at two different events. We talk to a lot of people, get donations and spread awareness about this non-profit organization. I feel good about what we do for the military that have given us Americans so much. A little peace of mind to them and great rewards to me and Honey.

Our table is decorated with American stick flags, a 3×5 American Flag and a Patriotic Dog bannerdog flag. Some items we have bought. Some items were donated to us from The Flag Store.

I am Thankful to be able to volunteer for such a worthy cause. I am also Thankful that I write a blog for such a great company. Both of which support our Military. Land of the Free because of the Brave.

**Jacquie


Spirit of America

November 14, 2014

Heroes!? Are they real outside the comics? Absolutely! In our frenzied world we are growing a whole generation and more who have a very minimal understanding of who a real hero is. More and more as the Greatest Generation fades away there is a compelling need to define HERO! Dale Hemphill has done a wonderful job with his Spirit of America flag. He has produced a symbol that defines both hero and gratitude. It intends to plant a picture and vision of who a real hero is on the hearts and minds of the American public and beyond!

A US Navy veteran himself, Dale Hemphill designed Spirit of America as the emblem for his Spirit of America Foundation/Forgotten Heroes USA. The Spirit of America Flag is the only flag of its kind. It honors the veterans and heroes of wars past and our current soldiers who are fighting for our freedom. This flag also pays tribute to the many heroes and civilians who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001. Made in the U.S.A. Made out of nylon known for its weather resistance. Measures: 3′ x 5′.

According to Mr. Hemphill, “the nice thing about this flag is that it covers everything – 911, men and women, the cold war, you name it.” It has a rich history itself. “20141106_111017I started designing this in 1979 with the hostages in Iraq situation, when they were in captivity for 444 days. I’ve had my design stolen and even had the copyright cut out of the flag.”

The “Spirit of America” insignia was designed to recognize our men and women of the military forces and the battles they fought. “I recently updated it to include the eagles,” Dale told us. The insignia is graphic and intentional to remind us of many events and qualities of the Spirit of America:

  • Spirit of America – Uniting Together
  • Eagle – Freedom
  • Red – Bloodshed
  • Blue – Valor and Bravery
  • 50 Stars – 50 States
  • POW/MIA – Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
  • 8 Stars – 8 Men who died in Iran rescue attempt
  • Beirut – 241 American troops who lost their lives in barracks explosion
  • Red/White/Blue ribbon between flag staffs – Firefighters, Policemen, Port Authority, Paramedics and EMT’s who died
  • Yellow Ribbon – All the Heroes and civilians who gave or lost their lives on 9/11
  • 2 red/white/blue stars bordering the insignia – represents the Twin Towers
  • Wars – Revolutionary War, War of 1812, U.S. Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish American War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Persian Gulf, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Unfortunately after the parades are over and the flags cased, the gratitude we owe our veteran heroes – of whatever war or incident of national consequence like the brave men, women, and first responders of 9/11 – is often tucked away for another day as well. We must not, we cannot forget!  These heroes are the bedrock of American patriotism and exceptionalism! They are the Spirit of America!

Due to his passion that we not forget, Dale Hemphill has founded the Spirit of America USA Foundation. The Spirit of America Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 2001 by a naval veteran realizing the need for historical recognition of American’s heroes and the sacrifices they made for our country. Its stated mission:

  • To identify and prioritize veteran’s health issues; to coordinate a unified agenda, strategies, and action for effective legislative public health policies for homeless veterans and their families, and educational campaigns.
  • To provide information on educational resources, research, and timely legislative activities; to develop educational and outreach program training materials for the homeless and destitute.
  • To encourage the establishments of support groups and self-reliant employment, promote self-respect and dignity.
  • To improve communications among local, regional, national, and international support advocacy organizations and individuals by providing expertise, assistance, and networking information; to establish a network linking support groups or veterans organizations by fax or computer.
  • To network with other veterans organizations or individuals with regulatory, legislative, public health, social welfare, and disability organizations; to establish relationships with environmental labor, consumer, minority, children’s advocacy and other veteran’s support groups with common agendas; to insert veteran’s health issues into the mainstream of total health issues; to promote veteran’s justice.
  • To promote health issue research; to promote fund raising events for funding of health issue research.
  • To coordinate a research data base project in conjunction with established support and advocacy organizations to access the prevalence of service-connected disabilities; to provide data for lobbyist and researchers.
  • To establish both standing and special committees to focus on veteran’s health issues and veteran’s issues in general that coordinates national campaigns for veterans and their families.
  • To coordinate fund raising, donor development, grant writing, and customer active programs which will accomplish coalition goals and ensure financial stability and growth; to hire staff members to ensure schooling for the less privileged children of veterans; to provide shelter for the homeless and their families; to provide proper health care for the uninsured; to promote self-employment which establishes self-respect, dignity, and income to those less fortunate.

As the Spirit of America Foundation continues its mission to promote patriotism and the appreciation of our veterans, it has expanded its reach to help veterans in need in today’s tough economy.  FORGOTTEN HEROES USA, LTD, supports the mission of the Spirit of America Foundation by offering patriotic products honoring America’s hardships in history dating back to the Revolutionary War to present day Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. A percentage of each purchase is donated to the Spirit of America Foundation.

Forgotten Heroes

As we refresh our memories
Of all the wars gone by
Let each of us be grateful
For our “Heroes” you and I
They gave their all that we may live
In a country good and free,
“Lest We Forget” They did it all
For the likes of you and me.
Remember the “Heroes”
Who fought our wars
And kept “Old Glory” flying
Those who gave their utmost
And saved us all from dying.

Richard Hemphill – WWII

To all our veterans and heroes – the true Spirit of America – THANK YOU!

~AH


Veterans Day 2014

November 12, 2014

vet par I had a blog written about Veterans Day but we attended the Veterans Day Parade here in town. I changed my whole idea of what I wanted to write. I wanted to try to tell you how I felt to stand on the side of parade line next to my Marine Veteran and see Veterans from every generation.

There were Pearl Harbor survivors, WWII Veterans, Vietnam Veterans, Submarine Vets, Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines.

Along the parade route came a family representing 5 brothers that were in WWII that served in the 5 branches of military. vet par motoWe sat next to a young lady that just recently did 4 years in the Army as an Animal Specialist. My Honey’s co-worker came to the parade and he was in the Army Calvary.

This year’s theme was Women in Military-We Served. And they did, and were out in force, from Nurse’s Corp to pilots – it was amazing!

vet par womenI always tell a Veteran…Thank you for your service…but this year we talked to a widow of a Navy man. Her husband passed away last year and here she was 78 years old, drove an hour to pay her respects all by herself. But you know what? She wasn’t alone, she had us and we listened to her adventures of being a Navy wife.

Some of the best experiences are unexpected. I cried at seeing our Veterans. I was so full of pride for my fellow citizens. My chest hurt from being overwhelmed at the joy of everyone celebrating our Veterans.

vet par taps I took a lot of pictures that I would like share, I hope you enjoy. My advice to you, talk with a Veteran, not just on Veterans Day but any day, you might find out something in your heart that was missing.

**Jacquie


Civil War Memorial

November 11, 2014

imageOn November 8, 2014, the Mount Pleasant Area Historical Society (Pennsylvania) mpcemeteryheld a memorial for the men who fought in the Civil War. Held on Cannon Hill in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, attendees were given maps which detailed locations of all the Civil War veterans. The county society has financed printing and distribution of the maps.

In addition, members of the local society were on standby at a number of the graves to offer biographical information on the veterans’ lives. Guests listened as speakers briefly spoke about the history of the 142nd and 28th regimes and their battles during the Civil War. Guests were also told of the history of Mount Pleasant Cemetery and how the townspeople demanded that the local men who died have their final resting place in their hometown. A total of 130 Civil War veterans are buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

As we honor our current military men and women, we should also remember those who served in wars past…whether it’s from 20, 40, 70, or 150 years ago.


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