30 March 2011

Metal Detecting Post #23 - Off To Culpeper

Packed & Ready For Action

I'm participating in an organized Civil War relic hunt near Culpeper, Virginia from Wednesday evening 30 March, through  Saturday 1 April. I should have lots of interesting photos, videos, and posts related to this event once I return.

Also, I'm about to bust at the seams wanting to share news about another site that I've been granted permission to metal detect. It is in an area (on private property of course), that is associated with one of the most important and well known figures in the Confederacy. Hush, hush for now . . . but soon, soon . . .

Watch for an interesting series of videos that will post on Friday morning. The video will be about a leather coin purse that was discovered on a similar relic hunt near Culpeper two years ago. The purse is believed to have belonged to a Confederate officer.

28 March 2011

Civil War Sesquicentennial Editorial - Another View

The good folks at North South Trader's Civil War recently made available, online, an editorial from their next to last edition which addresses certain concerns and aspects surrounding the Civil War Sesquicentennial. Publisher and historian, Stephen W. Sylvia, makes some salient points and comments. It is certainly a different view from what we're hearing from many younger historians now involved who were not around during the centennial and don't have the benefit of the wisdom that comes with seeing how things have changed - some for the worse, some for the better - over the last 50 years. Mr. Sylvia was around and speaks from experience. His comments are sure to spark some discussion here . . .

On January 1, 2011, the Civil War Sesquicentennial will begin in earnest.  If the politically correct crowd has its way, it will be a far cry from the Civil War Centennial celebration of 50 years ago.  Alas, many of those who have managed to assume positions of control of various state commissions are motivated by politics rather than history.  It is ironic that 150 years after the greatest division in our nation’s history, its very anniversary is experiencing divisiveness.  Now, rather than North against South, it is the politically correct crowd versus anyone with a knowledge and love of Civil War history.  

The piece notes the following about Virginia:

Virginia witnessed the greatest proportion of military activity of any other state.  As expected, Virginia is leading the nation in plans for the Sesquicentennial.  Unlike the proud commonwealth of 1861, however, Virtus, stripped of her spear and her pride, will soon be lying prostrate next to Tyrannus.  
 And . . .

Delegate Bill Howell, speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates and Sesquicentennial Commission Chairman, says this time they want to take a different approach than that taken during the Centennial.  “This is a commemoration.  It’s not a celebration,” he said.  “I think 50 years ago there was primarily reenactments of battles and what we’re trying to do is make it an education opportunity in Virginia.”  Perhaps Delegate Howell misremembers the Centennial.  I was a youngster during that era, and the Centennial was most definitely not a just a slew of reenactments, despite what a few revisionist historians may have led Howell to believe.
And more . . .

It was precisely the celebratory atmosphere of reenactments, parades, Blue & Gray balls, and the like that drew the media’s attention.  As a result of that initial attention, the public’s curiosity was piqued and the Centennial snowballed from there.  Had the Centennial been presented as a dry educational history experience, the nation’s collective eyes likely would have glazed over and the Centennial would have fizzled very quickly. Yet despite the historical proof of the huge impact powered by the Centennial, Speaker Howell announces that it was “primarily reenactments” and the Sesquicentennial is going to be different because it will focus on “education.”  Odd.  The one I relished 50 years ago was an educational and cultural explosion.

 And the bottom line:

Instead of criticizing that momentous celebration, members of the Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission would do well to study it and try their best to duplicate it.  I hope Mr. Howell will yet recognize that the final act necessary to cement the union of the states is indeed something to celebrate, not simply commemorate.

I've responded before
to criticisms surrounding the "celebratory" aspect of remembering our collective history. I'd also recommend this piece and how the celebratory aspect inspires and encourages boys to study history. And, one of my favorite TV series illustrates, in a humorous way, why "celebratory" history should be an integral part of the teaching process - despite what the PC crowd and enemies of American Exceptionalism say.

I don't want to put words into Mr. Sylvia's mouth but what I take away from his piece is that he believes that the study of, and interest in, the WBTS is for more than just academics and professional historians and their rather dry conferences where attendees often battle to stay awake as the presenters offer their perspective of the conflict - void of passion, celebration, or much of anything interesting.

You can read the rest of North South's piece here. I'd recommend not only it, but becoming a subscriber as well. It's an excellent publication.

Bullies In Academia

Here’s the background: In one of the most astonishing races in the 2010 election, renowned scientist Arthur Robinson took on 12-term progressive incumbent Peter DeFazio for his congressional seat in Oregon’s District 4. DeFazio won the 2008 election with 82% of the vote. When the polls showed Robinson coming very close to winning, DeFazio unleashed a last-minute smear campaign.
That much is not unexpected. Americans have gotten used to vicious lies by politicians. Character assassination seems to be protected political speech.

But on November 4, after the election results were known, another campaign took off: against the three younger Robinson children, who are working toward their Ph.D. degrees in nuclear engineering at Oregon State University (OSU). The stellar academic records of all six home-schooled Robinsons (a Ph.D. in chemistry from Caltech, two veterinary medicine doctorates from Iowa State, and undergraduate degrees in chemistry or mathematics for the younger Robinsons) were an embarrassment for DeFazio, who is strongly supported by public education unions. (Read the rest here.)

I've noted before how elitists in academia don't like homeschooling. They see it as a threat - in more ways than one. This post is just further evidence of the continued politicization of academia in America. I can almost guarantee that not one of the many academics who read this blog (yes, there are quite a few), will speak up and condemn this. This has to be for one of two reasons: they're complicit or they're afraid of being on the receiving end of retribution themselves. I hope I will be proven wrong. Come on, do the right thing and restore some of my faith in my fellow man.

Pat Buchanan Compares Libya & Fort Sumter

Hmmm . . .

Well, when the South fired on Fort Sumter, killing no one, Abraham Lincoln blockaded every Southern port, sent Gen. Sherman to burn Atlanta and pillage Georgia and South Carolina, and Gen. Sheridan to ravage the Shenandoah. He locked up editors and shut down legislatures and fought a four-year war of reconquest that killed 620,000 Americans – a few more than have died in Gadhafi's four-week war.
Good thing we didn't have an "international community" back then.
The Royal Navy would have been bombarding Lincoln's America.

(Yes, the Tea Party rebuttal, Part 2 is coming . . . just taking some time.)

27 March 2011

Rewriting History On Our Confederate Dead

"Historian Josh Howard is playing with fire in the heart of the old Confederacy, with a scholarly finding that could rewrite the history of the Civil War, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. For more than a century, North Carolina has proudly claimed that it lost more soldiers than any other Southern state in the nation's bloodiest conflict. But after meticulously combing through military, hospital and cemetery records, the historian is finding the truth isn't so clear-cut."

26 March 2011

Before I Get To The Tea Party Post

It is quite revealing to observe the deafening silence among the "professional" historians, history bloggers, and academics when it comes to the organized violence being perpetrated by leftists, unions, communists, socialists, and anarchists. Besides the shameful, lawless conduct by teachers unions in Wisconsin that we all recently witnessed, there is more violence from "anti-capitalists" (Sound familiar?) going on now in London. 

See the unbelievable photos here.

While many of these "objective" critics accused the Tea Party and others on the right of promoting violence and being racists in their political rallies, they are strangely silent now.

You make me sick.

25 March 2011

Jefferson Favored Christianity

“No nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man, and I as Chief Magistrate am bound to give it the sanction of my example.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

**Up next: Tea Party Rebuttal - Part Two 

24 March 2011

Metal Detecting Post #22 - Civil War History In 3D

As frequent readers of this blog know, I took up the avocation of metal detecting last September. It dovetails perfectly with my passion for Civil War history and the kid in me that still gets thrilled at the thought of discovering lost treasure or uncovering secrets buried for over 150 years.Though I've owned a used metal detector for several years, I had never really done any serious hunting with it until last September. About a month later, I purchased a new unit with more modern computer technology enabling me to better determine what's in the ground under my coil. This newer model, along with some other tools, has allowed me to make some very interesting Civil War related recoveries here in the Shenandoah Valley. One example is the mini-ball shown here. I dug this relic last week in a farm field near a battlefield here in the Valley. It was about 6-7 inches underground. After some online research and help from other collectors, I'm fairly confident that this is a Confederate Sharps Carbine .52 calibre (Sharps "long" carbine). According to one source: 

"These bullets are referenced in Mason & McKee series #464 / 465 [Civil War Projectiles reference book] and are referred to as Richmond Labs carbine bullets.  This was the Confederate bullet, made specifically for the Richmond Carbine or could be used with captured Sharps carbines. These Confederate bullets  are a good bit more scarce than the two ring Gardner Confederate bullets."

This particular field has been farmed for decades and was actually part of an area where several hundred Confederate Cavalry and mounted infantry rode across as they retreated and provided some rear guard action. Since these men would have been carrying carbines, the find makes perfect sense. I've also dug several Hotchkiss shell fragments at this location, including a complete sabot. I've also found several 19th century flat buttons (metal) and a few coins dating to the 19th century, as well as wheat pennies dating from the early 20th century to the 1940's. The latest coin, dug just a few feet from this bullet, was an 1881 Indian Head penny. It is quite amazing to realize the history that often lies, unbeknown to us, just a few inches below our feet. 

While I've been a student of the War Between the States since I was in elementary school, that interest has often been two dimensional - reading books and letters about and from the era. Of course, one could argue having three great-great grandfathers who fought for the Confederacy, as well as being born on a battlefield, adds another dimension. While there is certainly some truth in that, nothing quite compares to bringing one of these CW relics out of the ground and exposing it to light for the first time in 150 years. Holding that relic in your hand, knowing that the last human to touch it was a Civil War soldier is, most definitely, a three dimensional experience. This bullet find, along with a few others from the same field, mean even more to me since one of my great-great grandfathers was wounded very near to this same spot.

Metal detecting, as it relates to history, has opened up a whole new world to me in regards to a broader knowledge of the war, as well as potential writing opportunities. I only regret I waited until I was 52 years old to get involved. That involvement has included doing a couple of videos (with another in production), joining some online forums, going on an organized, three-day hunt on private property near Brandy Station next week, and subscribing to several magazines which cater to detectorists. 

Both American Digger and WET Magazine are written for a more popular audience while NST is more "scholarly", though still written in a popular style. While I truly enjoy all three magazines, I'll have to confess that NST is my favorite. It is published in Orange, Virginia.

North South Trader’s Civil War is a bimonthly magazine for collectors, researchers, relic hunters, and historians of the War Between the States. Each heavily illustrated issue contains a host of articles about a wide variety of artifacts from uniforms and weaponry to belt plates and buttons. We also offer regular features on events in the field, reproduction and fake alerts, artifact identification, and recently excavated finds. Our format is lively, informative, and readable.
If you’re a collector or have an interest in the history and the surviving artifacts of the greatest conflict in American history, you won’t want to miss an issue of this award-winning publication!

Dedicated to the study and preservation of Civil War artifacts since 1973.
In their most recent issue, NST featured a fascinating article about one of the true "pioneer collectors" in Civil War relic hunting - Mr. George E. Whiting. Mr. Whiting lives in Rockbridge County, Virginia - about 30 miles South of my home. He's 91 and considered an expert on Civil War artillery projectiles and is an active supporter of the Virginia Military Institute museum. He is known to be quite the throwback to an earlier era - a classic Southern gentleman. (Yes, that is a compliment.) He had the habit of digging for relics in a coat and tie. Mr. Whiting started metal detecting in the 1950's with a surplus WWII mine detector. Just the battery pack weighed 40 pounds!

One of the things that came through to me, even in the interview, was the wisdom and wealth of knowledge Mr. Whiting possesses. Besides a shared love of Civil War history and relic hunting, I share his opinion on something else. Mr. Whiting was asked by the interviewer (a public school teacher), whether he had any concerns regarding the "general lack of interest in history today" - particularly as that concern relates to the Sesquicentennial. Mr. Whiting replied:

I'm pessmistic and optimistic at the same time. Most young people don't know a thing about history and aren't willing to learn. Academia certainly isn't going to teach them what they really ought to know when it comes to history, be it Virginia history or something beyond our borders. Everything relating to the Late Unpleasantness is deemphasized. When you get into the institutions of higher learning and the group of people who were instrumental in bringing down the US government during the Vietnam War, with the resulting loss of millions of people's lives worldwide, especially in Laos and Cambodia--they're very proud of that--the American Civil War just isn't important.

Ah, the wisdom of old age.

And with that I'll sign off until Saturday as I'll be heading to Lynchburg (via Piney River) tomorrow afternoon to attend the supper kick-off for Liberty University's 15th annual Civil War seminar. I'll be donating a relic for an auction which will be for the benefit of the National Civil War Chaplains Museum. The relic? A piece of burnt brick I picked up near a dumpster at Stonewall Jackson's Lexington Presbyterian Church. The brick was discarded after the church caught fire in 2000. Be careful what you throw away. One man's trash is another man's treasure. ;o)

History Shall Judge Thee Harshly

Some recent headlines from the Drudge Report:

Mission 'clouded by confusion'...

White House: Days, not weeks...

France: Weeks, not days...

Dem Rep: Obama told me US would be 'in and out' of Libya...

OBAMA: No ground troops, no matter what happens...

2,200 ground troops head to Libya...

POLL: Only 17% of Americans see Obama as a strong and decisive military leader...

WBTS Factoid

In doing some recent online research, I came across this interesting factoid about Virginia Military Institute and the Civil War:

The latest research indicates that of the 1,973 alumni who were living at the beginning of the Civil War, 1,865 served (94.5%). Of those, 261 died (172 killed or mortally wounded in action, 89 from other causes while in service). Approximately 19 served in the Union Army.
Source here.

23 March 2011

New Sesquicentennial Site

Readers may want to check out this new Civil War Sesquicentennial website which features a weekly podcast series. According to an email I received . . .

The site was created by Dr. Chuck Ross and Dr. David Coles at Longwood University in Virginia, and will continue to be populated throughout the sesquicentennial commemoration until 2015 as a joint effort between the faculty and students of the college. Comments and discussion are welcome, and overall it’s an informative and engaging site for both Civil War enthusiasts and the general public alike.  
 Upcoming posts:

  • The Civil War In 3D
  • Failing Academia 
  • A review of Keith Gibson's most recent book about Virginia Military Institute.
  • News about my next book.

21 March 2011

The 15th Annual Liberty University Civil War Seminar

1861 First Blood

Times:     March 25 @6:30 PM–9:30 PM
March 26 @8:30 AM–4:30 PM
March 27 @9:00 AM–10:00 M
Location:     March 25–Kickoff Banquet at Pate Chapel at the Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, VA
Includes Period Music and Entertainment by Col. and Mrs. Keith Gibson of VMI

March 26–Speaker Presentations and Artifact Displays at The Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center on the Campus of Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA

March 27–Period Worship Service at The R.C. Whorley Prayer Chapel on the Campus of
Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA

Contact Info: 434-592-4366 or klburdeaux@liberty.edu

Dr. Clifton Potter: Lynchburg-1861
Calvin Ashwell: The Rise of the Confederate Navy and Naval Actions in 1861
Douglas Bostick: Antebellum Charleston and the Firing on Fort Sumter
Prof. Ed Edman: Images of the Civil War-1861
Rev. Alan Farley: Neutrality is Broken – The Battle of Belmont 1861
(Also Period Church Service)
Colleen Formby: Comforts from Home: the Contributions of the Soldiers’ Aid Societies
Donald Gilmore: The Civil War on the Western Border, 1854-1865
Hunter Lesser: Rebels at the Gates: (Lee’s West Virginia Campaign)
James Morgan: A Little Short on Boats ~ The Battle of Ball’s Bluff and Edwards Ferry,October 2 1-22, 1861
Ethan S. Rafuse: A Single Grand Victory: The First Campaign and the Battle of Manassas
Doug Wicklund: The Guns of 1861

Admission:  Everyone is encouraged to secure reservations for this seminar by Tuesday, March 1. Admission to the seminar prior to March 1 is $60 (which includes all of the seminar sessions, the Friday night banquet, and Saturday’s luncheon). After March 1 the admission price is $65. After March 23 the admission price is $75. Admission for Friday only is $35 which includes the kick-off banquet. Admission for Saturday only is $40 which includes breakfast and lunch.

On Friday, March 25 at the seminar there will be a silent auction of Civil War items to benefit the National Civil War Chaplains Museum.  During the seminar, there will also be Civil War vendors and displays for the public.

Lodging: There will also be vendors and displays for the public.  Seminar attendees can choose to stay at either the Wingate Hotel or Days Inn at River Ridge Hall and receive special LU Civil War Seminar rates.

WINGATE BY WYNDHAM: www.wingate-lynchburg.com

Phone: (434) 845-1700 or 1-888-494-6428

DAYS INN at River Ridge Mall: www.daysinn-lynchburg.com

Phone: (434) 847-8655 or 1-800-787-3297

20 March 2011

Sweet Teas & Blue Seas

After an eight day business/pleasure trip and vacation through four Southern states, the British West Indies, and Mexico, I've returned to the beloved home of my ancestors, Old Virginia - just in time for spring! Our trip South included some time in South Carolina's Low Country and my favorite Southern town, Charleston. I am now red, rested, and ready for the busy spring season. Lots of posts and news upon which to catch up.

Posts will, however, still be a bit sparse as I prepare to leave town for Liberty's annual Civil War seminar and then off the following week for a three-day Civil War relic hunt near Culpepper, Virginia. I do hope to post some additional follow up responses to more Tea Party criticisms, some news about my next book project, and some information about some recent metal detecting/relic hunting excursions and recoveries. 
My cool t-shirt

The Restless & Stubborn vs. The Guilt-Ridden Elites

I've come to the conclusion that anyone who denies America's exceptional place in the annals of world history is either:
  1. Delusional.
  2. Shamefully ignorant.
  3. Pushing an agenda for their own purposes.
  4. A guilt-ridden, self-flagellating follower of fads who has been deceived by pseudo-historians into believing the United States is really, at best, no better than any other nation or, at worst, the root of all evil.

There have always been those who take exception to American exceptionalism. Europeans developed a cottage industry in travel writing about America, most of it — although not all, with Tocqueville the most important ex­ception — scandalized by the riotous freedoms of these restless, stubborn, commerce-crazy, God-soaked barbarians. The Amer­ica of these portraits was simultaneously primitive and decadent: “grotesque, obscene, monstrous, stultifying, stunted, leveling, deadening, deracinating, roofless, uncultured,” as James Ceaser summarizes the critique in Reconstructing America. Many of America’s European critics hoped that, over time, America would lose its distinctiveness. It would become just another developed Western country: more centralized, more elitist, more secular, less warlike, and less free. In short, a quieter, more civilized place.

The American Left has shared this maddened perplexity at its country’s character and this hope for its effacement. Marxists at home and abroad were always mystified by the failure of socialism in the U.S. They thought that, as the most advanced capitalist society, we would have had the most restive proletariat. Instead we have had a broad and largely satisfied middle class. Even our unions, in their early history, were anti-statist, their radicalism anarchistic rather than socialist. At the Progressive convention of 1912, Jane Addams saw “a worldwide movement toward juster social conditions” that “the United States, lagging behind other great nations, has been unaccountably slow to embody in political action.”
I'm with the restless and stubborn.

(While I would take issue with some of the points in this National Review piece, overall, the authors make some good points.)

19 March 2011

Front Porch Pickin' #15

Atheists Don't Have No Songs. What's to sing about? 

10 March 2011

Out Of The Office

I probably will not be uploading any more posts until late next week. No comments are likely to be posted either. I'm leaving the country tomorrow for about seven days and will have limited internet access. March is always a very busy time of the year for me. The week after I return, I'll be attending Liberty University's 15th annual Civil War seminar and then, the following week, I'll leave for a three day Civil War relic dig near Brandy Station (on private property of course). 

On another bit of exciting news, I've just had a new Civil War related book proposal accepted by a very popular publisher. Work will soon begin in earnest on that project with more details to come soon. I'll have much to blog about once the dust settles.

09 March 2011

So Who's Distorting Our History?

Hmmm . . . is leaving out a significant portion of the Declaration of Indpendence a "gaff?" Not if you do it three times. You're either embarassingly ignorant or intentionally distorting. Pay attention at about 1:15 into the video. Let's see how many of the "professional" historians point this out. Probabaly about as many as were concerned about public school teachers distorting the Constitution, which I pointed out in this post. Yes, the citizen-organized, grassroots Tea Party are a bunch of know-nothing Bozos when it comes to our history, but a Harvard educated, constitutional law professor, and former U.S. Senator just misspoke. I guess he left the teleprompter at home.

07 March 2011

*Preview To Tea Party Rebuttal - Part Two

**Update: The source is none other than that hotbed of Tea Party activists and right-wing distorters of history - at the library of Congress.

". . . a religious people rose in rebellion against Great Britain in 1776, and that most American statesmen, when they began to form new governments at the state and national levels, shared the convictions of most of their constituents that religion was, to quote Alexis de Tocqueville's observation, indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions."

Anybody want to guess the source on this? (Don't cheat by googling)

Hint: It is not the Tea Party or David Barton.

*I may or may not get to this 2nd part of my rebuttal of Michael Aubrecht's criticism of the Tea Party for a while - though I'll try. March is always a very busy time of the year for me. End of week I'm leaving the country for seven days. After I return, I'll be attending Liberty University's 15th annual Civil War seminar and then, the following week, I'll leave for a three day, invitation only Civil War relic dig near Brandy Station (on private property). I'll have much to blog about once the dust settles. I may post some "best of" OVB while away from my office.

06 March 2011

Patriotism or Propaganda?

We're hearing a lot these days about how the Tea Party is intentionally distorting history for political gain, etc, etc. Fellow blogger and friend, Michael Aubrecht, has been a rather vocal critic and posted some additional criticism recently. (See here and here.) I don't believe its any secret that Michael and I are at polar opposites on the TP. We've been able to keep our disagreement divorced from our friendship. I trust that will continue. That being said, my criticism on his position (and others who hold similar views and have expressed similar criticisms) will be spirited and pointed.

My response to Michael's two posts will also be in two parts. This first post will respond specifically to Michael's contention that the Tea Party's Coloring Book for children is "propaganda." Dictionary.com defines propaganda as . . .

1. information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.
2. the deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.
3. the particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization or movement.

These basic definitions could be applied to just about any organization that puts out a message, publishes a newsletter or a book, runs an ad, or communicates with the public in any way, shape, manner, or form. Of course, the term more often carries a negative connotation, i.e., the spreading of half-truths, pushing a harmful agenda, slanderous rumors pertaining to one's opposition or opponent, etc.

That Michael would use this pejorative term when referring to a child's coloring book that simply promotes good citizenship, patriotism, faith, and pride in our country is quite perplexing to me - particularly when it is parents and grandparents who will be making the decision as whether to purchase the book or not. It is, and should be, they who determine "age appropriateness" though I can't see how anyone could object to what's in the coloring book - based on what you'll see below. Michael writes as if his discovery that the coloring book is intended for "preschool and early primary years" is some kind of damning "gotcha" revelation. So what? It is my opinion that Michael is letting his dislike for the Tea Party cloud his judgment. The Tea Party is non-partisan, and educational. You can read more about the organization here. You can read their mission statement here. The TP is not a political party. The TP is organized as a 501(c)(4) non-profit. Their non-profit status is the same as your local Kiwanis, Rotary, and Lions clubs. Ironically enough, the TP refers to themselves as a "social welfare" organization.

I had read/heard similar criticisms from the likes of the Washington Post, CNBC, and other leftist "news" organizations. But I was quite surprised to hear what I believe to be a baseless attack coming from Michael. So I decided to contact the TP directly to ask for a copy so that I could review it and see if it was as "dangerous" as some had suggested. I was unable to get my hands on a complete copy (my local Books A Million was sold out of them), but the publisher was kind enough to send me some sample pages. Let's take a look at these pages and see if there's anything that would warrant being called propaganda (click on any of the images to enlarge):

This is page two of the coloring book. It features a few lines of God Bless America by Irving Berlin. Not exactly what I'd view as subversive or "propaganda." After these verses is a very brief explanation of the capitol building.

Next we have page 12 which features a crossword puzzle meant to teach basic facts about the American flag. Following this is the Pledge of Allegiance and some admonitions about proper respect for our nation's flag.

Here, again we have a page featuring the American flag with a few lines from America the Beautiful - a patriotic hymn my public grade school class sang every morning, along with My Country Tis Of Thee. Below this is a brief synopsis of the Tea Party's mission statement. You can read the words and judge for yourself, but they are benign and fundamental. I doubt there is much there to which many would object. These are certainly the types of basic American principles and values that I was taught in school and which were reinforced in most civic organizations. 

In this page sample is a blank letter for a young person to use to write his congressman, senator, or the president. This would teach young people that they have the right guaranteed by the constitution "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." When I was in the 6th grade, our class wrote a letter to our congressman. I have absolutely no recollection what the subject was, but I do recall writing him.

Finally, we have this sample page which prominently features the Liberyt Bell. The text surrounding the image is a basic explanation of American liberties and freedoms, i.e., "freedom of expression, freedom of choice, freedom to protest, freedom from government control of our lives, freedom of political choice . . ." Also included is this admonition:

"With liberty also comes the responsibility to be a good citizen. To educate yourself and attend school, be good in class, to work and pay your bills, pay your taxes when you grow up, and to help others when you can. Many American soldiers have died to guarantee that liberties remain part of American life. We have the best liberties in the world."

Would anyone really object to such generic admonitions of good citizenship, personal responsibility, care for your fellow man, and patriotism being encouraged in children? What could possibly be wrong with that? When I went to school, these things were a given. Regardless of whether a person was a Republican, a Democrat, or an Indpendent, I cannot think of one adult that I knew growing up who would have any objection to anything printed or represented on these five sample pages. Now, perhaps, the publisher intentionally sent me the most benign pages. But if this is representative of what's in the Tea Party coloring book, then I fully intend to purchase copies for every one of my grandchildren that are in this age group.

The type of information seen in these sample pages is really nothing unique. I can think of a number of examples that teach similar values to children - some in public schools. The one that immediately comes to mind is an organization my wife and I were involved in when we were homeschooling our children - 4-H clubs. We founded and led a club. One of the things the club attempted to instill into children was basic concepts of responsibility and good citizenship. Yes, the book also teaches readers about the organization as well and in a positive light. So? Don't ALL similar organizations do that? It is important to point out that this is a voluntary organization and the publication is not forced on anyone. If you don't want your children taught these things, then don't buy it.

So why would anyone refer to this is as propaganda? Michael seems to suggest that because this  book involved history and basic American values presented in an affirmative way, and since it's intended for children, that this somehow makes it inappropriate. But these types of books for children are extremely common. President Obama has written one. According to the Mount Vernon book store, the President's book is ". . .  a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation. President Obama sees the artistry of Georgia O’Keefe, the courage of Jackie Robinson, and the patriotism of George Washington within his own children and within all of America’s children. It is a celebration of the characteristics that unite all Americans."

Is his also "propaganda?" After all, he's the head of the Democratic Party. What's the difference? If "gaffs" are the issue, I don't think we need to go there. But wait, there's more. Mount Vernon also offers a coloring book. The description reads in part:

"Artist Peter F. Copeland captures the outstanding events in the life of revered American, George Washington . . . "

Would Michael and other critics suggest using the word "revered" when writing about Washington, and directing the book to children, is "propaganda?" Isn't that teaching them "what to think" about our first President? Mount Vernon also sells a book for children titles Why America Is Free. It was published by "The Society of the Cincinnati . . . so that Americans will know how to preserve their freedom." This is teaching children "what to think." The descripton also suggests an "agenda" does it not? But it is an agenda that most Americans have, historically, agreed upon.

My point is simply this when it comes to this coloring book: There is nothing unusual about an organization reaching out to youth to instill positive values. It is not even unusual for political organizations to do this. Both political parties do it. All civic organizations do it to one extent or another. And, again, these coloring books are purchased by private individuals - parents, grandparents, etc - who wish to instill these values in their children. No different than going to their local Christian bookstore to buy a Bible story book about Noah and the flood or Daniel and the Lion's Den. Is that also propaganda? Are vacation Bible schools, Sunday schools and other youth ministries propaganda? It's really nobody's business (other than parents) since these are all voluntary choices and associations.

Which brings me to my final point. Real propaganda. What is especially troubling to me about Michael's post (and other similar opinions) is the lacking sense of proportion, balance, and parity. Once again, no one purchasing the TP coloring book is forced to do so. No one is forcing someone else's children to be taught these values and principles against their will or without their knowledge. No taxpayer money is funding this publication.

But that's not true with what were seeing in many public, taxpayer funded schools and publications. As Glenn Beck's (yes, I know) website has pointed out, we do have some REAL historical distortion being taught to children in a captive audience setting with taxpayer money. Did you know that the preamble to the constitution meant the following:

Click to enlarge and read.

People’s basic needs must be met in a country. Needs for housing, education, transportation and health care, overseen by our government system.

"When did the Preamble or the Constitution include the government meeting the people’s needs for housing, transportation and health care?" - The Blaze.com

Would anyone care to defend this? Where's the criticism on this - from anyone other than that "crazy conspiracy theorist" Beck? This twisted view of our constitution is being taught as a function of government by "professionals." If ANYONE is to be held to a higher standard, as Michael suggests, the focus should not be a volunteer, citizen-organized patriotic organization, but government teachers who are paid with tax dollars. They are supposed to professionals and "nation builders", aren't they? What kind of nation are these folks building?

The TP book for children is, based on what I've seen, nothing more than good old-fashioned patriotism and basic American values being taught to children. The course reference above, in contrast, is pure agenda-driven, socialist dogma being force-fed to children in government schools. (Just more anecdotal evidence to be stacked on that ever-growing pile.)

Referring to a child's coloring book, which has the main focus of instilling in young children the bedrock foundations of our republic - freedom, faith, and liberty - is, frankly, quite troubling to me. Moreover, the modern notion that children should be taught in a moral vacuum so that they "can make their own choices" and they should not be taught "what to think" is absurd on its face. Do we refrain in teaching them "what to think" about murder, stealing, lying, etc? Do we refrain to teach them the values of hard work, learning, good manners, etc.? There is (or perhaps once was) a basic American creed that the vast majority, regardless of political or religious loyalties, could ascribe to.

The American's Creed
by William Tyler Page
I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed, a democracy in a republic, a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes. I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.
–Written 1917, accepted by the United States House of Representatives on April 3, 1918.

I recall learning this creed in my elementary school years. Have we now become so beguiled by political correctness and burdened with guilt over societal pressure to be ashamed of our nation's history that teaching young children positive values about their country is propaganda? Is the American Creed, which is not much different than what the TP coloring book is teaching, no longer appropriate for young school children?

This is what we've come to in the United States. A truly grassroots, patriotic organization comprised of every day common citizens (including teachers, by the way) is met with unfair and ignorant criticisms, vitriol, and even death threats for promoting, - albeit imperfectly at times - patriotism, personal responsibility, good citizenship, and our founding principles while many of these same critics ignore the real subversives and dangers to our Republic.

Dear God Almighty.

(Some will no doubt think this is overkill to Michael's post. Perhaps it is, but this has been building for some time and was motivated by comments and things I've read and seen on other blogs, and in the media, beyond what Michael has posted. Also, it may appear I rambled a bit and even repeated myself. I may even be guilty of a few gaffs. I plead insanity. My wife and I have had 3 of our granddaughters (ages 3-5) since yesterday afternoon. I've been attempting to compose this in between refereeing fights, judging squabbles, distributing Cracker Jacks, wiping noses, cleaning messes and indoctrinating them all with positive American values.)

05 March 2011

Metal Detecting Post #21

I had a couple of free hours one afternoon last week so I went back to an area which is close to a battlefield here in the Shenandoah Valley and found these 2 items - a rivet and a flat button. The rivet is CW period and possibly from a saddle or other leather item.This makes the 3rd 19th century flat button I've pulled out of this site. Notice the checkered pattern on the face of the button. Backmark reads "Best" and has a wreath design. 

04 March 2011

Public Education Or An Educated Public?

If education is truly "for the children" and not for union members, teachers' salaries, and benefit packages, then why would anyone oppose methods that improve education? We know the answer, don't we? Individual liberty and choice outperforms forced statist conformity every time. And, in this example, it outperforms at half the cost. While I am a strong proponent of homeschooling, charter schools and competition could improve "public" education and would, at least, be a step in the right direction of giving parents more control and government and bureaucrats less. Here is an idea that is crossing party lines, as it should, and as this excellent video demonstrates. It's just common sense.

I'll have another related post coming later today or tomorrow morning. Who would you prefer educate your children, the Tea Party or socialists? Stay tuned.

Bring Mr. Buckles To The Capitol

"West Virginia's two Democratic senators blamed House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday after their hopes of having the remains of World War I veteran Frank Buckles honored in the Capitol Rotunda were dashed, at least for now."

No, this soldier's service is not necessarily more honorable than any of his compatriots. But his death marks the end of an era and his passing should be used to commemorate and represent all of America's WWI Vets in a special way. Boehner needs to be slapped down on this, in my humble opinion.
Story here.

The Tea Party Is Not The Problem

"Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said a surge in U.S. government “activism,” including fiscal stimulus, housing subsidies and new regulations, is holding back the economic recovery." (See here.)

Oh that we would only learn from history:

03 March 2011

Lookin' For A Partner

Business, that is. (Sorry ladies, I'm already spoken for.)

I'm currently looking for someone to partner with for a new online business venture.

To qualify, you must:

*Have a proven track record as a writer.
*Have at least some gray (naturally) hair.
*Possess one of the following:
     1. A thorough working knowledge of Wordpress and site design.
     2. Two grand with which you're willing to part.
*Be able to recall life before 7-11's.
*Be a fan of The Andy Griffith Show
*Know how to drive a vehicle with a straight drive transmission.
*Have, at one time in your life, owned a pick up truck.
*Have a deep appreciation for American ingenuity and quality.
*Possess a distaste for most popular culture.
*Love America and Americana.
*Know the difference between a cow and a heifer and a bull and a steer.
*Be a traditionalist (rather obvious at this point, is it not?)

To further qualify, you must not:

*Possess a Madonna CD or like her music.
*Have ever owned a Prius.
*Have ever owned a pair of speedos.
*Believe the world owes you anything.
*Be infected with political correctness.
*Be ashamed of America's history.
*Think we are wiser than those who have gone before us.
*Drink, drive, or wear anything pink.

There are additional qualifications, but these will do for now.

Interested? Send an email to: stonewallbook_at_yahoo_dot_com with "venture" in the subject line.

America's 2nd "Civil War" - Economics Again?

"The year 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in America.  Perhaps it is fitting then that this same year is host to the onset of a great polarization in our nation, the likes of which may get to a point not been seen since the Vietnam War.  This fiscal Civil War is between two distinct groups, and although the war is being fought with shouts and legislation, rather than the muskets of old, the end result of the war will have a huge impact upon our country."

More here at the American Thinker.

02 March 2011

Some Things Never Change

"A doctor today would never prescribe the treatments my grandfather used in the Confederate Army, but a minister says pretty much the same thing today that a minister would have said back then.~ John Templeton