Bush 41: A Legacy

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On the last day of November this year, the 41st President passed away. Today we celebrate the incredible journey he took upon himself.

George H. W. Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts on June 12th of 1924, and for the next 94 years he changed the course of American history. Even in his younger years Bush proved to be a leader, becoming President of the senior class of Philips University. The spirit of Patriotism that Bush acquired before embodying took firm root during World War II, where Bush was (at age 18) among the youngest servicemen in the military. A naval aviator, Bush was shot down by Japanese ground-flaks in 1944, an event that he later claimed caused him to wonder what God’s purpose for him was. Awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross, Bush soon married Barbara Pierce, leading to the longest-lived marriage of 73 years for an American President. Bush was a millionaire by the time he was elected to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1966, and represented Houston, Texas. Although he lost a hard-fought race for U.S. Senator in 1970, President Richard Nixon appointed him Ambassador to the United Nations.

George H. W. Bush

Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Bush at first defended Nixon during the Watergate Scandal, but soon encouraged him to resign. Gerald Ford appointed Bush to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency. With his vast experience, Bush decided to run for President in the Election of 1980. With a heavy loss to former governor of California, Ronald Reagan, Bush decided to sell his home and relocate to the eastern coast. However, Reagan eventually made Bush his vice-presidential candidate and with the win, assumed his duties. Bush had a very good relationship with Reagan, probably helped by his famous refusal to become Acting President after a nearly-successful assassination attempt on Reagan. Bush remained Vice-President for all eight years of Reagan’s term, and was perhaps involved in the Iran-Contra Scandal, although no current proof exists.

Bush ran for President again in 1988, and this time won handily against first Bob Dole in the primaries and then Michael Dukasis in the general election. Bush is best-known for both his vastly successful foreign policy and his unsuccessful Economic Strategy. Bush oversaw the collapse of the Soviet Union begun by Reagan, and successfully forced Iran out of Kuwait during the Gulf War. 

“Read my lips: no new taxes.” These words best describe the reason for President Bush’s loss to Bill Clinton in the 1992 Presidential Election. The Economy suffered during his Presidency, the result of disagreements between the parties over how to curb the federal deficit. Bush was pressured by the Democratic majority to sign drastic Tax increases into effect, eventually plummeting his popularity and leading to him becoming the last to-date President to lose Re-election.

Bush visits American troops in Saudi Arabia, Thanksgiving 1990.

Perception of Bush’s Presidency has greatly increased since he left office, and Bush remained active in retirement, living to see his own son become President. To distinguish himself, he became known as Bush Senior or Bush 41. Bush even tossed the coin of Super Bowl LI! Bush was the longest-living President in history at the time of his death, and maintained his sense of humor and gentleness to the end.
President Donald Trump ordered that today be a national day of mourning for a country that has lost a veteran, a President, and a leader. I think the coolest moment during the funeral was when 95-year old politician and fellow veteran Bob Dole rose from his wheelchair and gave Bush a salute. No bitterness, just pure respect seldom seen nowadays. That’s what this country is about. That’s the kind of country I am proud to be a part of.

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Fourth of July

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Every year on July 4, the United States of America celebrates the Fourth of July as the day that the U.S. declared independence from Great Britain during the Revolutionary War, and is one of the most beloved holidays throughout the year. However, what if I told you that July 4th was not in fact the day that the U.S. became an independent nation?

It is common knowledge that the Founding Fathers of the United States crafted the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July (Thomas Jefferson himself penned it), but a relatively obscure fact is that the Continental Congress voted to declare the U.S. a free nation on July 2, a full two days before the Declaration was made. Legally, the U.S. became an independent day on July 2; however the holiday is on the fourth. I think the reason why is obvious enough; the Declaration of Independence was a well-publicized announcement that caught the patriotic fever of a young nation and was created as an original American document, not one of British superiors. The Declaration of Independence also embodies American principle and continues to carry the heart of the nation through tomorrow.

America immediately began celebrating the publication of its most cherished ideas and in 1870, Independence Day became an official holiday. It has been 242 years since the Declaration of Independence was made, but we remember the sacrifices and triumphs of our American Revolution to this day.

 

Wyatt Earp

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My brother and I after one of Tombstone’s daily re-enactments of the infamous fight.

Wyatt is a name most commonly associated with the Old West gangster Wyatt Earp, known primarily for his fight at the O.K. Corral. However, there is more to my namesake that meets the eye, and much has been exaggerated over the years.

 

Wyatt Earp was born in 1848 and joined the Union army at the age of 13 with his brother Virgil, fighting in a few Civil War battles against his father’s wishes. Wyatt later joined his family in California but had trouble with the law (despite his ambitions to become a lawman), giving him the reputation of a sometimes-rogue constable. In 1879, Wyatt moved to Tombstone, Arizona, which was a new town with trouble brewing. Wyatt’s brothers Virgil and Morgan joined him there, and Wyatt became a deputy marshal with the hope of cleaning the town up. However, a band of cowboys (outlaws with quite a track record) led by Ike Clanton stirred up trouble, attempting to tarnish the Earp’s reputations.

On October 26, 1881, tensions came to a head, with abundant reports of the Cowboys being armed coupled with numerous death threats issued against the Earp’s and “Doc” Holliday, a friend of Wyatt’s. Virgil Earp, the Marshal of Tombstone, decided to bring his brothers Wyatt and Morgan (along with Holliday) to settle this disregard for authority. Virgil’s initial plan was to simply disarm the Cowboys (a group now consisting of Ike Clanton, his brother Billy Clanton, Wes Fuller, and brothers Frank and Tom McLaury), but the confrontation led to a standstill. Witnesses to the gunfights’ events (or who shot first) depended on the witnesses’ allegiances to either side, and thus the only evidence taken as true was a group of unaffiliated men who recounted the story. The fight lasted 30 seconds, but by it’s end Virgil, Morgan, and Holliday were wounded on the Earp’s side, while Frank and Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton were killed on the Cowboy’s side (Ike and Wes fled the scene).

The resulting trial was deadlocked; witnesses tied to either the Earp’s or the Cowboys testified to their favorite side’s version of events. However, the scales were tipped in favor of the Earp’s when evidence from the autopsy and unaffiliated witnesses’ testimony came in favor of the Earp’s version of the gunfight, and they were acquitted of murder charges. Shortly after the fight, Morgan Earp was assassinated in front of his brother (possibly murdered by Cowboys sympathizers) and Wyatt organized a posse to capture and kill the remaining Cowboys, undertaking a journey of revenge that only partially succeeded in defeating the Cowboys, though Wyatt’s drive for justice greatly improved his reputation.

Wyatt Earp died on January 13, 1929, having lived 80 years. His legacy has since been that of a lawman who stood up for the people of Tombstone and for his own family, and he is still known best for the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, in which he was not the sole hero or the main character of. Biographies after his death cemented his legacy as superior to his brothers and the Cowboys, but in reality Wyatt was only part of a story that has become a classic.

Fun Fact: the O.K. Corral is not actually where the fight took place. It really occurred on Fremont street, and the participants in the event were much closer than previously imagined (some a mere 7 feet away from the other party). In 2011, I even visited Tombstone to learn more about the most famous gunfight and gunfighter to ever roam the Wild West.

The Name Game: Actors & Singers

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There are plenty of famous celebrities (ranging from athletes to even Presidents) who do not use their true birth name, and I was shocked at discovering some of them! How many of these celebrities’ names are real, and how many were altered? As this is a game of sorts, I encourage you to keep a score of your correct answers.

Natalie Portman, Actress and Film Producer. Role: Padme Amidala in Star Wars.

Miley Cyrus, Singer & Actress.

Chris Pratt, Actor. Role: Starlord in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Ben Kingsley, Actor. Role: Recently Bagheera in The Jungle Book.

Albert Brooks, Actor. Role: Marlin in Finding Nemo.

Dwayne Johnson, Actor & Professional Wrestler. Role: Luke Hobbs in Fast and Furious.

Alan Alda, Actor. Role: Hawkeye in M*A*S*H

Johnny Depp, Actor. Role: Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Tom Cruise, Actor. Role: Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible.

Michael Caine, Actor. Role: Alfred Pennyworth in The Dark Knight trilogy.

Harrison Ford, Actor. Role: Titular character in Indiana Jones/Han Solo in Star Wars.

Kirk Douglas, Actor. Role: Prominent Box-office star of the 1950’s and 60’s.

Marilyn Monroe, Actress. Role: Huge Popular Culture Icon.

Judy Garland, Actress. Role: Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz.

Bruce Springsteen, Singer.

Justin Timberlake, Singer.

Bruno Mars, Singer.

Katy Perry, Singer.

Madonna, Singer.

John Legend, Singer.

And just to shake things up: Harry Houdini, escape artist and Illusionist. Nicknames such as “Chris” or “Tom” don’t count as fake names. Continue reading

The King of Pop

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Michael Jackson was perhaps best known for his album Thriller

When I mention the King of Pop, almost everyone knows who I’m talking about. But how much do you really know about Michael Jackson?

 

Michael Joseph Jackson was born on August 28, 1958 and began his world-famous career from childhood. In 1964, Michael joined the Jackson 5, a band involving his brothers that soon blossomed into an international hit and allowed Michael to become a solo star as well. Off the Wall (1979) was Jackson’s chance to launch into the public’s eye, and with over 20 million copies, it remains one of the best-selling albums of all time. Michael then released Thriller, the best-selling album on record, with such hits as “Billy Jean” and “Beat It.” Jackson’s health began to deteriorate in the 80’s as his skin became noticeably paler, the result of the condition vitiligo (and potentially lupus). Despite being constantly dizzy and experiencing dramatic weight loss, Jackson released Bad after a five-year absence from music and performed before an estimated audience of 4.5 million people during his subsequent world tour, seemingly as strong as ever.

The famous “King of Pop” nickname is attributed to Elizabeth Taylor in 1989 (though she went on to call him the king of rock and soul as well), and Jackson’s popularity was such that he performed during Super Bowl XXVII’s halftime show, drawing an audience of over 90 million people. After a number of child abuse allegations, Jackson announced a retirement tour titled This is It, set for mid- 2009. However, Jackson died on June 28, 2009, after overdosing on sleeping medications three weeks before his first concert. Connor Murphy, Jackson’s personal physician, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter as a result of his prescriptions.

Michael Jackson remains the highest-earning deceased individual, and despite his death he will be remembered forever as the King of Pop.

While I’m on the subject of music, I will also pay tribute to another famous musician whose career ended too soon, Swedish DJ and record producer Avicii, best-known for his singles Levels and Wake Me Up, the latter being one of the most-viewed songs of all time. Avicii was one of the artists I have enjoyed listening to most, and his death is an incredible tragedy.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

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Anne Frank

Anne Frank, a Jew who wrote a famous diary about hiding in the midst of the Holocaust. She died in a concentration camp in 1945.

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day (or Yom HaShoah to Israelis, Shoah meaning “destruction” in the Bible), and while many commemorations are for joyful circumstances, this one is for the terrible and unprecedented murder and torture of over 15 million Jews during the World War II era.

 

The deaths of over 6 million Jews were caused by the most infamous character in recent history: Adolf Hitler, Nazi leader of the German Third Reich. Hitler’s plan involved so-called “Ethnic Cleansing”, the desire to create a “pure” identity and get rid of “impure” races and beliefs, a group that included Jews, Christians, and the mentally and physically disabled. After Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, the new Nazi government passed laws to limit Jewish interaction with other Germans, and slowly de-humanized them in the public eye. Jews were deprived of the jobs, education, and privileges given freely to other Germans, and concentration camps were built to contain opponents of the new regime. Those with an alleged genetic disorder were to be “sterilized,” and their offspring were killed. This was only the beginning of genocide.

In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws stripped Jews of their citizenship and forbid the intermarriage of Jews and Germans. By 1939, more than half of the German Jewish population had left, including some of my ancestors. As Germany expanded before and during World War II, the countries annexed abided by the same laws, and Jews from every country occupied were forced to lie in ghettos, forcibly separated from the rest of the world. Around 1941, the concentration camps started to replace the ghettos as Jews were forced into heavy labor. Death was caused by exhaustion, being shot, or being sent into gas chambers intended for mass murder.  Countless Literal Death Marches occurred before the liberation of the camps in 1945 with the fall of the Third Reich, but the damage had already been done. Upon the liberation of the camps, many Jews were displaced, and eventually found a home in the new nation of Israel created in 1948, while others remained in the United States.

Last year, I visited the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C. and I was shocked by how little I had thought about the Holocaust and it’s significance before that point. I do not usually recommend reading or watching more about something as terrible as this, but I will do that today, because this is an event in history that cannot be overlooked. Though I give it little justice with my sliver of descriptions of its terror, I hope that you learn more from the individual stories told by the soldiers upon liberating the camps. Many have lost family members to this genocide, and we need to continue sharing this story so that this great suffering will not be overlooked.

California

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Did you ever wonder why it says “California Republic” on the flag?

In the United States of America, there is only one state that I live in: the state with the largest population, California. I was recently challenged by a friend of my Dad to tell him about how California got its name. I did not know, and it occurred to me that though I have much knowledge on events far outside my state, I’ve paid comparatively less attention to my local history, and so I began a quest for knowledge.

I discovered that California was not originally the mass of land you see on a map. California originally referred to the Baja California Peninsula that borders Mexico, and California was mistakenly identified as an island well into the 18th century by Spanish explorers! California likely gained its name from the fictional island of that name in the romantic Spanish novel Las sergas de Esplandian, written in 1510.

After Mexico gained independence from Spain, California became a sparse population, overrun by Ranchos and rebellions against the weak Mexican government. In 1846, American settlers in California launched the Bear Flag revolt (the namesake being the flag of California), which created the California Republic and installed William B. Idle as its president (he would be the only one). In the aftermath of the Mexican-American War (fought primarily over California), California was annexed by the United States and became a state in 1850 with the help of American adventurer John C. Fremont. The Gold Rush of 1848 had much to do with the territories’ quick admission to the Union, though California was initially isolated from the rest of the states. California became better connected to the rest of the Union with the advent of the First Transcontinental Railroad.

California has also endured its share of disasters, ranging from the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake to the 1928 St. Francis Flood Dam, though it is renowned for its ideal southern weather down in cities like San Diego, as well as its considerable amount of sports teams and major cities. California remains the 3rd largest state in America, as well as the most populated with a population of almost 40 million people.

March 8th

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Today is a very important day for multiple reasons, one of them being the 16th birthday I’ve had! Here are a few historical events whose anniversaries have come due:

1702: Queen Anne begins her reign over England, Scotland, and Ireland. She would later become the first monarch of the United Kingdom in 1707.

1775: An unknown author (perhaps Thomas Paine) publishes the book “African Slavery in America,” becoming the first book to publicly call for the abolition of slavery.

1862: During the American Civil War, the infamous Battle of Hampton Roads begins.

1917: The February Revolution begins, eventually gaining enough power to dethrone emperor Nicholas II and establishing the Soviet Union.

1957: After the end of Suez Canal Crisis, Egypt officially re-opens the Suez Canal.

1965: The first American marines land in Vietnam to participate in the war.

1983: Ronald Reagan famously labels the Soviet Union to be an “Evil Empire” while giving a speech to Evangelicals.

2014: Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappears en route to Beijing, causing an ongoing international search for the wreckage.

2017: The landmark arch Azure Window collapses.

Two U.S. Presidents, Millard Fillmore and William Howard Taft, ended their long journeys through life on this day in 1874 and 1930, respectively. Take a look at all of the historical events I share my birthday with, I find it all incredible! Birthdays only come once a year, and I challenge you to find out something interesting about your birthday’s historical significance.

 

America’s Pastor

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Billy Graham

Billy Graham

Today one of the most dedicated men in History died, a man whose life spanned nearly a century and who dedicated it to God: Billy Graham.

 

Billy Graham was born on November 7, 1918 and became a pastor in 1943. In 1947, he began his first “Crusade” and ministry; a mission to spread the Gospel and the word of Christ to the four corners of the Earth. Graham quickly became one of the most popular men of television, and the term Evangelical Christian was soon associated with him. A friend of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights movement, Graham tore down the ropes that organizers for one of his Crusades put up to separate races, announcing “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are going to stumble into Hell because of our pride.” Graham was also acquainted with 12 consecutive presidents; from Harry S Truman to Barrack Obama, having also been a close friend of Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon.

Billy Graham will be remembered for his extraordinary efforts to bring men and women to Christ with open arms. From 1947 to 2005, Graham preached in over 180 countries to well over 200 million people in live audiences, as well as hundreds of millions more through radio and television. It is estimated that Graham touched the lives of over 2 billion people, and preached to more than any other person in history. Graham once said, “Someday, you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” Graham was 99 years old when he accomplished his mission.

Super Bowl LII

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You might not watch football, but you probably know about the Super Bowl or watched it just two days ago. I watched it (part of a recent tradition my family has), and to say it was entertaining would be an understatement! Warning: this is a long post.

For those of you scratching your heads, I sympathize with you. American Football is a relatively recent interest of mine, though it is plenty controversial. The first Super Bowl was held on January 15, 1967, and there have now been 52 of them. One team from the American Football Conference plays against one from the National Football Conference in the final game of the football season to best each other and be crowned Super Bowl Champions, and it takes a lot of winning to get there.

The NFL has had a lot of controversies this season, ranging from CTE to the ongoing National Anthem Protests. There have also been countless injuries this season, though many of the players put their faith in Jesus and are looking forward to their next trip to the field. Football is about the team, not just individual players, and these communities rise together for more than just the game. J.J. Watt, a defensive player for the Houston Texans, was injured early on in the season and spent his time during his recovery period raising awareness for the Houston area due to Hurricane Harvey, starting a fund that raised over $35 million! The teams that I thought had the best chances to make it to the Super Bowl were the Kansas City Chiefs (5-0 start), New Orleans Saints (rejuvenated offense), Minnesota Vikings (Case Keenum), Philadelphia Eagles (Carson Wentz and Co.), and the New England Patriots (Tom Brady).

However, none of these mentioned teams had an easy shot. The Chiefs stumbled after their great start to the season and were taken out in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. The Saints were defeated by the Vikings due to a play that will live in infamy. Then, the Vikings fell apart one step away from playing the Super Bowl in their own stadium in Minnesota, losing to an amazing team that had a story full of hope. The Philadelphia Eagles lost their quarterback Carson Wentz, who had a shot at Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the season before being injured. He was replaced by Nick Foles, the only quarterback to have thrown 5 touchdown passes in one quarter of a game, only to become a backup player considering retirement before signing with the Eagles. After a mixed reception to finish the regular season, Foles had a spectacular turnaround in the playoffs, making it to the Super Bowl with relative ease. As for the Patriots, who didn’t expect them to make it back? Tom Brady is the quarterback of this decade, and perhaps even the previous decade. He won MVP for the regular season, but there was controversy (isn’t there always with the Patriots?). Not Spygate or Deflategate, but the firing of Brady’s personal trainer by head coach Bill Belichick, supposedly straining their relationship. However, the Patriots held on to defeat the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars to make it to their second consecutive Super Bowl.

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Nick Foles, Super Bowl MVP

 

Now, there are supposedly three kinds of people: those who watch the Super Bowl for the competition and the game, those who watch it for the commercials (my parents), and those who don’t care. I’m part of a fourth group that loves it all (who else enjoyed the Bud Knight, Tide, and Alexa commercials?). Only interrupted by the halftime show headlined by Justin Timberlake, the game might have been the best in modern history for Eagles fans, at least. After losing their first two Super Bowls, it was the Eagles’ turn to upset the champions and do what the Falcons and Matt Ryan couldn’t do; beat Tom Brady at his own game. Nick Foles threw for three touchdowns and an interception that wasn’t his fault, and then caught a touchdown pass, a Super Bowl first, mocking Brady, who couldn’t catch his own trick pass. Brady passed for 505 yards, and made it to his 8th Super Bowl, but for the third time he didn’t win, losing a fumble in the final minutes of the game to seal it. Foles was named MVP, an amazing comeback player and a faithful Christian who truly inspired America with his speech as well as his performance. 41-33, the Eagles (the team I was rooting for personally) bested the Patriots in front of over 100 million people, though it wasn’t easy; both teams combined for 1,151 yards, the most ever in American football’s history!

In the end, the Super Bowl brings a finality to the football season; here are so many men who have a chance to make history and work together as a team to prove that they believe in each other, and that they can give their fans something to remember.