Peace Corps

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The Peace Corps was created as an organization of volunteers whose purpose was to help other nations understand America, and for Americans to understand other countries’ cultures. The Peace Corps also helps developing countries meet their needs.

The Peace Corps was created in 1961 by US President John F. Kennedy. It was created to help other countries see America more brightly as the nation that came together to help. The Peace corps was not without its critics, however. US Representative Otto Passman of Louisiana reduced the Corp’s funding to minimal levels, and was called “Otto the Terrible” by his own critics. Future President Richard Nixon also opposed the program, and in 1971 he brought the Peace Corps under the management of a new organization called ACTION. However, it was Nixon who saved the Corps from Passman’s reduction of funding.

President Jimmy Carter’s mother served in the Peace Corps, and had a wonderful experience according to Carter. Consequently, Carter made the Peace Corps independent from other agencies by executive order in 1979, and that is how it remains today.

Ancestry.com

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Many people have family that can tell them where they came from: Europe, Asia, or Africa. However, many want to know more about their family, and go back farther than memory allows.

Records, though, do allow you to go back farther into your family history; you just need to know where to find out your ancestry. My family became members of Ancestry.com in 2005, but I first got interested in 2014. By then, our tree had almost a thousand members, and we had gone back to Scottish Royalty. Many people would be happy and satisfied with this cool knowledge, but there was more for me: I found out I was descended of royalty from all over Europe! I am mostly European, and I’m descended of English, Spanish, French, German, Polish, and Scandinavian Royalty, plus much more! Kings of fame such as Alfred the Great and Edward III of England, Olav II of Norway, Charles Martel, Hugh Capet and Philip III of France, and Charlemagne and Otto I of the Holy Roman Empire can be found on my family tree.

I am also descended of John Steele, the first Governor of Connecticut, and William Bradford, the Puritan leader of Plymouth Colony in America. I also have connections to Noah Webster of the Webster dictionary, and am related to Frank and Jessie James, plus Wilhelm II of Germany (the leader of the Axis Powers during World War I).

As far as ethnicity goes, I am mostly European on both sides of my family. On my dad’s side there is a bit of Native-American, Asian, and African, plus a bit of Muslim and Middle-Eastern with the Caliphs of Cordoba, who clashed weapons with my Dad’s Christian ancestors such as Charles Martel and El Cid. On my mom’s side, I was surprised to discover in a DNA test that I am part Ashkenazi Jewish! The Ashkenazi Jew population encompassed 92% of all Jews in 1931, and were the main Jewish target by Adolf Hitler during World War II in the Holocaust.

All of this is my family’s history, and where they came from. Just Imagine who your family could be descended from! Ancestry.com needs a bit of your family history to begin with, but it can take you very far if you work at it. Ancestry.com has been an exciting journey for me, and now my family tree has over 10,000 members! However, the website has one flaw; when you see your family’s profiles, you will realize that although their story has finally been discovered and their legacy once again told, they are not here on this earth anymore. I encourage you to talk to the family that you still have, and to treasure in your heart the stories that your grandparents told you.

 

Sully

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On January 15, 2009, a miracle occurred: a plane crashed in the Hudson River in New York, and all 155 passengers survived.

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Flight 1549 being pulled out of the Hudson

 

US Airways Flight 1549 was supposed to fly from LaGuardia to Charlotte Douglas Airport. However, the airplane struck a flock of geese within three minutes of takeoff and lost thrust in both engines. Disaster appeared to be waiting to swallow the crew and passengers whole, but Captain Chesley Sullenberger (a.k.a. Sully) gave the call to brace for impact and crashed the plane into the Hudson. Water landing are rare, tricky, and rarely successful. The order was given for evacuation, and Sullenberger personally oversaw the evacuation, being among the last to exit the plane. Rescue came shortly after the rough landing, and all 155 passengers survived, with very few  injuries. The investigation of the incident showed that both engines had become inoperable due to the bird strike, and the stimulation tests taken proved that, accounting for the “human factor”, safely landing the plane on an airport was unlikely. Sullenberger became a hero and famous nationwide for his actions, and retired from flying the following year after being acknowledged at such events as the Super Bowl.

A movie titled Sully was released last year depicting the tragedy that didn’t happen featuring Tom Hanks as Captain Chesley Sullenberger and Aaron Eckhart as First Officer Jeff Skiles.

The heroics of Sullenberger and his decisions to immediately turn on the auxiliary power unit and land the plane in the Hudson probably saved the lives of all the passengers and crew on board, and this will not be forgotten. And let’s face it, it’s nice to have something good happen to New York involving planes crashing, wouldn’t you agree?

The Timurid Empire

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The Timurid Empire was one of the largest empires in its time, and its leader, Timur, was a ruthless emperor who showed no mercy to those who opposed him.File:Timur orders campaign against Georgia.jpg

Timur (also known as Tamerlane) was reportedly born in 1336,and was taken prisoner early in his life by an invading Mongol army. Timur soon built a coalition of allies, and repelled another Mongol invasion army. Timur himself claimed descent from Genghis Khan himself (and married a descendent of Genghis Khan), but this claim was never proven. Timur called his growing empire the beacon of Islam, and set out to extinguish the other Islamic nations. There were three other major Islamic empires at the time, but Timur dispatched them one by one. Persia was undergoing a dynastic crisis, and Timur was able to come in and annex the country. The Golden Horde, the remnant of Genghis Khan’s former empire, turned on its ally and was subsequently broken up by Timur, never again to re-gain its former status. Timur then focused his attention on the very wealthy Delhi Sultanate in India, capturing Delhi itself in 1398 in one of his greatest victories. The Ottoman Empire under its sultan Beyezid I was the last empire that Timur sought. Beyezid was sieging Constantinople (the final remnant of the Byzantine Empire) at the time, but was forced to break off the siege to engage Timur’s invading army. Beyezid was captured in this battle and forced to be a slave of Timur, enduring public humiliation until his death a year later.

After Beyezid’s death, the Ottoman Empire was in disarray and in dynastic chaos. However, revolts closer to home forced Timur to return to his own borders, and he died shortly afterwards in 1405. Timur had conquered three empires and defeated another, and his territory extended from Southeastern Turkey to the Chinese border. Timur was the ruler of the Middle East for sure. He truly had achieved “greatness,” but only in one respect. Timur was widely known for his ruthlessness. When Baghdad revolted against him in 1402, he announced that every soldier of his was to bring him two severed heads to prove to him that the city was his again. The civilian death was massive, and some soldiers resorted to killing members of their own family to spare themselves from Timur’s wrath.

However, Timur proved to be over-ambitious. The greatness of the Timurid empire disintegrated shortly after Timur’s death. His descendants proved less adept at ruling his once-mighty empire, and soon it was no longer an empire. By 1507 it had completely disappeared from the maps of the world. What might possibly have been the most ruthless era in History was over, yet much changed due to Timur’s ambitions. Three empires disappeared, and one former empire was saved, the former Byzantine empire, which hung on to Constantinople only. It would not be until 1453 that the Ottomans had enough strength to once again siege it, and this time win.

Pi Day

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Today is Pi Day. That might sound weird to you, but it’s Pi, not Pie.

 

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A Pi Pie, just in case you weren’t already confused!

 

However, eating Pies and throwing them is still a tradition for Pi Day. Pi Day was even officially recognized by the U.S. Government in 2009! Pi Day occurs on the 14th of March, making the holiday appear on 3/14, a very fitting date since Pi’s numbers start with 3.14. The symbol of Pi is π,an Ancient Greek letter. Pi is often used to help determine       the ratio of a circle’s circumference to it’s diameter. While math isn’t exactly my favorite subject, I wouldn’t mind celebrating the day with my favorite type of pie- pumpkin.

Whether it be for Pi or Pie, Pi Day could be considered proof that people are running out of Holidays to make! So on this Tuesday, celebrate Pi and all it has to offer.

Birthdays

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Birthdays are very important, though many celebrate them differently. My Birthday was two days ago (I am now 15 years of age), and I had a wonderful time!

Birthdays have been around for a very long time, though in the Bible only one Birthday is mentioned: The Egyptian Pharaoh in Genesis 40:20. Even back then there were Birthday celebrations! Some people have parties with friends, others have a private celebration with family, while some don’t celebrate their Birthdays at all. I had the former two. I had a Marvelous birthday party with my friends, and then a family celebration where we went to some of my favorite restaurants, including Panera, Rubio’s, and Islands, plus a little dessert at Yogurtland. I opened up a few presents, and was very happy with the coins and Dorito bags I received!

Birthdays are a very specific time of the year that reflects the anniversary of someone’s Birth, and is a symbol of the individuality of that person. How do you celebrate your Birthday?

Anthem

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No, I am not talking about the United States National Anthem. I am talking about the book Anthem by Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand is better known for her works The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. She was well-known for promoting the Objectivist Movement, and her works received mixed reviews by literary critics. However, she has a legacy for her works and for Anthem, which was first published in 1938.

The book’s setting is that of a futuristic Utopian dark age, where new technology and individualism are rejected by a World Council that determines the Earth’s affairs. In this Utopian society everyone works “for the Greater Good”, and are forced to use the word “we” to describe themselves. The protagonist of the book is a young man named Equality 7-2521, who yearns to learn more about the Earth’s mysteries, and believes that the World Council has led the Human Race astray from the truth. He re-discovers electricity, but the Council rejects it and attempts to arrest him. Equality flees to a forest nearby, and is followed by a friend, whom he simply calls “The Golden One”. Equality and The Golden One discover what it is like to say the word “I” and be individuals, not slaves to a Utopian society, and Equality plans to return and bring his fellow friends with him to the forest to start a new civilization that is free from Utopia.

Rand emphasized several themes in her book Anthem, the main one being individualism over society. Rand believed that people should be individuals instead of one society, and Anthem is a prominent example of Dystopia, or Anti-Utopia. However, Rand also believed that man is not supposed to live for others, but only for oneself. She did not believe in being any brother’s keeper. I believe that, as a Christian, I am supposed to love my neighbor like myself, and I am my brother’s keeper. Rand also believed that one must be selfish to have love, but she did not realize that unconditional love is unselfish, and that God has an unconditional love for us.

While Anthem may not be the most thought-provoking book ever made, it does have one important point I can agree with: Don’t try to be like everybody else. You are special, and you are an individual, not part of a group that does not care about you. God cares about you. Jesus died on the cross for you. If that’s not unconditional love, I don’t know what is.

President for a Day

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“Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes,” artist Andy Warhol famously stated. Imagine if you were the President of the United States of America for one day? Well, one man might have been.

David Rice Atchison was born on August 11, 1807, and became the Democratic President pro tempore of the United States Senate on August 8, 1846, and would remain so until December 2, 1849. Here are the events that led up to Atchison’s “Presidency”; Zachary Taylor was elected President of the United States in the election of 1848. In those days, the Presidential oath of office was taken on March 4th instead of January 20th. However, March 4th of 1849 fell on a Sunday, so Taylor decided to take it the next day on the 5th instead. As the President pro tempore at the time, Atchison theoretically would have become Acting President of the United States until Taylor took the oath of office. Atchison spent his day of fame and power sleeping. After his “term,” Atchison would remain as President pro tempore of the Senate, and would briefly join the army of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War as a Brigadier General. Atchison died on January 26, 1886.

While some believe Atchison to have been “President for a day”, most historians and scholars dismiss this claim. It must be pointed out that the Constitution of the United States does not require a President to take the oath of office in order to become president, just to execute his powers. Furthermore, even if the laws permitted Atchison to become Acting President, his own Senate term expired on that day, and he would not be re-elected as President pro tempore of the Senate until March 5th himself.

While he may not have been the technical “President for a day”, Atchison still gained recognition and fame for both what happened (becoming “President”) and what he did (slept) during his supposed Presidency.

President’s Day

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Today is Monday, usually a time for men to go to work and children to go to school. However, it is a holiday, and my family gets a break from work!

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George Washington

 

President’s Day is celebrated on the third Monday of every February. It was created to honor George Washington’s birthday. Some think Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is also included, but it is not. In 1951, the first attempt to make President’s Day  a federal holiday occurred, but it failed. However, many states adopted it as a local holiday for March 4th. The term President’s Day was popularized in the 1980’s.

It is nice to have a holiday break once in a while, and to honor our presidents, who gave us the freedom we needed.

The DeVos Vote

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On November 23, 2016, Donald Trump nominated Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, a controversial choice for some.

Of course, it was a fight to confirm DeVos into office due to her outspoken support of School Choice. On January 31, she was confirmed by the Senate committee of Health, Education, Labor and Pensions 12-11, bitterly along partisan lines. In the Senate, her nomination was shaky. However, Vice-President Mike Pence cast the tiebreaking vote, as the vote was 50-50. This is probably the longest time it ever took for the Senate to confirm an American President’s nominees for his cabinet. The irony is that the Democrats prolonging this process and not confirming Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General quickly sabotaged their attempt at denying DeVos her cabinet position! The vote was 50-50, and Senator Sessions voted in DeVos’s favor. If Sessions had been confirmed to office earlier (and therefore leaving his position in the Senate), DeVos probably would not have been confirmed to office, as the vote would have been 50-49 against her.

DeVos was confirmed, as were many of Trump’s cabinet picks, but it has caused a division. Even though I fully support DeVos being the Secretary of Education, I feel sad that no one can agree on anything, and that we must fight so hard for what we believe in.