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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Day of Thanksgiving and Praise


Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Could any holiday be more American than this one? (Well the Fourth of July comes pretty close, doesn't it?) Anyway, since Thanksgiving dinner prep and work will keep me from blogging much of this week, I'm going to recycle an old blog about my favorite holiday:

On November 28, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln declared all government offices closed for a day of Thanksgiving. Magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale suggested that Lincoln made the day a nationwide observance. On October 3, 1863, Lincoln issued the following proclamation, setting apart the last Thursday of November as “a day of Thanksgiving and praise.”

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/thanks.htm

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Stagecoach Etiquette

Thanks for stopping by, but I'm not here today! I'm blogging with my friends the Scandalous Victorians. So mosey on over!


Monday, November 19, 2007

Four Score and Seven Years Ago


I was going to post a blog about Thanksgiving, but maybe I'll get to that later this week. Anyway, it dawned on me what day this was, historically speaking, so I hope you won't mind if I recycle an old blog I did for the Scandalous Victorians last year.

Four Score and Seven Years Ago…

Most of us have heard those famous words, but I wonder how often anyone takes the time to reflect upon them or their meaning.

On November 2, 1863, many months after the battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863) had ended, Governor David Wills invited President Abraham Lincoln to “make a few appropriate remarks” at the consecration of a cemetery for the Union war dead.

Lincoln accepted the invitation, probably viewing the event as an appropriate time to honor the war dead, as well as reveal his evolving thinking about the war, not merely as a fight to save the Union but as an opportunity to establish freedom for all those under the law.

On November 19, 1863, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Lincoln spoke the now famous words. At the time, the President drew criticism because of the brevity of his comments. Yet those “few appropriate remarks” have gone on to be one of the most memorable speeches of all time.

Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation: conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war. . .testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated. . . can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war.

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate. . .we cannot consecrate. . . we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. . .that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth.

Well said, Mr. President.

For more information on the Gettysburg Address or Abraham Lincoln, visit:

http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/gettysburg/

http://www.nps.gov/archive/gett/home.htm

http://americancivilwar.com/north/lincoln.html

http://sc94.ameslab.gov/TOUR/alincoln.html

Friday, November 2, 2007

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The End

How do those words make you feel? At the end of a good movie or book, they can bring a sigh, a sense of satisfaction. At the end of the move Bridget Jones’ Diary, when Bridget and Mark Darcy finally share that first real kiss, her in her underwear, the snow falling gently around them—I always want to cry out “Not yet! It’s just getting good!” (Thank God for sequels!). At the end of Gone With the Wind, when Scarlet O’Hara tells us that “after all, tomorrow is another day” I have that lingering sense of unfinished business.

JK Rowling uses the line “all was well” to wrap up her Harry Potter series. A definite sigh of satisfaction after reading that (or maybe it’s just exhaustion, considering how long the last two books were!)

But what about when it’s your baby? Your characters you’re sending off into the sunset? How do those words make you feel then—even if most writers don’t actually type them out. The End. Over. Finished. Kaput. You’ve raised your characters, taught them well and sent them off into the world like wee baby birds to try out their wings. Your time with these people, whom you’ve lived and loved vicariously through, has come to an end.

I suppose I should feel a sense of relief, a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. But it seems just about the time I hand that envelope off to the mail lady –she, tugging, because I can’t quite let go, and looking at me like I’ve lost my mind—or as I sit there, finger poised and trembling over that “send” button that will electronically zap a copy off to my editor—I panic! Wait! They’re not ready yet! I’m not ready to let go!

We spend years, sometimes months even, with these people. And while they may not be real in the flesh and blood sense, they are very much alive to the writer who creates them, and hopefully, the reader who embraces them.

For me, I don’t think it’s ever over. I still think of Tucker and Holly when I drive past a Christmas tree farm. I think of Derek when I see a flashy sports car drive by. And there’s an actress on TV that reminds me a lot of Kelly. I can’t even hear the words “cowboy” or “gunfighter” without Raz Colt taking over my mind, or hear Owen Wilson’s voice without the smooth-talking Kip Cooper (who reminds me very much of Mr. Wilson –without the psychological issues, I hope!) springing to my thoughts. With the exception of Cooper, who is clamoring for his own story even now, these characters’ stories are written. Over and done with. So why are they still haunting me? Why is it so hard to let go?

How do you feel when you’ve reached the end of a WIP?

Monday Morning Musing: A Shot of Adrenaline

I found the review below on Facebook last week when someone posted it about Northern Temptress, and it lifted my spirits considerably. Last ...