In honor of the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, a multimedia collection of tributes:

In text,
Lincoln's official mini-biography, from the White House homepage.

In spoken word,
NPR's biographical remembrance, presented by an All-Star cast of voices.

And in pictures,
A video prepared by the RNC, celebrating the party's patron saint.

Here's to what's best about America.

11/11: Veterans' Day

Category: American Glory
Posted by: an okie gardener

21/08: A Good Thing

Category: American Glory
Posted by: an okie gardener
A friend sent me this link to a beautiful story. Virtue, compassion, goodness.

If you have a reputation as a tough guy to maintain, you may want to be alone when you watch this.
Category: American Glory
Posted by: an okie gardener
From the First Battle of Fallujah. Story from the Rott.

Operation Al Fajr, the final battle of Fallujah, is well known. Lesser known is that seven months before the Marines had fought the insurgents to a bloody stalemate in the city in what has been called the First Battle of Fallujah. In March and April of 2004, 2nd Bn. 1st Marines, among others, fought bloody block to block battles in the Jolan district, pushing the growing numbers of insurgents away from the city outskirts. Eventually the Marines were held back while local Iraqis attempted a negotiated settlement, but not before some of the fiercest fighting to date in the Iraqi theater.

Major Doug Zembiec, then a Captain, led Echo Company 2/1 during the heavy fighting of March and April, but the culmination was a ferocious fight on April 26. On that day, Capt. Zembiec became a hero leading a company full of them.

Starting as a normal day, the company had just cleared a mosque from which it had earlier received fire when the enemy launched a coordinated assault that would last three hours. One Marine was killed and 10 others wounded in the initial fusillade and the Marines were hit with barrages of machine gun and RPG fire as waves of between 100 and 150 insurgents charged them. The engagement range was at times less than 25 yards.

Read the whole story.
Smithsonian Folkways records all kinds of music, in all kinds of places. My favorite recordings are Appalachian, recording equipment taken up into the hills, and the Old Time music recorded around dining tables and on front porches. But I also like the recordings from the Delta. Blues sung as an expression of living.

A lot of other music is available on Smithsonian Folkways. An American treasure.

Play some samples from these recordings below.

Ballads and Songs of the Blue Ridge Mountains: Persistence and Change
Various Artists

37th Old Time Fiddler's Convention at Union Grove North Carolina
Various Artists

Old Regular Baptists: Lined-Out Hymnody from Southeastern Kentucky
Indian Bottom Association

Classic Blues from Smithsonian Folkways
Various artists

This collection includes the full verson of Oh, Death made popular by the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? The old version is longer, and much bleaker than what you heard in the movie. Classic Mountain Songs from Smithsonian Folkways
Various Artists
Category: American Glory
Posted by: an okie gardener
For earlier posts see here.

On the way to California for our older son's wedding we visited several National Parks.

Petrified Forest National Park. Ages ago geological conditions were just right for minerals gradually to infiltrate the tissues of a forest of trees buried in the mud by a flood. Various minerals have made these fossil trees colorful, as is the Painted Desert in which they are found. The park also contains the ruins of an ancient pueblo and petraglyphs (symbols carved into stone). Worth a stop.

On the darker side, each year visitors walk away with pounds and pounds of petrified wood, even though it is illegal. Way to watch out for our grandchildren you knuckleheads.

The Grand Canyon National Park. The Canyon will not disappoint. It is as big as you expect, and even more awesome. About a mile deep and in places eighteen miles wide. A site so big that it takes stopping several times, and just looking for fifteen or twenty minutes each stop. The brain needs some time to process vastness and beauty on this scale. Believe it or not, according to the rangers, the average park visit is only two-and-a-half hours. Why? We spent only five-and-a-half hours because we needed to hit the road again. My wife and I hiked a wee bit of the trail down into the canyon and back. I think that our other senses must become involved if we are to get to know a place; we need the feel of it under our feet and to touch it and smell it.

The Canyon demands our respect. There are some railings in some places, but not everywhere. The week after we left a tourist fell to his death. I think many people are so estranged from nature that they cannot quite think of it as independently real. I wish everyone could spend considerable time out of doors, learning that our decisions and actions have consequences we must live with: go to sleep without building a fire for supper and you'll wake up cold and hungry because breakfast will take longer and there is no room service or McD's around the corner.

Death Valley National Park. We entered California from Nevada by way of Death Valley. What an aptly named place. The official high the afternoon we visited was 119 F. We got out of the car twice and walked around a bit. The hottest air temperature I hope I ever feel. Who must a Ranger p.o. in order to be assigned here?

Although large areas of the valley bottom are barren, there are plants in places. And the valley was part of the range of the Timbisha Shoshone. Living things are tough and adaptable. People as well as plants.

The Sequoia National Park. It does a person good to feel small every so often. The Grand Canyon did it with immensity, the Canyon and the Petrified Forest did it with geological time, Death Valley did it with life-threatening temperatures, and Sequoia trees do it with size and age. The largest trees in the world by volume, some of them already old when Jesus was born. We looked, hiked, and marveled in this wonderful place.

In all of the parks I heard many languages spoken by other visitors. A ranger at the Grand Canyon said that 40% of the visitors are from other countries. We have treasures in and on our land worth traveling to see from the other side of the globe. Thank God for men like Muir and Teddy Roosevelt and others who determined that parts of the American treasury would be preserved so that we and our children and our children's children could experience them.