Tag Archives: World War I

The Great War

Tuesday after school I was talking with a colleague, we were discussing what we were doing in our classes. He teaches music and is our band leader. I mentioned that I loved seeing his “I am marching for…” photos and explanations on the walls of my school before AND after Memorial Day in a blog post in 2014 and I asked if he planned to assign the project again this year. He replied,


I mentioned to him that I was the person who did the “Today in History” slides for our school’s morning announcements. He told me he enjoyed them and always shared them with his first period class, but noted that the “Today in History” slide for the day, Tuesday April 4 was rather somber. I agreed – Dr. King is assassinated. I mentioned that Tuesday was the 49th anniversary of the shooting and that I had planned out several memorable ‘Today in History’ slides, for the remainder of the school year – namely today’s slide – U.S. Enters World War 1.

“What a dumb war,” he said immediately.

Yes, what a dumb war, indeed. I agreed. I couldn’t agree with him more. It was a dumb war, most wars are.

Today is the 100-year anniversary of the United States Congress’s Declaration of War on Germany. Only Congress can declare war, but the president must request the Congress to declare war before a joint session of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. President Wilson had come before Congress only days before and asked Congress to declare war on April 2 and four days later the United States House of Representatives voted 373-50 in favor and the United States Senate followed with a vote of 82-6. And, then the United States joined the Allies against Germany. Continue reading The Great War

Vivid: memories, colors, and flowers

the poppy is a brilliant, vivid orange and yes, that is my foot

It’s Saturday morning and I am finishing a few school tasks before heading out to do some yard work. There is one more day, really two – but only one with kids. It’s been a good year and I had my end of year meeting with my principal Wednesday afternoon, sort of an exit interview – but I’m not leaving. He was new this year and his approach is different from previous administrators. He asked the questions you want to hear, but do not want to answer – but I did anyway. He asked what was good, bad, and ugly. I have many vivid memories of all of them – the whole gamut. In the coming weeks, I’ll be reminded that the good outweighs the bad and the ugly. It was a tough year full of learning and growing for me, and my students. I am not certain who learned more; regardless it’s always a fair trade.

Last week, I posted photos of the peonies along the fence in our backyard. We had rain last weekend and the peonies that had bloomed are beginning to fade and shred. They continue to bloom and provide glimpses of vivid brilliant color from the kitchen window and almost everywhere in the backyard. Earlier this week, the poppies began to bloom. The poppies bright orange bloom is in sharp contrast to the pink and white peony blooms. Continue reading Vivid: memories, colors, and flowers

Peonies and time

It is Thursday, May 28th and it is a beautiful Thursday afternoon. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and everything is right with the world. Well, almost right with the world. B’s out of town helping her mother (BTW, my favorite mother-in-law) transition back home. And, it’s somewhat quiet here – a lonely kind of quiet.

one of B's many peonies - childhood memories
one of B’s many peonies – childhood memories

This morning I noticed B’s peonies had begun to open up and bloom. I made a note to myself to take a few photos and send them to her. Peonies are some of her favorite flowers, her mother’s, too. I did better; posted them to Facebook and then it dawned on me to share them even farther: here. I hope it cheers B and her mother up. It put a smile on my face.   Continue reading Peonies and time

Stille Nacht

It’s Christmas morning and we are all in Ohio. We are at grandma’s house and it’s quiet, very quiet. The kids are still sleeping, Ivy is curled on her pad, and B is visiting her mother – grandma – at the care center on the other side of town. She’s been at the care center since late September after a very nasty fall.

We arrived late Tuesday evening and visited with grandma. It was good to see her and laugh and tease – I hadn’t seen her since mid-July when I last visited Ohio. She’s my favorite mother-in-law and she still has her wicked sense of humor and a great smile. It was good to see both in action again. B’s been home a couple of times to check in on her mom and square up the house as best she could. It’s been a tough year for B and her mother – first B’s older sister passed away and then her dad passed away two months later. Truth be told, it’s been difficult for all of us.

We are staying in grandma’s house – but she’s away and it seems a bit odd. There is no one to sip coffee with in the morning and it’s even quieter than normal – even with two noisy kids and a dog. Yesterday, I visited with grandma in the morning and again in the evening. She was restless and had a difficult time settling down after dinner. I had taken a book to read to her – a children’s book – Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas Truce of 1914. Based on the true story of the truce on Christmas Day in 1914 when the British and German soldiers took the day to stop fighting and share the meaning of Christmas with one another. This being the centenary anniversary of the beginning of the war several books have been published as well as a British supermarket chain, Sainsbury, produced a controversial video advertisement about the truce. Continue reading Stille Nacht


It is Veterans Day.

Ninety-six years ago, the Great War, World War I, or the war to end all wars, ended. Before the war ended, millions of young men lay dead, wounded, or maimed for life. For France, England, and Germany the sacrifice was immense – a lost generation. We Yanks were late coming to the conflict and lost over a hundred thousand young men – slightly less than the population of Naperville, the city where I teach. War is awful!

One of over two thousand crosses at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery
One of over two thousand crosses at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery

Continue reading Remembrance

Getting started

Memorial Day 2013 – A doughboy plays taps – Aisnes-Marne American Cemetery, Belleau, France photo courtesy of Aisnes-Marne American Cemetery Facebook page

This is a bittersweet time for me. The beginning of summer always is. It is a feeling of relief and joy and uncertainty mixed into one. This should be day 2 of summer vacation. It is day 2 of summer, meteorological summer, that is. Celestial summer will arrive just after midnight June 21st and we’ll have our peak daylight. But, for now I have three days remaining before summer really begins for me.

We had a snow day in March and two flood days in April that threw a wrench in the school calendar and thus mine. It has been a rainy spring, which is nice because last year we had little rain and the fall fruit and harvest was dismal at best around our parts. Friday was warm and muggy, you could feel the energy in the air and Saturday was overcast with afternoon rain. We’ve been spared violent weather thankfully, but we had a spectacular lightning show last Tuesday evening and rain almost every day for the past week. Continue reading Getting started

Veterans Day – Semper Fi

Today is Veterans Day. It is celebrated on the eleventh day of the eleventh month; the day also marks the remembrance of end of the First World War. There is no coincidence.

Private Robert N. Watkins, USMC, my dad

Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

As a young child, there were two topics, which I constantly read – World War II and football. I could not read enough or learn enough about the war. I was fascinated, and I still am intrigued by history. My dad helped foster this learning and I remember watching Patton at the Palms Theater in third grade. At the time, I thought it was a great movie. I have watched it many times since and have the soundtrack in my music library.  I am listening to it as I write this morning. I still think it is a great movie about a great man, who like many was flawed, but did what was needed when it was needed most. Continue reading Veterans Day – Semper Fi

Super Bowl Sunday

Go Pats!

I remember my first super bowl – or the first I remember watching. It was Super Bowl 4 – the Dallas Cowboys vs. the Baltimore Colts. I didn’t know much about football then, but being from Houston I was rooting for the Colts. The team I rooted for didn’t make it and never would. The Houston Oilers aren’t around anymore. Continue reading Super Bowl Sunday