Always Remember

Hi Friends,

Today was a blue sky, warm, sunny day ~

the kind of day that beckoned us to squeeze in a long walk to a meaningful place.

We both needed to reflect and remember.

Our destination was the “Flags of Honor” display in our favorite park. This Memorial  Day weekend, volunteers from the True Patriots Care organization installed 300 American flags in remembrance of the 300 Illinois servicemen and women who have sacrificed their lives since September 11, 2001 to protect our many freedoms.

We walked slowly up and down the rows of flags waving wildly in the breeze. Stopping at each flag, we read the name tag, listing each hero’s name, branch of service, age, and hometown. I was searching for one special name ~ a student who attended the school where I taught. I look for his name whenever we visit a Veterans’ Memorial. I wondered who else might have come this weekend to search for Christopher’s name. He is always remembered and honored, quietly, by his family, friends, and all who knew him.

As we stood beneath the branches of a beautiful gingko tree

gazing upon those 300 flags,

we thought of all of those Gold Star families

whose fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, husbands, and wives

made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us.

We must always remember to honor them…

and keep their spirit alive.

Next we walked across the park to Veterans’ Square,

where our Memorial Day parade had ended just a few hours earlier.

Small, white crosses, with engraved, brass nameplates

honored each of the local heroes who died defending our freedom.

This Memorial Day would have been President John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday.

We paused to honor all of these men and women

in a very simple, yet meaningful way.

I chose a soldier who served in Korea (like my dad)

and my husband chose a soldier who served in World War II (like his dad).

We each laid a long stemmed, red rose against their crosses

as a small token of our gratitude

for their brave service and great sacrifice

to preserve our way of life in America.

We must always remember…

In Remembrance,

♡ Dawn

     ☆ So grateful to the volunteers from True Patriots Care

who donate their time, throughout the Midwest,

to honor our troops, veterans, and first responders.

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The Call of the Drum…

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I can still hear the drums.

My heart will beat with the drums forever…

Hi Friends!

We recently returned from a wonderful visit with loved ones in Arizona.  Whether we are hiking in the Tonto National Forest or just walking through the neighborhood, we always admire Red Mountain for its distinctive shape and gorgeous color.

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Red Mountain stands on land owned by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Over the years, we have traveled through the reservation land many, many times. A major road, using the dry bed of the Salt River, passes right through the vast Indian reservation. This road is only closed when heavy rains turn it back into a fast-moving river.

This time, we felt so fortunate to spend a very special day on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa reservation!

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We couldn’t wait to attend our very first PowWow!  We arrived early and could hear the call of the drum as we walked across the grassy field. The beautiful, stirring sounds of a Drum circle welcomed us.

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We stood transfixed as we listened to the music of the drummers sitting in a tight circle around the ceremonial drum. The men were playing the drum and singing, while their wives and children sat in another circle around them. Well-known Host Drums traveled a great distance to perform at this Pow Wow. Black Bear (Quebec, Canada), Northern Cree (Alberta, Canada), Omaha White Tail (Nebraska), and Southern Thunder (Oklahoma) played throughout the two-day event.

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Traditionally, Pow Wows gather Native American people together as a celebration of American Indian culture. It is a powerful way of preserving the rich heritage of the American Indian people. It is a time of dancing, singing, renewing old friendships, and making new friends. The Red Mountain Eagle Pow Wow shares Native American Arts and Crafts and traditional foods. Everyone is welcome!

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Groups of Gourd Dancers performed throughout the morning. The soul-stirring music brought together people from tribes across North America.  Drums and Singers are very important people in Native American culture. For without them, there would be no dancing. Their songs can be religious, for war, and social. At a Pow Wow, most of the songs are social, in nature.

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As we watched the Gourd Dancers, my husband noticed that this dancer’s beaded headband showed all of his Vietnam War medals. Throughout our history, Native Americans have served in our Armed Forces in greater percentages than any other ethnic group. They have served our country with honor in every major conflict for over 200 years. The service, dedication, and patriotism of our Native American veterans should be honored by all Americans.

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After a hot morning in the bright, desert sun, it was time to find more water and taste some traditional American Indian foods. We watched as they prepared our Frybread and topped it with cinnamon and sugar. My husband also ate Frybread filled with mutton and chili peppers. We enjoyed our picnic lunch with a friendly local who told us more about the Pow Wow. The hot sun, the sound of the drums and singing, and the traditional food made memories we will cherish.

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As the time drew near for the Grand Entry, we walked around admiring the traditional dress. It was fascinating to watch the dancers put on layer upon layer of brightly-colored fabric, intricate beadwork, moccasins with bells, beautiful jewelry, and immense feather adornments. I just couldn’t resist asking permission to take photos.

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Spectacular, from both the front and back, the friendly dancers posed with pride. I was very interested to learn the name of their tribe and which part of the United States they traveled from for this special gathering.

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By pure luck, we found ourselves standing at the exact place where the Grand Entry would begin. My camera and I were thrilled!!  🙂 It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see all of the dancers from only an few feet way. We admired their gorgeous, traditional clothing up close as they slowly walked by. It was an experience I will treasure forever, as 500 dancers of all ages moved to the beat of the Drum, ready to enter the arena. Their serene, serious faces told us that this was a very important experience for them, as well.

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During the Grand Entry into the arena, everyone stands while the flags are carried in: the U.S. flag, Tribal flags, the P.O.W. flag, and the Eagle Staffs of all of the Indian Nations present at the Pow Wow. The flags are usually carried by veterans. Despite the horrific treatment received from our country, Native Americans hold the U.S. flag in an honored position.

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The U.S. flag holds two special meanings for the American Indians. It is a way to remember all of their ancestors who fought against this country long ago. It also symbolizes the United States and the important role of Native Americans in our country. The U.S. flag also honors all of the Native Americans who have bravely fought for this country.

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As the Grand Entry begins, the veterans carrying the flags are followed by the Tribal Chiefs, Princesses, and Elders. The men dancers are always next in line, followed by the women dancers.

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The women Jingle Dancers wear a beautiful Jingle Dress (or Prayer Dress). Long ago, the dress was seen in a dream, as an object to bring healing to the sick. The Chippewa people sew rows of bells encircling a colorful skirt.  The bells are so close together that they jingle and ring while dancing. The Jingle Dancers’ bells sound just like falling rain as they dance. It is so beautiful!

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As the Drums play, singers from different tribes gather together to share traditional songs. Some of these songs are sung as ‘vocables,’ with no words, so that singers from all Indian Nations can join in, no matter their tribal language. These songs still hold deep  meaning to those who remember the original lyrics.

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Dances have always played a very important role in American Indian life. Most of the dances at Pow Wows are social dances. Although dancing styles and clothing have changed over the years, the meaning of the dances has not. The Native American culture is a vibrant, ever-changing way of life!

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Once all 500 dancers entered the arena that afternoon, a special Honor Song was sung to honor the flags and the veterans. After a prayer, the dancing continued. We found seats in the front row of the bleachers and were mesmerized by the colorful clothing and the beat of the Drum.

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There were several huge Circle dances with all of the dancers moving in circles, like a coiling snake. Different Drum circles provided the music, while the dancers moved to the rhythm of the Drum.

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It was so beautiful to see people from all generations, from the Tiny Tots (up to 4 years old) to the Golden Age (60+ years old) dancers sharing their long history and culture. The best dancers and Drum circles would be awarded prizes at the close of the two-day Pow Wow.

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As the dancers moved in the hot sun all afternoon, their passion and dedication as they celebrated their culture truly moved me. Sitting in the hot sun took its toll on us, yet they were dancing in layer upon layer of cotton, deerskin, beads, and feathers. After we left, there would be another Grand Entry in the evening and another day of dancing and drumming on Sunday. What an unforgettable celebration!

A Pow Wow is such a wonderful way of bringing the past into the future!

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The Red Mountain Eagle Pow Wow left such a powerful impression on my heart. I’m sure that the vivid colors and serene feelings of that day will inspire my artwork and writing always.

I can still hear the drums.

My heart will beat with the drums forever…

Enjoy the Grand Entry of the 30th Annual Red Mountain Eagle Pow Wow…

(Video credit: rd47blog)

30th Annual Red Mountain Eagle Pow Wow ~ Men’s Traditional dance                    

(Video credit:  rd47blog)

♥♥♥

Heartfelt thanks for always taking the time to visit and leave thoughtful comments on our blog.

Each time I count my blessings, I think of my dear family, friends, and blog friends!

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You inspire me to grow in so many creative ways!

Happy Thanksgiving!

♡ Dawn

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With Gratitude…

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Hi Friends!

It was the perfect opportunity to practice being present, my ‘One Little Word’ for this year. While cruising under brilliant, blue skies, above the puffy, white clouds at 37,000 feet yesterday afternoon, I intentionally tuned out the other passengers, the movie, and my book. I felt completely present as I gazed down at the view from my window seat

As we left the Southwest,

I focused on the rugged mountains and long, winding rivers flowing in ribbons

through the sparse desert landscape.

(I intentionally resisted the urge to grab my camera so many times. Not an easy thing for me!)

Over the Great Plains,

I studied the patchwork of farmlands, stitched with an occasional narrow road,

creating a true American quilt

in the loveliest Autumn colors.

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As we approached the Midwest,

sunset saturated the sky with a perfectly blended,

inky palette of

seedless preserves, fired brick, and spiced marmalade.

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Moments later, the night sky revealed just one twinkling light below.

Soon more tiny lights shone from small towns,

and before long we admired the

sprawling, sparkling grid of of Chicago’s lights below us.

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Three hours spent just being

present

was such a powerful gift!

There was time to intentionally reflect on

each ‘One Little Word’ from years past, as well…

Breathe (2012), Grace (2013), and Blessings (2014).

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From my window seat yesterday,

I counted the blessings of freedom and liberty

as we flew over our land.

I thought about the price of our

freedom and liberty.

I thought about the sacrifice of so many heroes.

Those brave men and women

who sacrificed so much for our freedom.

I thought about the important lessons that I have learned

while volunteering to help our military families.

When one family member is serving in our Armed Forces,

the entire family makes a huge sacrifice

for our freedom.

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Today, on Veterans Day, we honor and thank

all of those brave heroes

who have served our country

in the past

and those who serve our country

today.

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We are so proud of the brave Army Veterans in our family…

my father-in-law who served in the South Pacific in World War II,

my father who served in Korea,

my uncle who served in Vietnam,

and our cousin who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a Marine.

We honor and thank them for their sacrifice!

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I am so grateful for the Veterans who came to visit my classroom

over the years.

Brave servicemen and women who taught us all

about sacrifice ~

time spent away from their families

to keep our families safe.

Heroes, one and all.

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We all hope for the day when brave men and women

around the globe

will no longer be sent into harm’s way.

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Until that day,

young men and women

will continue to make sacrifices

for our freedom.

Yesterday, seated with us in Row 27,

we met one of the newest members of our military.

Hunter

 was flying to ‘boot camp’

at Great Lakes Naval Base.

He was so excited

about the next four years of his life.

During ‘boot camp’ he will miss

his 19th birthday celebration,

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s with his family and friends.

These are just a few of the small sacrifices that

Hunter and his entire family

are making for our freedom.

With gratitude,

I shook his hand and said,

“Thank you so much for your service.”

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As a nation,

we have the opportunity to serve our Veterans,

by providing them with better healthcare benefits,

safe places to live, and more job opportunities.

Each one of us can share our gratitude

by thanking the Veterans we meet

every day!

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With much gratitude,

♡ Dawn

                                                             P.S. How do you honor our Veterans throughout the year?

Happy Birthday, America!

The Pledge, by Robert Duncan {via Pinterest}

Happy Independence Day!

A celebration of

America’s 239th birthday…

Hi Friends!

Parades, flags flying, picnics, cookouts, concerts, festivals,

watermelon, apple pie, baseball games, sparklers, fireworks displays,…

There are so many ways to celebrate America’s birthday this 4th of July! Whether you plan to celebrate quietly at home or at a large gathering, it’s meaningful to pause for a moment  and think about the freedoms that we are celebrating today.

Vintage magazine cover, illustrated by American painter, Frances Tipton Hunter (1896-1957), published July 1944 {via Pinterest}

It’s so important to share our thoughts about

the meaning of Independence Day

with our children and grandchildren.

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Today, I shared with my sweet 6 year-old neighbor.

Karla and I talked about the American flag

hanging on our front porch,

and why I hang our flag up every day.

I’m sure she will ask about our flag again,

from time to time.

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Karla comes over to ‘help’ me in the garden

whenever she sees me working.

Sometimes we take a little break to share books.

She is quickly learning the names of my flowers

(especially the purple ones).

We even planted flower seeds together

and watched them grow.

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Together, we are also planting

the tiniest seeds

of gratitude

and pride in our country,

that will grow as Karla grows.

Vintage graphic, from Jenn’s “Rook No 17” blog  {via Pinterest}

When I was growing up.

our family often drove across the country,

visiting places that are important in America’s story.

A dear aunt took my brothers and I to visit

our nation’s capital and our state capital.

I just love this image, from the blog Zetta’s Aprons. {via Pinterest}

Listening to family stories while growing up

made such an impression on me.

I am so proud

that my dad  served our country in Korea.

Even when I was very small, I knew that my dad was very brave.

In recent years, my dad has been scrapbooking his stories,

and sharing his memories of growing up in America

during difficult times.

I grew up watching the reports from Vietnam

on the nightly news.

I can still remember

checking the map of Vietnam,

cut out from the newspaper and

hanging on the back of our kitchen door.

My uncle was serving there,

and we thought about him each day,

with the hope that he was safe.

Every chance I get, I stop and thank

our veterans and military families

for their great sacrifices for our country.

{via Pinterest}

Of course, I learned about

what it means to be an American

in school.

But what I remember most are the stories,

shared by my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.

..

..

When I bought a little home of my own,

with a big front porch,

on this quiet street,

my older neighbors shared

so many of their stories with me, too.

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Now, it’s my turn to spend time

sharing my stories

with my sweet, young neighbor.

Stories from the heart,

filled with love and pride,

and

the blessings of freedom.

Free printable   {via Pinterest}

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As you celebrate our nation’s birthday,

in big ways or small ways

this weekend,

I hope you can find a moment to share your stories

especially with our children,

making memories together

and

sharing the blessings of freedom!

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Have a great weekend!

♡ Dawn