The History of the State of the Union Address

 U.S. government poster from WWII

U.S. government poster from WWII

The history of the State of the Union Address is quite fascinating.

Here are five interesting facts about t it:

1. Thomas Jefferson started a 112-year tradition of giving the message only in writing 

Our first two presidents–George Washington and John Adams–traveled to Congress to deliver the speech. However, when Thomas Jefferson was elected in 1801 he opted for a written address. 

2. Woodrow Wilson revived the in-person speech to Congress in 1913

In 1889, Wilson, then a political scientist, wrote that Jefferson should never have made the switch, since an oral presidential message could have allowed a "more public and responsible interchange of opinion between the Executive and Congress." So, when he was elected in 1913, he made the switch. 

3. The "State of the Union address" is a fairly recent renaming of the president's message

Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution states that the president shall "from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." But for nearly 150 years, that term "State of the Union" wasn't used, the more temperate "annual message" preferred instead.

FDR changed that in 1942.

4. Ronald Reagan started the practice of inviting special guests

Reagan invited Congressional Budget Office employee Lenny Skutnik after he helped rescue a passenger from a 1982 plane crash that crashed into Washington, DC's 14th Street Bridge and fell into the Potomac River, killing 78 people. 

Reagan and every other future president would soon expand this practice. They not only included heroes, but ordinary Americans whose stories could help illustrate one of the speech's points. 

5. The State of the Union address can really matter — especially in foreign policy 

While the State of the Union has little effect on congressional legislation, it can have a lasting effect on foreign policy. In December 1823, President James Monroe established the Monroe Doctrine; in January 1941, FDR listed his "Four Freedoms" that the US would defend all over the world — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear; and in January 2002, George W. Bush delivered the first State of the Union after 9/11. In it, he named an "axis of evil" consisting of North Korea, Iran, and Iraq.




Our friends at WallBuilders have put together a short presentation that highlights the two-century-old history of the State of the Union Address, focusing particularly on the one delivered in 1942 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. 

9 Surprising Facts About the Declaration of Independence



1. The Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed on July 4, 1776

 The Second Continental Congress

The Second Continental Congress

It was actually signed on July 1st, 1776 during the Second Continental Congress that met in Philadelphia. The delegates then spent the next two days debating and revising the language of a statement drafted by Thomas Jefferson. Then on July 4th, Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence. July 4th is now known as Independence Day. 


2. More than one copy exists

 The Committee of Five–Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Robert Livingston 

The Committee of Five–Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Robert Livingston 

The “Committee of Five”—Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston—were tasked with overseeing the reproduction of the text at the shop of Philadelphia printer John Dunlap. Only 26 copies survived of the hundreds thought to have been printed on the night of July 4th. Most are in museums and three are privately owned. 


3. When news of the Declaration of Independence reached New York City, it started a riot

 Pulling Down the Statue of King George III, N.Y.C., ca. 1859,  Johannes Adam Simon Oertel

Pulling Down the Statue of King George III, N.Y.C., ca. 1859, Johannes Adam Simon Oertel

The Declaration of Independence had reached New York City on July 9th, 1776 and, at that time, hundreds of British naval ships were occupying New York Harbor. Later that day, a Colonial riot tore down a nearby statue of George III after George Washington, commander of the Continental forces in New York, read the document aloud in front of City Hall. The statue was subsequently melted down and shaped into more than 42,000 musket balls for the fledgling American army.


4. Eight of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were born in Britain

 Debate during the Second Continental Congress

Debate during the Second Continental Congress

While the majority of the members of the Second Continental Congress were native-born Americans, eight of the men voting for independence from Britain were born there.


5. One signer later recanted

 Richard Stockton and his signature on the Declaration of Independence

Richard Stockton and his signature on the Declaration of Independence

Richard Stockton, a lawyer from Princeton, New Jersey, became the only signer of the Declaration of Independence to recant his support of the revolution. On November 30, 1776, the hapless delegate was captured by the British and thrown in jail. After months of harsh treatment and meager rations, Stockton repudiated his signature on the Declaration of Independence and swore his allegiance to King George III. A broken man when he regained his freedom, he took a new oath of loyalty to the state of New Jersey in December 1777.


6. There was a 44-year age difference between the youngest and oldest signers

 Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

The oldest signer was Benjamin Franklin, 70 years old when he scrawled his name on the parchment. The youngest was Edward Rutledge, a lawyer from South Carolina who was only 26 at the time.


7. Two additional copies have been found in the last 25 years

In 1989, a Philadelphia man found an original Dunlap Broadside hidden in the back of a picture frame he bought at a flea market for $4. One of the few surviving copies from the official first printing of the Declaration, it was in excellent condition and sold for $8.1 million in 2000. A 26th known Dunlap broadside emerged at the British National Archives in 2009, hidden for centuries in a box of papers captured from American colonists during the Revolutionary War. One of three Dunlap broadsides at the National Archives, the copy remains there to this day.


8. The Declaration of Independence spent World War II in Fort Knox

 Fort Knox

Fort Knox

On December 23, 1941, just over two weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the signed Declaration, together with the Constitution, was removed from public display and prepared for evacuation out of Washington, D.C. Under the supervision of armed guards, the founding document was packed in a specially designed container, latched with padlocks, sealed with lead and placed in a larger box. All told, 150 pounds of protective gear surrounded the parchment. On December 26 and 27, accompanied by Secret Service agents, it traveled by train to Louisville, Kentucky, where a cavalry troop of the 13th Armored Division escorted it to Fort Knox. The Declaration was returned to Washington, D.C., in 1944.


9. There is something written on the back of the Declaration of Independence

 The back of the Declaration of Independence 

The back of the Declaration of Independence 

Written on the back: “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776.”

No one knows who exactly wrote this or when, but during the Revolutionary War years the parchment was frequently rolled up for transport. It’s thought that the text was added as a label.






*Information gathered from U.S. National Archives and

Is Christ Making a Comeback?

There have been a plethora of articles written as of late stating that Christianity is on the rise, following a Dec. 14, 2014 Gallup Poll that illustrated three-quarters of Americans identify as Christian and a Pew Research study indicating widespread belief in the biblical stories.

But is that the case? The short of it–yes and no

The data from Gallup, based on 173,490 interviews conducted from Jan. 2 through Dec. 21, shows that 76% of Americans identify with a Christian faith, spread across Protestants or another non-Catholic Christian(50%), Catholic(24%), and Mormon(2%) preferences.  

Meanwhile, the Pew study indicated that:

  • 73 percent of U.S. adults believe Jesus was born to a virgin.
  • 81 percent, the baby Jesus was actually laid in a manger.
  • 75 percent, wise men guided by a star brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
  • 74 percent, an angel announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds nearby.

On its surface, the numbers don't lie. Jesus is indeed making a spiritual resurrection among the American public. However, we need to make more efforts to take back the mantle of Christ from special interests in Hollywood and the political elite where the effort is merely temporal. 

Hollywood has taken notice with their recent productions of Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings. Phil Cooke, writing for the Huffington Post, is right when he argues that Hollywood has recognized the "Christian community is the largest special interest group of all" after years of poor sales resulting from bending over backwards for smaller interest groups like feminists, gay activists, and environmentalists. 

But is the message they're selling the right one? No, not in the least.

Darren Aronofsky's adaptation of Noah is an unhinged epic, showing Noah to be a drunk psychopathic baby killer not saved by God but aided by fictional rock monsters. Ridley Scott's revamp of Moses takes a "naturalistic" approach instead of the spiritual one depicted in the Bible, theorizing that the Red Sea was parted by a tsunami. Further, lead actor, Christian Bale, opined before the movie was even released that Moses was, ". . . likely schizophrenic and was one of the most barbaric individuals that I ever read about in my life.” 

Are these the people that should be serving the Christian community? No.

So, while Christianity is on the rise again in America, faithful Americans are still losing the culture war. For some, these movies will be the only narratives they ever see of the Bible and thus will have a detrimental effect on the Christian community and their message. 

I know these are just movies and biblical accuracy isn't important to everyone, but if our culture loses the importance of the Bible we lose our culture.  

~ Erik Raymond


The First Thanksgiving


EARLY MONDAY MORNING I displayed a big poster shaped like a tree up in front of the classroom. The trunk of the tree was labeled “Thanksgiving Traditions.” I had set up the diver-down flag at my desk yesterday toward the end of class, letting my Band of Patriots know that we were going on a little time-travel trip before the school day. I had already let all my other students know that I would not be available that hour so we were all set to have a great adventure.

As I waited for my fabulous students to arrive for history class, I thought of my own past Thanksgiving holidays. Food and giving of thanks were part of our day, but visiting, laughter, and fun were also an important part. I hope that Jax, Raven, Moe, and Amelia also had cherished traditions to share.

Each branch of the tree had the name of one of my students on it. I would ask each of them to share their traditions on the leaves attached to their particular branch. They all arrived and I enthusiastically explained the activity, but they were a bit hesitant to volunteer their families' traditions, seeming unsure what to share.

“Before we eat our massive Thanksgiving dinner, my family sits around the table. One by one, each person tells what he or she is thankful for during that particular year,” Amelia explained. “I will have to think about how I wish to word this on one of my leaves.”

“My family watches football and eats leftover turkey during the game,” Moe proudly told everyone. He quickly got up from his desk and wrote football  onto one of his leaves.

"Thank you, Moe," I said after he sat back down. I sat on the edge of my desk, asking, "What about you, Jax and Raven?"

Jax walked to the front of the classroom and said, “My family plays games all afternoon and into the night.” He scribbled games onto his leaf. “We have board games and card games all over the family room. We play until it is time to take my uncle, aunt, and cousins to the airport on Friday afternoon. It's so much fun!"

Jax sat back down and the room became silent, waiting for Raven to share. She fidgeted in her seat, and looking as though she wished she had packed her invisible cloak this morning.

"Raven?" I said. "Would you like to share?"

“Well, it's kinda different than everyone else, but our entire family sings together while my aunt plays the piano,” Raven told us. "It may seem weird, but it's actually really fun."

“Sings?” the others asked in surprise.

“There is nothing wrong with it,” Moe quickly assured Raven. “We just never thought of singing on Thanksgiving Day.”

“Yes, we sing,” Raven said with a soft smile. “It is my favorite part of the holiday. Mom sings alto, I sing soprano, Dad sings bass, Grandma also sings alto, and Uncle Joe sings off-key at the top of his lungs. The little kids all sing with gusto, some on key and some between the keys. One year I asked my grandma why we have the tradition of singing. She told me that it began one Thanksgiving when she was a young girl and they were so poor that all they had to eat for dinner was potatoes. Everyone was really depressed that day until her mother said, ‘Let’s all sing.’ They had so much fun singing that day, it became a family tradition.”

“Wow,” Amelia exclaimed. “Your story gave me chill bumps all over!”

Raven grinned and shook her head. “It’s just a simple tradition,” she declared. "Nothing big."

“Yes, but it is so touching!” Amelia replied.

The Band of Patriots were on a roll of scribbling and describing their family Thanksgiving traditions to each other..

“We go shopping at four in the morning the day after Thanksgiving,” Amelia announced.

“We decorate for Christmas on that day,” shared Raven as she drew Christmas gifts on a leaf.

Moe pulled a football from his backpack and tossed it up and down. "Football is the best on Thanksgiving."

Jax stood in front of the class to get everyone's attention. When everyone quieted he asked, “I wonder how our traditions compare to the first Thanksgiving?”

“Well, this was the point of this little exercise. Shall we go for a visit and find out?” I said.

“Yes!” they all replied.

I pulled out the timepiece and set it to the correct time for the First Thanksgiving.

“I hope that William Bradford is ready for us,” Jax laughed, “because we are on our way!”


* * * *


Arriving in Plymouth in the autumn of 1621, we looked around at the changing beauty of the area. From this day and beyond, there is nothing more beautiful than leaf season in New England. The sun was warm, but there was a slight crisp in the air. Our clothing, as always, had transformed to pilgrim garb.

“I love the changing colors of the leaves!” Jax declared as he threw his head back in order to view the trees. As he did, his felt flipped off his head.

Moe picked it up. "I love this hat. I think I will wear it."

"Hey, that's my hat," Jax declared, swiping his hand at it and almost falling.

"Here," I said, taking my hat and placing it on Jax's head.

He felt the brim and inspected the color. "Ha! This one is better so there. You can keep that dirty ole brown hat. I have a nice black one now."

"Boys!" Raven and Amelia shouted.

Beginning our tour of Plymouth, we peeked around the small settlement. Farming, building, the streets were bustling with activity. A beautiful young lady, perhaps fourteen or fifteen, came shuffling by with a basket of corn.

"I can't . . . Get . . . This . . . Off," Jax muttered, trying to get the pilgrim ruff off from around his neck. With one hard pull, it came loose from his collar, but sent him flying toward the lady with the corn. In an instant, she and Jax were sprawled out in the street with corn everywhere.

Raven, Moe, and Amelia just stood in shock. I even had to concentrate to close my mouth in awe of the situation.

"Oh, my," the lady shrieked.

"I'm sorry miss," Jax apologized, standing. "Here. Hold on to this and I'll pull you up." He held out his torn ruff.

She took ahold of it and Jax jerked her off the ground.

"I'm sorry about that," he told her, smirking up at her.

"It's all right, ye little one," she responded, brushing herself off and then patting Jax on the head.

Jax couldn't look away from her. "It was a pleasure running into you though. I mean . . . Not literally running into you. Just that you–"

“We have come to visit William Bradford," I interjected, stepping in front of Jax. I looked behind me and asked the kids, "Can you please pick up this nice lady's corn from the street?"

"Oh, William. You're here to see him?" She asked sternly.

I cleared my throat. "Yes. I am sorry for this, but can you please tell us his whereabouts?”

She just stood there staring at me. The kids placed the basket of corn at her feet and filed around us. She gazed down at the corn and then back to me, before scanning the group.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," I said, putting my arms around the kids. "I am Professor Waldo Franklin and these are my students. Jax, Raven, Amelia, and Moe."

She knelt down and told them, "It's so good to meet ye. Ye boys are so handsome and strong and ye girls are so beautiful. My name is Mary." She tipped Jax's hat up so more of his face was exposed and smiled at him.

Jax's cheeks immediately turned bright red. I believe she just made his year with that.

The young lady stood and gave me another stern expression. "Governor Bradford is in the Common House dealing with some business.”

“Governor?” questioned Amelia. “But where is Governor Carver?”

“Governor Carver passed on in April,” replied Mary. “The year 1621 has been very difficult for all of us. During the winter, one-half of our community died. Governor John Carver survived the brutal winter, but in April, just days after the Mayflower sailed away, he was working in his field on a very hot day. He went inside his house complaining of his head hurting. He did not recover, and in a few days, he passed.”

“How awful!” exclaimed Amelia.

In fact, we were all in shock. Before each historical visit we tried to research the time period that we would visit, yet our little group still could not get over all of the deaths that had occurred in Plymouth.

“Yes, ’twas difficult, but we are surviving with God’s help. Governor Bradford is a wonderful man of the Book.”

“The Book?” Jax questioned me in a soft whisper.

“The Bible,” I whispered.

“Governor Bradford was appointed governor on April 21. Because he still hadn't completely recovered from his illness, the adults also chose Isaak Allerton to be his assistant. Governor Bradford is a great governor.”

Mary, the sternness gone from her gaze, directed me to the Common House. “I do not mean to forsake ye saints, but I must hurry with my work. There are not many ladies who can help. During our hard winter, only four of the ladies survived. The ladies have a lot to do today, so I must be a help to them. I am fourteen years old, so surely I can work as hard as an adult. I hope ye get to stay for the dinner.”

We thanked her and then walked the short distance to the Common House.

"Are we going to get to see her again?" Jax asked.

"Oooooh. I think someone's in love," Raven taunted.

Amelia and Moe began singing, "Jax and Mary sitting in a tree–"

"That's enough now, guys. We have to find William Bradford."

We arrived to the Common House without another incident and we were told at the door that he was busy, but they would make him aware of our presence. After a couple minutes, the doors busted open.

"Professor, you should have told them it was ye," the governor announced. "I wouldn't have kept ye waiting this long. How are ye, old friend?"

"I am well, governor."

"Quiet with the titles. We are friends . . . Professor." He chuckled loud.

Governor Bradford’s face was full and that look of mourning and gauntness he held for so long was finally gone. It was nice to see the Pilgrims looking better! The last time we visited with them, they were all frightfully thin.

 “They have chosen me to be governor. I request that ye lads and lasses uphold me in prayer. I am not only the governor of the saints, but of the strangers as well. I wish to show justice to all men, whether they be saint or stranger.”

“Things seem slightly better for Plymouth Plantation than they did during our last visit,” Moe observed.

“Yes, God has blessed us abundantly. The first part of the year was the hardest for all of us. Now we are faring better. We even celebrated a wedding in May,” he happily announced.

“A wedding? Who got married?” Amelia asked with excitement in her voice.

“Edward Winslow and Susanna White. They had both lost their spouses to death,” he answered. "But they have found love once again."

“Oh,” Amelia replied, seeming confused.

Changing the subject, the governor told us, “We have had a productive spring and summer. Now God has blessed us with a harvest.”

“Is Squanto still around to enjoy the harvest of the crop he helped plant?” Moe asked.

“Yes, Squanto is a Godsend. He not only helped us plant our crops but he also acts as a guide and interpreter for us when any of our men explore the area. Ye saints will be able to see Squanto today. Ye have chosen the proper day to visit for we are having a feast. We want to thank God for His blessings.”

“A feast?”Jax questioned with a grin as he and Moe rubbed their stomachs. He then whispered to Moe, "I wonder if Mary will be there?"

“Yes,” Governor Bradford laughed, “ye lads are like other lads your age; ye are always wanting to find ways to fill your bellies. Well, today we should be able to take care of your stomachs. I must go now to the area where the tables are set up because we have invited Chief Massasoit. I believe that many of the men in his tribe will come too. I must be present when they arrive. Please join me as we thank God for the bountiful harvest that He had given to us.”

We followed the governor to the feast area. When we saw the large amount of food that was on the tables, we were extremely happy for the Pilgrims.

Jax quickly took notice to the large number of fowls that had been prepared. “I'm a massive meat eater! That fowl looks delicious!” he declared.

Overhearing him, a small child smiled and said, “My father and three other men killed the fowls for the feast. Governor Bradford sent them to find some fowl, and they brought back enough for us to eat for several days!”

Chief Massasoit and his men arrived, bringing five deer as a gift to the Pilgrims.

“So a gift to the host was already a tradition, even in the 1600s,” Raven observed.

“Wow,” Moe comment as he counted the Indians. “Eighty-seven, eighty-eight, eighty-nine, ninety. There are more Indians than Pilgrims at this event! This is so cool!”

We all gathered around the tables, and Governor Bradford prayed. The prayer was very heartfelt, thanking God for the bountiful harvest that He had given them. After the prayer was over, everyone dug into the food together. Men, women, children, natives, everyone was at peace with everyone else. I couldn't stop the joy from overflowing at what a man William Bradford was to have made this happen.

“This fish is absolutely delicious,” declared Raven.

Amelia, devouring the wild turkey and greens, replied, "It's all so good."

"Oh, man," Jax said. "Have you tried this Indian corn. And the wild berries? Amazing!"

"Already had two ears!" the young lady from earlier, Mary, replied from across the table. She smiled at Jax.

Holy History, I wondered. Jax is a little Casanova.

When we were completely stuffed from all of the good food, I wondered if we should go. I didn’t want to be an intruder at this special event. However, the Plymouth people, saints and strangers alike, insisted that we stay for the games.

“Games?” Moe asked. “Did someone say games? I love games!”

“Yes, lad. If ye can run and jump, then ye will fair well,” a man told him.

“Cool!” Moe blurted out.

“Cool? Are ye ailing? Are ye too cool? Do ye need to lie in a cottage?” the man asked with concern.

“No,” Moe laughed. “Cool is just an expression. I say it when I like something."

“Oh, ye had me in the valley of confusion, lad!” the man chuckled.

He and Moe headed over to the game area, and Jax ran to catch up with them. Raven and Amelia turned and walked over to the women, where they asked if they could help.

I decided to be an observer of the games. The Pilgrims and Indians enjoyed running and jumping games. They also took turns showing off their shooting skills: the Indians shot with their bows and arrows while the Pilgrim men used their muskets. Squanto interpreted when necessary, but not much interpreting was needed for these games.

“What game is that?” Raven asked, coming over to the games.

“I’m not sure,” I responded. “It kind of looks like croquet. Where is Amelia?”

“Oh, she is playing with the children. You know how she loves children.” Raven grinned and shook her head.

The day grew later and later, and I decided that we must get back to school. Classes would be beginning soon. I gathered all four kids, and we thanked Governor Bradford for the kindness of all of the Pilgrims. He calmly, yet sincerely, thanked us for visiting and asked us to return again soon. "It was a pleasure sharing this blessed meal with ye."

Not wishing to disappear via the timepiece before the Pilgrims’ eyes, we headed behind the Common House and out of everyone's view.

“Surely ye are not leaving,” a lady tried to stop us. “Can ye not stay for the rest of the Thanksgiving celebration? We are going to celebrate for two more days!”

“It would be wonderful to stay and celebrate with you, but we must be on our way,” I kindly explained. "We have things we must attend to, but thank ye so very much for ye kindness."

“Fare thee well,” she called, dancing back to the festivities.

“God bless you,” we replied.

We huddled together and I set the timepiece for present day. We whisked forward through history and made it back to class.

“Mr. Franklin,” Amelia stated, looking at the poster on the board, “after having attended the first Thanksgiving feast in America, I feel that some of my family’s traditions are shallow.”

“Please explain why you feel that way,” I encouraged.

“Well, the Pilgrims had a feast at the end of the harvest season because they were truly thankful. My family goes about it in the opposite direction. We have a big feast and then have to remember to be thankful!” she told me with great animation.

“But is your family truly thankful?” I asked.

“Yes, we really mean it when we take time to verbally state that we are thankful for Christ’s blessings in our life,” she replied.

“Well, I don’t see anything so wrong with that,” I answered.

“Mr. Franklin, I do not think that Amelia’s family is going about it the wrong way, but I think I understand what she is trying to say,” Jax told me.

“And that is?” I asked.

“I think that the Pilgrims were simply thankful for the basics. They were thankful for life, health, food; all the blessings of God. America is now such a land of plenty; I think that we sometimes forget to be simply thankful. Am I making any sense?” Jax asked, outstretching his arms.

“You are right on track,” Moe responded. “I get what you are saying. I always try to be extra thankful to God at Thanksgiving time, but I am usually thanking him for petty items. ‘Thank you, God, for my new bike.’ Yes, I should be thankful for my bike, but I should not forget to thank Him for strength and health to ride the bike.”

“And maybe like Amelia was trying to point out,” Raven inserted, “we should come to the Lord with thanksgiving in our hearts and not wait until a special occasion occurs to remind us, ‘Oh, I need to remember to be thankful.’”

“Good point," Amelia agreed, smiling at Raven.

“Not to change the subject,” Moe interjected, “but I am so amazed by the unity of the Pilgrims and the Indians. That is not to say that everything was perfect. I have been researching this subject and found that they eventually built a fort, so I know that things were not always peaceful, especially with other tribes. Yet I still find it amazing that both sides were able to work things out and get along with each other.”

“Yes,” I said, agreeing with him. “They had about fifty years of peace. This speaks well of the Pilgrims and the Indians.”

“We could learn from the unity that they shared,” Amelia stated. “I have been feeling rather distant from our principal, Ms. Kermugin, and I find that I have trouble getting along with her.”

Nobody gets along with Ms. Kermugin,” Raven answered matter-of-factly.

“Please don’t suggest that we do anything warm and cozy with Ms. Kermugin,” Jax moaned, outstretching his arms again.

“Wait!” Amelia said, her blue eyes large with the intensity of her feelings. “Please hear me out! What if we invited her to be our exclusive visitor? What if we have a mini-Thanksgiving dinner here in class and invited only her? It would be like the Pilgrims inviting the Indians.”

The class went on discussing the prospects of inviting the one person whom they thought didn't like me–Principal Kermugin.

My mind wandered back to today’s visit to Plymouth. How would Governor William Bradford feel about our special effort to get along with our principal? As I thought of the Pilgrims and the Indians eating and playing games together, I realized that he would be very happy indeed.

Thanksgiving Fact or Fiction

*This story was republished from

“The reason that we have so many myths associated with Thanksgiving is that it is an invented tradition. It doesn’t originate in any one event. It is based on the New England puritan Thanksgiving, which is a religious Thanksgiving, and the traditional harvest celebrations of England and New England and maybe other ideas like commemorating the pilgrims. All of these have been gathered together and transformed into something different from the original parts.”

~James W. Baker, Senior Historian at Plimoth Plantation



Fiction. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln designated the last Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. However, in 1939, after a request from the National Retail Dry Goods Association, President Franklin Roosevelt decreed that the holiday should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month(and never the occasional fifth, as occurred in 1939) in order to extend the holiday shopping season by a week. The decision sparked great controversy, and was still unresolved two years later, when the House of Representatives passed a resolution making the last Thursday in November a legal national holiday. The Senate amended the resolution, setting the date as the fourth Thursday, and the House eventually agreed.

Fact. In a letter to his daughter sent in 1784, Benjamin Franklin suggested that the wild turkey would be a more appropriate national symbol for the newly independent United States than the bald eagle (which had earlier been chosen by the Continental Congress). He argued that the turkey was “a much more respectable Bird,” “a true original Native of America,” and “though a little vain and silly, a Bird of Courage.”

Fiction. George Washington, John Adams and James Madison all issued proclamations urging Americans to observe days of thanksgiving, both for general good fortune and for particularly momentous events (the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, in Washington’s case; the end of the War of 1812, in Madison’s).

Fiction. The Philadelphia department store Gimbel’s had sponsored a parade in 1920, but the Macy’s parade, launched four years later, soon became a Thanksgiving tradition and the standard kickoff to the holiday shopping season. The parade became ever more well-known after it featured prominently in the hit film Miracle on 34th Street (1947), which shows actual footage of the 1946 parade. In addition to its famous giant balloons and floats, the Macy’s parade features live music and other performances, including by the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes and cast members of well-known Broadway shows.

Fiction (kind of). Domesticated turkeys (the type eaten on Thanksgiving) cannot fly, and their pace is limited to a slow walk. Female domestic turkeys, which are typically smaller and lighter than males, can move somewhat faster. Wild turkeys, on the other hand, are much smaller and more agile. They can reach speeds of up to 20-25 miles per hour on the ground and fly for short distances at speeds approaching 55 miles per hour. They also have better eyesight and hearing than their domestic counterparts.

Fact. According to the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association, one of the country’s oldest farmers’ organizations, Native Americans used cranberries in a variety of foods, including “pemmican” (a nourishing, high-protein combination of crushed berries, dried deer meat and melted fat). They also used it as a medicine to treat arrow punctures and other wounds and as a dye for fabric. The Pilgrims adopted these uses for the fruit and gave it a name—”craneberry”—because its drooping pink blossoms in the spring reminded them of a crane.

Fact. The turkey trot, modeled on that bird’s characteristic short, jerky steps, was one of a number of popular dance styles that emerged during the late 19th and early 20th century in the United States. The two-step, a simple dance that required little to no instruction, was quickly followed by such dances as the one-step, the turkey trot, the fox trot and the bunny hug, which could all be performed to the ragtime and jazz music popular at the time. The popularity of such dances spread like wildfire, helped along by the teachings and performances of exhibition dancers like the famous husband-and-wife team Vernon and Irene Castle.

Fact. On November 20, 2007, President George W. Bush granted a “pardon” to two turkeys, named May and Flower, at the 60th annual National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation, held in the Rose Garden at the White House. The two turkeys were flown to Orlando, Florida, where they served as honorary grand marshals for the Disney World Thanksgiving Parade. The current tradition of presidential turkey pardons began in 1947, under Harry Truman, but the practice is said to have informally begun with Abraham Lincoln, who granted a pardon to his son Tad’s pet turkey.

Fact. Turkey does contain the essential amino acid tryptophan, which is a natural sedative, but so do a lot of other foods, including chicken, beef, pork, beans and cheese. Though many people believe turkey’s tryptophan content is what makes many people feel sleepy after a big Thanksgiving meal, it is more likely the combination of fats and carbohydrates most people eat with the turkey, as well as the large amount of food (not to mention alcohol, in some cases) consumed, that makes most people feel like following their meal up with a nap.

Fiction. The American tradition of college football on Thanksgiving is pretty much as old as the sport itself. The newly formed American Intercollegiate Football Association held its first championship game on Thanksgiving Day in 1876. At the time, the sport resembled something between rugby and what we think of as football today. By the 1890s, more than 5,000 club, college and high school football games were taking place on Thanksgiving, and championship match-ups between schools like Princeton and Yale could draw up to 40,000 fans. The NFL took up the tradition in 1934, when the Detroit Lions (recently arrived in the city and renamed) played the Chicago Bears at the University of Detroit stadium in front of 26,000 fans. Since then, the Lions game on Thanksgiving has become an annual event, taking place every year except during the World War II years (1939–1944).


If you look at our country–from our Founding to now–it's a story of hope. William Bradford and his Pilgrims had faith to sustain life and begin anew in a New World; General George Washington crossed the Delaware, eventually conquering the mighty British; and Abraham Lincoln saw beyond the politics of debate and did what was just. On this day, The Freedom Kids chooses hope. We choose faith. Faith and hope in God. Faith and hope in our families. Faith and hope in our country. 

We know there are many, many more, but here is a list of 26 hopeful moments in American history:

1620: The Mayflower Compact was completed and signed by both Saints and Strangers onboard the Mayflower, creating the first written framework of government established in what is now the United States. Most American historians credit it for the moral and legal founding of the U.S. Constitution. 

1776: The Declaration of Independence is signed. Americans officially begin their fight for freedom.

1776: Washington's surprise strike and victory at Trenton increases morale, heartens his troops, and provides enough of a recruiting boost to keep his army from melting away in the Spring, which would have meant an end to the war.

1803: The Louisiana Purchase: Roughly 1/5 of modern day America was purchased by Thomas Jefferson from Napoleon for about 15 million dollars.

1805: The members of the Lewis and Clark expedition become the first Americans to reach the Pacific ocean.

1814: Andrew Jackson defeats the British forces at the Battle of New Orleans in a fight that took place after the war had already ended. Had the British controlled New Orleans, which was a vital American port at the time, they might have wrung more concessions out of America or even taken a large swath of what is today American territory for Canada.

1836: Sam Houston and a group of Texans, outnumbered 2 to 1 by the Mexican Army, got revenge for the Alamo in the Battle of San Jacinto. Their victory and the capture soon after of Santa Anna secured the freedom of Texas and cleared the way for them to eventually join the United States.

1846: The Oregon Treaty, made with Britain, officially brings Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and parts of Montana and Wyoming into the US.

1848: After being defeated in the Mexican-American war , Mexico was forced to sign the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which granted America control of "Texas as well as California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming" in return for about $18 million dollars.

1863: Abraham Lincoln frees the slaves in the South, technically at least, with the Emancipation Proclamation.

1864: Sherman's victory in Atlanta not only helped hasten the end of the war, it likely was the key factor that led to Abraham Lincoln defeating George McClellan in the November elections. Had McClellan won, he made it clear that he intended to cut and run rather than press on to victory.

1898: America crushes the Spanish fleet in the Philippines, which cemented our position as a world power.

1903: The Wright Brothers are the "first in flight."

1908The Model-T Ford, the first car cheap enough for the general public to afford, becomes available.

1914: The 48 mile long Panama Canal is completed.

1918: WW1 ends in victory for the Allied forces after the Germans surrender.

1920: For the first time, American women are allowed to vote.

1945: WW2 ends in victory for the Allied forces after the Japanese surrender.

1947: America helps rebuild Europe after WW2 with the Marshall Plan.

1950 : In what was perhaps the most brilliant military maneuver in American history, Douglas MacArthur lands behind the North Korean lines at Inchon. The subsequent strikes against the Norks broke their army and only the entry of the Chinese into the war kept Korea from being reunited.

1964: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

1969: Neil Armstrong is the first man to walk on the moon -- An amazing feat that showcased American ingenuity and technology.

1989: The Berlin Wall came tumbling down which symbolized the break-up of the Soviet Union and the victory of the United States in the Cold War.


Never Forget

At 8:45 a.m. on a clear Tuesday morning, an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The impact left a gaping, burning hole near the 80th floor of the 110-story skyscraper, instantly killing hundreds of people and trapping hundreds more in higher floors. As the evacuation of the tower and its twin got underway, television cameras broadcasted live images of what initially appeared to be a freak accident. Then, 18 minutes after the first plane hit, a second Boeing 767--United Airlines Flight 175--appeared out of the sky, turned sharply toward the World Trade Center, and sliced into the south tower at about the 60th floor. The collision caused a massive explosion that showered burning debris over surrounding buildings and the streets below. America was under attack.

The attackers were Islamic terrorists from Saudi Arabia and several other Arab nations. Reportedly financed by Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist organization, they were allegedly acting in retaliation for America's support of Israel, its involvement in the Persian Gulf War, and its continued military presence in the Middle East. Some of the terrorists had lived in the United States for more than a year and had taken flying lessons at American commercial flight schools. Others had slipped into the U.S. in the months before September 11 and acted as the "muscle" in the operation. The 19 terrorists easily smuggled box-cutters and knives through security at three East Coast airports and boarded four flights bound for California, chosen because the planes were loaded with fuel for the long transcontinental journey. Soon after takeoff, the terrorists commandeered the four planes and took the controls, transforming the ordinary commuter jets into guided missiles.

As millions watched in horror the events unfolding in New York, American Airlines Flight 77 circled over downtown Washington and slammed into the west side of the Pentagon military headquarters at 9:45 a.m. Jet fuel from the Boeing 757 caused a devastating inferno that led to a structural collapse of a portion of the giant concrete building. All told, 125 military personnel and civilians were killed in the Pentagon along with all 64 people aboard the airliner.

Less than 15 minutes after the terrorists struck the nerve center of the U.S. military, the horror in New York took a catastrophic turn for the worse when the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed in a massive cloud of dust and smoke. The structural steel of the skyscraper, built to withstand winds in excess of 200 mph and a large conventional fire, could not withstand the tremendous heat generated by the burning jet fuel. At 10:30 a.m., the other Trade Center tower collapsed. Close to 3,000 people died in the World Trade Center and its vicinity, including a staggering 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York City police officers, and 37 Port Authority police officers who were struggling to complete an evacuation of the buildings and save the office workers trapped on higher floors. Only six people in the World Trade Center towers at the time of their collapse survived. Almost 10,000 other people were treated for injuries, many severe.

Meanwhile, a fourth California-bound plane--United Flight 93--was hijacked about 40 minutes after leaving Newark International Airport in New Jersey. Because the plane had been delayed in taking off, passengers on board learned of events in New York and Washington via cell phone and Airfone calls to the ground. Knowing that the aircraft was not returning to an airport as the hijackers claimed, a group of passengers and flight attendants planned an insurrection. One of the passengers, Thomas Burnett, Jr., told his wife over the phone that "I know we're all going to die. There's three of us who are going to do something about it. I love you, honey." Another passenger--Todd Beamer--was heard saying "Are you guys ready? Let's roll" over an open line. Sandy Bradshaw, a flight attendant, called her husband and explained that she had slipped into a galley and was filling pitchers with boiling water. Her last words to him were "Everyone's running to first class. I've got to go. Bye."

The passengers fought the four hijackers and are suspected to have attacked the cockpit with a fire extinguisher. The plane then flipped over and sped toward the ground at upwards of 500 miles per hour, crashing in a rural field in western Pennsylvania at 10:10 a.m. All 45 people aboard were killed. Its intended target is not known, but theories include the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland, or one of several nuclear power plants along the eastern seaboard.

At 7 p.m., President George W. Bush, who had spent the day being shuttled around the country because of security concerns, returned to the White House. At 9 p.m., he delivered a televised address from the Oval Office, declaring "Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve." In a reference to the eventual U.S. military response he declared: "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them."

Operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S.-led international effort to oust the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and destroy Osama bin Laden's terrorist network based there, began on October 7, 2001. Bin Laden was killed during a raid of his compound in Pakistan by U.S. forces on May 2, 2011.

* Reposted from 

Why Common Core Matters–10 Points

The Common Core Education Standards (CCES) matter. I repeat: Common Core matters! They matter because they are going to further destroy America's education system. CCES teaches kids what to think when it should teach how to think. This is in complete contrast to what the Founding Fathers heralded as Individual Liberty. 

If, as parents, we think about it, this initiative that completely erodes state and local control of your child's education was passed in 46 states under the darkness of night in 2010. When the states adopted these "standards" they willingly relinquished their ability to control and to compose their own education requirements. And how did the Obama Administration persuade states to adopt these "standards?" Easy–$4.35 billion. Your kids were bought and sold like slaves.

In addition, the Obama Administration, and the architects of CCES–the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)–has influenced parents with the argument of "who could be against standards?"

However, the problem with these "standards" is that they don't arm children with a better education or reward the system with higher learners. What do these "standards" do? They line the pockets of big business, thus enslaving your children into a system that is doomed to produce mediocrity across the board. 

Assistant Professor of Political Science at Fordham University Nicholas Tampio sees the forest through the trees. In his article in the Huffington Post, “Do We Need a Common Core?” he states the problem quite simply. “The class… has gone from one where teachers, aides, parents, and students work hard to create a rewarding educational experience, to one where the teachers and students use materials designed by a major publishing house.” And I add that major corporations such as Pearson, McGraw Hill and Apple are cashing in on the implementation of the CCSS curriculum in public schools.


Here are 10 initial reasons to question, if not boycott Common Core:

1. Common Core further nationalizes education–putting the curriculum and your child's future in the hands of bureaucrats hundreds, if not thousands of miles away

2. One Size Fits All education doesn't work–all kids are different and learn at different paces and abilities, thus failing many students and granting more money to the big corporations who profit from the failure of the students

3. Parents have less say/no say over their child's education–because it is taken out of local control changing the curriculum in the classroom will be like going to the DMV, trying to change your picture on your Driver's License 

4. Teachers will have less/no control over their classrooms–teachers are less able to innovate and experiment as the classroom dictates 

5. Common Core is terrible for taxpayers–just in Washington state alone implementation of CCES will cost taxpayers more than $300 million, and California estimates it will cost their taxpayers roughly $760 million–all of this money and there is no evidence that it will improve education

6. Common Core violates privacy–the data mining not only includes tests scores, but political beliefs, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and even what books the child and parents prefer

7. Common Core resembles "No Child Left Behind," which left all our children behind–more teaching to a test and less critical thinking

8. Common Core is Unconstitutional–the power and control over education is not delegated to the federal government in the constitution, but rather to the states

9. Common Core will force some states to move backward, dumbing down their populace to streamline with the aggregate scores of the national average

10. Common Core replaces traditional texts like Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" that teaches individuality with government approved texts that preach collectivism


Now, we are just getting started with the horror that is Common Core. 

If you want to learn more about the calamity that is already amongst us watch this great documentary, "Building the Machine." 

A House Divided Cannot Stand

Newly nominated Senate candidate Abraham Lincoln, on this day in 1858, addresses the Illinois Republican Convention, warning that the nation faces a crisis that it may not be able recover from if steps aren't taken.

Paraphrasing Mark 3:25, Lincoln tells the more than 1000 delegates that "a house divided cannot stand." 

Slavery was dividing our nation with deep gashes to our collective and moral consciousness. However, his argument was one of states' rights rather then one of slavery. Lincoln argued that only the federal government had the power to abolish slavery – implying that the states had but secondary authority in this particular matter. 

While the southern states relied on an economy and lifestyle dependent upon the cheap labor provided by African-American slaves, the North opposed slavery on moral grounds – also considering industrialization and manufacturing the future of America's economy. 

Lincoln's "radical" speech was not immediately taken to sympathetic ears and he lost his Senate bid in 1858 to the more "moderate"  Stephen Douglas who advocated for states' sovereignty.

Although losing this Senate race, Lincoln went on to win the presidency in 1860.

This is one of the most prominent cases in history where a moral concern triumphed over law. 

The rest, they say, is history. 


Misrepresenting Religious Beliefs as Bigotry

If civil rights is something that a majority of Americans herald as the greatest strength of our nation then why is religious freedom, our "first freedom," being marginalized by a secular minority to a deficient status?

Most all of you know about the Colorado baker Jack Phillips who got lambasted in the press with headlines like "Baker refuses to serve gays" and "Baker is discriminating against gays." Well, not surprisingly, these headlines and others like it were not only misleading, but popular bigotry. 

It is widely known in the community that Phillips serves all who comes to his shop, but does not attend all events where his services may be needed due to his religious conscious. According to the Deseret News, even The Economist defended Phillips, saying that there is a "crucial difference between refusing to do business with someone simply because he is gay and refusing ... to play a part in a marriage ceremony that violates one’s own dearly-held religious convictions about the function and meaning of marriage."

However, the judge who ruled against religious liberty last December said his religious beliefs were, "a distinction without a difference," almost ripping that headline right from the New York Times playbook. 

This ruling and subsequent decisions made in its aftermath like Phillips needing to provide "comprehensive staff training" have believers everywhere afraid to demonstrate their conviction, and in some cases even questioning their faith.

So, I ask, why is this so?

The answer is simple: the media's unholy alliance with the elitist agenda to push this country into complete secularism through stereotypes. 

See, toleration is not a one-way street as the media portrays it to be. The media and their minions wont tell you stories of people of faith demonstrating tremendous generosity. They wont show you instances where religious institutions have stood up for those they disagree with. And they wont listen to anything painting the religious community as one of tolerance and humility. 

The real bigotry here is not protecting the religious community's God-given and Constitutional rights. The media has created and molded a stereotype for all us believers, and anyone who disagrees be damned. We are good people and must not run away from our faith under the pressure and scrutiny of a deceitful government and media. 

Through true tolerance on all sides we can break the segregated chains that have been placed on all of us – religious and secular. 

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Walter Lippman wrote a classic work "Liberty and the News." In it, Lippman wrote: "In so far as those who purvey the news make of their own beliefs a higher law than truth, they are attacking the foundations of our constitutional system. There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and shame the devil."

Let's demand the truth from our government and the media. 


D-Day: Liberty Painted with American Blood!

On this day in 1944, Allied powers crossed the English Channel and landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, beginning the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control during World War II.

By 6:30 AM on this day the invasion began with 18,000 parachutists approaching ground, 6000 landing crafts and ships with 176,000 soldiers aboard approaching shore, and 822 aircraft circling the Nazi-controlled beaches. 

Gold, Juno and Sword beaches were not problem for the British and Canadians to capture as was Utah beach for the Americans. However, Omaha beach was a whole other story, where the Allies had to fight the majority of the enemy. 

By days end, 155,000 American, British, and Canadian soldiers has successfully taken the beaches at Normandy. The D-Day invasion was a turning point in World War II, cracking Hitler's western front as the Soviet troops made advances in the east. Overall at least 4,400 Allied troops were killed the first day, and many thousands more in the ensuing three-month Battle of Normandy, which brought the Allies to Paris to liberate the French capital from Nazi occupation.

The Americans, with the help of the Allied powers stormed the beaches at Normandy and forced Hitler's forces to flee back to Paris where we eventually overcame the Nazi's.

Liberty and freedom were painted on those beaches with the red stain of American blood. 

America needs to continue to be a force for liberty and freedom in the world as we were on that day. We need to draw strength from that moment and beat back the forces of tyranny wherever they lie today. Forces of oppression are always lurking and scheming, and we need to be ready as these brave men and women were in this great day that shall live in infamy. 

God Bless America!


21% of Americans: Bible a Fable


Are we surprised with these results? We shouldn't be. 

A Recent Gallup Poll found that three in four Americans still believe that the Bible is the word of God. 28% believe that the Bible is “is the actual word of God and that it should be taken literally,” while 47% believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, but do not take it literally. And there is that 21% who believe it is a book of “ancient fables, legends, history, and precepts written by man" with no deeper meaning or inspiration. 

While it is good that a majority of Americans (75%) still believe that the Bible is the word of God, the trend of non-believers is quite disheartening. In 1976, the view that the Bible was just a book of fables was only embraced by 13% as compared with 2014's 21%.

But why are we surprised? We shouldn't be. Since the early 1980's this trend has been steadily going up and The Freedom Kids blames our failing schools and biased media. The social contract our federal government has with those that educate our youth is secular at best and anti-religious at worst. 

While there are no current statistics concerning the correlation between our youngest generations losing God and the loss of moral values in our society, we think it is fair to make that leap. 

Patrick Henry's Fight. Was it in Vain?

James Madison pondered if Patrick Henry had been right all along in opposing a Constitution without a Bill of Rights? Are we doomed to live in tyranny without the protection of liberty? 

What if, Madison thought, taxation did become oppressive? Or the government did become consolidated? What if the states became impotent in the face of an ever growing central government? What if foreign treaties endangered our freedoms and crushed our sovereignty? What if this new government moved so far away from the principles they all agreed on that it could not even pay the interest on its legal debts? What if privacy was no longer respected? What if the press was not independent and instead an instrument of the state. 

"Virtue will slumber. The wicked will be continuing watching. Consequently, you will be undone." Patrick Henry's words echoed all around him. 

Madison then heard the words of anti-federalist James Monroe. "There are no limits pointed out. They are not restrained or controlled for making any law however oppressive."

A cacophony of trepidation shuddered throughout Madison's head. 

Wouldn't this Constitution and it's Bill of Rights protect us from this tyranny?


The Freedom Kids asks you. Did it?

A Memorial Day Message from One of the Kids

On this Memorial Day, please remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. Brave men and women fought and died so you wouldn't have to. They pick up their rifle so you can order your Starbucks. They drive their Jeeps and Humvees under fire so we can drive our families on vacation. And when we sleep at night they are awake, protecting us from harm. 

If you see a soldier over this holiday weekend, or any time for that matter, thank them. Pray for this nation and its warriors. We are the only nation in the recorded history of western civilization that has burned a path for freedom – for only freedom's sake. The way we go so does the rest of the world- let's keep it free.


~ Erik Raymond, One of the Kids