I am a(n) researcher and archivist.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bob Heft, Creator Of The Fifty-Star U.S. Flag, Passed Away

Bob Heft passed away on December 12, 2009. The major news media outlets did not report his passing at all. Only the media local to his residence bothered to report the news. I just found out yesterday (December 29) ... and by chance. Bob was such an important figure to this country - he was the one who came up with the design of our current Flag and his death came by without mass acknowledgement. Really - all of us need to hang our heads in utter shame for this.

There are some funny stories associated with Bob's life. At the age of 17, Bob created the Fifty-Star Flag as a project in high school. He believed two additional states would join the Union at some point. He received a B- for his work since in his teacher's words, "It lacked originality". Bob wanted an A and his teacher told him if Congress accepted his design, he would increase his grade to an A. It indeed happened. The President at the time, Dwight David Eisenhower, called Bob and asked for Robert G. Heft. Not knowing he was speaking to the President, he replied, "Yes, but you can call me Bob". Furthermore when DDE asked him if he could come to Washington a few days before the official presentation of the Flag, he put the President on hold so he could ask his boss about it (Heft was only at his job for eleven days and, therefore, did not have any leave time). Shocked at the fact that Heft put the President on hold, his boss told him he could have the days off. Bob Heft then picked up the phone and said, "Dwight, are you still there?". The people in the room with him laughed.

I have wanted to meet Bob Heft for some time now, but I was never able to work it out. He actually visited Frank Woodruff Buckles (America's last surviving Veteran of World War One) a few days after I met him back in January.

An extremely important person involved in the history and culture of America has died and it went by with little-to-no recognition. We are about to enter a new decade. Let us make a commitment to not let the passing of such a significant figure go by with such apathy and reticence. We can do better America.

Here are some autographed items by Bob Heft from my collection.

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You can find more information about Bob Heft by typing his name into search engines and youtube.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christkindlmarkt In Clark, New Jersey On November 22, 2009

This blog entry features photographs from the Christkindlmarkt in Clark, New Jersey.  The Deutscher Club held the event.  I have had experience attending the Christkindlmarkt in various cities in Germany and Austria and in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in years past ... this was the first time that I attended one in New Jersey.

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The Deutscher Club's website: http://deutscherclub.us

Thursday, November 19, 2009

146th Anniversary Of The Gettysburg Address

Today is the 146th Anniversary of The Gettysburg Address. Just like today, November 19 fell on a Thursday back in 1863.

Abraham Lincoln was not the only speaker at the event. As a matter of fact, Lincoln's role was quite minor. His involvement in the ceremony was merely that of an afterthought. Despite this, for lack of a better description, he stole the show. The main speaker at Gettysburg was Edward Everett. His oration was to be the Gettysburg Address, but fate and destiny had other plans. The following day Everett wrote Lincoln a letter which included these words, "I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes".

I have some authentic 1860s items related to the Gettysburg Address.

The first two jpegs are of CDV (Carte-De-Vista) images of Everett and Lincoln dating from the mid- to late-1860s. The next four jpegs are of a newspaper from November 1863 and includes the first page, Lincoln's speech, the first part of Everett's speech and the final part of Everett's speech.


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The Library Of Congress currently owns the actual letter Everett wrote to Lincoln (given to the Library by Abe's son Robert) and it is pictured at the following url:
http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trt032.html

Now, ending this message is a rare opportunity to hear a recollection of the Gettysburg Address by someone who was there in person. William Rathvon recorded his memories in 1938 and his words comprise the only first-hand account of the day in audio format. Although wikipedia is not always accurate, this entry is fine:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_R._Rathvon

At the bottom you will see "External links". You have a choice between a six-minute version with commentary or a longer version of twenty-one minutes. Should you endeavor to choose the latter, I guarantee ... you will be richly fulfilled.



UPDATE (November 19, 2012): I see the audio link for William's entire interview on NPR's site no longer works. I do make a point to listen to his account every November 19.
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Siege Of Fort Mifflin Revolutionary War Reenactment Held On November 15, 2009

Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania held a historical "Siege Of Fort Mifflin" Reenactment on the 15th of November. Reenactors dressed like Colonial Revolutionaries, British Redcoats, Scottish Highlanders aka Green-Coated Loyalists (in the green kilts) and Loyalists (played by the 1st New Jersey Volunteers). It was a fantastic event and representation that even featured an 18th century concert at the end!

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Here's an airplane flying overhead!

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The concert - a drummer and three fifers!

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Here I am by the old wall and cannon!

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Additional photos from the event can be seen here:
http://s169.photobucket.com/albums/u213/portaltothepast/Reenactments/Revolutionary%20War/Fort%20Mifflin%2011-15-2009

I have five videos of the event at my youtube page, http://www.youtube.com/MichaelTheResearcher. They can be found using the search phrases "Revolutionary War Reenactment At Fort Mifflin 11-15-2009" and "18th Century Concert At Fort Mifflin 11-15-2009".

Fort Mifflin has many more great events coming up:
http://fortmifflin.us

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Armistice Day/Veterans Day/Remembrance Day

Armistice Day ... Veterans Day ... Remembrance Day ... the name is not always the same depending on the country, but the recognition is. This is a day to acknowledge the World War One Veterans who are still with us as well as remembering the World War One Veterans who have passed on. The world, and specifically Britain, lost two Veterans of the Great War in 2009: Henry Allingham and Harry Patch.

Henry Allingham was a founding member of the Royal Air Force and was the last surviving Veteran of the Battle of Jutland. Although he was assigned to fly, he experienced the horrors of the ground one evening. While searching for debris, he fell into a trench that was filled with arms, legs, flesh, dead rats and water. Despite the shock of the experience, he lived to become Britain's oldest verified man ever and was prior to his death, the oldest man in the world at that time. In World War Two, he worked to neutralize German mines.
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Harry Patch was the last survivor of Passchendaele, a Battle that included a German private by the name of Adolf Hitler. While in the trenches, he was wounded in action and witnessed three of his friends die. He is considered the last Tommy and was the oldest man in Europe before his death. He saw some action in World War Two as a fireman during the Baedeker Blitz raids.
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Although Bill Stone was in basic training during World War One, some have included him in its roster. He passed away in 2009 as well. In World War Two, he was involved with picking soldiers up from beaches and was torpedoed on two occasions.
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Some of you may have seen a video of the Ceremony at the Cenotaph in 2008. It was the 90th Anniversary of the Armistice. Those who were there personally will keep the memory with them forever for it was the last time the three men were seen altogether and it was the last time any of them would be alive on November 11.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Rally For The Iranian Protesters Held In New York City On September 23, 2009

A spirited Rally, organized by Iranians appalled at the brutality and egregious violations occurring in Iran, took place in New York City on September 23 and 24. I have taken a great interest in the situation in Iran and I decided to go to New York City (on the twenty-third) to participate in the Rally and join in protesting the invitation and appearance of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the United Nations Summit. I wanted show support to the Iranians who are fighting for basic human rights in their country and to show people of Iranian descent living in North America that there are people who care about and are very interested in and very concerned about the brutality and the quest for freedom in Iran.

The events that have taken place in Iran are, to me, very extraordinary, very exciting and very emotional because this is true change. A true revolution is taking place. These are a people who are fighting against an oppressive regime and all of us in the West have much to learn from them. People in America are quick to criticize ruling entities in other countries - sometimes rightfully so, but when Revolutionaries in these countries challenge the respective ruling entities and need our support or, at the very least, our acknowledgement, these same American critics are absolutely reticent, uninterested or ignorant to the Revolutionary events taking place. These brave, committed, steadfast Iranians have made the first move and for their efforts, their cause and their plight, I find it obligatory that I myself join in these Protests regardless of where I reside on planet Earth. I told myself, "I cannot go to Iran, but I can go to New York" and l did go to New York because this was too important to neglect. The Iranian Protesters are facing almost insurmountable odds, but their resolve is impregnable. This is their fight and this is their quest for freedom and they wish to succeed on their own by their own means through their own efforts but they want and need expressions of support from all over the world. I am someone who is heavily involved with preserving the memory of my nation's Revolution in the 1700s. It is only fitting that I give proper exposure to the current Revolution in Iran and help in any way that I can.

As for the Rally and Protest on September 23, I left my house at 9:00 AM, drove to the train station and arrived in New York at 11:45 AM. As I made my way through the streets of New York City, inching closer and closer to the U.N. building, I stumbled upon one lively Rally which featured various chants (such as "Hey hey, oh oh, Ahmadinejad has to go!" and others in the Parsi/Farsi language), musicians, lectures and words of encouragement. I later walked by the U.N. building and finally made my way to the area where the final part of the Rally was held. Eventually word spread as to where Ahmadinejad was staying so we planned to give him a bit of a greeting. As evening came and light turned to darkness, a few dozen die-hard Protesters remained. Two of Iran's delegates/representatives for the U.N. Summit actually came out to talk to us (not that I knew what was said - the conversations and arguments were in Parsi/Farsi). We finally made it to the hotel where Ahmadinejad was staying (the "Inter-Continental The Barclay" ... kind of a weird name but that was the one). We were told to congregate inside one gated area, moved to another gated area down the street and then finally thrown out at 10:00. I took the 11:05 train out of town and was finally inside my home at around 1:45 AM. Rain was projected for the entire day, but luckily the light drizzling ended prior to the beginning of the Rally and did not start again until a few minutes after the Rally ended. Talk about luck!! I suppose the clouds knew about our Rally and were on our side.

I have to tell you - the entire day was AMAZING!!! Since I was about the only blue-eyed person there, a few people took notice and said thank you to me. One man asked me what drew me to the event and a woman looked at me and said "You aren't Iranian" and after I explained my position (pretty much the same as what I have typed in the second paragraph above), they were deeply touched and appreciative. I met some really cool and well-intentioned people. The Iranians in attendance were motivated and out in full force. The Rally was so incredible - I didn't want the day to end! I have never attended a Protest and Rally before. I figured I would someday, but I had previously never found a cause that really resonated with me enough to put thoughts and well-wishes to action. That all changed - regardless of how many I go to in the future, this Rally and show of support to the Iranian Protesters will always be my first.

I also learned about a new song. I am open to hearing music from other cultures and am always looking for new material - it is even better when I stumble upon a new song. That is exactly what happened on this day. I heard a song played over the loudspeaker and later, it was sung by the crowd a cappella. The title is "Yare Dabestani Man" (I have seen different spellings on the web) and it has been used as the rallying song for the Protesters. If you look up videos, pertaining to the situation in Iran, on youtube, you will hear this song in many of them. Great beat ... you can even imagine a huge uprising or revolution occurring to the sound of the music. It was a great day for the cause and also to learn a bit more about Persian culture.

By the way and this is EXTREMELY important ... throughout the day, people were holding up signs with the face of Neda Agha-Soltan (the innocent young woman who was killed in Iran back in June) on them (I had one myself). The vast majority of the signs did in fact have her face on them, but I did notice a couple of signs showing another Neda - a Neda who is still alive and very distressed that her photo is all over the place now!! Everyone has to get rid of the photos showing the living Neda right away!!

Here are some photos of the day (Note: if any of you see yourselves and wish to have your photos deleted, I will get rid of them for you. I know some of you have family in Iran and this is a delicate and dangerous matter):

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The United Nations Building:
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Showing support to the Iranians!!! Nevermind the penmanship, haha.
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Two of the Iranian delegates/representatives:
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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in this hotel at the time this photo was taken!!
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More photos of the day can be found at this url (you'll note I took photos of other Rallies for Burma, China and Honduras as well):
http://s169.photobucket.com/albums/u213/portaltothepast/North%20America/New%20York/Iranian%20Rally%20NYC%209-23-2009/

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Monday, September 21, 2009

The World's Oldest Man, Walter Breuning, Turned 113 Today!

Walter Breuning was born in 1896 and is still doing very well. There are a few videos of him on youtube if you want to take a look. You will be quite impressed with him - he remembers when his grandfather would talk about his time in the War Between The States and hearing about President William McKinley getting assassinated. Check this out - last month, when Walter was "only" 112, I sent a self-addressed stamped envelope with an enclosed index card to his current address, and in one week I received the index card signed!! Here is an autograph of the oldest man in the world (with a newspaper clipping)!

Walter Breuning - World's Oldest Man

I go to concerts a lot and meet Rock Stars (some of which are in their 50s and 60s now). If any of them say they are too old to sign, I'll just pull this out and say, "Too old? I got the oldest of them all!!"!
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wonderful Sights In The Morning Sky Over The Past Week

Mid- to late-September had some nice images in the sky in the form of Planets and Stars.

These photos are from the 14th of the month ...

Mars above and The Moon below (in the Northeastern sky):

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The same photo as above with text showing you what's what:
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Close-up shots of Mars:
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The Moon:
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Jupiter (in the Southwestern sky):
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Close-up of Jupiter (from the previous shot):
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A few hours later, Venus showed up (in the Northeastern sky):
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These photos are from the 15th of the month ...

The Planet Venus was out so I thought I'd photograph a statue of the Goddess Venus below it!

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The Manifestation of the Goddess in planetary form:
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These photos are from the 19th of the month ...

Venus (in the Eastern sky):

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Venus with the blue-star Regulus below:
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The star-cluster Pleiades:
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These photos are from the 20th of the month ...

Venus and Regulus (in the Eastern sky):

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