Tag Archives: Virginia War Memorial

Just News

Great news…on Facebook I labeled a photo of the white squirrel “long way from home”. I was wrong, that is not the white squirrel that reside and play near the front gate of Imperial Plaza. This is a second squirrel that now reside at the rear of the Boxwood apartment building. It is great to see another squirrel because there was three when I first moved here and all three died (one became hawk food, one was hit by a car and the other disappeared). I hope our hawk family doesn’t take it for lunch.

Thinking about the hawks, I am awaiting the sighting of the young ones. They should be getting large because the female hawk is on the rim of the nest most of the time and I seldom see the male. If I can get pictures of them learning to fly I will share them on my Facebook page. It should be soon. I have included a couple of pictures of the female on the rim of her nest.

The Wednesday bus trip to the Virginia War Memorial was good. Since I have been there many times as part of the Mighty Pen Project, I ended up being an unofficial guide for some of the attendees although there are people there that gives good information. After the Virginia War Memorial, we ate lunch at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. All I will say about the food there is that it was not what most of us were used to eating. The menu was geared mostly toward the vegetarian, of which I am not. Although it was very cloudy, wanting to rain, the rain held off and all was good.

My wife and I spent last Friday and Saturday at the great grand son’s naming ceremony. Had a great time, the baby never cried and he stayed awake much longer than usual. After two days in northern Virginia, my wife and I kept going to Maryland Live. We were to come back to Richmond on Monday but the weather forecast indicated pouring rain. We decided to stay an extra day and return when the roads were dry. WRONG! It drizzled rain Tuesday morning but it was mostly dry. But, the trip wasn’t wasted because I returned with a small profit.

We made it back in time to go to the White Squirrel for dinner, enjoying Eugene’s singing and, of course, dancing. The only complaint I have with the White Squirrel is it is always out of regular beer. I guess the reason is there is always lite-beer that no one want. There are many other places for us to go but most people here do not drive and is stuck with whatever there is here. Shame.

Well, the warm weather has been gone for a little while and will remain gone a while longer. I would call it a wake-up call to let people realize that Mother Nature will do what she want when she want to do it. It’s chilly but, I’ll make a huge bet, in two or three weeks everyone will be crying for it to be cooler. People are never satisfied, I guess.

Enjoy Memorial Day weekend. Be careful. Be vigilant! Have fun! Remember those that served and are presently serving brought America to where it is now and is keeping our our way of living secure. This weekend is not a weekend of celebration but a weekend of remembrance. God bless the USA and the troops that keep this nation free.

Advertisements

Black History Programs

With February being Black History Month I was a little busy. Actually, the way I feel about it, there should be some way Black History is incorporated into each and every month. There is too much history, up front and much, much more hidden (think about the movie Hidden Figures), that is relevant and should be remembered. I have thought about the direction I wanted to go while writing this particular blog but there are many directions and my mind was mixing them all. I think I have a grasp of it for now.

I did not want to write anything that I have read or heard about. I want to give you personal experiences, experiences that are in line with what I am writing. My mind seem to drift off the main subject and I could write much more than I post. I’ll try to make it short and to the point although it is difficult when writing history or about historical figures. For instance, when I wrote about The Last Graduating Tuskegee Airman, I only wrote about the time before he went into the military up to his graduating as a Tuskegee Airman. If I had written his entire story (I have him telling it to me on an over an hour long digital audio recording).

I was a part of one program where I was portrayed as Sen. Obama and then as President Obama. I read his speech when he was running for president and his farewell speech (I used my radio voice from my radio days). That was a nice program and I was told I did well. The audience was very small and I only counted three Black people in the place. Imperial Plaza have enough Black residents to fill the auditorium yet they come to very few programs and this was about them and for them. Yet, they complain there aren’t any programs for them, etc.

The second program was at the Virginia War Memorial. I was on the stage panel for a discussion plus a question and answer period. There were six of us and among us were Tuskegee Airmen, a woman (Army Retired) whose story would make you think of one of the women in the movie Hidden Figures), Viet Nam and the Iraq era. I can’t tell you who was more interesting, the Tuskegee Airmen or her. My input into the program did not hold a candle to theirs and I could have been listening all day to their stories.

The crowd was small and , here again, there should have been many more. After the panel stories, question and answer period, we went outside for a wreath laying. Franklin Military Academy presented The Colors and I assisted in the wreath laying ceremony. We pledged allegiance to The Flag, a female Franklin Academy Cadet sang the National Anthem and a cadet blew “Taps” on his trumpet. The weather co-operated. PBS was there and it aired the next morning and the papers were there but I did not see the article. All of it was beautiful. I could do this all year, not only during February.

The thing I am sad about is for the young people. Most are not interested in history, especially Black history. They know about some of the famous Black people but they do not know about the small things that were accomplished. Most do not want to know who did what or why. They seldom understand what the conditions and hold backs were. I have even found they have a lot of misconceptions about ancient history, like the Pyramids or the oldest operating library in the world. Things like this are important to me, personally, and it helped shape my mind and all my actions through life. The few that soak up history seem to be better because of it.

All of us on that stage at the Virginia War Memorial was a tiny sample of the history that is sort by historians. It was sad only three of four kids were there to hear about the tiny portion of history from the people that produced it. Yes, I am a part of it although I rarely talk about it. It started with Civil Rights and ended at my retirement from the military.

To those before me and/or accomplished more than I have, thank you. To those that are learning about past history, keep digging. There is a treasure trove to find. And, as I have said before, you will never know who you may be talking to because most will not say unless asked. That person may have a background that would shock you. Keep digging…

A Week of Delectation

I am still on cloud nine from all that I have seen, done and went through this week. In a nut shell, I interviewed the last graduating airman from the famed Tuskegee Airmen of Tuskegee, Ala. Myself and Len Rasmusen, with Len driving, went to northern Virginia to meet with (Ret.) Col. Carl Johnson. He was the last to graduate because before his class graduated he had a bout of appendicitis and was hospitalized. When he got out of the hospital, his class had graduated and he was all alone. He was thinking he would be sent home but, instead, he was allowed to finish his training and graduate as the Last Tuskegee Airman.

At 91, he is clear voiced, full of spirit and was eager to talk about his storied career as an Army Officer although he did time in the USAF and the Army National Guard. Through him, I found out about Tuskegee Airmen flying bombers, although it was after WWII. He also flew in Korea and Viet Nam and was posted at the Pentagon, among many other places. Len and I viewed a number of scrapbooks and saw pictures of many people of note, such as Gen. Chappie James as a lieutenant. We were told that he was good friends with Chappie James, because he was his co-pilot, and they remained friends for years.

I have it all recorded so I can refer to it as I write a longer, more precise, work for The MPP (The Mighty Pen Project), the Virginia War Memorial and self-gratification. I love history. Everything about history. I love to dig deeper as I ask the question, why? I don’t mind the research nor do I mind the inevitable self induced trance I fall into.

In the middle of the week Imperial Plaza took us to the new Afro-American Museum, officially entitled, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. After lunch in Washington, D.C., we traveled the very short distance to the museum, which was very crowded. A word of caution for anyone that is planning to go there. Go on-line and get tickets first but plan to wait a few months before the tickets will allow entrance. Getting tickets now will allow you entry in April or May although there is a line for people that arrive without a reservation but there is not a guarantee that you will get in that way, even if you wait all day.

There is no way you can view the entire museum in one day so I concentrated on the lower three floors (basement) of the eight floors. I quickly went through most of the displays, not spending too much time on any one thing. I had three hours and almost didn’t make it although three hours seem like a long time but when you are engrossed in the displays, time flies and there is so much.

The thing that bothered me most were not the displays but the kids. Most of the kids were either running through the place, playing with each other or mindlessly texting. The great majority were not interested and, I will make a bet, could not tell you about anything there. What a shame. What a waste.

In that section was a short display on the Tuskegee Airmen and, I noticed, one of the pictures on display was one that I took a photo of from Col. Johnson’s scrapbook. There, on display, is one of the planes that the Tuskegee Airmen flew (The Spirit Of Tuskegee) and a few other pictures. I wish the display had more but you take whatever there is to take. The photos of some of the grotesque hangings done to my people where very haunting to say the least. The display of an actual slave house really show how small they were for the number of people that lived in them, or should I say survived in them. That’s all there was then, survival any way you could.

That was my week and I am overjoyed to have lived it. Col. Johnson and the museum made my entire week and I’m happy for it. Imperial Plaza’s Activity Department get thumbs up for the work in getting tickets, getting us there and getting us back safely. Praises to Kayle, Ron and Jerome.

See you next blog. Don’t forget to check out my other blog, although it will automatically pop up on other sites (twitter, google, etc). The weekend is coming and my wife and I are off again. Our schedule is full and we have a lot of fun and adventures to catch up on. Bye-bye and remember…Be kind to your neighbors and ensure your words are soft and sweet.

MPP and Casinos

You should have been there. The third class of the Mighty Pen Project had their graduation ceremony, of which I was a part of, on the 6th of April. There were at least eighty five people in attendance and food in abundance (after the ceremony, of course). And, to top it all off, there were six or seven readings of some of the pieces written during the ten weeks of intense university level instruction. This was my second class and I loved this one most of all. The next class will be starting in a week or two (I forget which) and Mighty Pen Project (MPP) will begin to take applications for the fall class that will start in September. Those of you that can make it should sign-up for this ten week course. You’ll be surprised in what you can accomplish. Registration is taken through the Virginia War Memorial (our partner in this endeavor) on their web site, www.virginiawarmemorial.org I am still working on our web site (I finally made a break through in getting it started) and it’s located at www.themightypenproject.org I finally have a few photos from the graduation and a couple from NPR when they were at the second class (I’m in both of the photos which ended up in the papers also). Keep looking at both sites because information change often.

I love going to the casinos but I am out with Charlestown Casinos in Charlestown, West Virginia. The horse racing was good (they can’t rig that) but the slot machines are brand new and set to not pay. Maryland Live and Horseshoe (Baltimore) is much, much better. You may not get a jackpot but you will make and lose a little with the occasional jackpot or near jackpot. West Virginia must want us to pay for the new machines. Not on my dime. But, on the other side of the coin, my wife love to play Roulette and does pretty good on the table. It’s hard to rig the table but the machines are another matter. Therefore, we’ll go to Maryland Live for a week, starting Monday, and my religious blog will be late if at all (it’s not like I’m getting paid for this blog).

I see we have the typical Virginia weather…wait five minutes and it’ll change. Seem as though we are getting March in April, therefore, we may get April in May. Either way, our Virginia weather, in my opinion, is the best in the USA. A little of this and a little of that with not too much of any one thing. Here in the Richmond, tri-cities area, the very bad weather either go around us or skip over us. I love it and try to enjoy it. It’s never too hot nor too cold (three bears?) and I don’t like the cold although I spent most of my military career in cold places. Oh well, there is nothing that can be done about it even if you don’t like it. We all have to suck up the bad weather and hope we are never in it.

Take care, be good and I’ll see all of you when I get back.

It’s That Time Of Year Again

Aah, spring is right around the corner and the heat is on. Not too hot and not too cool but just right. I love this time of year. What is even better is the fact the fish are getting ready for me. They are just waiting for me to come for them and to bring them home. Aah, my time of year. Plus, I love retirement and all that it brings. The problem is I don’t have enough time. There are not enough hours in the day for me to do all the things I want to do. Fish, bike, walk, travel, gamble, read, write and other things I just can’t say at the moment. Hell, looking at the list, that’s a lot. No wonder I don’t have time for anything. I didn’t even include sleep or The Might Pen Project (themightypenproject.org) (or go to the Virginia War Memorial web site). The MPP is keeping me very busy in itself but it is a good organization and more vets should try it. Not because it is free but simply try it and let the inter self flow.

Besides my fishing, I have quite a few trips planned. There is so much to do and not enough time to do it and work my part-time job also. First on the list is to Charlestown, W.V for two days at the casino. Next on the agenda is Puerto Rico for a few days. June is the ten day cruise, sponsored by Brookdale Imperial Plaza. July is my grandson’s wedding in Colorado. I’m not sure about August but September is the jazz fest in Hampton Coliseum (not The Hampton Jazz Festival). This should be three days of great music and fun and it’s only an hour away. I’ve already booked my tickets and hotel space (can’t be driving home drunk on I-64 ). This is as far as I’ve gotten, so far, and the year is covered except for August. At least, I don’t remember what will happen in August. I’m sure there’s something. Oh yeah…there is a family reunion in Penn. coming up. Forgot about that. Oh, well!!!

What I really want to do is go back to Europe next year. My wife have never been (like I’ve never been to Puerto Rico, where she is from) to Europe. I want to show her Germany, Holland, Austria and then England before returning home. I may stop by France but that would be a side trip while we are there. Most of the time will be in Germany and Austria. That is only a plan at the moment.

Retirement is great and I’ve worked all my life to enjoy my waning days. Just as well spend what I have because I can’t take it with me when it’s my time to move on out of here. When it’s that time, I can’t say wait, give me more time because I want to do this or that. And, years have been spent working to do this.

So, all of you out there, have the fun I am planning to have. Don’t let grass grow under your feet. Move!! Have fun!! Go places, do things!! Life is short and will not wait on you. And, if my blog is late getting out or it’s not out at all, you now have an idea why. Don’t hold it against me and, on second thought, join me. We can have fun together and just live it up.

Busy, Busy, Busy

I have neglected putting out my blogs for good reasons. It is not because I am lazy (some may argue that is the case but I’ll never waver) but have been busy with my MPP (Mighty Pen Project) classes and with the board of the MPP. I am also getting together (finally) the website for the MPP that will give much more information than I could give to you here. As you know, it is geared to all active duty military, ex-military and the families and/or friends of each service. To go further, in case you have not read my other blogs, it is for writing. These papers can be for memoirs, books or just plain getting things off your mind. The course is a once a week, ten week class taught by an instructor from a college, university, etc. In other words, this is a free college level course Who can argue with FREE?

How can this be free? That is where the Virginia War Memorial come in. With their help and guidance, we have come a long way. Now we have our own board and is attempting to function (some day) on our own. I have the task of setting up the website and keeping it running. A daunting task, to say the least. I hope to premiate myself by accomplishing this in a very expeditious manner. Wish me luck and the fortitude to carry on.

As far as Brookdale’s Imperial Plaza is concerned, it is slowly but surely moving right along… making people angrier and angrier along the way. The director (I should say “ex”) is no more. She was fired (she say she left on her own) but the rumor mill is really humming. I strongly believe the rumor mill (I have my sources). I will not say what those rumors are because, if wrong, I could be charged with slander. There is enough going on that I don’t want to be in the middle and end up on the wrong end of the spectrum. I have not seen nor met the lady that’s holding down the fort until a new director is named but I hear she is nice. I don’t remember her name but I do know she is from another facility that is in the Brookdale family. And, I want to add, people are not happy with the changes at the Magnolia Room or any of the dinning rooms, to be exact. Like I said before. People are always against change, whether good or bad. It doesn’t matter.

I am also a member of the grounds committee and, just think, I am suppose to be retired. I am doing more now than when I wasn’t retired. I guess being busy does not give you time to think about your age. I think about it every now and then and cringe. Personally, I think the two guys that do all the grounds work does not need anymore supervision or oversight than they already have. They do a fantastic job. I’m one that believe in the saying “if it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it.” I am told that I am expected to attend the different building gatherings in order to get their input about what they want done on the grounds. NOT!!! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it plus I don’t have the desire or time to commit to such an endeavor.

Anyway, I’ll try to keep the blog going. I have so much coming up. A trip to Puerto Rico, a cruise, a trip to Colorado and, of course, the casinos. Add to that the MPP and I should finish my classes by the end of March. I forgot the Neighborhood Watch program, I am committed to that also. In order to be a good neighbor, commit your services to the neighborhood. If we all did a little, crime would be at an all time low.

Until next time…be kind to your neighbors because you’ll never know when you’ll need them. Also, insure your words are soft and sweet, you’ll never know when you’ll have to eat them. BYE!!!

Mighty Pen Project

It was a great night, 1/6/16, at the Virginia War Memorial where we had the reading and reception of the Mighty Pen Project. Quite a few people were there, the food was good and the readings went very well. There was six of us, that was in the second class of the Mighty Pen Project, and I was first to read one of the pieces I wrote for the class. All of the written material was well written, very moving and covered a wide area of military life from Viet Nam to the present time.

Mr. James Triesler, Education Director of the Virginia War Memorial gave the welcome. Dr. David Coogan, Associate Professor of English, Virginia Commonwealth University and our instructor for the second class of the Mighty Pen Project, gave the remarks. Mr. David L. Robins, program founder/author/teacher at VCU, gave the introduction of readers.

The Mighty Pen Project is in need of students, like myself or better, that is military connected, past or present, and want to write. People that want to write about their military experiences, feelings, just to get things out of their system or just to leave something for their loved one, to name a few things, need this class. It’s too late to registrar for the class starting on 1/20/16 but contact can be made for the class starting in April. Each class is every Wednesday night for ten weeks and involve reading, writing and supreme insight into the material from the instructor.

Go to the Virginia War Memorial web site, www.vawarmemorial.org, for information on the Mighty Pen Project ( MPP) and the Virginia War Memorial. The Mighty Pen Project also have a Facebook page and a lot of information can be gained there. A web page and blog is in the works. Since I have joined the board, I have been appointed to help with initiating the web site and helping with future entertainment. I hope my work goes well. If anyone need information or know someone that would qualify, they can either contact me or go to one of the sites.

I know that this is not like my normal blogs but I feel that I can at least help get the word out with one or more shots from my blog. Don’t hesitate to do this and I will surly get back to you as soon as I can. There are a lot of retirees out here that would like to try this and the person does not have to be good or retired. That will come with time and it’s not to write a book (it’ll give you a start, if you want), just snippets. Well, I’ll see ya the next time. Contact me.