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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Memorial Day

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Monday we will take time to remember those who have died in the service of our country.

It’s important that we never forget many have paid a great price so we can enjoy the freedoms we have today. 

Lincoln referred to these brave soldiers as those who have given the last full measure of devotion. 

It’s more than just a day off from work. 

It’s more than just a time to roast hot dogs and barbecue.

For a long time it seemed as if those activities of leisure were disrespectful. 

After further consideration, that’s possibly not the case. 

The men and women who gave their lives for freedom believed in the American dream. 

Part of being an American is enjoying freedom, each in our own way. 

In other words we get to chose how to remember and honor our fallen. 

If a friend or loved one would have wanted you to remember them by spending quality time with family then do so.

However you chose to remember them, remember them. 

Never forget!

OKC Bombing Remembered

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April 19, 1995 is a date forever etched in the minds of Oklahomans. 

Like other life-altering events, those affected can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news. 

That morning at 9:02 am a truck  that was parked in front of the Alfred P. Murrah building in downtown Oklahoma City exploded taking the lives of 168 innocent lives, including 19 children. 

Miraculously, there was a sixth month old child who survived without suffering any injuries. 

Madison Naylor was at the YMCA daycare located next to the Murrah building at the time of the incident. 

Today, Naylor is a first year medical student at the University of Oklahoma. 

In a news release from the university she is quoted as saying that even though she can’t remember the bombing, she also can’t remember a time when she didn’t know about it. 

Naylor goes on to say that she was affected when she saw the children’s chairs at the bombing memorial. 

That inspired her to want to do something good and positive with her life. 

Naylor realizes that the bombing is “still part of people’s lives.” 

Although she may not remember the bombing that changed her life forever, she has used it to fuel her desires to make the world a better place. 

Notre Dame Cathedral

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 One of the most famous churches in the world caught fire Monday. The church suffered major damage, including the loss of its iconic spire. 

The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, the foundation which was laid by Pope Alexander III in 1163, although it took  300 years to complete. 

The name Notre Dame means “Our Lady”. 

It is the most visited monument in France. There are approximately 13 million people per year who visit the church. 

The breathtaking gothic architecture features stained glass windows and an organ that utilizes 7,800 pipes to create music that reverberates through one’s very soul. 

It literally sits at the center of Paris. There is a brass plaque stating the fact on the premises. The church is located at point zero and all locations in Paris are measured from this point. 

Notre Dame is the location of some notable moments in history. 

It is the site of the Coronation of a 10-year old King Henry VI as King of France just two years after his coronation at Westminster Abbey in 1429. 

Mary, Queen of Scots married Dauphin Francis there in 1558. 

Pope Pius VII conducted Napoleon I’s coronation there following the French Revolution. 

The Cathedral was the setting of Victor Hugo’s famous literary masterpiece, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The cathedral claims to be the home of the actual crown of thorns that Jesus wore. 

In 2015 Andrew Tallon, a professor of art at Vassar College used lasers to scan the entire cathedral. His scan allowed for construction of a near perfect digital replica that may come in handy once reconstruction begins. 

Donations are already coming in to restore the church to its former glory. 

It’s incredible how one structure has had such an impact on a nation. 

The building itself is more than just brick and mortar. It’s a symbol of something deeper for the people of France. 

It’s as if it is the substance of the entire history of the nation. 

In a way it has become all things to all people.

The millions of people who go through it’s doors all find something inspiring and life changing. 

When flames were leaping into the sky this past Monday it wasn’t just the cathedral that was going up in smoke, it was if a piece of everyone was going up with it. 

Image source [http://flickr.com/photos/19034016@N00 Christopher Kramer] from San Francisco, CA, USA ”’Title:”’ Notre Dame Cathedral – Paris ”’Description:”’ Notre Dame Cathedral. From the backroads trip tak

A Dream Deferred?

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 Langston Hughes once asked, “What happens to a dream deferred?

We could ask, “What do we do when a dream is deferred?” Do we simply give up?

We all have dreams. At least we did in our younger years. 

Some of us wanted to be astronauts, writers, spies, doctors, lawyers, superheroes, etc. 

As time passed we adjusted these dreams to fit our skill sets and in some cases to fit reality. 

Sadly, some of us quit adjusting our dreams and instead quit dreaming altogether. 

Jon Waid said at Tuesday’s chamber meeting that many new year’s resolutions are discarded by Valentine’s Day. 

The reason for this, he  said, was because we don’t have a system in place to implement those resolutions. 

Perhaps the same can be said about dreams. 

Maybe we don’t see our dreams fulfilled because we failed to implement a system that would enable us to achieve them?

It’s fun to dream about climbing Mt. Everest.

However, if that really is a dream you want fulfilled, you will need to set some plans in motion to achieve it.

It’s healthy to dream.

Dreams can be inspiring. 

I encourage you to dream again. Create some goals. Aspire to achieve. Learn to live. 

It’s okay if you have failed over and over again. 

Revive the dream.

This time,  however, create or learn a system that will enable you to achieve it. 

The best way to do this is to start out small. 

Make baby steps toward you goal. 

I heard it once said, “the best way to eat an elephant is slowly, one bite at a time.”

Next, make your progress measurable. 

For instance, if you are going to climb Mt. Everest, obviously, you will need to be in good shape. 

Research, find out what kind of physical shape you would need to be in. How far would you need to be able to walk (climb)? 

Go to the gym. Build your muscles. Increase your endurance. 

Do this in stages.

Also, find out what kind of equipment you will need. How much will it cost? Adjust your budget to be able to afford it.

Finally, there will be times when you have to settle for climbing Mt. Scott instead of Everest. 

That’s okay. 

At least you will make it to the summit. 

At least you will be dreaming again. 

Go ahead, live a little.

Enjoy life. 

Dare to dream. 

What are you reading?

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Stories have a way of cheering us up, opening our minds, mending our hearts, and taking us on journeys we would otherwise never be able to enjoy.

That’s what I love about a good book. 

I especially love a good mystery. 

Reading was something that was encouraged in our home from the time I was old enough to go to the local library in Moore, Oklahoma. 

There’s nothing like a well written book. 

Over the years, I’ve amassed a formidable library, if I may be so presumptuous. 

Therefore, when I’m not writing for the paper or writing the weekly sermon, it’s not uncommon for me to have a book in my hand. 

During the holiday season I found a series on Amazon Prime called the Great American Read. It was filmed  during 2018. PBS was on a quest to find out the top 100 favorite books of American readers. 

I won’t go into the entire list here, but I would like to share a few. 

Coming in at number 83 was Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.”

I was pleased to see Novels with a Christian theme included on the list. 

“Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan was number 80.

The “Left Behind” series did somewhat better by landing at number 77. 

A classic, “Gulliver’s Travels” was number 75.

Ralph Ellison, one of two writers from Oklahoma whose books made the list, was recognized by having his  award winning book, “Invisible Man” listed as number 72. 

A timeless classic, “Don Quixote,” made it to number 68 on the list. 

“A Separate Peace,” by John Knowles, a book I was required to read in High School, was number 67. 

The book that came in at number 58 is one enjoyed by myself and Ryan native, Jon Harris. I talked to him this week while preparing for the story about the Ryan Drug store. During our conversation I let him know about this editorial and that the book he introduced me to was on the list. He wasn’t surprised. In case your wondering the book is titled, “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole. It won the Pulitzer Prize.

Those of you who enjoy a moving romantic story will be pleased to know that “The Notebook” was number 56. 

If you have time this year, and you will need plenty to finish the book that was listed as number 50, “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy.

Do you know where the phrase “Catch-22” comes from? You guessed it. It’s number 47 on the list. “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller.

“The Outsiders,” by S.E. Hinton made number 32. She is the there Oklahoma writer who made the top 100. Susie Hinton was born and raised in Tulsa. She still lives there today. 

Charles Dickens made the list with his book “Great Expectations” coming in at number 29. 

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll listed at number 28. 

A man who lives not from here wrote the book that was listed as number 22. His name is Larry McMurtry. The book is titled, “Lonesome Dove.”

“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain made the list at number 17. 

The favorite book of those who submitted their favorite titles to the PBS website was none other than “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.

What’s your favorite book? Do you have more than one? That’s okay. So do I. 

We are curious to find out what yours are. Use the form below or email us at waurikanewsjournal@gmail.com with your list of favorite books. You can send us as many as you want. We will accept your list all year until the last week in November. We will announce the list in a December issue. 

Learning to live in the moment.

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 Everyone has moments they look back on with fondness, moments perhaps which even define them as a person. 

Sadly for many of us, those moments are too few and far between. 

Sometimes it’s because life is too busy.

However, much of the time it’s because we simply fail to live in the moment. 

Thomas Carlyle once wrote, “Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.”

That statement had a profound impact on a man by the name of Sir William Osler. 

In a speech to students at Yale University, Osler related the truth of that statement in a short sentence, “live in day-tight compartments.”

Osler went on to explain. He said forget about yesterday, don’t focus on the future and simply focus on today. Put another way, live in the moment. 

Researches have accumulated DATA on what makes people unhappy. 

What they discovered is that one of the contributors to unhappiness is a habit that everyone engages in throughout the day. It’s called mind-wandering.

We as humans have the ability to let our minds wander to other things instead of focusing on the task directly in front of us. 

In other words, we are not doing what lies clearly at hand. 

Let’s face it. We live in a fast-paced demanding world. 

Everything was due yesterday. 

Because of that, we feel a constant need to be planning ahead, thinking about the tasks yet to be completed.

This causes chaos and confusion and yes, unhappiness.

Over the past few months, there have been a plethora of books on the market about mindfulness.  

Mindfulness is defined as achieving a state of mind where one focuses on the present moment. 

Some of these writers express this idea as if it is a new concept. 

They forget that the greatest teacher who ever lived taught this principle two-thousand years ago.

He said not to worry about tomorrow. He even went so far as to say not to even worry about what you would eat, drink or wear. 

What he was saying was to focus on the moment you are in. 

How many of us have missed out on life simply because we let our minds wander at the wrong times?

We are with our children playing a simple game but our minds are at work. 

Instead of enjoying time with our spouse we are thinking about other ways we could be making money. 

At other times we can’t enjoy our day off from work because we are worried about whatever is screaming at us the most in our minds. 

Moments are special. Sadly, if we don’t learn to live in those moments while they are happening there is a good chance we won’t even remember them. 

Life is short and is made up of moments. Let’s enjoy each and every one. 

Thanksgiving Moments in History

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This Thursday over 54 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends according to the AAA travel website. 

The preferred meal, obviously, will be turkey and dressing. Eighty-eight percent of us will indulge our appetite on the bird Benjamin Franklin wanted to be the symbol of America. All total, 46 million turkeys will be eaten this Thanksgiving. 

Stuffing is an important part of the traditional meal. Fifty-percent like their stuffing on the inside of the bird. How do you like yours?

The celebratory feast has its roots in the early days of American history. Names like Squanto, William Bradford along with the pilgrims who landed at Plymouth rock come to mind. 

It has been recorded that William Bradford was the first to organize a “Thanksgiving” feast that brought Native Americans and Pilgrims together. It lasted three days. 

Abraham Lincoln was the first president given credit for making the holiday a permanent annual event. However, the idea of making Thanksgiving a national holiday was the idea of Sarah Josepha Hale, author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. She worked tirelessly for 36 years to achieve her goal through editorials, letters to governors, senators and presidents. Lincoln heeded her request in 1863.

One of the traditions of the day is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The first one took place in New York City in 1924. This week around 3.5 million people will attend the parade while another 50 million will watch it on television. This year’s parade will include 16 giant character balloons, 43 novelty balloons, 26 floats, 1,200 cheerleaders and dancers, 1,000 clowns, and 12 marching bands. The parade should last around 3 hours. 

The song “Jingle Bells” was originally meant to be a Thanksgiving song. It was written in 1857 by James Lord Pierpont and published under the name “One Horse Open Sleigh”. The song became so popular that it became a part of Christmas.

During World War I the government printing office published cookbooks so members of the armed forces could cook their favorite Thanksgiving meals. 

A poster from WWI urging Americans to ration sugar.

Newspapers did their part during the Thanksgiving season during WWI. Newspapers published recipes and ideas to help families enjoy the holiday with limited resources due to rationing. 

Because sugar was in such short supply, cranberry sauces were discouraged in many of the newspaper articles. 

Of course, the best WWI Thanksgiving feast occurred on November 28, 1918, the Thanksgiving immediately after the war, which ended on November 11th at 11:00 am. That was a hundred years ago this year. 

How do you like to celebrate Thanksgiving? What family traditions do you enjoy? What memories bring you happiness during this festive time of the year?

We at the Waurika News Journal & The Ryan Leader wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.

Mosquitos are not that smart

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The other day in a moment of exasperation, my daughter, Lauren, declared the mosquito should be the new state bird. 

These pest are annoying.

I discovered this for myself the other night as I was kicked back in my recliner enjoying some late night reading. 

Evidently, the lamp near the chair served as a magnet, however, it drew the blood suckers to me and not the lamp. 

What I found intriguing about my experience with the new state birds is their reaction after discovering that their presence was unwelcome and would be met with certain doom. 

I dispensed with the first mosquito with the swat of my hand, sending it into eternity. 

It wasn’t but a few seconds later that I was forced to preside over the funeral of another invader. 

Either mosquitos are blind, incredibly dumb or both.

You would have thought the second perpetrator would have learned from the example of the first. Landing on a human being’s skin is deadly for mosquitos. Unfortunately, they never caught on. 

Scientist will probably tell you that mosquitos are simply acting on instinct. It’s just in their DNA to attack a human being and they give no thought to the possible consequences. How sad for them. 

However, the more I think about it, we highly intelligent humans are really not that much different. 

We have all watched our friends (and enemies) do things that were incredibly stupid and then suffer dearly for it. 

You would think that we would learn from their example and not follow in their footsteps. 

Sadly, more often than not we don’t. 

I guess the incredibly stupid things our examples engaged in looked like so much fun we just couldn’t help ourselves. 

So, I have a suggestion.

If it is so very important that we simply follow the examples of others, why  not pick someone who is worth following. Someone worthy of imitating. 

Does anyone like that come to mind?

Oklahoma Gold Album Turns 60

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Sixty years go, the sound track from the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, “Oklahoma,” was the first album certified by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) as gold. 

According to the Association’s website there was a special ceremony at the Oklahoma History Museum on July 10th commemorating the first ever gold album turning 60. 

Gov. Mary Fallin accepted the commemorative plaque on behalf of the state and issued a proclamation that celebrated the “major milestone in music history.”

It was on July 8, 1958 when the RIAA, the organization which administers the Gold and Platinum Awards Program, bestowed the prestigious honor on the album. 

The album featured  performances by Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones and various cast members.

Songs recorded on the album included “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin” and “The Surrey With the Fringe On Top” as well as the timeless classic “Oklahoma”. 

Recently “Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution,” a book written by Todd S. Purdum was released. 

In it he talks about the partnership of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein and how they came together to write the musical that would become Oklahoma.”

It was based on a musical from 1931 called “Green Grow the Lilacs.”

They had known each other for years so their official business partnership began with a simple handshake. 

They then did something radical for writers at the time. They formed their own music publishing company. 

Next, they were the first to mass produce the cast performance as an album in such a successful fashion. 

What set “Oklahoma” apart from other Broadway shows at the time was the way it opened. 

Most musicals opened with loud exciting music to catch the audiences attention. This also allowed late comers to enter the theater and settle into their seats without missing anything of the story line. 

“Oklahoma” opened with a simple scene with someone on the stage sitting quietly and unassuming.

 The whole production was more than just a musical, it was actually a well written story that conveyed the emotions and thoughts of the characters through songs and dance in a way that had never been done quite so well before. 

Another uniqueness of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s collaboration was that the writing of the lyrics was finished before the music was composed. 

Most writers of the time composed the music first then later wrote the lyrics. 

Hammerstein wrote the lyrics and Rodgers penned the music. 

Rodgers said that Hammerstein’s lyrics were beautifully written even without a tune. 

The two seldom worked in the same room.

The now famous Broadway hit opened on March 31, 1943 to a less that packed out crowd. 

“Oklahoma” ran for 2,212 performances and has been performed by music companies, colleges and high school students around the world. 

Rodgers and Hammerstein won a Pulitzer Prize for the production in 1944.

The play wasn’t made into a film until 1955. The recording was made shortly thereafter thus beginning the album’s journey to gold status. 

Interestingly, “Oklahoma” was one the first albums that used the original cast members to sing the songs on the recording. 

It’s amazing that an album about a romance on the prairie  was one of the first to be certified gold. 

It’s also amazing that album is about our amazing home state Oklahoma—where the winds come sweeping down the plain.

You’re doing fine Oklahoma. 

Freedom, the Declaration and the Press

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 It has been said by some that the Declaration of Independence is the central document of American history. 

As true as that may be, other documents helped further the cause of American independence in their own way. 

Some of those documents were none other than local newspapers. 

Colonist in the new world around the late 1700s were avid readers thanks to newspapers. 

Some of the first continuously published newspapers in the original thirteen colonies were located in Boston. 

Ironically, the first blood shed in the Revolutionary War may have actually been shed in Boston.

 On March 5, 1770 British soldiers opened fire on citizens in Boston. The citizens were believed to be unarmed. 

The event was widely reported by local newspapers and was notoriously known as The Boston Massacre.

Originally, the scene was captured in an engraving by an artist by the name of Henry Pelham. Unfortunately for Pelham, his close friend Paul Revere copied his engraving and took full credit. Today, it’s Revere’s engraving (artistic rendering) that is referred to as the propaganda responsible for fueling the flames of revolution in the colonies. 

The graphic and volatile image was seen throughout the colonies thanks to a Boston newspaper known as the Boston Gazette (The Gazette paid Paul Revere to engrave his version of the Boston Massacre). 

The Boston Gazette was started in 1719. The famous publishers Benjamin Edes and John Gill were responsible for the paper’s success from 1755 to 1775. After that date Edes was the sole publisher.

It is said by some sources that the Boston Gazette started the American Revolution. 

That’s hard to argue.

However, it is a fact that many of the early American patriots wrote moving articles in the Gazette to inspire the citizens of Boston and readers from around the colonies to fight for their independence. 

Samuel Adams, one of the many contributors,  wrote under so many pen names in the Gazette that historians are unsure of just how many different ones he actually used (it’s estimated that he used approximately 25). 

The Sons of Liberty (a secret society formed to fight what was considered unfair taxes on the colonies by the British) would meet in secret at the offices of the Boston Gazette. 

The paper was so hated by the British that it was on a list of establishments that were to be seized by the Crown’s soldiers when possible. 

Historically, many of the famous events leading up to the revolution were first printed in the Gazette: The Boston Tea Party, The Boston Massacre etc.

Although circulation in those early days of American history would seem to be meager by modern day standards, the papers that did circulate were shared and the news spread fast!

Of course, the Boston Gazette was not the only local paper pressing for independence. 

There was also the Pennsylvania Journal, the Connecticut Courant, the New York Journal, Providence Gazette and many others. 

Because of Benjamin Franklin’s postal system, news spread very fast throughout the colonies. 

In those days there were no televisions, iphones, ipads or the internet. Newspapers were king.

Although the newspapers may not have always been fair and balanced, they were widely read and the main source of information.

A case in point is the famous engraving by Paul Revere in the Boston Gazette.

Although the image is riveting, it is historically inaccurate and very biased against the British. 

Today, some would say the end justified the means. 

Perhaps. 

Regardless, you can’t deny that newspapers were the other documents that helped fuel the flames of American’s burning desire for independence. 

That being said, we still give the highest reverence to the document penned by Jefferson—The Declaration of Independence. 

The freedoms embodied in this document are worth dying for, and more importantly worth living for. 

May our newspapers always honor that freedom.

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