The Christmas Carol, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day is based on an 1863 poem by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He was the nation’s preeminent poet of his era. The song proclaims the narrator’s despair, as he heard Christmas bells in the distance.
He bows his head, “There is no peace on earth,” [he] said,
“for hate is strong and mocks the song
of peace on earth, good will to men.”
But then the carol inexplicably changes with the bells carrying renewed hope for peace among mankind.
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
So why the change and how did the poem come to be?
Presidential Candidate Abraham Lincoln, August 1860, Springfield, IL
“I leave it to my audience. If I had another face, do you think I’d wear this one?” ~~ Abraham Lincoln, after being called ‘two-faced’ in a debate
It’s common knowledge Abraham Lincoln was not a handsome man, nor was he esteemed on first notice as graceful or socially adept. Described as homely, uncouth, rough-looking, a tall 6′ 4″ angular, awkward man in clothing that didn’t seem to fit, Lincoln was even said by some to be ugly. His remarkable face, height and flat-footed, springless walk never failed to make a powerful impression. As a London Times correspondent wrote: “It would not be possible for the most indifferent observer to pass him in the street without notice.”
But Lincoln, a dirt-farmers son was ambitious and determined to succeed. From the time he was a boy he was self-educated, an avid reader of any book or newspaper he could find. His stepmother remembered he was unusual, he had to understand everything, repeated facts to himself until they were “fixed in his mind.” With little formal education he left home at age 22. “I was a friendless, uneducated, penniless boy… a piece of floating driftwood.” Continue reading
In the sweltering heat of July 21, 1861, exactly
150 years ago today, two great armies converged on Wilmer McLean’s Manassas, Virginia farm. It was the first major battle and the beginning of the American Civil War
, Bull Run or Manassas as the Conferderates called it. Union artillery would fall on McLean’s farm with a shell tearing through his kitchen.
At the time Bull Run was the largest and bloodiest battle in American history. 35-thousand Union soldiers fought 21-thousand of their southern countrymen at Manassas. The Union and Confederate armies saw casualties numbering nearly 5,000. 900 of their soldiers were killed. It’s where General Thomas J. Jackson earned his famous nickname Stonewall. Many in the north and the south had romanticized the war, but with the deaths of troops as well as civilians the battle suddenly made it all too real. It erased the notion that the War would be short and settled with one decisive blow. Continue reading
WARNING! This is long!
Hard to believe that September has come and gone and we’re now well into October. Where has all the time gone? And hey! What about summer? Where’d that go? There’s so many stories I could tell, from my experiences of the last three months since going solo — and even a few before then, but so little time to write them all down and my access to the ‘net has been limited. I’ve gone through a month-long dry spell lately but hope to “catch up” … just a bit anyway with this latest entry that’s beyond overdue.
I’m back in Sparks, Nevada after an all-night trip Friday night from Fontana, Ca. to Reno. It was a long drive across the Mohave Desert and northward between the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the west and Death Valley to the east. Most of the 460 mile trip was along the two lanes of U.S. Highway 395. Only some phone calls, the occasional headlights of other cars, small-town lights in the distance, and a stop or two along the deserted road, to admire a very dark sky and it’s millions of stars, helped break up the monotony. Continue reading
My thanks as always to all those that visit here and for your words of praise.
I’m in Memphis, Tennessee tonight at a truck stop along Interstate 40 after running a load of footwear from Dexter, Maine to Mabelvale, Arkansas, a little community just southwest of Little Rock. I dropped my trailer early last night at a Dillard’s Department Store Distribution Center and then spent the night in nearby Benton. While here in Memphis I’d love to visit Elvis’ Graceland but there’s no time this trip to venture the less than ten mile distance. Where would I park anyway?
As I drove into Little Rock yesterday, along southbound I-30, I crossed the Arkansas River and could see a short distance to the east the Clinton Presidential Center. Set along the banks of the river within a park setting the building is a bit unique with a large section elevated above the ground. As much as I tried I really didn’t find the architecture all that impressive. But the huge and even dramatic First Pentecostal Church nearby more than made up for it. Continue reading
Amish Horse & Buggy in Ohio
I sit this morning in Willard, Ohio, about an hour or so drive west of Akron. I arrived last night at 7 p.m. eastern time after driving with only one short fueling and a bathroom break for a straight twelve hours. My Driver Manager phoned me along the way indicating the “consignee” was “chomping at the bit” to receive my load of 12 large paper rolls weighing in at more than 42-thousand pounds. But, When I arrived I found out I had an appointment time of 5:30 the following afternoon. To say the least I’m not a happy camper, especially in light of the fact that I could have stopped at one of two truck stops some 40 miles east of here. Instead I’m stuck here in a dirt lot among other disgruntled and waiting truckers next to the delivery docks.
On top of all this my Qualcomm communication keyboard hasn’t worked for several days and there is no cell phone service here in Willard. But I suppose things could be worse. Continue reading