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First National Thanksgiving (1777)

In the fall of 1777, American and British forces engaged in two battles near Saratoga, NY.  After suffering heavy losses, the British army fled to Saratoga and surrendered when surrounded by additional American forces.  In recognition of this victory, Congress proclaimed America’s First National Thanksgiving.  News of the British surrender at Saratoga convinced the king of France to begin negotiations with the Americans, leading to an alliance between France and America in 1778. “Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to him for benefits received, and to implore such farther blessings as they stand in need of… it is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these United States to set apart Thursday the l8th day of December next for solemn thanksgiving and praise…

[That] it may please him graciously to afford his blessings on the governments of these states respectively, and prosper the public council of the whole; to inspire our commanders both by land and sea and all under them with that wisdom and fortitude which may render them fit instruments under the providence of almighty God, to secure for these United States the greatest of all blessings, independence and peace…  [and] to take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety, under his nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consists in righteousness peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.”  Journals of Congress, First National Thanksgiving, November 1, 1777

James Still (Nov 2017), RetraceOurSteps.com

“Tomorrow being the day set apart by the Honorable Congress for public Thanksgiving and Praise; and duty calling us devoutly to express our grateful acknowledgements to God for the manifold blessings he has granted us— The General directs that the army remain in its present quarters, and that the Chaplains perform divine service with their several Corps and brigades…”  George Washington, General Orders, December 17, 1777

“… it is therefore recommended… that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor…”  Journals of Congress, First National Thanksgiving, November 1, 1777

“… Continue Reading →

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Marquis de Lafayette:  America loved Lafayette (1834)

Marquis de Lafayette served passionately during America’s Revolution.   Along with Benjamin Franklin, Lafayette helped to obtain France’s involvement in our Revolution.  Lafayette also helped secure a victory at Yorktown.  During his final visit to America in 1824, Lafayette became the first foreign dignitary to address the U.S. House of Representatives.  George Washington and Lafayette maintained a close relationship throughout their lives.  Lafayette looked to Washington as a father and named his son George Washington Lafayette.  Lafayette died in 1834 and was buried in Paris, France.  Soil taken from Bunker Hill was sprinkled over his grave.  Upon learning of Lafayette’s death, Congress ordered funeral honors similar to those given to Washington. “RESOLUTION… on the occasion of the decease of General Lafayette…  That the sacrifices and efforts of this illustrious person in the cause of our country during her struggle for independence, and the affectionate interest which he has at all times manifested for the success of her political institutions, claim from the Government and people of the United States an expression of condolence for his loss, veneration for his virtues, and gratitude for his services. And be it further resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to address, together with a copy of the above resolutions, a letter to George Washington Lafayette and the other members of his family, assuring them of the condolence of this whole nation…

And be it further resolved, That the members of the two Houses of Congress will wear a badge of mourning for thirty days, and that it be recommended to the people of the United States to wear a similar badge for the same period…  [And] That the halls of the Houses be dressed in mourning for the residue of the session.”   Statutes at Large, Death of General Marquis de Lafayette, June 26, 1834

James Still (Oct 2017), RetraceOurSteps.com

“… to have received at every stage of the Revolution, and during forty years after that period, from the people of the United States… at home and abroad, continual marks of their confidence and kindness, has been the pride, the encouragement, the support of a long and eventful life.”  Marquis de Lafayette, Response to John Adams, September 6, 1825

“The resolution which so powerfully honors my father’s memory shall be deposited as a most sacred family property in that room of mourning where once his son and grandsons used to receive with avidity [passion] from him lessons of patriotism and active love of liberty…  the affection and esteem of a free nation is the most desirable reward that can be obtained on earth.”  George Washington Lafayette, Letter to Andrew Jackson, October 21, 1834

“… should we wander from [the Founding Principles]… let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.”  Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

RetraceOurSteps.com Continue Reading →

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Little Rock 9’s ‘Quiet Determination’ To Resist Unfair System Changed Nation, Set Example, Gov. Hutchinson Says

LITTLE ROCK – The “quiet determination” and “stubborn refusal” of the Little Rock 9 to abandon their dreams in the face of an unfair system changed the path of the nation, Governor Asa Hutchinson told the crowd gathered today on the 60th anniversary of the day they entered Central High School.  
Governor Hutchinson was one of several speakers who joined the eight surviving members of the Little Rock 9 on the stage of Central High’s Roosevelt Thompson Auditorium. 
Minnijean Brown Trickey, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Dr. Melba Patillo Beals, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Thelma Mothershed Wair, Dr. Terrence Roberts, and Carlotta Walls LaNier sat to the right of the lectern, with one empty chair in honor of Jefferson Thomas, who died in 2010.  
“Your quiet determination and your stubborn refusal to abandon your dreams not only forced action, but set an example that will last into the ages,” Governor Hutchinson said. “The events of that fall day changed the path of a nation.”
The Little Rock 9 were among the pioneers who took a courageous stand against the segregation of the United States, he said, and “that fact gives us all an even greater appreciation for the lonely steps of the Little Rock 9 as they confronted hostility, the unknown and a defiant governor.”
They certainly encouraged Martin Luther King Jr., who was in the audience in the spring of 1958 when Ernest Green became the first African-American graduate of Central High, the governor noted. 
“Perhaps Reverend King was propelled by that moment to fully see the potential of his own dreams; and perhaps he got a glimpse of the mountain top where all of God’s children are created equal,” Governor Hutchinson said.  
But this is not a time to rest on victories, he said. Continue Reading →

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Gov. Hutchinson Issues Statement on 16th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks

LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today issued the following statement in remembrance of the 16th anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001.  

“For me, as with many Americans, September 11th is a day that brings up vivid memories and strong emotions. At the time, I was serving as the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency.  
“In the days that followed the attacks, in the midst of terror and destruction, we saw the face of America. We saw the strength and resilience that built our nation and that would rebuild it. 
“Today, hundreds of thousands of Americans are assessing their losses in Texas and Florida, where the winds of Hurricane Irma continue to pound. Continue Reading →

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Statement by DPS Director McCraw on 9/11 Anniversary

AUSTIN – Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw today issued the following statement regarding the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks:

“On this day 16 years ago, terrorists launched cowardly attacks against our nation on Sept. 11, 2001. Today we honor and remember those who lost their lives as a result of the attack, including valiant first responders. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten. The families and friends of those who lost loved ones remain in our thoughts and prayers. Continue Reading →

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Texarkana Arts and Historic District to host free Downtown Bike Tours

TEXARKANA, TX- The Texarkana Arts and Historic District will be hosting free bike tours of downtown Texarkana four Fridays this fall to showcase the District and encourage residents to engage in active modes of transportation. The guided bike tours will be offered the last two Fridays of September (September 22 and September 29) and the first two Fridays of October (October 6 and October 13). Tours will begin and end at the Museum of Regional History and take place from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. Those interested in attending can rent a bike from Texarkana’s UPcycle Bike Rental Program for $5 per day or bring their own. The District is encouraging residents to use bicycles or other similar forms of transportation as their primary means of exploring downtown to show support for local cyclists and active modes of transportation. While reservations are not required, bike rentals are limited and will be handled on a first come, first serve basis. Continue Reading →

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Marquis de Lafayette:  Lafayette loved America (1777)

Marquis de Lafayette was born into French nobility and inherited a large family fortune at the age of 14.  At the age of 19, and against the will of the King of France, Lafayette used his own money to secure a ship to America.  Lafayette described his feelings, “The moment I heard of America, I loved her; the moment I knew she was fighting for freedom, I burnt with a desire of bleeding for her; and the moment I shall be able to serve her at any time, or in any part of the world, will be the happiest one of my life.”  With the approval of Congress, Lafayette joined General Washington on the battlefield.  Unsure at first how to accept Lafayette, Washington quickly gained respect for Lafayette after observing him in his first battle, the Battle of Brandywine.  Washington wrote Congress and recommended Lafayette be given a command. “I would take the liberty to mention, that I feel myself in a delicate situation with respect to the Marquis de Lafayette. He is extremely solicitous of having a Command equal to his rank, &… it appears to me, from a consideration of his illustrious and important connections—the attachment which he has manifested to our cause, and the consequences, which his return [to France] in disgust might produce, that it will be advisable to gratify him in his wishes—and the more so, as several Gentlemen from France, who came over under some assurances [of appointments], have gone back disappointed in their expectations. His conduct with respect to them stands in a favorable point of view… and in all his letters has placed our affairs in the best situation he could. Besides, he is sensible—discreet in his manners—has made great proficiency in our Language, and from the disposition he discovered at the Battle of Brandywine, possesses a large share of bravery and Military ardor [passion].”  George Washington, Letter to Henry Laurens (Congress), November 1, 1777

James Still (Sep 2017), RetraceOurSteps.com

“Resolved, That General Washington be informed, it is highly agreeable to Congress that the Marquis de Lafayette be appointed to the command of a division in the continental army.”  Journals of Congress, December 1, 1777

“We are not, I confess, so strong as I expected, but we are strong enough to fight… Continue Reading →

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From Confederate, to Klan, to African American Advocate

After the Civil War ended, one officer did what most Confederate officers did and returned home to resume a routine daily life.  He also returned to the status of a U.S. citizen, founded a town worked various jobs and then rose above many of his fellow southerners as an advocate for equality and rights of African Americans. However, before the man would make the transition to advocate, he joined the Ku Klux Klan in the early days of the organization.  Originally he felt that the Klan was founded to protect people in the south from people attempting to take advantage of the defeated area.  Although history clearly records that the Klan always targeted African Americans and whites attempting to help them, this early member apparently saw it differently. The former Confederate officer left the organization and began to take a firm stand against them.  He told them they should disband and should never cause harm to African Americans or anyone.  The Klan dismissed him and continued their core mission of hatred toward anyone not considered white or helping African Americans. When Klan members attacked several African Americans at a BBQ celebration and killed two of them, the former Confederate officer wrote to the governor and volunteered to help ‘Exterminate’ those men responsible for continued violence against African Americans.   With knowledge of the inner workings of the Klan, he felt he was best to track down and punish the men who kept causing harm and promoted hatred. The same former Confederate officer would recognize tensions between the United States and Spain later.  At a time when it appeared there would be war between the two countries, he wrote to the General of the Army and offered to fight and serve in the United States Army.  The affair ended without war, but the United States General wrote back and stated that had war been declared, this officer’s services would have been an honor for the United States. Continue Reading →

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S.C.V. Camp Places Memorial Stone in Miller County

Yesterday with the horrible events of the weekend still fresh on my mind where people from two radical, and in my opinion un-American, groups clashed in a wrong and shameful way over a Confederate Monument, I decided to attend a Confederate graveside service.  For those that may not know, since the United States recognizes Confederate army, navy and marine veterans as American veterans, the country places markers on graves which can be verified.  This act of honor is done for veterans from the Revolutionary War clear through our recent wars on terrorism.  It is a last honor, or tribute, to an American veteran.  Since the mainstream media seems content to overlook the fact that Confederate veterans have been recognized by the United States as American veterans, I felt it was important to go see this ceremony and see exactly what is done. I met a friend of mine who is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (S.C.V.).  This group is not be confused with any white supremacist group, klan, or any other hate group.  This group works to promote the history of the Civil War, honor their ancestors, give scholarships, promote unity, and ensure that the healing that begin after the last shot was fired in the war continues well into the future. We drove out into the backwoods of Miller County to a small cemetery.  Once there I observed the prayer, a dedication, and the placement of the memorial stone.  As we drove up I saw vehicles from Texas and Arkansas.  I saw elderly and young.  I saw decedents of the soldier being honored.  I also saw a truck of one member that brought the equipment to place the stone.  On that truck a Disabled American Veteran (DAV) sticker was present on the front and the back.  The men present were members of the Major John B. Burton S.C.V. Camp #1664.  They were dressed in jeans, button up shirts or t-shirts, boots or tennis shoes, and several wore ball camps.  I would estimate that their ages ranged from late 70s, maybe the early 80s, down to 8 years old.  They laughed, talked, and joked just like any other gathering that might take place in the community. What I observed at this ceremony was perhaps as important as what I did not observe though.  I did not see or hear anyone utter a single racial slur.  There were no calls for the “South to rise”.  There was no rallying behind a Confederate Battle Flag or cries about how the government mistreats all southerners.  No, what I observed was a group of men diligently dig a hole, place a monument, pour concrete around it and set it up for a man who died in 1905.  I then observed some pictures after the dedication and prayer.  But I also observed these men go further in their acts of preservation and honor.  It would have been enough for them to place the stone, recognize it, and then fan out and go home.  They could have done this simply because it was hot.  But they decided to do more. Continue Reading →

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America: A Refuge for Civil and Religious Liberty (1776)

On July 8, 1776, a huge crowd gathered outside the Philadelphia State House, now called Independence Hall, to hear the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.  John Adams witnessed the event: “The Declaration was… proclaimed from that awful [full of awe] Stage, in the State house Yard…   Three cheers rended the Welkin [Heavens].”  A few weeks later, just one day before the signing of the parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams spoke about the “infinite importance” of American Independence. “Our forefathers… opened the Bible to all, and maintained the capacity of every man to judge for himself in religion…  We have explored the temple of royalty, and found that the idol we have bowed down to has eyes which see not, ears that hear not our prayers, and a heart like the nether [lower] millstone. We have this day restored the Sovereign, to whom alone men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven, and with a propitious [merciful] eye beholds his subjects assuming that freedom of thought and dignity of self-direction which He bestowed on them. From the rising to the setting sun may His kingdom come. Continue Reading →

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