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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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Texarkana’s Dorothea Towles Church

 

In the 1950s the barriers set up against African-Americans managed to exclude them from almost everything unless they fought ten times harder than anyone else to get it.  African-Americans were still segregated during these times and one of the many areas of segregation included the fashion industry worldwide.  While superstars rose as models in New York, Paris, and California and often managed to capture leading roles in movies, the African-American women were left out of this elite circle that often led to fame and fortune.  One African-American woman walked boldly up to the barriers set up by society, stretched out her long, elegant legs, and leaped over them in one historic move. Mrs. Dorothea Towles Church was one of seven children born to Mr. Thomas Towles and Anabella in Texarkana, Texas.  She was born July 26, 1922.  Among her siblings, Dorothea’s sister Lois would also work to break down barriers for fashion models, but she became known as a concert pianist and music professor.  It would be from those early 1920s in  Texarkana that Dorothea would leave to conquer the world of fashion and defy the prejudice barriers often found in the United States at that time. Continue Reading →

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Texarkana’s National Humane Alliance Fountain

Texarkana, AR- Herman Lee Ensign of New York died in 1899, and with his passing another wealthy philanthropist from that time passed away into history.  In addition to building his wealth off of advertising, Mr. Ensign was also an early anti-cruelty to animals’ advocate.  After his death, his stories were published in a book, Lady Lee and Other Animal Stories.  It would be published in 1901 to a modest review.  The book, like the man’s name and advertising company would virtually melt into history.  The book, in first edition format, can still be purchased today through antique dealers and online through EBay for a modest $25-$30 which as any collector can tell you does not raise the book to any great elevation in the world of book collectors.  It is simply another book and is now even available online through many free eBook programs.  But it is not Mr. Ensign’s business, or his book that has had the most enduring impact on American history and on Texarkana in particular as it is his love of Animals.  In the end, Mr. Ensign’s love for animals would reach out to well over one hundred cities after his death, and Texarkana was one of those fortunate cities. When Mr. Ensign died in 1899, it was two years after he had founded the National Humane Alliance.  That foundation received a great portion of Ensign’s money with very specific directions.  Ensign indicated in his donation that the money must be used to build animal drinking fountains for any city, anywhere, that wanted one.  The requirements were simple for a city.  The city had to request the fountain, provide an appropriate spot for it, maintain it, and ensure a constant water supply was provided.  The city could not charge for the use of the fountain, and it had to be free for horses, cats, dogs and any other animal that might require a drink while passing through the city which received the fountain. After Mr. Ensign’s death, the National Humane Alliance began making the fountains available.  Somewhere between 1904 and 1912 over one hundred cities across the United States, Mexico and Puerto Rico took advantage of the free offer.  The fountains were built in Vinalhaven, Maine by the Bodwell Granite Company. Mr. Ensign could not have foreseen the impact that the auto industry was going to have on Americans and the way they would travel.  Most of the major cities that applied for fountains suddenly found themselves with a huge, water producing, potential hazards for new drivers.  Some of the cities put the fountains away in storage, others moved them to parks, and still others have been lost to the bureaucratic red tape of government and its ability to ever relocate, store, or even give away, and forget about what they have acquired through the years. Despite the fact that over one hundred were initially issued, there are still about 70 fountains in operation to this day.  There are multiple websites that show the fountains, all similar in design, and even give the coordinates for visitors to go see the fountains.  Texarkana, Arkansas currently maintains its own fountain. Continue Reading →

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July 4, Fireworks, Shows, Parades, and God

It started with a suggestion in June, followed by a meeting on July 2, and finally a formal signing on July 4, 1776.  From that moment on, the cry would go up around the world that the colonies of the North American Continent, all thirteen of them, had declared independence from Great Britain.  Like any country, Britain would not take kindly to losing the colonies.  In fact, no country in the history of the world has ever simply said, “Sure, go ahead and leave us and take all the investments we made into your area with you.”  No, instead the greatest empire in the world set out to reclaim the colonies and force them back into the British realm.  The rest of the story, you know as the United States won independence in the war that followed.  To this day, we still hear our friends across the pond in England wish us a “Happy Traitor’s Day.”  Naturally, this is done more in good humor now that we are friends so many years after the revolution. The founding fathers were by no means blind to the fact that they were setting in motion something that would be celebrated for years, and perhaps forever.  John Adams wrote to his wife of the importance of the entire event that officially started on July 2 and ended on July 4.  He sent his letter on July 3, 1776 that included the following statement:

“The second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.” Continue Reading →

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