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Saturday, Nov, 9 2013

Sesquicentennial Salute to Gettysburg Address by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

It was seven score and 10 years ago.  On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his now legendary Gettysburg Address.  Four months after the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, the President returned to the site to remember the 51,000 Americans who lost their lives in the three-day battle, turning Pennsylvania farm fields into a battleground’s graveyard.

Arriving by train from Washington, D.C., President Lincoln delivered his historic speech at the dedication of the “Soldiers’ National Cemetery” where more than 3,500 Union soldiers were laid to rest.

In just 272 words, the President memorialized the enduring legacy of the most sacred principles of our republic.  In 10 sentences, the 16th president immortalized the unique vision of the Founders, a nation “conceived in liberty” and paid tribute to those who gave their lives on the battlefield so “that the nation might live.”

This Veterans Day – Monday, November 11th – let’s remember the “unfinished work” described by President Lincoln and so “nobly advanced” 150 years ago by the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Gettysburg and by all of those who have fulfilled a patriotic duty to serve our country in times of peace and war.

President Lincoln did not realize the power of his eulogy.  Reportedly he reflected immediately afterwards:  “That speech won’t scour.  It is a flat failure.”  In those days, scour was a farming reference that described a plow’s blade moving through the soil.  A 19th century American inventor engineered a prairie sensation that scoured the rich Midwestern topsoil like a knife, falling smoothly from the polished steel plow. Like the “singing plow” invented by blacksmith John Deere, Lincoln’s words sing true to the soul of America 150 years later.

President Lincoln’s humility grossly underestimated the enduring power of his message that underscored our individual rights as Americans.  His closing words remind us about the rights and responsibilities we bear as citizens of this great nation:  that “government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from this earth.”

The Gettysburg Address holds relevance today on its sesquicentennial anniversary.  The United States was 87 years old when President Lincoln asked if any nation conceived in liberty “can long endure.”  This summer, America celebrated 237 years of independence.

Our republic endures because its foundation is strong.  The deeply held views of the electorate today focus largely on the size and scope of government.  The ideological divide among voters can be seen in the politics and policies that shape American society.  The no. 1 issue on the minds of the electorate arguably is getting the economy back on the right track.  It’s not a coincidence that a flourishing economy and a bounty of good-paying jobs will help solve many of the challenges facing society and families working hard to make ends meet.

For generations, Americans have followed in the footsteps of their predecessors who blazed a trail of self-reliance to raise standards of living, to pursue achievement that knows no boundaries and to pledge allegiance to the rights and responsibilities of self-government.  America has outlasted regional, cultural, political, religious, racial and social differences because we are united by the timeless principles on which our nation was founded and which are embodied by the Constitution.  Ours is the first constitution based on the principle that we the people are sovereign with unalienable rights endowed by our Creator, delegating to our government only such power as necessary to secure these rights.  Such a founding is exceptional in human history.  We are a nation built to last on the enduring principles the Founders “brought forth on this continent” that have served America for more than two centuries.

President Lincoln needed only two minutes in his Gettysburg Address to remind Americans about our shared destiny.  He called upon his fellow citizens to “take increased devotion to that cause for which (soldiers) gave the last full measure of devotion.”

From this Veterans Day to the next 11th of November – including each day in between and beyond – let’s carry on that exceptional legacy of the American spirit.  Just as President Lincoln paid tribute to the idea of America’s exceptionalism, let us honor our men and women in uniform who have answered the call to serve and defend America’s freedom and individual liberty, especially those who have lost life and limb in the fullest measure of devotion to our country.

posted by: Dennis Lowe 9 month(s) ago Comment On This Post

Make Your Vote Count

Tuesday, Nov, 5 2013

Today is Election Day.

This is the day to make your voice heard when it comes to municipal politics.  Mayors and city council members will be elected.  Tax levies and bond referendums will be decided.

Voter turnout has suffered as eligible voters become more cynical about government and politicians.  That's not a good enough reason to pass on your civic duty.

If you have questions regarding your voter registration or the location of your polling place, contact your local county auditor’s office.

posted by: Dennis Lowe 9 month(s) ago Comment On This Post

Halloween Fire Safety Advice

Tuesday, Oct, 29 2013

My previous blog had some basic safety tips for staying safe during Halloween activities.  This blog deals specifically with fire safety tips for Halloween.

The following tips are coutesy of the Cedar Rapids Fire Department.

*  Choose costumes made of flame-resistant fabrics.  Avoid costumes with flimsy materials such as baggy sleeves, large capes or billowing skirts to reduce the risk of coming into contact with candles and other fire sources.  Make sure that the eye holes of masks are large enough so that children can see out.
*  Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable.  Keep these decorations well away from open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.  Keep exits clear of decorations so that nothing blocks a home escape route.
*  Provide children with flashlights so that they can see and be seen.  Flashlights or glow sticks will provide greater visibility during dusk and darkness.
*  It is safest to use a flashlight or a battery-operated candle in a jack-o-lantern.  If you use a real candle, use extreme caution.  Children should be supervised at all times when candles are lit.  Be sure to place lit pumpkins a safe distance away from anything that can burn and far enough out of the way of trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways and decorations.
*  Use flashlights as alternatives to candles or torch lights when decorating walkways and yards.  Trick-or-treaters’ costumes may brush against the lighting.
*  Tell children to stay away from open flames.  Be sure that they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches on fire.

The Fire Department also reminds motorists to be aware of children darting out between parked automobiles.  Please use caution when entering and exiting driveways.  During twilight and evening hours, be mindful of children in dark costumes.

posted by: Dennis Lowe 9 month(s) ago Comment On This Post

Halloween Safety Tips

Monday, Oct, 28 2013

Halloween is Thursday.  Are you prepared for Trick-or-Treating?  If you plan on venturing out with your little ghouls, goblins, minions and so on, there is a lot of information you should become familiar with.

Here are some safety tips from the Iowa City Police Department:

Halloween Safety Tips:
• If a mask is part of the Halloween costume, it should be easy to get on and off, and should not obstruct a trick-or-treater's ability to see or breathe. Don't hesitate to cut out larger openings for eyes, nose, and mouth, if necessary. Consider using non-toxic face paint instead of a mask.
• Avoid any costumes that drag on the ground to avoid tripping hazards, and make sure costumes are made with fire-retardant materials.
• Have your children wear good-fitting shoes rather than costume footwear, such as pretend high heels or too-large boots.
• For young ninjas and other similar characters: Knives, swords, and other costume props should be made of cardboard or another flexible material that won't cause injury in case of a fall. Do not allow children to carry sharp objects.
• Make sure that your child is easy to see: Have your trick-or-treater carry a flashlight or wear something lighted, such as a glow bracelet or necklace, flashing attire, or shoes that light up. Or, dress your child in light-colored clothing, which is easier to see, or add reflective tape to a Halloween costume or coat.

Additional ways to keep trick-or-treaters safe:
• Consider the safety of trick-or-treaters when doing your exterior decorating. Make sure that jack-o-lanterns or other seasonal decorations that feature candles, lights, or cords do not pose a danger to children and the adults who accompany them, and remove these items from sidewalks and porches when the time comes for trick-or-treaters to arrive.
• Drivers are asked to be especially alert on Halloween. Keep a close watch for children who may be dressed in dark clothing or walking on roadways, medians, and curbs, or who may dart out from between parked cars. Also, be sure to enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.
• Parents, guardians, or a responsible older youth should accompany children when they're trick-or-treating, even if they're staying close to home. Instruct children to never enter a stranger's home.
• Trick-or-treat at homes in familiar neighborhoods, and only stop at homes where the porch light is on and the area is well-lit.
• Plan a trick-or-treat route in advance to look for any obstacles that might cause problems, such as broken sidewalks or construction projects. Remind your children not to cut across lawns or driveways, to avoid potential hidden obstacles and upset homeowners.
• Dress children appropriately for the weather. Make sure they stay hydrated and don't over-heat in a heavy costume.
• Keep track of time and don't go past the posted end-time.
• Don't let the kids eat any Halloween treats until they're brought home and examined by parents. Fruit that's been offered should be washed prior to eating. When in doubt, throw it out.
Halloween is also a time for pranks that may have the potential to harm a person or property. If you see any unlawful or suspicious activity, call 911.

Follow this link for the Trick-or-Treat hours in the KXEL listening area: http://www.kxel.com/index.php/Calendar/All_Events/Event/153

Be safe and have fun!

posted by: Dennis Lowe 9 month(s) ago Comment On This Post

Who shut down the government?

Monday, Oct, 14 2013

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of hearing about the partial government shutdown.  My indifference to the situation is probably due to the fact that I haven’t been affected by the shutdown.  That said I know people have impacted by the shutdown.

So who is to blame?  Democrats blame Republicans.  Republicans blame President Obama and the Democrats.  There is plenty of blame to go around.

Dr. Thomas Sowell is a prominent black conservative columnist, though he considers himself more libertarian.  He is an economist, social theorist, political philosopher and author.  He is currently the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

I’ve attached a link to his column, “Who Shut Down the Government?”  It’s an interesting read and food for thought.


posted by: Dennis Lowe 10 month(s) ago Comment On This Post

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