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NATIONAL ANTHEM DAY — March 3

NATIONAL ANTHEM DAY    March 3

Celebrate National Anthem Day!

“Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming…”
 

On March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed into law “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the United States’ national anthem. In a concerted effort begun on April 15, 1929, by U.S. Rep. John Linthicum from Maryland, over 5 million signatures, countless letters of support, and twenty-five governors submitted their enthusiasm for the measure. Taking more than a year to make its way before the House Judiciary Committee, this emblematic song has an awe-inspiring history starting over a century prior to those seeking its patriotic expression.

The Key to Unlocking a Nation’s Patriotism

Written by Georgetown lawyer and dabbling poet Francis Scott Key on September 14, 1814, the lyrics originated as the poem, “Defence of Fort McHenry.” The verse was inspired when Key spotted the American flag still waving over the military stronghold the morning after the British Navy stormed the Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812. Key’s lyrical poem was later set to the popular melody, “To Anacreon in Heaven,” composed by John Stafford Smith. Not long after, the song’s title was changed to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” named for the flag that was raised over FortMcHenry, and the song became an immediate sensation

Song Stanzas, High Notes, and Passage Through Congress

Even though it’s four stanzas at full-length, most perform only the first stanza when singing the anthem for military ceremonies and public events. Given the considerable range of the melody, Congress hesitated to adopt it as the national anthem due to the difficulty for the general public to reach the highest notes; however, more often than not, the song is sung by trained singers. Furthermore, some officials questioned Representative Linthicum’s motives, whether his House Bill was to promote the nation’s patriotism or his own district, which included part of Baltimore. Nevertheless, its passage prevailed and “The Star-Spangled Banner” replaced “My Country ’Tis of Thee” as America’s national anthem.

Patriotic Pride

Celebrate National Anthem Day by following the example set nearly two hundred years ago—hang your U. S. flag with pride and salute those who kept American patriotism alive and well. It’s a gesture that will inspire just as it did so long ago.

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PRESIDENTS’ DAY

PRESIDENTS DAY

Celebrate Presidents’ Day!

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

~The United States Presidential Oath of Office

On Presidents’ Day, America honors all who’ve presided over “The Highest Office in the Land.” Formerly known as Washington’s Birthday, this federal holiday took a few turns toward recognizing all Commanders-in-Chief as it’s celebrated every third Monday in February.

Beginning with the observance of George Washington’s birthday on February 22 in 1879, the holiday was limited to the District of Columbia, but broadened to include the rest of the country by 1885. Nearly a century later, Congress sought to realign the dates of several federal holidays to select Mondays with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in the late 1960s. It received mixed reception, as some felt it weakened each holiday’s meaning, while others offered their full-fledged support, particularly from the private sector and labor unions.

Senator Robert McClory of Illinois proposed renaming the holiday Presidents’ Day, but
it faced considerable opposition from Washington’s home state. Even after becoming
an official holiday, Washington’s Birthday continued to be referred to by many as Presidents’ Day.

With the holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February instead of the 22nd of the month, some believed it was an attempt to recognize both Washington and Lincoln as it landed between their birthdays. Still, many members of Congress objected to a name encompassing all presidents but the world of retail saw things differently.

With the holiday now creating a 3-day weekend, stores now saw opportunity for winter sales, and advertisers jumped on the bandwagon with “Presidents’ Day Sale” notices. Nevertheless, Congress still recognizes it as Washington’s Birthday, and lists it as such.

PRESIDENTIAL TRIVIA QUIZ!

1) On June 6, 1892, this 23rd President, was the first to attend a baseball game
(Cincinnati Reds vs.Washington Senators)

2) The first President born after the signing of the Declaration of Independence was ________________.

3) Who was the only President to ever appear on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.”

4) The only President to remain a bachelor was _________________.

5) Which five Presidents were never elected, but assumed the office of President?

 

ANSWERS:

1) Benjamin Harrison;  2) Martin Van Buren;  3) Richard Nixon;  4) James Buchanan

5) Chester Arthur, Millard Fillmore, Gerald Ford, Warren Harding, William Taft

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BLACK HISTORY MONTH

BLACK HISTORY MONTH

We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.

—Dr. Carter G. Woodson

Two Milestones

Founded in 1924 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson as Negro History and Literature Week before expanding to a month in 1926, Black History Month honors all of the contributions and achievements of African-Americans. Celebrated during the month of February to memorialize the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, this year holds special significance as it marks the anniversaries of two milestones with the 2013 theme: At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington.

With the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which took effect January 1, 1863, we commemorate his decree of freeing the slaves in the confederate states. Although it didn’t end slavery altogether, the proclamation signified a turning point in history. Long considered a major step toward bringing about change for equality, it distinguished Abraham Lincoln as a harbinger of freedom for African-Americans and set the tone for future events anchoring their message in this landmark document.

Freedom March 50th Anniversary

This also marks the 50th anniversary of the BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Freedom March to the Lincoln Memorial inWashington,D.C., led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on August 28, 1963, one hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation. With over two-hundred thousand participants, King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the memorial and stirred the nation with his hope of a better world. His inspiring oration defined a new chapter in civil rights, paving the way for future generations as they continue to strive for equality.

Since then, Black History Month has seen its message receive the very esteem it sought so long ago. President Ford delivered the first official presidential address recognizing the importance of its observance. President      Reagan signed and recognized February as Black History Month, with each U.S.president thereafter delivering an official message and proclaiming that year’s theme.

With courageous acts worth emulating and uplifting messages that inspire, Black History Month is truly overflowing with a rich history to explore, honor, and celebrate.

Photo Credit: Bob Gomel, The Historic Washington Mall Freedom March, 1963
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NATIONAL FREEDOM DAY

What is National Freedom Day?

For most of us, flipping the calendar to February simply means starting another month. But in 1865, February 1was the extraordinary beginning of a whole new era.  That was the day President Lincoln signed the resolution to outlaw slavery.

This resolution became the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  But it wasn’t easy. In fact, it was the first new amendment to be adopted in more than 60 years.

Those of you who saw Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln might be familiar with the story, but read on to see how National Freedom Day fits in.

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” 

These were life-changing words for people like Major Richard Robert Wright Sr., a former slave who went on to become a successful businessman and community leader in Philadelphia, and founder of the National Freedom Association. Wright hoped to have a day dedicated to celebrating freedom for all Americans. He gathered local and national leaders to write a bill declaring February 1 as National Freedom Day and in 1948, President Harry Truman made it official.

So, how do people celebrate National Freedom Day?

While it’s not a public holiday (banks and post offices are open), the purpose is to promote good feelings, harmony and equality…and, of course, to appreciate freedom.  Across the nation, there are local celebrations from luncheons to literature meetings. And it’s a beautiful day to see wreath-laying at the Liberty Bell.

If you want to celebrate Hollywood-style, and still haven’t seen Lincoln, now is the time to check it out. Not only is the film Oscar-worthy (nominated for a whopping twelve awards), but it’s also educational. Lincoln showcases the hard-fought struggle over the passing of the 13th Amendment and focuses on this key part of our constitutional history that many of us didn’t learn in school (or can’t remember, because Mr. Spielberg wasn’t our teacher).

So, Happy National Freedom Day…and Happy February! Hopefully, the beginning of this month will always remind you of that bright new beginning back in 1865, when unexpected heroes like Major Wright finally got a taste of the gift that still deserves to be celebrated today: sweet freedom.

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In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Today celebrates the life and achievements of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929—April 4, 1968). This national holiday honors the civil rights leader and his non-violent movement to end racial segregation and his quest to right injustices in the United States.

After graduating from high school at the age of fifteen, King studied at Morehouse College where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class and was awarded his B.A. degreen in 1948 and his B.D. in 1951. He received his doctorate in 1955 from Boston University. It was in Boston where he met and married Coretta Scott and the couple went on to have four children–two sons and two daughters.

He served as co-pastor, alongside his father, at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., from 1960 until his death in 1968. His grandfather had been pastor there as well from 1914 until 1931, when his father stepped into the position.

By 1954, King was a member of the executive committee of the NAACP and, in 1955, accepted the leadership of a bus boycott that was the first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of its kind. It lasted 382 days until, in December 1956, the U.S. supreme Court declared segregation on buses illegal. Although it was a great victory, it came with many sacrifices. King was arrested, threatened, subjected to personal abuse and his home was bombed, but he emerged an even stronger leader.

His list of accomplishments are great including becoming not only a symbolic leader of the civil rights movement, but a world figure, as well. In addition to traveling over six million miles to spread his message of peace, he led many marches and wrote numerous books and speeches, one of which was his famous “I Have a Dream” address which he delivered to more than 250,000 marchers in Washington, D.C.

At the age of 35, he was the youngest man ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Sadly, on April 4, 1968, this great man was assassinated as he stood on the balcony of a hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee.

 

 

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Healthy Comfort Foods

What do you think of when someone mentions “comfort food?” Mac and cheese? Meatloaf and mashed potatoes? Grilled cheese and tomato soup? Fried chicken? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as: food prepared in a traditional style having a usually nostalgic or sentimental appeal.

Healthy Comfort Foods

Interestingly, some studies have shown that the consumption of comfort food by men is often triggered by  positive emotions, while it is often negative ones that trigger it in women—especially college-aged women. Studies indicate that these foods may be eaten to relieve negative psychological effects or to increase positive ones for women. But for both men and women, comfort foods are usually those that pique an emotional response in us—specific dishes that bring back fond memories, usually of our childhoods or specific cultures.

As good as comfort foods may be for our psyches, however, they’re usually not great for our hearts as they’re often high in calories and saturated fats. But there are ways to still enjoy these taste-tempting meals without the guilt. We’ve listed a number of websites here that offer great recipes for comfort food that have had modern makeovers to limit the fat and calories and still keep the great flavors we love. They include other nutritional information as well including diabetic exchanges.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Let us know in the comments section below!

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_comfort_food_recipes

http://www.tasteofhome.com/Healthy-Cooking-Magazine/Healthy-Comfort-Food-Recipes

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/healthy/nutritiousdishes/comfortfood

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/recipes/healthy/healthy-comfort-food#slide-1

 

 

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2012–The Year in Review

2012  The Year in Review

A Year That Touched The Human Spirit

What a year it has been! From milestone celebrations and technology innovations to inspiration amidst devastation, 2012 was a year jamming with jubilee, packed with athletic prowess, and electrified by an awe-inspiring election. Here’s a glimpse at just a few of the year’s highlights:

 Celebrating—British style!

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrated Her Majesty’s 60-year2012  The Year in Review reign withroyal fanfare along the Thames River and brought out the festivities like nothing the British had done before! It was matched only a few months later by the glory of the 2012 London Summer Olympics, where athletes in countries from around the world competed in the spirit of unity under the motto: “inspire a generation.”

Stop the Presses! High-Tech Takes Over!

2012  The Year in ReviewBoth Encyclopedia Britannica and American magazine Newsweek announced plans to cease publication of their print editions. The 2010 edition of the renowned encyclopedia was the last for the educational staple, with Newsweek set to stop its presses with its December 31, 2012 edition. With technology now at our fingertips, both companies are making the move to mobile in this digital age.

Forces of Nature

During the darkest hours of Hurricane Sandy, the brightest spirits shone through with neighbors helping neighbors and multiple acts of heroism saving numerous lives. Despite limited resources, nothing could suppress the human spirit as it strengthened survivors’ resolve and blessed them with an “attitude of gratitude” for everything they had.

Mother Nature also revealed a wonderful side—as she2012  The Year in Review never ceases to amaze us with her awesome spectacles—captivating us with a total solar eclipse on November 13. Mostly visible to our friends Down Under, it crossed the South Pacific, passing over the northern tip of Australia, traversing thousands of miles as viewers took in this solar event.

Election Season

2012  The Year in ReviewFour major debates, two political conventions, countless ads, and campaigns trails full of hand-shaking and smiling for cameras were all a part of this year’s road to the White House. As voters tuned in to see where the candidates stood on important issues, polls were ready to gauge public opinion every step of the way. In the end, President Obama reclaimed the Oval Office as election night came to a close.

bluemountain.com Gets a Makeover!

You spoke, we listened! Thanks to customer feedback, our user-friendly site got even friendlier. With a new design layout, navigational tools, and familiar favorites still available, Bluemountain.com is better than ever and we’re hoping to make 2013 our best year yet!

What events from 2012 are most memorable in your mind?

 

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December 26: Boxing Day

December 26: Boxing DayBoxing Day is traditionally the day after Christmas. It was a custom in the UK for tradesmen to receive “Christmas boxes” that contained gifts and bonuses. Servants of the wealthy were usually given this day off to visit family and the boxes they received sometimes contained food leftover from the previous day.

Today, Boxing Day is a public holiday celebrated in many places such as the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Australia. Its name has been changed to Day of Goodwill in South Africa and it is known as St. Stephen’s Day or The Day of the Wren in Ireland. In other European countries, it is simply celebrated as the Second Christmas Day.

Over the years, the holiday has become a major after-Christmas shopping day, due to reduced prices and sales similar to those of Black Friday.

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A Patriotic Christmas eCard

A Patriotic Christmas eCard

“I’ll be home for Christmas…if only in my dreams.” Those are words from a favorite Christmas song for many and they seem so fitting for the 100,000 or so men and women who are still serving their country far from home this holiday season. They, and all those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom are the reason we can be together with the rest of our loved ones celebrating this special time of year.

We’re proud to have created this beautiful patriotic design that reminds us that Christmas is more than the hustle and bustle, the twinkle and glow, the presents and parties…it’s about home and love, peace and joy, and hope and faith in each other.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

 

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December 4 is National Cookie Day!!!

December 4 is National Cookie Day!!!

It’s National Cookie Day and what else could be more tantalizing than that wonderful aroma of just-baked cookies?  And with Christmas just around the corner, it’s a great time to be thinking about all the wonderful and delicious kinds of cookies there are to make! From traditional sugar cookies loaded with icing and sprinkles to sophisticated truffles–there’s no end to the variations you’ll find at the holidays!

From http://www.kitchenproject.com/history/cookies.htm we found that cookies were first created by accident! Bakers used a small amount of cake batter to test their oven temperature before baking a large cake. These little test cakes were called “koekje”, meaning “little cake” in Dutch.

The earliest cookie-style cakes are said to date back all the way to 7th century Persia which was one of the first countries to cultivate sugar. Cooking techniques, of course, spread to other parts of the world and by the 14th century, Renaissance bakers made many different kinds of cookies and cakes. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, baking took on a good deal of importance and was handled by master craftsmen. As technology improved during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, so did the ability of bakers to make a wide range of sweets, although the basic ingredients hadn’t changed that much over the centuries.

Today, whether you whip your ingredients into drop, molded, bar, rolled or refrigerated cookies, know that you are carrying on a much loved tradition…for cookies are not only enjoyable to make but even more wonderful to eat!

Here are just a few of the great websites that feature Christmas cookie recipes and history…enjoy!

http://www.foodnetwork.com/12-days-of-cookies/package/index.html
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/favorite-old-fashioned-gingerbread/
http://allrecipes.com/recipes/desserts/cookies/christmas-cookies/
http://www.marthastewart.com/275013/traditional-christmas-cookie-recipes/@center/276951/christmas-cookies
http://www.bhg.com/christmas/cookies/favorite-christmas-cookies/
http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/CookieHistory.htm

Click here to view the bluemountain.com website where you can find a great assortment of Christmas eCards for everyone on your list!

December 4 is National Cookie Day!!!December 4 is National Cookie Day!!!December 4 is National Cookie Day!!!December 4 is National Cookie Day!!!December 4 is National Cookie Day!!!December 4 is National Cookie Day!!!