Mother’s Day 2018

“I wish that every officer and soldier of the American Expeditionary Forces would write a letter home on Mother’s Day.  This is a little thing for each one to do, but these letters will carry back our courage and our affection to the patriotic women whose love and prayers inspire us and cheer us on to victory.”

– General John J. Pershing,
May 1918

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Free Speech

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“Everyone is in favour of free speech.  Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.”

– Winston Churchill,
October 13th, 1943,
“The Coalmining Situation”, Speech to the House of Commons

Constant, Unexpected Encouragements

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Booker T. Washington, 1894 (source)

“My whole life has largely been one of surprises.  I believe that any man’s life will be filled with constant, unexpected encouragements of this kind if he makes up his mind to do his level best each day of his life – that is, tries to make each day reach as nearly as possible the high-water mark of pure, unselfish, useful living.”

– Booker T. Washington,
from his book Up From Slavery

Weekend Reading

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What made America great, and how can we keep her that way?  I found this article, “Fewer Snowflakes, More Grit”, an interesting – albeit disheartening – snapshot of how our country has changed in just a few generations.

There’s no doubt that technology has improved life for us in the 21st century, but do those benefits come with disadvantages, too?  The article, “Having Your Smartphone Nearby Takes a Toll on Your Thinking” caught my attention recently.  Along the same lines, have you been feeling the need to “unplug”?  Take a look at “5 Ways to Counteract Your Smartphone Addiction”.

 

*Cultural Contemplations is a private blog and is not affiliated with any particular institution or organization.

The Hope of a Happy Nation

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George Washington’s signature (source)

“I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.”

– George Washington,
“Circular to the States”, 1783

 

 

The Wants of Man

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Portrait of John Quincy Adams by George Peter Alexander Healy, 1858 (source)

The Wants of Man

“Man wants but little here below,
Nor wants that little long.”
‘Tis not with me exactly so;
But ’tis so in the song.
My wants are many and, if told,
Would muster many a score;
And were each wish a mint of gold,
I still should long for more.

What first I want is daily bread —
And canvas-backs, — and wine —
And all the realms of nature spread
Before me, when I dine.
Four courses scarcely can provide
My appetite to quell;
With four choice cooks from France beside,
To dress my dinner well.

What next I want, at princely cost,
Is elegant attire:
Black sable furs for winter’s frost,
And silks for summer’s fire,
And Cashmere shawls, and Brussels lace
My bosom’s front to deck, —
And diamond rings my hands to grace,
And rubies for my neck.

I want (who does not want?) a wife, —
Affectionate and fair;
To solace all the woes of life,
And all its joys to share.
Of temper sweet, of yielding will,
Of firm, yet placid mind, —
With all my faults to love me still
With sentiment refined.

And as Time’s car incessant runs,
And Fortune fills my store,
I want of daughters and of sons
From eight to half a score.
I want (alas! can mortal dare
Such bliss on earth to crave?)
That all the girls be chaste and fair, —
The boys all wise and brave.

I want a warm and faithful friend,
To cheer the adverse hour,
Who ne’er to flatter will descend,
Nor bend the knee to power, —
A friend to chide me when I’m wrong,
My inmost soul to see;
And that my friendship prove as strong
For him as his for me.

I want the seals of power and place,
The ensigns of command;
Charged by the People’s unbought grace
To rule my native land.
Nor crown nor sceptre would I ask
But from my country’s will,
By day, by night, to ply the task
Her cup of bliss to fill.

I want the voice of honest praise
To follow me behind,
And to be thought in future days
The friend of human-kind,
That after ages, as they rise,
Exulting may proclaim
In choral union to the skies
Their blessings on my name.

These are the Wants of mortal Man, —
I cannot want them long,
For life itself is but a span,
And earthly bliss — a song.
My last great Want — absorbing all —
Is, when beneath the sod,
And summoned to my final call,
The Mercy of my God.

– John Quincy Adams,
July 11th, 1767 – February 23rd, 1848