Gas Prices are Falling in the United States of America 10/20/2014
Ferguson, Missouri 12/17/2014
Eric Garner 12/26/2014
ObamaCare and King v Burwell 3/24/2015
Homosexuality and Marriage in the United States of America 5/27/2015
Charitable Giving 4/19/2016
The New $10 Bill 4/19/2016
Ferguson Effect 6/24/2016
The American Flag 1/9/2020
Gas Prices are Falling in the United States of America
10/20/2014 Over the past months, gas prices have dropped dramatically in the United States of America. According to GasBuddy.com, average gas prices in America have come down from $3.70 in April of 2014 to $3.37 in September. One of the least expensive places for gas, in Little Rock, Arkansas, is seeing gas at $3.05, and even the most expensive gas in the United States, in California, is below the $3.40 a gallon mark. There appears to be at least two reasons for the dramatic drop in gasoline prices: supply, and the change from a summer blend to a winter blend in gasoline. Supply is a major reason why gasoline prices are dropping. Supply refers to the amount of a good or product that exists. The biggest change in supply in oil and gas production is coming from America. The United States is currently producing oil and natural gas at a 28-year high. In 2000, the United States produced about 16 million barrels of oil a day. Today, it is producing 23 million barrels a day. Most if not all of this production is coming from privately owned land in America. The Bakken oil field in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford shale formation in South Texas are both producing large amounts of barrels a day. New technology and ingenuity has allowed for greater oil production in America. A second reason for the drop in gas prices is the shift from the summer blend of gasoline to the winter blend. The winter blend of gasoline is cheaper to produce and it also costs less to buy. Over the last three years, gasoline prices have dropped an average of more than 30 cents a gallon. However, with the combination of the huge glut of American oil, it is almost expected the national gas price will be below $3/ gallon. The drop in prices is not seen as good by all. Of course, the American public love the lower gas prices. It is easier paying $60 to fill up instead of $85. However, many countries rely primarily on high gas prices to meet their budget needs. However, OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Countries) and Russia rely heavily on their selling oil and gas at higher prices. Because of this, the OPEC members and Russia will struggle this year, and perhaps in the near future, to keep up their activities as they have been used to. OPEC countries: Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela Questions:
How does your family view the lower gas prices?
Do you think it is in the United States of America’s best interests to pursue more production of oil and gas? Explain.
How would a weaker Russia affect international politics? (See the current event on Ukraine)
12/17/2014 On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an 18 year old, 6 ‘ 5”, 289 pound man was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. Nobody argues with these facts. However, many do disagree with evidence of the case and the meaning of the incident. Some view the killing of Michael Brown as a case of police brutality caused by racism, whereas others see it as a policeman protecting himself from a violent and dangerous criminal. Some people have reacted violently by destroying buildings, looting businesses, and attacking policemen, because they wanted to see Officer Wilson punished. A great amount of investigation took place to uncover what happened the night of August 9th. Initially, the Ferguson police department investigated and found that Officer Darren Wilson acted correctly, shooting in self-defense. Following this investigation, there was a grand jury investigation. St. Louis County prosecutors presented evidence and the jurors (a group of people from society who agree to listen to evidence and decide) determined there was not enough evidence to charge Officer Wilson of a crime. Unlike other grand jury hearings, St. Louis County released all testimony and evidence regarding this case. There were at least three types of evidence related to what happened August 9th: eyewitness testimony, video recording, and forensic evidence. According to Wilson, he had been called to investigate a crime of a small store being robbed. When he arrived, two men were walking in the middle of the street. After Officer Wilson told the men to go to the sidewalk, they shouted profanities at him. One of the men, Michael Brown, went towards the car, reached in and fought with Officer Wilson. Wilson reported that Brown punched him twice and then reached for the officer’s gun. Wilson then shot at Brown. Mr. Brown then ran back 30 yards and turned around. Wilson shouted for him to lie on the ground. Brown didn’t and charged. Wilson shot him. Brown continued to charge him. Then, Wilson shot more times until Brown was fatally hit. There were at least 60 witnesses called to testify. All agree that Brown and Wilson fought in the police car, with Brown standing outside reaching in. Dorian Johnson, the man who had robbed the store with Brown, reported that Wilson shot Brown in the back, and that Brown had his hands raised saying, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” Some witnesses claimed Wilson had shot Brown in the back. Other eyewitnesses testified the exact same story Officer Wilson had told. And, some eyewitnesses changed their story during the grand jury, initially saying Brown had been shot in the back, to saying that what they said was actually a lie. The second piece of evidence we have is a tape recording of the store that Brown robbed with his accomplice, Dorian Johnson. In the video, Brown menacingly stares down the store owner, who attempts to stop Brown before he walks out of the store. The third piece of evidence we have is the forensic, or physical evidence. According to the autopsy, Brown’s right hand was shot within a distance of 6 to 9 inches of the barrel of a gun, which is consistent with Officer Wilson’s testimony of shooting Brown when there was a struggle in the police car. The other wounds to Brown are also consistent with Officer Wilson’s testimony. Brown suffered from non-fatal wounds on the front, right side of his body, and the final wound was a bullet going down on the top of his head. These wounds contradict some of the witnesses who claim Brown was shot in the back. 12 shell casings were recovered from the scene. Two were found next to the car, and ten were found next to the path that Wilson had claimed Brown took when charging him. In the U.S.A., Americans have attempted to live in a society that follows the rule of law for over 200 years. This means that all people have to follow the law, and no matter how powerful one person may be, all individuals are equal under the law. Also, the ancient notion of innocent until proven guilty is one that is honored in American courts. Both of these concepts were crucial to enable the St. Louis County grand jury research, listen to, and ably judge the evidence. Immediately after the shooting, protests exploded in cities across America. Some Americans chose not to wait and find out what the evidence was and convicted Wilson simply because of the color of his skin, which is white. Famous athletes and politicians joined in this activity, as did news media. Officers were attacked, and there are reports of increased violence in St. Louis against the white immigrants from Bosnia. Officer Darren Wilson resigned from his job as a police officer, because he felt that his presence on the Ferguson force would place himself and his fellow policemen in danger. Although he was found 100% innocent, he now lives a life where he will always be looking over his shoulder, wondering if somebody is out to seek vengeance for a crime he didn’t commit. Questions:
If Officer Wilson had been black, nobody would have ever questioned his actions, but because of the color of his skin, many have judged him guilty for doing his job right.
Was there any evidence presented that showed Officer Wilson was racist?
After the grand jury decided not to have a trial, some people in Ferguson destroyed buildings, and others in a major U.S. city attacked policemen. Were these perpetrators justified?
Before you read this article, what did you think about “police brutality?” Did your mind change?
Imagine you were a policeman. How would you want to be treated if someone accused you of racism?
12/26/2014 On July 17th, 2014, Eric Garner died in New York while resisting arrest by New York policemen. A video of the incident was taken and has been viewed by millions of Americans. Policemen believed Mr. Garner was illegally selling individual cigarettes. Mr. Garner was black and the policemen on the video were white. This video, along with the incident in Ferguson, Missouri, has led many to believe police mistreat black Americans. Protests in cities have been widespread since these two events, and at least two policemen have been executed by one protester who claimed to seek vengeance for police brutality. The politicians of New York, and the majority of voters who elected them into office, believe that smoking is wrong and should be discouraged. They also believe that smokers will smoke less if cigarettes cost more. Thus, New York taxes on a pack of cigarettes total $5.95. Those looking to make money illegally in the underground cigarette market buy cigarettes in another state, drive them into New York, and sell the packs or “Loosies” (individual cigarettes) without paying New York taxes. Local business owners had called the police to complain about Mr. Garner, who was allegedly selling Loosies. The arrest of Mr. Garner was captured on video. A few policemen begin speaking with Eric Garner, and Mr. Garner is heard saying that he was not selling Loosies and was doing nothing wrong. As Mr. Garner continues to tell policemen to leave him alone, more policemen come and they tell him to put his hands behind his back. An officer tries to grab Mr. Garner’s arm, and Mr. Garner pushes the officer’s arm away, saying, “Don’t touch me!” Then, an officer comes from behind Mr. Garner and places his arm around Mr. Garner’s neck. The officer brings Mr. Garner to the ground, while multiple policemen physically force Mr. Garner to put his hands behind his back. During the arrest, Mr. Garner is heard stating, “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe,” over and over. Mr. Garner died within an hour of the arrest. After policemen subdued him, he became unconscious. An ambulance came and he was driven to a hospital. On the way, he suffered a cardiac arrest and died. Mr. Garner weighed 350 pounds and had heart disease, severe asthma, diabetes, obesity, and sleep apnea. It is clear that his health problems, coupled with the severity of the arrest, led to Mr. Garner’s death. To determine if the policemen had acted illegally, a grand jury of 23 members reviewed evidence of the case. Of the 23 jurors, 9 were not white. On September 29, the grand jury decided the police did not act illegally. The grand jury decided that if an individual is believed to be breaking the law, policemen’s duty is to stop this activity, and if the person resists arrest, force is necessary. Police did not try to kill Mr. Garner, but as a result of the arrest and Mr. Garner’s health, he died. Those who believe Mr. Garner was a victim of police brutality claim that he was a “gentle giant,” however, the facts present another scenario. Mr. Garner had a history of breaking the law, and had been charged with selling “Loosies” in the past. Aged 43, Mr. Garner had been arrested 30 times since 1980, on charges including assault and grand larceny. At the time of his arrest and death, Mr. Garner was on bail for illegally selling cigarettes, driving without a license, marijuana possession and false impersonation. The video of the arrest is terrible, sad, and frightening. It is horrible to witness someone in his last moments of life physically resisting policemen. It is sad to see the challenge that regular-sized policemen have in detaining a huge man who is resisting arrest. And, it is frightening to see that our policemen are forced to enforce outrageous taxes on cigarettes and to know that our country’s laws have become so insane that it makes buying and selling tobacco dangerous. Questions:
Why have there been protests in cities across America related to Mr. Garner’s case?
Try to hold your breath and speak without exhaling or inhaling. Is it possible?
When Mr. Garner was saying, “I can’t breathe,” do you think policemen didn’t believe him?
What evidence do we have that the police in this case were acting out of racism?
What is the bias of the author of this article involving taxes on cigarettes? What words inform you of this bias?
Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and King v. Burwell
3/24/2015 On March 10, 2010, President Obama signed a bill into law which greatly altered how health insurance is designed, bought, and sold. The law is titled “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” but is also known as Obamacare, because President Obama greatly favors the bill and because the President has endorsed this name. Recently, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that may be the end of this new law. The case, King v. Burwell, focuses on the source of subsidies that many receive who are insured under the new law. The court case touches on the constitutional issues of how laws are implemented, the meaning of words, and the separation of powers between the executive branch and the legislative branch. Insurance is a funny product. The buyer purchases it with the hopes he will never use it, or at least hoping he won’t use it too much. The insurance company selling it makes a bet that the buyer will also not use too much of the insurance, and determines the price of it depending on the person’s age and health. So health insurance is a product bought and sold by people who hope the user will not really use it. In the U.S.A., from 1789-2010, the U.S. government had stayed out of forcing an American to buy something. Nowhere in the Constitution is it written that the government has the power to force someone to purchase a product. This is because the American Founding Fathers believed in the free market and that the American government should be limited in its power. Obamacare changed the relationship between Americans and their government. Obamacare established the precedent that the government can compel its citizens to purchase products that the government decides is good for them. In the U.S. government, there are three separate branches, each with its own powers. American founding fathers established the government this way so that not one branch would become too powerful. The executive branch (President) is to carry out the law, the legislative branch (Congress) is to write the law, and the judicial branch (Supreme Court and all federal courts) is to decide the legality of the law. In the court case, King v. Burwell, plaintiffs argue that the Obama administration is not following the law, but is instead changing the law and thus, acting like the lawmaker, Congress. The defense argues that the Obama administration is correctly acting within its powers of the executive branch, and is merely interpreting the law so that it makes sense and works. Does the law mean what is written, or does it mean what the President says it means? This is one of the questions the Supreme Court justices are deciding. At issue is how Americans receive subsidies to help pay for their health insurance. As the law is written, only citizens in states that set up their own exchanges, or markets, will receive subsidies. A chief architect of the law, Jonathan Gruber, was videotaped multiple times explaining that the Obama administration wrote the law this way to force states to set up their own exchanges, and that whichever state did not set up the exchange, would risk having their citizens not receive subsidies. Obama, however, is currently directing the federal government to offer subsidies to citizens of over 30 states, because these states decided not to set up the exchanges. These states argue that the Obama administration is taking power illegally, creating a federal government that is taking over the rights of the state governments. It is believed the Supreme Court will issue its ruling on King v Burwell in June. If the Supreme Court decides the Obama administration is acting unconstitutionally, the federal government will cease offering subsidies to citizens in those states that chose to not have state exchanges, and the words of a law will determine its meaning. If the Supreme Court decides in favor of the Obama administration, it will mean Obamacare will continue as it is, and most likely, that whoever is the Presidents receives great freedom in determining what a law means, even if it means going against the meaning of the words used in creating the law.
What is Obamacare?
What is King v. Burwell?
What is the argument in King v. Burwell?
How is this a Constitutional issue?
How do you think the Supreme Court justices should decide? Explain your answer.
Homosexuality and Marriage in the United States of America
5/27/2015 Recently, the United States Supreme Court heard a court case involving homosexual marriage. There are many questions involved in the topic of homosexual marriage and legality. Do voters in individual states have the power to choose representatives who will decide the issue, or does the U.S. Constitution demand homosexual marriage (or same-sex marriage) be allowed? Is marriage a state or a federal governmental power? Is this an issue to be decided by voters or by the courts? Other issues involve morality. Is homosexuality wrong? Can a society create a legal system that reflects its moral beliefs, even when it goes against the moral beliefs of others in society? Because homosexual marriage touches so many issues, this short article will focus on the development of human understanding of morality, and how these have influenced law and marriage.
Polytheism and Moral Relativity in the Ancient World One of the beliefs of nearly all ancient peoples was that the world was created and ruled by many gods. There was a god for the wind, a god for the ocean, a god for the rain. People who believed in many gods are called polytheists. Polytheists believed that if you wanted something, you could make a sacrifice to a god, and this god would then give it to you. If you wanted it to rain, you might kill an animal and burn it to make the rain god happy. Sadly, some polytheists sacrificed other humans, even children, to their gods. Human sacrifice happened on every continent in the ancient world.
Polytheists did not believe that there was a clear right and wrong for everyone. Since there were many gods, and sometimes the gods would compete with each other, what was right depended many times on what the ruler said was right. In Egypt, in ancient Africa, the leader was called pharaoh, and all Egyptians had to consider pharaoh a god. For the pharaoh, right was whatever made him strong. This meant that if the pharaoh believed killing someone made him strong, it was right. What was moral, right and wrong, was relative to the Egyptians. It depended on the person making the judgment what was considered right and wrong. The Hebrews, Monotheism, and Morality The Hebrews are considered the moral founders of western civilization. Western civilization refers to civilizations that have shared ideas and beliefs such as the idea that there is one God, that all people are created equal, and that all people should be treated equally by the law. Hebrews were the world’s first monotheists, which means they believed in only one God.
The Hebrews believed in morality, the idea that there is a right and wrong for all people. Hebrews taught that all people lived under God’s creation and were ruled by the same truth. We can also call this a moral order. Sometime around 1300 B.C., Hebrews believe God gave the Hebrews a set of laws to live by. Called the Mosaic Law, it is one of the first set of written laws that deals with relationships, placing importance on respecting parents and helping those in need. In the Mosaic Law, right and wrong is not a matter of feelings and emotions, but of justice and goodness. Western Civilization, Morality, and Homosexual Marriage Homosexual marriage was forbidden in all countries of the world from the beginning of civilization to 2001. In both the polytheistic and monotheistic societies, there was no such thing as homosexual marriage. However, in 2001, the Netherlands legalized homosexual marriage, and, Ireland recently legalized it, as well. Many in the United States of America and in countries of Europe are arguing that homosexuals should be allowed to marry. Their main arguments are, “If two people love each other, why shouldn’t they be allowed to marry?” and, “Who are we to tell someone that homosexual marriage is wrong, if that is the way they feel?”
The movement away from a society based on morality, justice, and goodness, to one based on individual and relative emotions and feeling marks a monumental change in how polytheistic and monotheistic civilizations have understood what is right and what is wrong. There is no historical precedence for it, and there are many problems that arise out of this understanding of what is good for society. Will polygamy be possible, if three or more people want to marry each other? Will children in schools have to be taught that homosexual marriage is healthy for individuals and society? If two people feel it is alright to murder each other, does this make it right? What happens when we base a society on individual feelings and emotions?
How did polytheistic societies determine what was right and wrong?
How did the Hebrews determine what is right and wrong?
What are two reasons proponents of homosexual marriage give to support legalizing homosexual marriage?
Before 2001, which society of the world legalized homosexual marriage?
Why do you think many Americans believe homosexual marriage should be legalized?
4/19/2016 By John De Gree
On January 29, 2016, Karl Zinmeister delivered a talk on philanthropy at Hillsdale University. Part of this talk was printed in Imprimus, http://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/ a free, monthly publication. I strongly encourage all Classical Historian readers to subscribe to this newsletter. Many facts and ideas of this week’s current event article are presented here. We also used Mr. Zinmeister’s article found at this address: http://www.philanthropyroundtable.org/topic/donor_intent/donation Americans donate more than any other people on Earth. Per capita, Americans donate seven times as much as the average European. The charitable sector of our economy is much greater than the size of our national defense, comprising 11 percent of our country’s workforce, and 6% of America’s gross domestic product. On top of this, there are between 4 and ten million full-time volunteer employees. Americans give over $300 billion to charity. Of this amount, charitable foundations account for 15%, corporations account of 6%, and individual Americans account for 79%. Zinmeister writes that the giving nature of Americans has an incredible influence on our society. One area charitable giving has affected is the education of citizens. In 1880, Ohio had three million inhabitants and 37 colleges. England had 23 million inhabitants but only four colleges. One reason for this difference is that in England, the four colleges were public, built and run by the government of England. In Ohio, however, most of the colleges were private, founded by thousands of small, individual donations. Throughout America, hundreds of private universities were founded by thousands of individual donations. Even though 79% of American giving comes from individual households averaging under $2,500 per year, it is educational to see the giving by individuals and organizations. The Gates Foundation donates more assistance overseas than the entire Italian government. Its work with helping children is believed to save 8 million kids in its first two decades. Americans in churches and synagogues send four and a half times as much the Gates does. And, private American philanthropic aid is more than the entire foreign aid budget of the U.S. government. Mr. Zinmeister offers three reasons why Americans lead the world in giving. He notes that the U.S.A. is the most religious industrialized nation in the world. Zinmeister writes, “Religion motivates giving more than any other factor.” The second reason is that Americans believe in the idea of helping your neighbor. The third reason is entrepreneurialism. Americans are motivated to succeed by the idea of starting a company and providing a product or service that others need. Americans also like to support others to fulfill their dreams. Questions
Which people in the world give the most?
What is one reason America has so many private universities compared to England?
Who America gives 79% of the amount given to charities?
How much more do Americans in churches and synagogues give than the Gates Foundation?
What is one reason why Americans give, according to Mr. Zinmeister?
Jack Lew, U.S. Treasury Secretary, stated that a woman would be featured on the new $10 bill to be printed in 2020, the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment which granted suffrage to women. Although Lew announced a woman would be featured on the newly updated bill, he has not yet made a selection for the bill’s portrait. Some of the women taken for consideration by Lew are Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Women have been featured on American currency four times in the past; Martha Washington, Pocahontas, Susan B. Anthony, and Sacagawea. Martha Washington was featured on the $1 Silver Certificate of 1886 and 1891, Pocahontas was featured on a $10 bank note in 1869 and a $20 demand note in 1865, Susan B. Anthony was minted on the dollar coin from 1979 to 1981 and again in 1999, and Sacagawea has been minted on the dollar coin since 2000. Some people may argue that women have not been featured on American money as an insult to women. Although the amount of women featured on bills seem small, four, it is important to keep in mind that the country has not yet had a female president. Most of the people featured on US currency were presidents. Out of the twelve US bills, only three portraits have been of non-presidents; Salmon P. Chase on the rare $10,000 bill, Benjamin Franklin on the $100 bill, and Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill. And on the country’s coins, four out of the six currently used coins have been presidents. The other two non-presidents are the dollar coins of Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea. Because women have yet to be elected president, it can be more understandable that there are less women featured on bills. This does not mean that women have been less important in the past. It merely shows that since presidents are looked upon as leaders of their country, they have been primarily selected as the ones to be featured on US currency. Questions:
Who are the four women that have been featured on US currency?
Has the US Treasury Secretary selected who will be on the new $10 bill? If so, who?
How many bills have been printed of non-presidents?
Who is the Secretary of Treasury for the US?
Do you think there should be more women printed on currency? Why or why not?
6/24/2016 By John De Gree of The Classical Historian
For over two years, since August 2014, violent criminal activity has increased at an alarming rate in American cities, affecting minorities the most. FBI Director James Comey thinks the main cause of this violent crime wave is the “Ferguson Effect.” The Ferguson Effect refers to how policemen have changed how they deal with citizens after the events in Ferguson, Missouri. President Obama disagrees that there is a Ferguson Effect. Researcher and writer Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute was the first to name and define the Ferguson Effect and has done extensive research on this subject.
In one incident in August 2014, suspect Michael Brown repeatedly attacked a policeman in Missouri and attempted to steal his gun. After refusing to listen to the police officer, Michael Brown charged with his head lowered, and was shot dead. Local prosecutors and President Obama’s Department of Justice investigated and concluded that the police officer acted appropriately to defend himself. Unfortunately, many asserted the policeman was a white racist and killed a black man because of his race. There has never been any evidence to back up this claim of racism.
Immediately after the shooting, many falsely claimed the policeman was a racist, and rioters destroyed parts of Ferguson, Missouri, burning business, looting, and attacking policemen. Political leaders made statements that appeared they approved of the rioting. Nearly a year after the incident, and after the Department of Justice investigated, President Obama stated, “We may never know what really happened in Ferguson,” implying the findings of the Justice Department were not complete.
After the events in Ferguson, “Black Lives Matter” was born. Black Lives Matter is an organization that aims to teach others that policemen are targeting blacks, killing blacks, racists, and that America needs to radically change to stop the murder and oppression of blacks by policemen. Black Lives Matter (BLM) rejects the American justice system’s findings in the Michael Brown case. Members of BLM organize protests, write articles, and spread their beliefs in news media.
Beginning in the 1990s, police departments, beginning with the NYPD, implemented changes in how policemen worked and the rate of crime drastically declined. Police became actively involved in preventing crime, confronting those who appeared to be planning crime, frisking suspects, and handing out infractions for minor infractions, like vandalism. Combined with structural changes within the departments, these actions led to a dramatic drop in crime.
However, since the incident in Ferguson and the birth of Black Lives Matter, Researcher Heather MacDonald asserts that policemen have changed how they work, and this has been the main reason for the major spike in violent crime. After the negative press coverage from the Ferguson incident, policemen are now unable, or unwilling, to continue their work as before. When working, especially in major cities with large populations of minorities, policemen are confronted with loud, jeering mobs. Bottles or rocks are thrown at policemen working in the most dangerous areas. Because of this hostile, anti-police atmosphere, policemen are afraid to act because they might be accused of racism. This is known as the Ferguson Effect.
Many claim one result of the police change has been a steep increase of violent crime in America. Since 2015, in the nation’s largest cities, murders are up 17 percent. Milwaukee had its deadliest year in a decade, and Baltimore’s per capita homicide rate was the highest ever, with a 72% increase. Murders are up in Cleveland by 90% over the previous year.
President Obama disagrees with FBI Director Comey whether there is a Ferguson Effect and if there is a spike in violent crime. Obama has announced that there is no Ferguson Effect, and he appears to agree with BLM that there is a racist problem in American police forces. Comey, who works under President Obama, stands by his argument that it is because of the Ferguson effect that policemen have backed off from the proactive police procedures that limit crime. Great Discussion Questions You Can Ask Your Kids
What is the Ferguson Effect and who believes it is the main cause of the spike of violent crime in America?
Who does not believe the Ferguson Effect is the main reason for the spike of violent crime?
Who is Black Lives Matter?
What happened in Ferguson, Missouri that inspired Black Lives Matter?
In your opinion, what is the main cause of the spike in violent crime?
By John De Gree of www.classicalhistorian.com Copyright 2016. All Rights Reserved.
A Lesson in History: The American Flag
As U.S. citizens, we all are extremely familiar with the American flag. We see it flown outside of businesses and government buildings around the country. During grade school, we recited the “Pledge of Allegiance” with our hands placed dutifully over our hearts. During holidays such as Independence Day, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and Flag Day, Americans will often fly Old Glory to show their patriotism.
While it’s an instantly recognizable as a symbol, how much do you know about the history of our flag? When did the first American flag appear? Do you know why the colors red, white, and blue were selected? Can you remember who was credited for the current design of our nation’s flag?
The answers to these questions are answered below, as we explore the history of the U.S. flag. Some of the facts you will surely remember from your school days, while other tidbits may surprise you.
The Beginning Flags are a big deal for nations. They not only stand as symbols of particular countries, but they solidify the existence of countries. This is especially true during times of war. Originally, when the first pilgrims set sail for America, they brought the English flag with them. However, once it became apparent that the settlement was going to become a country on its own, there were several changes made to the flag, most of which had strong British influences.
We’ll start in 1777, when the first official flag was adopted for the colonial forces. After having many different versions of flags, the Continental Congress met on June 14, 1777, to pass what is known as the Flag Act. While this did not contain any specific drawing or illustration of the proposed flag, the Act did state, “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing the new Constellation.”
As you can imagine, with just those words to describe what the official flag should look like, there were many first interpretations. While the first origins of the first design aren’t exactly known, many historians do believe that New Jersey Congressman Francis Hopkins came up with the first design, while seamstress Betsy Ross sewed it. This first version had thirteen white stars that created a circle in a field of blue, with 13 alternating red and white stripes.
This worked for the original 13 colonies; however, as America grew and expanded, stars were added to represent each new state. So, between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed various different acts to change the design and shape of the flag to fit new stars accordingly.
Modern Day Today, the flag has 50 white stars in a field of blue to represent the 50 states of the Union, and 13 stripes, seven red and six white, for the original 13 colonies. This design was created by high school student Robert Heft, in 1958, for a class assignment. At the time there were only 48 states, as Alaska and Hawaii had not yet been added; however, Heft included them in his design. While his teacher only gave him a B-, supposedly for lack of originality, Heft’s creation caught the eye of President Eisenhower. The president picked Heft’s flag out of 1,500 submissions, as the two additional stars represented the two upcoming additions, Alaska (1959) and Hawaii (1960.) This flag is the one that is still used in the present day.
The Pledge of Allegiance We think it’s important to talk about the Pledge of Allegiance, as it is something that all American kids, from the time they enter kindergarten up until they complete high school, have to recite each morning. As with the flag, it is something that is so engrained in our culture, we hardly take the time to learn about its history.
In 1892, socialist minister Francis Bellany wrote the Pledge of Allegiance, and it was then published in “The Youth’s Companion” on September 8th of that same year. The original pledge was as follows: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Bellany wrote the pledge with the hope that citizens throughout the country would use it. He got his wish when, on October 12, 1892, during the very first nationally recognized Columbus Day (something Bellany also advocated for), grade school kids everywhere recited the “Pledge of Allegiance.”
Later, in 1923, the wording was slightly altered to include “of the United States of America” making the official pledge read: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
The last revision took place in 1954 when President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” which was in response to Communist threats of that time. While Bellamy was a minister, his daughter objected to this change. However, it was added, and the final version, the one which is recited today reads: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
With the original pledge, Bellamy wanted those students to recite it while facing the flag, giving a military salute – right hand lifted, palm face down. When the words “to my Flag” the right hand was to remain extended, but with the palm turned upward (instead of downward), where it was to remain until the pledge was finished.
However, as we know, today the procedure is a little different. In fact, Section 4 of the Flag Code states:
“The Pledge of Allegiance should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform, men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute."
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