Day: November 9, 2015


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alexandria5Located along the western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is approximately 7 miles (11 km) south of downtown Washington, DC.

Like the rest of Northern Virginia, as well as central Maryland, modern Alexandria has been shaped by its proximity to the U.S. capital. It is largely populated by professionals working in the federal civil service, in the U.S. military, or for one of the many private companies which contract to provide services to the federal government. One of Alexandria’s largest employers is the U.S. Department of Defense and another is the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Living within the confines of the City of Alexandria, Virginia is a unique experience   unlike many other locales given its rich history and background.   There is always something new to discover about the city on a weekly basis. Given my love of history, I feel quite honored to live in such a town and still learning much about the city and its founding. Many homes and businesses (structures) date back to colonial times and have special designations.

The historic center of Alexandria is known as Old Town. With its concentration of boutiques, restaurants, antique shops andold-town-alexandria theaters, it is a major draw for tourists. Like Old Town, many Alexandria neighborhoods are compact, walkable, high-income suburbs of Washington, D.C. It is the 7th largest and highest-income independent city in Virginia. It also boasts the oldest and continually operating farmers market on Saturdays (which I love going to every week.). There are many activities during the year for just about every taste.   One of the most popular takes place in early December that being the Annual Scottish Christmas Walk which pays homage to the cities Scottish heritage and a fabulous way to ring in the Christmas season for everyone. I’ve always enjoyed going to watch and browse the shops in search of a holiday bargain.

A portion of adjacent Fairfax County is named “Alexandria”, but it is under the jurisdiction of Fairfax County and separate from the city; the city is sometimes referred to as the City of Alexandria or Alexandria City to avoid confusion. In 1920, Virginia’s General Assembly voted to incorporate what had been Alexandria County as Arlington County to minimize confusion.

The addressing system in Alexandria is not uniform and reflects the consolidation of several originally separate communities into a single city. In Old Town Alexandria, building numbers are assigned north and south from King Street and west (only) from the Potomac River. In the areas formerly in the town of Potomac, such as Del Ray and St. Elmo, building numbers are assigned east and west from Commonwealth Avenue and north (only) from King Street. In the western parts of the city, building numbers are assigned north and south from Duke Street. Neighborhoods in Alexandria include Old Town, Eisenhower Valley, Rosemont, The Berg, Parker-Gray, Del Ray, Arlandria, West End, and North Ridge. The population is mixed between a plethora of nationalities and incomes.

As an independent city of Virginia (as opposed to an incorporated town within a county), Alexandria derives its governing authority from the Virginia General Assembly. In order to revise the power and structure of the city government, the city must request the General Assembly to amend the charter. The present charter was granted in 1950 and it has been amended in 1968, 1971, 1976, and 1982.

Kathy Kiefer


November is Native American Heritage Month

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November is Native American Heritage Month


After 100 years of efforts, American Indian and Alaska Native people finally have a special place on the national calendar to honor their contributions, achievements, sacrifices and cultural legacy.

November is the perfect time to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, tribes, traditions and histories of Native Americans. Many of our public lands hold stories of important Native American contributions, the unique trials they’ve faced in the past (and today) and the ways in which tribal citizens conquer these challenges.

What is Native American Heritage Month?

What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.

One of the very proponents of an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, who was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans” and for three years they adopted such a day. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kans., formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day. It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe, to call upon the country to observe such a day. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens.

The year before this proclamation was issued, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed.

The first American Indian Day in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of New York. Several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September. In Illinois, for example, legislators enacted such a day in 1919. Presently, several states have designated Columbus Day as Native American Day, but it continues to be a day we observe without any recognition as a national legal holiday…


It wasn’t until 1986 that Congress passed—and President Ronald Reagan signed—a proclamation authorizing American Indian Week. Then, recognizing that—for Native Americans—November was generally a time of thanks and celebration after a successful harvest season, President George H. W. Bush designated November as National American Indian Heritage Month. Since then, Presidents regularly issue similar proclamations.

Several states, like California, South Dakota and Tennessee celebrate a specific American Indian Day on different dates of the year (South Dakota has actually changed Columbus Day to Native American Day).

In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.

Native American Month is commemorated through celebrations and special lessons in schools. It is probably no coincidence that Native American Month falls in the same month as Thanksgiving. Traditionally, schoolchildren spent the month discussing the history of the pilgrims who came to America to escape religious persecution. However, now that Native American month has been established, students explore the effect of the settlers on the Native Americans and how significant the contributions were. If it had not been for the Native Americans, the pilgrims would not have survived, and indeed many of them died because they were unfamiliar with the terrain of the New World. Native American month honors Native American wisdom and culture and gives students a chance to explore the Thanksgiving story from the point of view of the American Indians.

Native American Month is also commemorated with special exhibits in museums designed to celebrate and display American Indian art and history. Many Native Americans have public celebrations and meetings to raise awareness of Native American rights. Schools celebrate Native American month by concentrating on the history of various tribes in America. Young children may dress up in Indian costumes and eat traditional Native American food. Many children write and act out plays in honor of Native American month and read books about Native American history

In South Dakota people celebrate Native Americans’ Day through learning from educational resources that focus on the traditions, culture and background of Native Americans. It is a day to celebrate the heritage of Native Americans and for both native and non-native cultures to unite so the many aspects of native culture can be shared.

In Berkeley, California, some organizations, community groups and churches support the day through awareness-raising activities about the history, culture and traditions of indigenous peoples of the United States. Cultural activities such as markets and pow wows, which are gatherings of North America’s indigenous people, are held. In modern times, pow wows involve dancing, singing, socializing and celebrating Native American culture.

Why do so many parents, families and teachers continue to dedicate the month of November with a focus on perpetuating this myth year after year after year?

Native people are connected to history, to family, to land, culture and community. We are still alive. We are still here; we have not disappeared into the past, like the pilgrims did. All of the Elders have said that Native People have been giving thanks for as long as people have existed. After the corn was dried, pumpkins sliced and the wild plums brought in it was a time for “giving thanks.” When the food was together for the hard winter months and when the work was all done, they gathered.

Yet after the “Thanksgiving” holiday was coined and continues to be celebrated based on a story that does not include factual Native American history, “Thanksgiving” has become a time of mourning for many Native People. It serves as a period of remembering how a gift of generosity was rewarded by theft of land and seed corn, extermination of many Native people from disease, and near total elimination of many more from forced assimilation. As celebrated in America “Thanksgiving” is a reminder of 500 years of betrayal.

Kathy Kiefer


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Why is honoring veterans on Veterans Day necessary?   Veterans Day important? It is a day to not only honor all who have served but also to acknowledge those who have given their lives to protect our freedoms. Veterans are those p those people who not only go to war, they also are those who risk their lives for the freedom of their country. They are what are called Heroes, risking everything they have.

There are several reasons why we should honor veterans. If you’re among the few who are still wondering why, and if, it’s necessary, I hope the reasoning I am sharing should prove sufficient.   Whatever you may think about war, their sacrifices should always be appreciated.

These people are willing to put their lives on the line. They go to war zones and are willing to face danger and death. They get assigned to foreign countries and fight alongside or against total strangers. From hunting down terrorists to maintaining peace and order, there is not a moment when their lives are not in danger. They don’t do this to attain glory or fame.

Soldiers do it so the people back home will have the chance to live in peace. The soldiers fight so you don’t have to.   Joining the military is voluntary. Fighting for your countrymen can’t be forced on anyone. Yet they do it, not just for their families but even total strangers. This is just one of the reasons why we should honor veterans.

Most of the time, they don’t get their names on the paper or their pictures on TV. Yet more than anyone these men and women manage to keep the peace. Just take a moment to recognize that they fought for you.

For the Family Sacrifices They Make

The soldier who goes to the battlefield isn’t just putting his / her life at risk. He leaves behind friends and family as well. Some of these soldiers get stationed in foreign countries for several months on end. They hardly get the chance to see their kids grow. Soldiers gave up the chance to spend time with friends and loved ones so you may do so. This doesn’t just affect the soldier of course; it affects their families and friends as well.

A lot of the things we take for granted now were through the efforts of soldiers who fought (and are still fighting) for the country. It’s all too easy for us to sit back and watch war footages on TV. Yet as anyone who has gone through a tour of duty will tell you, nothing on TV matches the real thing. The reason why we should honor veterans is because they let us do these simple things.

While we are happily going about our lives, those soldiers spend years toiling at the battlefields. Many of them come home carrying the scars of war. These can be physical or emotional. Oftentimes, it is both.

They go through this ordeal so we can rest easy. It’s a fact, a sad fact, that their efforts to keep the peace are rarely noticed. Only when an occasional negative incident happens are they noticed and pilloried.

When you are enjoying dinner with your spouse or playing with your child, it’s because someone gave up his / her chance to do so. If you’re wondering why we should honor veterans, it’s because their sacrifices made it possible for you to spend time with your family.

For Providing Security

The threats of terrorism and other enemies are always present. If not for these fighting men and women, you wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. When you walk around the park, enjoy a movie or play video games downtown, it’s because these soldiers made it possible. To this day there are places in the world where people are afraid to leave their homes, because they might never be able to make it back.

The reason why we should honor veterans is that, simply put they are willing to die for their country and countrymen. They have given up the comforts of living life at home you can enjoy it. They chose to see their children grow in pictures so you can see yours say their first word and take their first walk. These people are willing to shed blood, sweat and tears so you can sleep peacefully.

Some of these soldiers will never make it back home. A lot of those who do return carry with them the scars and memories from many tours of duties. They will have to endure physical, emotional and mental anguish.

There are some people say that fighting is a bad thing; war is the same thing except risking their lives to try and save all others in the world. And one day eventually all those veterans, which have fought in a war, will accomplish that dream. That dream all veterans have, of changing the world to bring freedom and peace at last.

A visit to any war hospital will show you the pain they go through and will deal with for the rest of their lives. The sacrifices they make for their country are irreplaceable and priceless. That is why we should honor veterans.

Give Thanks

The next time you see a soldier, give him or her a salute. If you get the chance to talk, let them know how much you appreciate what they’ve done for the country. Let them know that the sacrifices they made were not in vain.

Let them know that their well-being and safety are always part of your prayers. And don’t forget to tell them that you are grateful for their courage in defending the country from harm.

Learning the reasons why we should honor veterans is something you should take to heart. It’s the least you can do for these outstanding individuals.

Kathy Kiefer