A New York Times article this past Tuesday titled, "Teenage Girl Leaves for ISIS, and Others Follow," by Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, struck close to home for me. The three young women who left London to enlist in ISIS in Syria were 16, 15 and 15.
Earlier this week, my sister Kathy called me, "Am I correct in thinking that Mom used to send us little kid Valentine's like the ones school children use?"
In grammar school, Valentine's Day meant wrapping a shoe box with brown craft paper, cutting a slot in the top for cards to drop in and decorating the outside of the box with hearts and cupids. Store-bought Valentines were labeled the night before and carefully taken to school to be given away. When the big day came, it wasn't only if you received Valentines that counted, it was from whom, and if they gave you your card first that mattered.
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill, Britain's prime minister during World War II. Churchill took up painting as a hobby in 1915, after the Gallipoli debacle, where 46,000 allied lives were lost over nine months of the campaign. He went on to paint more than 500 paintings during his lifetime. As wartime prime minister, he took a break from painting, focusing instead on the task at hand - winning the war, no matter the cost.
Enthusiastic, entertaining, energized and eminent, President Obama's demeanor and delivery at the State of the Union belied his political reality. Unbowed, unbroken and possibly unaffected by the recent midterm Republican wave, Obama displayed his great skill by delivering an emotional teleprompter-driven speech that was a throwback to his first election. Varying tempo, pitch, passion and inflection, his speech was more a theatrical performance than a delivery of a prewritten, pre-released text.
As members of the 114th Congress were sworn into office on Tuesday, their party affiliations described what happened last November: 246 of the 435 representatives and 54 of the 100 senators are Republican.
New Year's is the almost-perfect holiday (Christmas takes the blue ribbon). It's a combination of reflecting, celebrating or possibly just being glad of getting rid of the old year - while at the same time looking forward to the potential and possibilities of the year to come. It's the bridge between the past and present, where what has been done is over - but the future still looks bright, if a bit hazy.
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Good parents eventually learn that lines in the sand are useful only if enforced. Inevitably, red lines will be stepped on or, more often than not, jumped over. If the lines have no meaning, children will realize that their parents are full of bluster and either lack the ability or the determination to carry through with punishment.
My favorite place in Washington is the Lincoln Memorial. Its grand size, pivotal location and sweeping view of our capital city are a backdrop for the inspirational addresses inscribed on its walls. Lincoln's second inaugural address and his Gettysburg Address are there for all visitors to read.
Last week, our two children started back to school. The prep work included buying new backpacks, books and school supplies, along with a few new clothes. Binders were labeled and organized, new textbooks were bought and thumbed through, and, for our daughter Maggie, the first day's outfit was carefully thought through and laid out the night before. Schedules were printed and reviewed.
This past Saturday, Dr. Steve Davis gave the message at my mother's funeral. As pastor of First Baptist Church of Carrollton, Ga., he recounted that, during a recent visit, she told him that she was the luckiest person on earth.
Editors Note: Jackie Battley Gingrich passed away on Aug. 7. Her daughter, Jackie Gingrich Cushman, wrote this column about her mother in May 2011.
It's been a strange week. My sister and I passed the coursework and pool portion for open-water scuba diving, my son turned 12, and my mother ended up in ICU. You can plan as much as you like, but oftentimes life happens, and not as you might have planned.
Currently 20 of the 100 U.S. senators are women, as are 78 of the 435 representatives, for a grand total of 18 percent of congressional seats.
Donald Trump's tweet Tuesday of this week puts it all in perspective, "@realDonaldTrump: With Spitzer & Anthony Weiner running for office, New York is pervert central! Pathetic."
This week, we celebrated the Fourth of July, the day that our founders declared their independence from Great Britain. This declaration action came after a long history of imposition by King George III. While it might seem as though this is ancient history, there are applicable lessons to remember today.
Helping another person even when doing so could adversely affect you is considered a virtue by many. People are often applauded as heroes, as they should be, when they help others.
This past month has been eventful and unusual.
The phrase "City on a Hill" was coined by John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He penned a directive as he crossed the ocean from England to New England aboard the Arabella in early 1630. His passengers were primarily Puritans who had fled England in search of religious freedom.
"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: But already it was impossible to say which was which."
School may be out for summer, at least for my children, but it's a good time to remember that learning is not only about teachers, books, subjects and grades, but more about the mindset and approach that we take in life.
If you were to suddenly appear this weekend at the numerous BBQs or pool parties without any knowledge of our nation's history, it might be hard to understand the real meaning of Memorial Day.