Constitution Day falls on September 17th of each year; this year it is on Wednesday of this week. This day commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution by thirty-nine men on September 17, 1787 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time to sign this document they had created. Pierce Butler, C. Cotesworth Pinckney, Charles Pinckney, and John Rutledge were the four signers from South Carolina.
For over two centuries, the United States Constitution has stood as a testament to the tenacity of Americans throughout history to maintain their liberties, freedoms, and inalienable rights. This 4400 word document is the oldest and shortest written constitution of any major government in the world.
The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution is a non-profit, non-political, volunteer women’s service organization. It was founded on October 11, 1890. DAR members are dedicated to promoting historic preservation, education and patriotism in communities across the nation.
This celebration of the Constitution was started by the Daughters of the American Revolution. In 1955, the DAR petitioned Congress to set aside September 17-23 annually to be dedicated for the observance of Constitution Week. The resolution was later adopted by the U.S. Congress and signed into public law on August 2, 1956, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
In 1928, the Daughters began work on a building as a memorial to the Constitution. John Russell Pope, architect of the Jefferson Memorial, was commissioned to design the performing arts center, known as DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. The cornerstone was laid by Mrs. Calvin Coolidge on October 30, 1928, using the trowel President George Washington used to lay the cornerstone at the Capitol in 1793. Mrs. Herbert Hoover was the guest speaker at the formal dedication. Today, DAR Constitution Hall is the only structure erected in tribute to the Constitution of the United States of America.
The Preamble includes phrases that are familiar.to us. “We the People of the United State, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Daniel Webster said, “We may be tossed upon an ocean where we can see no land – not, perhaps, the sun or stars. But there is a chart and a compass for us to study, to consult, and to obey. The chart is the Constitution.”
Happy birthday to our Constitution!
A story to remember…
This is not my attempt to be different or distance my story from the thousands that will be told in remembrance today. Instead, it is my acknowledgement that I am not unique in what I experienced as a result of Sept. 11. Like you—with you—I was changed.
I remember a lot of things about that day—watching how the news anchors struggled to maintain their composure, waiting in line to donate blood as the president addressed the nation, and willing the peace that accompanies “It Is Well” to wash over me as a packed campus chapel was certain of only one thing as we listened to the hymn on the piano—we didn’t want to be alone.
And yet, as strong as those memories are, whenever this date arrives each year my first thought is of a baby girl named Grace who I never had the opportunity to meet but who stays…
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Lawrenceburg Boy Drives to Woodford, Wakes Officials, and Gets Married”
“Versailles, Ky, Sept. 15 -
Wallace C. Collins, 30 years old, stationed at Camp Shelby, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, arrived home last night for a visit to his father, R. S. Collins in Lawrenceburg. As he only had 24 hours leave, he drove to this county accompanied by his father, went to Mr. W. H. Hitt’s home in the country, got his daughter Lucile 22, and drove to Versailles. As the hour was 12:30, he was compelled to awaken Mr. Lewis to issue a marriage license. Rev. M. D. Austen was aroused to perform the wedding ceremony, and the happy young couple drove back to Mr. W. H. Hitt’s house, where they will spend Mr. Collins furlough.”
Wallace and Lucile are my grandparents, and I found this article mixed in with some photos yesterday. I love that their wedding announcement was so unique in the paper, but what a picture it paints in my mind. I can imagine the excitement on their faces with this middle-of -the night wedding. This could easily be the beginning of a romantic, war story of WWI.
Lulu told me that story, and I can still see the twinkle in her eyes, as she remembered it. The headline in the newspaper celebrates the event in only a few words. This September wedding was in 1916, and their anniversary is around the corner.
Family stories make up history, not only those factual accounts we read about in books. “What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life — to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories. ” George Eliot
Yesterday at a funeral service for a friend of my dad’s, the story was told about how the two used to go pick corn and then take it around to friends and family. I can remember being on the receiving end of their times spent in the corn fields. After their corn-picking days were over, Daddy used to deliver a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts just because. Not too long ago, his mechanic told me how much those donuts meant to the men in his shop.
Celebrating today that soldier who came home for his bride! Celebrating family memories!
I have finished three short stories on life in upstate South Carolina in the mills. Once again, women are my protagonists. Their resilience, faith, and work ethics kept their families together and food on the table. How they worked twelve hour days for six days a week and tended to their households is hard to imagine.
This is Labor Day weekend. It was founded to celebrate the blue collar workers in our country.
In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.
Through much reading and listening to John’s stories about his family, I continue to learn about this lifestyle. From the farms to the factories, families joined the work force in the mills. Rather than their livelihood being governed by the weather and their own labor; in the mills a whistle signaled their work days. A pay check was delivered each week, rather than waiting on the sale of a corn or cotton crop.
This morning I ran across an ETV video about Pacolet Mills. What a delight it was to see the father of one of my friends, SC Supreme Court Justice Bruce Littlejohn, talking about his hometown. Here is the site, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XX1MIZyHiE.
What a difference the mills made in our American society!
As we celebrate our own day off this weekend with friends, families, and fun, perhaps we should remember the why behind this holiday. John’s grandmother learned to spin in the mill standing on a box beside her mother before child labor laws were passed. She missed an education that we take for granted today.
Indira Gandhi said, “My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.”
Happy Labor Day weekend!
When John and I visited the SAR Museum and library in Louisville, Kentucky a couple of years ago, I bought a scarf in the store. I was intrigued by the pattern and delicacy of the flowers on the black background.
The story of the creator Mary Delaney, who started a career, at 72 in the 18th century amazed me, and I thought you might be, too.
Imagine starting your life’s work at seventy-two. At just that age, Mary Granville Pendarves Delany (May 14, 1700-April 15, 1788), a fan of George Frederic Handel, a sometime dinner partner of satirist Jonathan Swift, a wearer of green-hooped satin gowns, and a fiercely devoted subject of blond King George III, invented a precursor of what we know today as collage.
One afternoon in 1772 she noticed how a piece of colored paper matched the dropped petal of a geranium. After making that vital imaginative connection between paper and petal, she lifted the eighteenth-century equivalent of an X-Acto blade (she’d have called it a scalpel) or a pair of filigree-handled scissors — the kind that must have had a nose so sharp and delicate that you could almost imagine it picking up a scent. With the instrument alive in her still rather smooth-skinned hand, she began to maneuver, carefully cutting the exact geranium petal shape from the scarlet paper. (She ignored her arthritis and poor vision.)
Then she snipped out another.
And another, and another, with the trance-like efficiency of repetition — commencing the most remarkable work of her life: a series of almost a thousand cut paper botanical collages, each flower composed of hundreds of dots, squiggles, and moons of bright paper on dramatic black backgrounds. Each flower steps forth as onto a lit stage and takes center stage.
Seventy-two years old. It gives a person hope. It gives me hope for the other books and articles I want to write.
When Mrs. D. picked up her scissors, grief was the chief prompt. After the death of her beloved second husband Dean Patrick Delany in 1768, which followed the death of her sister Anne in 1761, she wrote that she considered each of her flower portraits to be “an employment and amusement, to supply the loss of those that had formerly been delightful to me; but had lost their power of pleasing; being depriv’d of that friend, whose partial approbation was my pride, and had stampt a value on them.”
The Paper Garden is a biography of this woman.
Surviving an arranged marriage at 17 and then a loving second marriage, she combined propriety and inner fire when she designed her own clothes, crafted exquisite embroidery, took drawing lessons with Louis Goupy, cultivated stalwart, lifelong friends (and watched her mentor William Hogarth paint a portrait of one of them), played the harpsichord and attended John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, owned adorable cats, and wrote six volumes’ worth of letters — most of them to her sister, Anne Granville Dewes (1701-61), signifying a deep, cherished relationship that anyone with a sister might understand.
I am amazed at what she did. No, she didn’t live in the colonies, as they were called then, but in the middle of London society, she chose her own path and created beauty through paper blooms. I love my scarf. Every time I wear it, I remember this indomitable woman who created a new art for all to admire.
I wonder what new styles or fashions she might have started in Charleston?
Yesterday John and I went to lunch. The quiet turned to many muted conversations as the restaurant traffic increased. As we finished, an elderly father and his son sat down next to us.
The gray-haired father used a cane to steady himself, but he still was moving on his own steam. His middle aged son paid close attention to his movements.
The son read the menu, obviously leaving out items that his father wouldn’t be interested in, and the older man made his choices. When the waitress came to take their orders, the son shared their choices.
Both looked around the room, as if taking it all in. There was little conversation, but they were together and sitting opposite each other.
Their presence next to us gave John and I moments of reflection. Both of us remembered times when we took our parents out to eat and shared those memories with each other.
When we got up to leave, I felt compelled to speak to the son. You readers, that know me well, probably realized that I was a bit out of my element with this, because my thoughts are mostly silent musings. But this situation was one of those times when I couldn’t help myself.
I told the son that they were blessed to be having lunch together. He politely smiled. There is no telling what he thought, as we walked away. But I heard him repeat my words to his father.
Maybe he knew that it was a time to treasure, because those moments of breaking bread together would soon not be. We were glad to see them enjoying time together that we can no longer enjoy with our parents.
Whatever the reason for this occurrence, the warm feelings of blessed memories was a good thing for us. Maybe my words of encouragement and recognition of a special time of sharing gave them something else to ponder. I have never felt comfortable speaking to strangers, but perhaps I will allow my heart to speak aloud more now.
“I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.” Maya Angelou throw out a challenge with her words.
Two years ago, John built my sun porch. It is my retreat, my writing space, and where we hang-out. It is where I recouped from my heart attack last year; it was and still is my sanctuary.
Someone said, “The best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a porch swing with, never say a word, then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation that you ever had.” How grateful I am for friends like this.
Porch sitting seems to be a lost art, but in my house it is the hub of our family.
We had decided to move to a younger house; there continues to be help that this house requires. As we talked about it and looked at houses, I realized that what I needed/wanted/desired was a porch.
This year our house is 99 years old, and it is listed on the Historic Register. We have lived here for thirty years. It has three closets now; only one was here when we bought it. Storage space continues to be an issue. In the beginning the attic was reached by crawling through a hole in the ceiling of the pantry, then a hole in a new closet, and now through pull-down stairs. (Evolving and ever-changing describes our sojourn here.) The green carpet was removed to show of the hardwood floors. Windows, walls, wiring, and plumbing have all been replaced. A deck was added that then became a screened porch. A leaky roof destroyed that space.
I grew up with a porch. It started as a screened porch and then became a sun porch. After a meal, friends were invited to the back porch. Birthdays were celebrated there, and it became the place for opening Christmas presents. My dad read the morning paper there. Our son learned to walk on that porch. There were even a few times when my brother came in after the door was locked and slept on the porch.
We haven’t moved, and the reason why is my porch. Friends enjoy the porch. It is cozy and peaceful. Carrying my coffee to it starts my day.
The South is full of porches of all sizes. My front porch is full of wicker furniture and flower pots that are viewed by the public, but my sun porch is where my family and friends gather.
I hope you have your own porch. If you don’t, you might want to consider this addition to your home.
Tracy Lawrence wrote this song, “If the World had a Front Porch,” and it speaks truth about porches.
“It was where my mama sat on that old swing with her crochet
It was where grandaddy taught me how to cuss and how to pray
It was where we made our own ice cream those sultry summer nights
Where the bulldog had her puppies and us brothers had our fights
There were many nights I’d sit right there and look out at the stars
To the sound of a distant whippoorwill or the hum of a passin’ car
It was where I first got up the nerve to steal me my first kiss
And it was where I learned to play guitar and pray I had the gift
If the world had a front porch like we did back then
We’d still have our problems but we’d all be friends
Treatin’ your neighbor like he’s your next of kin
Wouldn’t be gone with the wind
If the world had a front porch like we did back then.”
I bet you can guess where I am right now!