Posted in Thoughts

Happy Independence Day

What is Freedom?

Patriotic woman saluting while holding American Flag against sky

When I was younger I believed that freedom, independence would come when I gained my driver’s license and I could come and go as I pleased. While the ability to drive did offer some freedom and independence, I still had a curfew, laws I had to obey and responsibilities that came with that freedom.

Today, as we celebrate the anniversary of our freedom from Britain, our day of Independence, I have to wonder if we are truly free. Freedom, to be unfettered, released, unburdened, is not possible. If you own a home, a car, have a job or a family, you know responsibility often outweighs freedom. We have the choice to be free but that freedom also comes with a price. The responsibility of freedom is often a heavy burden. The price is paid by soldiers, politicians, citizens…too often, the price of freedom is paid by those who can least afford the cost. Families whose loved ones go off to war, children in poverty because their parents chose their personal freedom over the burden of taking care of them, or their government’s greed overshadowed the needs of its citizens. Freedom isn’t free.

Yet, today of all days, as we celebrate our independence as a country let us not forget that by choosing to be free someone has to pay the price. Sacrifices must be made to gain our freedom. The men and women who fought wars, the slaves and immigrants who built this country, the business people, inventors and visionaries who imagined a better way of life, each sacrificed something to gain that freedom. Even today we know that our freedom often comes at a cost to others. Freedom of religion means even those who we do not agree with, have that same freedom. Freedom of speech allows those with opposing views to say what they think. With each freedom we express, sacrifices must be made.

Proud saluting male army soldier on grungy american flag background

As we celebrate our Independence Day, remember those who made the sacrifices and those who are still paying the price for freedom. To our forefathers and mothers who risked death, loss of property, family to an idea that all men are created equal. To those who still battle to say we are all men, to the women who have fought alongside their men folk who were forgotten in the pages of history, to the slaves and immigrants who generations later are still struggling to gain their independence, let Freedom Reign.

To misquote Dr. King, let me end with no one is free until all are free. Freedom, if not in fact, let it be in spirit. Let us judge our countrymen not by race, religion or sexual preference but by their contribution to our country. Let us unite as a people greater than our parts. I’m proud to be an American, though not always proud of our choices. We are not perfect but we strive for a perfect union. Let us put aside our differences and celebrate our combined heritage of independence.

Happy Independence Day!

Posted in Book Review

Christmas Revels: A Regency Christmas Anthology

Christmas Revels: A Regency Anthology
Christmas Revels is an anthology of four Christmas novellas set in Regency England. It is the Christmas gift you give yourself. It is a wonderful, eclectic collection of holiday inspired stories that would even fill Scrooge with the Christmas spirit. Anna D. Allen, Hannah Meredith, Kate Parker and Louise Cornell made the Regency a fresh and exciting adventure.
Anna D. Allen’s “A Light in Winter or The Wicked Will” is a lovely, heartwarming story of second chances and the power of one little light in the darkness. Romance comes in different styles, this gentle, insightful story is filled with honor, strength and hope. When Connor Grayson becomes the new Viscount Roxbury he never expected to have all of his dreams come true. When his uncle provides one more obstacle as simple letter can make the difference between happiness and betrayal. Convincing Katherine Woodbridge to be his bride will take more than the promise of riches and finally having a home of her own, it will take an act of faith. This story wraps you in a warm blanket and reminds you of all the things that make this time of year so magical. You’re never too old for romance, never too old to hope.
As a fan of Hannah Meredith the person and the author I saved this story for last and she did not disappoint. “The Lord of Misrule” is a funny, poignant story of true love. Best friends compete for the love of the same woman, one has been expected to marry her since childhood and has yet to ask for her hand, the other left home when he was denied the chance to win her. Viscount Hayhurst, Martin Tate returns to England and allows his friend to convince him to be the ‘First Foot’, the first visitor after the stroke of Midnight on New Year’s, a tall man is believed to bring good luck but when Martin arrives all hell breaks loose and he is blamed. He is then given the task of being the Lord of Misrule for Twelfth Night. Unrequited love, parental expectation, honor and friendship dance through this house party filled with a kaleidoscope of personalities as in character Martin turns the house party on its head and valiantly attempts to win the heart of the fair Alice.
“A Perfectly Dreadful Christmas” by Louisa Cornell is anything but dreadful. Love expressed in so many ways, when her brother’s friends attempt to fulfill his dying wishes and protect his sister, Lizzie, she finds that the ordinary Christmas she has planned is anything but. From wounded servants to the woman heavy with child who arrives on a donkey, impassable roads and painful truths this Christmas is quickly turning into perfectly dreadful.
Can love find its way through the darkness and pain of loss? True love and the spirit of Christmas makes this the most amazing story of soul wrenching agony to heart soaring joy. Friendship, honor, grace and faith make this first published work by Louisa Cornell so amazing and definitely the first of many.
“God Rest You Murdered Gentlemen” by Kate Parker is a fun, house party mystery full of entertaining guests with a lot of reason to commit murder. Newly weds Count and Countess Hunter have little time to explore the joys of marriage with the holidays and their many obligations, add in a murder and they barely have time to sleep. This young couple makes a great sleuthing team as they use their strengths to conduct an investigation to protect their guests and the family name.
If you’re looking for a fun read during the holidays. Something to get you in the mood or give you a break from the chaos then you need to read Christmas Revels. The best gift you can give yourself.

Posted in Thoughts

Unsung Heroes

Unsung Heroes
When I first started working for the Pamlico News it was just in time for the Viet Nam Veteran’s Homecoming in Charlotte, North Carolina. In preparations for attending the homecoming with my father-in-law, I did several interviews with veterans of the Viet Nam War. The men and women I spoke to were from every branch of service. They told stories that could make your blood run cold and some that could fill you with joy. Surprisingly, none felt the were heroes. The common mantra was “I was just doing my job”.
My friends Robert and Avonne Quinn were newly weds when Robert was drafted. He did not want to go to Viet Nam and chose not to enlist, hoping to just do his job and come home.
“When we landed in Viet Nam we had to sit on the tarmac and extinguish our cigarettes and all lights. There was a fire fight going on in the town near the air port. When the bus finally got through to pick us up, the driver sped through town barely keeping the tires on the road in his haste to get us to the base alive,” Robert told me when I did my interview with him. Yet he says he is not a hero.
He was lucky to get a job on a boat ferrying supplies up and down the river. “We had to sleep on our boat to keep them from being stolen or sabotaged.” Mr. Quinn told of supplies and boats blowing up and ports being sabotaged.
Young, afraid, away from home and his life, Mr. Quinn was one of the lucky ones. He came home to his wife and the baby girl who was born while he was gone.
He was a hero and still is, he did his job and supported his country to the best of his ability.
When my son, Jason came home from his first tour of Afghanistan, he came home to a country who called him a hero. His experience was so different from those retuning from Viet Nam but it was still difficult. He didn’t know how to handle being called a hero. He wasn’t on the front line, he simply did his job.
Mr. Robert helped me understand, there is a guilt the survivors bring home. When so many are lost and left behind.
As we celebrate Veteran’s Day, I am reminded of the men and women who do not call themselves heroes. Who like my son and my friend, just feel they are doing their job. Being in the military is the ultimate team program. It works because everyone does their job. Each job is important because one cannot win a battle alone.
To all the men and women who are serving or have served their country, Thank you. You are true heroes and I appreciate your sacrifices.
God Bless America!