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Monthly Archives: June 2016

  1. Semaphore Flags

    11949934001267935583semaphore_positions.svg.medDid that get your attention? It should have, because that motion with the flags in that position is the internationally designated semaphore signal for “Attention!” It also means “Error,” but we can skip that for now.

    Semaphore flags are the end result of a signaling system developed in the late 1600s by Robert Hooke (of microscope fame). He presented it to the Royal Society, but they failed to do anything with it. A century later, it was adapted and used by Claude Chappe in France,

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  2. The History of the American Flag- For Kids

    The American flag is a symbol of the United States’ long history––and it might be much older than you thought! A flag is a very important part of a country’s identity. Some of them are hundreds of years old and are very important to the people who live in that country. Did you know that there are almost 200 independent countries in the world? That’s a lot of flags! Each one is made with its own specific colors and designs. How many flags can you describe?

    Are you curious about the history of the American flag and how it came to be? Read on to find out more about how old the flag is, how it has changed, and what it looks like today.

    June 14th, 1777

    Did you know that America wasn’t always an independent nation? Long before it separated into its own country, America was a part of a British colony. Once America decided to separate from the British colony, then the creation of the flag took place.

    When the United States of America was a very young nation, it needed a flag of its own. On June 14th, 1777, a group called the Continental Congress agreed that the United States should have their own flag made. This was a very important step in American history. While the flag has changed over time, it has always been an important symbol for America and its citizens. Read on to learn more about this important piece of history.

    The Design

    Are you wondering what the first flag looked like in 1777?

    In its first year, the flag was designed to have thirteen stripes: red and white stripes, to be exact! The stripes would switch between red and white, with the final design having seven red stripes and six white stripes in between them. (Kind of like a candy cane!)

    In the top corner of the flag it was decided that there would be a blue background with thirteen stars, so that it would look like stars in the night sky, which is also known as a constellation. The stars were shaped in a large circle; nowadays, there are too many stars to use that same shape!

    The colors of the flag have always been red, white, and blue since its very start. Many of the flags in history have been designed with these three colors, including Great Britain and France. Do you know what the colors mean?

    It has been said that the blue in the flag represents a variety of symbols, including grit, freedom, justice, and care. The red coloring stands for revolution, bravery, and toughness, while the white is a symbol for purity, peace, and innocence. The American flag was created with all of these symbols in mind, in order to represent the people who lived in this country.

    Between 1777 and1960, the flag was re-designed to look a different way. As the country has gotten older, it has welcomed new states to join in. When this happened, the American flag would add another star to its design to represent the new state. Do you know how many stars the flag has today? The answer is 50: just like the number of states now included in the United States. The flag today has the same 13 stripes to represent the 13 colonies, and 50 stars for all of the states. Very cool! stars for all of the states. Very cool!

    The flag has definitely come a long way … let’s take a look at more of the history behind this

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  3. You Are Not Forgotten

    2000px-United_States_POW-MIA_flag.svgIn rear windows, on motorcycles, flying on flag poles in front of businesses and homes, the POW-MIA flag has become an iconic symbol in America for the nation's concern for military personnel missing and unaccounted for in foreign wars. The idea for such a flag was first thought of by Mary Helen Hoff, wife of Navy pilot Lieutenant Commander Michael Hoff who had been missing in action in Vietnam since January 7, 1970.

    Hoff was a member of the National League of POW/MIA Families, an organization whose sole mission is “to obtain the release of all prisoners, the fullest possible accounting for the missing, and repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died serving our nation during the Vietnam War in Southeast Asia." Created in 1969 by the wives of POWs in Southeast Asia, their purpose was originally to raise awareness about the mistreatment of POWs, and it grew into much more.

    Feeling as though the organization needed a standard in which to spread the message of the organization, Hoff called the world's oldest, well-known flag maker Annin Flagmakers in Verona, New Jersey. The company was honored to be chosen to make such a flag, representing so much for many families across the United States. They took it to their advertising agency to design, and the assignment was given to one of the graphic designers.

    In 1972, Newt Heisley created the design for the now famous flag. Heisley was a veteran himself, a pilot in World War II who flew C-64 transports for the 433rd Troop Carrier Group and earned the bronze star for his service. He modeled the silhouette profile we readily recognize in the POW-MIA flag after his son who, at the time, was serving in the Marine Corps. In an interview with the Colorado Springs Gazette in 1997, Heisley told reporters that the flag “was intended for a small group. No one realized it was going to get national attention.”

    But that's exactly what happened. The flag was used to keep the POW-MIA issue fresh in the minds of Americans across the country. Finally, Congress passed a law in 1990 stating the flag was now recognized "as a symbol of our Nation's concern

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  4. Know What You Are Celebrating

    [caption id="attachment_221" align="alignleft" width="381"]American Flag American Flag. 4th of July City Decoration. Vintage Grading.[/caption]

    On the heels of Memorial Day, many people take the opportunity to post sentiments on social media about the true meaning of the holiday. Usually the three day weekend is an opportunity to get outside for cookouts, picnics, fireworks and just spending time with friends. But what are we celebrating?

    With the bevy of posts on social media about supporting the veterans (always a great cause, without the need for a holiday to do so), it seems people have forgotten what the difference is between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Both are related to the military, and they both are symbolized by the

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  5. Top Care Packages and Gifts for Military Servicemen

    Is your husband (brother, father, son, uncle, cousin, or friend) deployed with the military? Chances are he is missing you just as much as you are missing him. You can send him a care package and boost his morale. It will also help you feel better about dealing with the time apart. Maybe you are unsure of what to send, or how to send it. Check out these top gifts for military service men!

    Since you cannot mail yourself to your loved one, take a look at this list of goodies every man in the service would love and appreciate receiving.

    One of the primary gifts you can give to your loved one overseas is an American flag. You can have it personalized with a flag case, or send a standard flag. It represents more than you think. It symbolizes freedom. Your soldier will feel honored to receive one, and it will give him the courage to continue fighting for our nation’s beliefs. He will fly it proudly in his room or designated area. It is a daily reminder that his sacrifice means something special; his fighting is not in vain. The American flag reflects bravery, independence, liberty, and justice. It is the perfect gift to give to your military servicemen.

    Food and Drink

    Powdered drink mix—there is an assortment of drink powders that can be mixed with water. Depending on the weather, you can send hot or cold beverages. Cocoa, coffee, tea bags, and creamers are ideal for the colder times whereas lemonade and iced tea are perfect for the summer months.

    Snacks — this is a broad category, but a few tips will make the mailing process easier. Send hard containers because bags may explode under high pressure. If you want to send multiple treats, consider putting them in smaller Ziploc bags, so he can carry a small package with him. Salty snacks like nuts, chips, pretzels, and flavored popcorn will encourage your soldier to drink more water. Snack cakes, cheese crackers, and cookies are very popular snacks. Jelly beans, beef jerky, and sunflower seeds are also delicious.

    Protein treats are also in high demand like energy bars, tuna fish, and summer sausage. If you send any meat, make sure it says USDA beef on the package.

    You should avoid chocolate, especially if your loved one is in a warm climate for fear of it melting. Gum should be sealed in a Ziploc bag to keep it from getting gooey. This also goes for any other soft candy. Make sure you mail extras so that he can share with his friends.

    Meal Enhancers — Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) are not always the ideal dinner choice. You can send meal enhancers like hot sauce, mustard, relish, ketchup, and other condiments, which will make the food taste better. Seasoned salt, ramen noodles, and other foods that can be easily mixed with MREs are perfect.

    Personal Items

    The best way to send personal items is as travel-sized containers. You want to mail small containers; not aerosol cans. Even if it is brand new, be sure to cover the item with plastic wrap (you can open it, wrap it, and recap it). This will help prevent any spillage.

    • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss
    • Shaving lotion and disposable razors
    • Cotton swabs, packaged tissues, and baby wipes
    • Shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and body wash
    • Eye drops, lip balm, lotion, and medicated foot powder
    • Aspirin, Vicks VapoRub, and topical cream pain relievers like IcyHot
    • Goggle-styled sunglasses and sunscreen
    • Socks and underwear that are 100% cotton (long
    Fun and Games

    Guys usually want something to do while deployed (outside of the typical drills and combat). During their downtime, they will need to pass the time. You can send an assortment of things that pertain to entertainment. If your soldier enjoyed playing a particular game at home, he would love to play it while overseas, too.

    • Reading material — paperback books, current magazines, and comic books are all great reading material.
    • Word games and puzzles — jigsaw puzzles, word searches, and crossword puzzles are a perfect way to pass the time.
    • Sporting gear — you can send small things like foam footballs, hacky-sacs, Frisbees, yo-yos, and other fun sports games.
    • Other games — dice, cards, and plastic model kits are another wonderful way to pass the time.
    • Electronics — portable equipment works best when it comes to DVD players and CD players. Do not forget the music and movies! Handheld electronic games, Amazon Kindles, iPads, iPods, and laptops are also fun.
    • Batteries — the most popular sizes are AA and D, but make sure you remove the batteries, so the equipment does not turn on during shipment. Anytime mail carriers hear a buzzing, vibrating, booming noise, or ticking; they will go into bomb mode.
    • Writing material — pens, pencils, paper, envelopes, and stamps are always in high demand.
    • Disposable and digital cameras
    • Phone cards — you can get a good deal on oversea minutes!
    Reminders of Home

    Every soldier misses his family. Sending a handwritten letter is one of the best gifts of all! Even if you are talking about your daily routine or regular at-home activities, your loved one will cherish it. Photographs, drawings, children’s artwork and schoolwork, a scrapbook with mementos, and a homemade videotape are all lovely gifts.

    What Not to Send

    Depending where your loved one is stationed, you will have to be careful of what you send. For example, it is not wise to send anything offensive to the Middle Eastern or Persian Gulf areas. The country will monitor what is being brought into their country, so you do not want to give your soldier any extra grief. The United States Postal Service also lists the military restrictions on its website. Things that offend the Islamic faith or usually off limits including the following:

    • Pork and pork by-products
    • Obscene material like semi-nude or nude persons, pornographic images, or sexual items
    • Alcohol
    • Unauthorized political material
    • Bibles in bulk — of course, it is okay to send a Bible to your loved one, but do not mail a stack of Bibles that you want to be passed out. Anything that is contrary to the Islamic faith should be kept at bay.
    Packing Tips

    It can take up to two weeks for your care package to reach the designated country. However, more time is likely to pass before your soldier gets his hands on it. When sending food, drinks, and other goodies, keep

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  6. Observing National Flag Day

    american-flag-825730_1280While the Fourth of July and Memorial Day Weekend may receive almost all of the patriotic glory, so to speak, one particular holiday remains consistently overlooked yet universally beloved: Flag Day.

    Celebrated annually on June 14th, and officially established as a national day of recognition by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, the day commemorates the official adoption of the American flag on June 14, 1777, by a resolution passed by the Second Continental Congress. (The U.S. Army celebrates the Army’s birthday on this day as well.)

    Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Scouts, 4-H groups, and

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