Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Freebits with Ginger - #frifeebits #blogsharing

Welcome to another Friday and six paragraphs that will hopefully make you laugh.  This is the conclusion of one chapter and the start of another.  Yes, the chapters are short, but I'll try to make them longer as I go through the book again.  So, continuing with Living La Vida Loca:

My first husband and I divorced after thirty-two years, and although I left him because of his drinking, I also believe I may have driven him to the bottle because our sex drives were never compatible.  If you compared the two of us to automobiles, he was a Ferrari and I, a Volkswagen Beetle.  Our romantic rendezvous were planned, but unfortunately they usually coincided with my weekly headache.

When I met and married my second husband, the newness of the relationship was exciting; I couldn't keep my hands off him.  As time passed, the excitement wore off, and I returned to my preferential state of celibacy.  He reminds me often of how things used to be, and once again, I fall back on the old "cling to those memories" response.  I'm just not a sexual being.

It's hard to be sexy when you don't feel good about your body, and I honestly can only recall a short span of time when I did.  Aging has made appreciating my looks even harder, but I do like who I least inside.  I'd just like to change a few exterior things if I could.  I discovered Victoria's Secret early on....nothing she sells fits me.  Some secret!  I guess it's just  as well because thongs aren't my thing.  I can't even stand having a wedgie, and I don't think underwear should resemble or feel like dental floss. There are some types of clothing overweight women shouldn't consider if for no other reason than common courtesy to ones spouse.  Yes, it's hard to look alluring in flannel or granny panties, but a girl has to do what a girl has to do.  Right?

New Chapter - Fade to Black

Isn't aging difficult enough when your butt drops, your boobs sag, and your skin develops age spots? Should we also have to contend with shedding eyelashes and losing our lip line?  That's right...if you're fifty or over, take a peek in the mirror and tell me you can still see where you lips begin and end.  I feel really sorry now for laughing at little old ladies who drew their lips on and looked like circus clowns.  They couldn't help themselves.  One morning, just like me, they woke up and didn't have a mouth.  To top off their agony, their eyesight had already failed which explains why the color on their top lip started right below their nostrils.  The decrease in vision might also have had something to do with that exaggerated dot of rouge on each cheek, but thanks to the invention of the blush brush, we don't see that very often these days.

My lips were thin to begin with, so now I have none.  I don't bother with lipstick; what's the point?  I considered I could get by with focusing on my once-thick eyelashes, but every touch pulls one more out.  I'm at the point where there is a big gap between each lash, and the more mascara I apply, the more ridiculous I look.  I tend to get more on my eyelids than where I intended and end up looking like I went three rounds with Mike Tyson and lost.  Ladies, take my advice.  Don't overdo the mascara to compensate for other attributes you may be lacking.  If you don't end up with dark circles, you'll look like a caterpillar took up residence on your face.  And if you sleep without removing your "makeup", your lashes become a matted mess.  Do you think this might be where the saying, "less is more" originated?    Oh, I almost forgot to mention...for every lash you lose, a hair grows on your neck or chin, and remember Andy Rooney's eyebrows...Larry Hagman's as the older JR on Dallas...don't let that happen to yours because believe me, the brows do develop a mind of their own.  I used to go to the beauty shop for a cut and curl.   Now, I go there for a shampoo, style, and shave.  Yep, you have to endure new techniques to overcome.

Aging brings one dilemma after another.  What do you do about your  hair? Would a frost job hide the gray or should you change the color entirely.  Maybe you might be the kind who just gives in and accepts natures dusting of snow.  I elected to go lighter to hide those silver strands, but unless you have a hairdresser who knows her colors, you might end up looking like you have more gray.  Guess how I know?  I tried to fix the imperfection by dying my hair darker.  The color of the box looked perfect, but how was I to know that lightening your hair makes it more porous so it absorbs more color?  I looked like Morticia Adams for a few weeks, until shampooing helped the color fade.  I was going for light brown, but never quite made it.  Blondes must have more fun because I sure didn't have any with jet black hair.  Despite trying to regain my youth, nothing has worked.  That's why I've decided to let life take its toll.  There are three things you cannot fight in this world:  The IRS, Gravity and Aging.


Now be nice and hop on over to my friend's blogs and see what they have to share today.  Remember, we love getting comments and we also don't mind if you use the share buttons beneath the blog.  :)

Jamie Hill
Roseanne Dowell
Tricia McGill
Juliet Waldron
Taryn Raye
Kathy Fischer-Brown
Rhobin Lee Courtright
Sydell Voeller

Friday Freebits with Ginger - #frifeebits #blogshare

Hi and welcome to another Friday of my sharing six paragraphs from a WIP.  I'm currently redoing a humorous book and hoping to find a new home for it.  The first offering was a nightmare...totally non professionally edited, and written like the amateur I was at the time.  I know this time, if I'm lucky enough to find someone to give it a go, this story will be much more entertaining and a better read.

So...without further ado, I'll pick up where I left magical day at the amusement park with my sisters.

To say I was thrilled when the day at Magic Mountain ended was an understatement.  I'd bought new jeans for the occasion and felt like I was in a body cast.  Just outside the gates, we waited to board the tram to the parking lot, and like everyone else in the exiting crowd, we had to scurry for a seat.  I was trying to get aboard when my bad knee gave out (old baseball injury from my younger years), and I'm pretty sure it was triggered by the tiptoe ride.

 Anyhow, there I was, dangling from the tram like a Raggedy Ann, grasping the safety pole and begging my youngest sister to help me.  She thought I was joking! funny does someone want to be?  So, I vividly recall splatting on the ground, detaining the tram while hundreds of tired and grumpy people looked on while someone summoned an ambulance...and of course the degradation that followed. Honestly, people who have trekked through an amusement park all day, kept their crying children up past their bedtime and are eager to get home can be so inconsiderate.

 For God's sake, did they really think I wanted to hit the asphalt like a ton of bricks?  I heard them complaining, and I started to wish I had gone on the wooden coaster and met with a less embarrassing end.  As if I didn't feel bad enough, the bulging veins in the necks of the EMTs who lifted me onto a stretcher put the cap on the evening.  Honestly, I wanted my pants off, but not cut to pieces and made into rags.  I had to keep telling them which knee was the swollen one, but I had a feeling they could have cared less. was my plan from the beginning to become a Six-Flag casualty in front of hundreds of people, and then have two handsome men see me in my granny panties while they paid scant attention to me and flirted with my sisters.  You won't find anything to do with amusement parks on my bucket list.

Now for a joke:

An older couple were in bed one night.  The husband was nearly asleep, but was wife was feeling a little frisky and wanted to 'talk.'

"You know," she said, "You used to hold my hand when we were courting."

Wearily, he reach across and grasped her hand for a second, hoping to placate her before dozing off.

A few minutes later, her voice sliced the silence.  "And then, you used to kiss me."

Mildly irritated by this time, he leaned across and gave her a quick peck on the cheek and once again settled down prepared to slumber.

Not even thirty-seconds later, she pulled him from his comfort again.  "And then, you used to nibble on my neck."

He ripped back the covers and got out of bed.

"Where are you going?"  she asked.

"To get my damn teeth." time, I either need to expand this chapter or start a new one based on my old, Living La Vida Loca.  See you next Friday, I hope.

In the meantime, hope on over to my friends and see what they're offering to entertain you:

Jamie Hill
Roseanne Dowell
Tricia McGill
Juliet Waldron
Sydell Voeller
Taryn Raye
Kathy Fischer-Brown
Rhobin Lee Courtright

Thursday, May 29, 2014

10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier, Backed By Science – Con’t - by Belle Beth Cooper

6. Help others – 100 hours a year is the magical number
One of the most counter intuitive pieces of advice I found is that to make yourself feel happier, you should help others. In fact, 100 hours per year (or two hours per week) is the optimal time we should dedicate to helping others in order to enrich our lives.
If we go back to Shawn Achor’s book again, he says this about helping others:
…when researchers interviewed more than 150 people about their recent purchases, they found that money spent on activities—such as concerts and group dinners out—brought far more pleasure than material purchases like shoes, televisions, or expensive watches. Spending money on other people, called “prosocial spending,” also boosts happiness.
The Journal of Happiness Studies published a study that explored this very topic:
Participants recalled a previous purchase made for either themselves or someone else and then reported their happiness. Afterward, participants chose whether to spend a monetary windfall on themselves or someone else. Participants assigned to recall a purchase made for someone else reported feeling significantly happier immediately after this recollection; most importantly, the happier participants felt, the more likely they were to choose to spend a windfall on someone else in the near future.

So spending money on other people makes us happier than buying stuff for ourselves. What about spending our time on other people? A study of volunteering in Germany explored how volunteers were affected when their opportunities to help others were taken away:
Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall but before the German reunion, the first wave of data of the GSOEP was collected in East Germany. Volunteering was still widespread. Due to the shock of the reunion, a large portion of the infrastructure of volunteering (e.g. sports clubs associated with firms) collapsed and people randomly lost their opportunities for volunteering. Based on a comparison of the change in subjective well-being of these people and of people from the control group who had no change in their volunteer status, the hypothesis is supported that volunteering is rewarding in terms of higher life satisfaction.

In his book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, University of Pennsylvania professor Martin Seligman explains that helping others can improve our own lives:
…we scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.

7. Practice smiling – it can alleviate pain
Smiling itself can make us feel better, but it’s more effective when we back it up with positive thoughts, according to this study:

A new study led by a Michigan State University business scholar suggests customer-service workers who fake smile throughout the day worsen their mood and withdraw from work, affecting productivity. But workers who smile as a result of cultivating positive thoughts – such as a tropical vacation or a child’s recital – improve their mood and withdraw less.

Of course it’s important to practice “real smiles” where you use your eye sockets. It’s very easy to spot the difference:

According to PsyBlog, smiling can improve our attention and help us perform better on cognitive tasks:
Smiling makes us feel good which also increases our attentional flexibility and our ability to think holistically. When this idea was tested by Johnson et al. (2010), the results showed that participants who smiled performed better on attentional tasks which required seeing the whole forest rather than just the trees.

A smile is also a good way to alleviate some of the pain we feel in troubling circumstances:
Smiling is one way to reduce the distress caused by an upsetting situation. Psychologists call this the facial feedback hypothesis. Even forcing a smile when we don’t feel like it is enough to lift our mood slightly (this is one example of embodied cognition).

The completion of this article will be June 2nd.  Hope you are enjoying it.  :)  Rita

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Page Straight From Jami Gray - #apagestraightfrom

Shadow’s Moon: Book 3 of The Kyn Kronicles
 Jami Gray

Needing to get an aerial view of the packed room, she found a lone empty chair sitting against the wall. Climbing up, she stood on tiptoe, stretching to see over the sea of bobbing heads. Between bursts of light, a disturbance in the rhythmic mass caught her attention. Two burly bouncers were making their way from the bar to the back of the club. Patrons stumbled out of their way, leaving a visible path. The bouncers pushed through with identical grim expressions. The strobe lights flashed off the taller one’s bald head, while his buzz-cut partner pointed toward something ahead of them.
Following the gesture, Xander found Neil arguing with a pretty, honey-brown-haired young woman. She tapped her earpiece. “Ryuu?”
“How long before you get here?”
“I’m almost there.” There was a pause. “You found him.”
“Oh, yeah. And it’s going to get ugly. Quick.” Xander watched the woman jerk away from the tall, lanky, dishwater blond, shaking her head. “I think I’ve found Sara, too.”
Xander jumped off her chair just as Neil reached out to snag the girl, fury evident in his bared teeth and curled hands.
“We’re out of time,” she told Ryuu, pushing her way through the dense crowd.
“Be careful.” Ryuu’s warning was lost as she hit a broad shouldered form in front of her. The answering bump knocked her hard enough she lost her earpiece. Screw it. Done being polite, she gave him a shove, sending him into the arms of his buddy as she continued toward the impending showdown at the back of the club.
Through the sea of gyrating bodies, she caught glimpses of the confrontation playing out. Sara was verbally ripping Neil a new one, while the club’s security duo drew closer to the arguing couple. Sara’s tirade wasn’t the reaction Neil had expected. Under the strobe lights, his face contorted into something not altogether human.
Dread morphed into grim acceptance as Xander continued to shove her way through the crowd. The distance between her and the impending epic disaster might as well have been miles instead of feet. “Damn it. Damn it,” she muttered.
So much for keeping the existence of monsters on the down-low from humans. Neil was going to shift and she was too far away to stop it. If she didn’t get to him before he tore his way through the surrounding club goers, the good people of Portland were going to have irrefutable proof that the Kyn, all those creatures they had relegated to scary campfire stories, were shockingly, violently real.
The song switched, the music’s driving beat ramping up faster and louder. In response, the crowd surged and she lost sight of her targets. Forcing her way through, she ignored the litany of complaints and shouts. She made it a couple more feet when the first terror-filled scream cut through her withering hope, and the heavy music, like a blade.


Jami Gray grew up on the Arizona-Mexico border, and was adopted at the age of 14 to suddenly become the fifth eldest of 37 children. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and three minors-History, English, and Theater. (Decision-making was not her forte at the time.)  Shortly after marrying her techie-geek hubby (who moonlighted as her best friend in high school) she completed a Masters in Organizational Management from University of Phoenix Oregon.

Now, years later, she’s back in the Southwest where she’s outnumbered in her own home by two Star Wars obsessed boys, one Star Wars obsessed husband, and an overly-friendly, 105-pound male lab.  Delving into the wild paranormal worlds where romance collides with suspense and Urban Fantasy is queen, manages to salvage her sanity. Or so we let her believe...

Blurb for Shadow’s Edge:
Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows—especially the monsters…

It takes a monster to hunt one, and for Raine McCord, forged in the maelstrom of magic and science, she’s the one for the job. In a world where the supernatural live in a shadowy existence with the mundane, a series of disappearances and deaths threatens the secrecy of her kind and indicates someone knows the monsters are alive and kicking.  Partnering up with the sexy and tantalizing Gavin Durand proves to be a challenge as dangerous as the prey she hunts.

When the trail points back to the foundation which warped Raine’s magic as a child, her torturous past raises its ugly head.  Gavin and Raine sift through a maze of lies, murder and betrayal to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.

Blurb for Shadow’s Soul:
Some nightmares are born of love…

Raine McCord has no problem taking down the monsters of the world, it’s one of the reasons she’s so good at her job.  So playing bodyguard to Cheveyo, head Magi of the Northwest, as he consults with the Southwest Kyn should be an easy assignment. Unfortunately, simple task turns into a nightmare when Cheveyo is kidnapped and Raine is left for dead by one of the Kyn’s most feared beings, a Soul Stealer.

The Stealer’s attack leaves lasting wounds, undermining Raine’s confidence as a warrior and damaging her unruly magic. Her ability to heal her mind and spirit hinges on the one man who can touch her soul, Gavin Durand.  Compelled to face the emotions raging between them, they must embrace not only their stormy relationship but their evolving magic to escape the twisted threads of murder and betrayal to find Cheveyo.

As Raine and Gavin come together and begin to unravel the complex web of secrets and hidden vendettas haunting the Southwest Kyn, they discover unsettling new truths that threaten their very existence.

Blurb for Wrapped in Shadows:
The magic of the holidays can be hell…

Celebrations abound during the holidays, but this Christmas an engagement celebration goes horrifically wrong.  What appears to be a simple murder/suicide hides a vicious surprise. The type of gift Raine and Gavin, elite member of the Kyn, didn’t want humans to unwrap, because revealing the monsters in the shadows isn’t the way to spread holiday cheer.

Blurb for Shadow’s Moon:
Even a wild heart can be broken…

A blonde, a brunette and a monster walk into a bar and all hell breaks loose.

It should have been the start of a bad joke, but days from a full moon Xander Cade, Tracker for the Northwest Motoki Pack, finds nothing funny about confronting an enraged Shifter in a crowded Portland nightclub filled with unsuspecting humans. The resulting carnage frays an already thin veil of secrecy shielding the supernatural Kyn community from public scrutiny, and ensures she can’t escape the one man she’s been determined to avoid, her Alpha and mate, Warrick Vidis.  Dominating, protective and compelling, Warrick threatens her individuality like no other.

As the Northwest Alpha wolf, compromise isn’t in Warrick Vidis’s vocabulary, but when his reluctant mate, Xander Cade, refuses to leave off the hunt for a killer, he has no qualms using whoever or whatever necessary to protect her or his pack. A series of unusual deaths involving lone wolves, along with anonymous threats against him and his Pack, begin to jeopardize his normal steely control. Add in Xander’s continual reluctance to fully accept their Soul bond, and the line between intellect and instinct begins to blur, leaving him wondering if one woman’s love and acceptance will be enough to save both man and wolf. 
As the danger escalates, threatening not just their Pack but those closest to them, Warrick and Xander must find a way to trust each other and accept their rare bond or risk losing everything-their pack, their friends and each other.

Blurb for Hunted by the Past:
Sometimes death is the only way to out run the past…

A reluctant psychic who can relive the past, a man well versed in keeping secrets, and a psychopathic killer enter a deadly game where the past determines the future.

Changing the past is an impossibility ex-Marine, Cynthia “Cyn” Arden, understands all too well. Struggling in the aftermath of a botched mission, which cost her two teammates, her military career, and a fledging relationship, she’s brought home by a panicked phone call.  The psychic killer behind her nightmares has escaped military custody to hunt down the remaining teammates, one by one. Next on his murderous list--Cyn. Her only chance at survival is to master the psychic ability she’s spent years denying.

The killer’s game brings her face to face with the one person guaranteed to throw her off kilter—the unsettling and distracting man she left behind, Kayden Shaw.  Once she believed he’d stand by her side, until he chose his job and his secrets over her.  A choice that’s left the scars of the past etched deep on her mind and heart. 

To survive this twisted game, Cyn must risk trusting her heart and accepting who and what she is, or lose not only her life, but the man she loves. 

Available Now:
Shadow’s Edge: Book 1 of the Kyn Kronicles

Shadow’s Soul: Book 2 of the Kyn Kronicles, Paranormal Romance Winner of 2012 Shooting Star 

Wrapped in Shadows (.5) part of Things That Go Bump For The Holidays—A Collection of Short Stories

Shadow’s Moon: Book 3 of the Kyn Kronicles, 2013 Golden Claddagh Finalist

Coming in Summer 2014 from Muse It Up Publishing:
Hunted by the Past: Book 1 of the Psy-IV Teams

And Fall 2014 brings Shadow’s Curse: Book 4 of the Kyn Kronicles. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier, Backed By Science – Con’t - by Belle Beth Cooper

4. Spend time with friends and family – don’t regret it on your deathbed
Staying in touch with friends and family is one of the top five regrets of the dying. If you want more evidence that it’s beneficial for you, I’ve found some research that proves it can make you happier right now.
Social time is highly valuable when it comes to improving our happiness, even for introverts. Several studies have found that time spent with friends and family makes a big difference to how happy we feel, generally.
I love the way Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert explains it:
We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.
George Vaillant is the director of a 72-year study of the lives of 268 men.
In an interview in the March 2008 newsletter to the Grant Study subjects, Vaillant was asked, “What have you learned from the Grant Study men?” Vaillant’s response: “That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”
He shared insights of the study with Joshua Wolf Shenk at The Atlantic on how the men’s social connections made a difference to their overall happiness:
The men’s relationships at age 47, he found, predicted late-life adjustment better than any other variable, except defenses. Good sibling relationships seem especially powerful: 93 percent of the men who were thriving at age 65 had been close to a brother or sister when younger.
In fact, a study published in the Journal of Socio-Economics states than your relationships are worth more than $100,000:
Using the British Household Panel Survey, I find that an increase in the level of social involvements is worth up to an extra £85,000 a year in terms of life satisfaction. Actual changes in income, on the other hand, buy very little happiness.
I think that last line is especially fascinating: Actual changes in income, on the other hand, buy very little happiness. So we could increase our annual income by hundreds of thousands of dollars and still not be as happy as if we increased the strength of our social relationships.
The Terman study, which is covered in The Longevity Project, found that relationships and how we help others were important factors in living long, happy lives:
We figured that if a Terman participant sincerely felt that he or she had friends and relatives to count on when having a hard time then that person would be healthier. Those who felt very loved and cared for, we predicted, would live the longest.
Surprise: our prediction was wrong… Beyond social network size, the clearest benefit of social relationships came from helping others. Those who helped their friends and neighbors, advising and caring for others, tended to live to old age.

5. Go outside – happiness is maximized at 13.9°C
In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor recommends spending time in the fresh air to improve your happiness:
Making time to go outside on a nice day also delivers a huge advantage; one study found that spending 20 minutes outside in good weather not only boosted positive mood, but broadened thinking and improved working memory…
This is pretty good news for those of us who are worried about fitting new habits into our already-busy schedules. Twenty minutes is a short enough time to spend outside that you could fit it into your commute or even your lunch break.
A UK study from the University of Sussex also found that being outdoors made people happier:
Being outdoors, near the sea, on a warm, sunny weekend afternoon is the perfect spot for most. In fact, participants were found to be substantially happier outdoors in all natural environments than they were in urban environments.

The American Meteorological Society published research in 2011 that found current temperature has a bigger effect on our happiness than variables like wind speed and humidity, or even the average temperature over the course of a day. It also found that happiness is maximized at 13.9°C, so keep an eye on the weather forecast before heading outside for your 20 minutes of fresh air.

Monday, May 26, 2014


Memorial Day is more than just a three-day weekend and a chance to get the year's first sunburn. Here's a handy 10-pack of facts to give the holiday some perspective.
1. It started with the Civil War
Memorial Day was a response to the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War, in which some 620,000 soldiers on both sides died. The loss of life and its effect on communities throughout the North and South led to spontaneous commemorations of the dead:
• In 1864, women from Boalsburg, Pa., put flowers on the graves of their dead from the just-fought Battle of Gettysburg. The next year, a group of women decorated the graves of soldiers buried in a Vicksburg, Miss., cemetery.
• In April 1866, women from Columbus, Miss., laid flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers. It was recognized at the time as an act of healing sectional wounds. In the same month, up in Carbondale, Ill., 219 Civil War veterans marched through town in memory of the fallen to Woodlawn Cemetery, where Union hero Maj. Gen. John A. Logan delivered the principal address. The ceremony gave Carbondale its claim to the first organized, community-wide Memorial Day observance.
• Waterloo, N.Y., began holding an annual community service on May 5, 1866. Although many towns claimed the title, it was Waterloo that won congressional recognition as the "birthplace of Memorial Day."
2. General Logan made it official
Gen. Logan, the speaker at the Carbondale gathering, also was commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans. On May 5, 1868, he issued General Orders No. 11, which set aside May 30, 1868, "for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion."
The orders expressed hope that the observance would be "kept up from year to year while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades."
3. It was first known as Decoration Day
From the practice of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths and flags, the holiday was long known as Decoration Day. The name Memorial Day goes back to 1882, but the older name didn't disappear until after World War II. Federal law declared "Memorial Day" the official name in 1967.
4. The holiday is a franchise
Calling Memorial Day a "national holiday" is a bit of a misnomer. While there are 11 10 "federal holidays" created by Congressincluding Memorial Daythey apply only to Federal employees and the District of Columbia. Federal Memorial Day, established in 1888, allowed Civil War veterans, many of whom were drawing a government paycheck, to honor their fallen comrades without being docked a day's pay.
For the rest of us, our holidays were enacted state by state. New York was the first state to designate Memorial Day a legal holiday, in 1873. Most Northern states had followed suit by the 1890s. The states of the former Confederacy were unenthusiastic about a holiday memorializing those who, in Gen. Logan's words, "united to suppress the late rebellion." The South didn't adopt the May 30 Memorial Day until after World War I, by which time its purpose had been broadened to include those who died in all the country's wars.
In 1971, the Monday Holiday Law shifted Memorial Day from May 30 to the last Monday of the month.
5. It was James Garfield's finest hour—or maybe hour-and-a-half
On May 30, 1868, President Ulysses S. Grant presided over the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery—which, until 1864, was Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's plantation.
Some 5,000 people attended on a spring day which, The New York Times reported, was "somewhat too warm for comfort." The principal speaker was James A. Garfield, a Civil War general, Republican congressman from Ohio and future president.
"I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion," Garfield began, and then continued to utter them. "If silence is ever golden, it must be beside the graves of fifteen-thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem the music of which can never be sung." It went on like that for pages and pages.
As the songs, speeches and sermons ended, the participants helped to decorate the graves of the Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.
6. God knows, not even the Unknown Soldier can avoid media scrutiny these days
"Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God." That is the inscription on the Tomb of the Unknowns, established at Arlington National Cemetery to inter the remains of the first Unknown Soldier, a World War I fighter, on Nov. 11, 1921. Unknown soldiers from World War II and the Korean War subsequently were interred in the tomb on Memorial Day 1958.
An emotional President Ronald Reagan presided over the interment of six bones, the remains of an unidentified Vietnam War soldier, on Nov. 28, 1984. Fourteen years later, those remains were disinterred, no longer unknown. Spurred by an investigation by CBS News, the defense department removed the remains from the Tomb of the Unknowns for DNA testing.
The once-unknown fighter was Air Force pilot Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, whose jet crashed in South Vietnam in 1972. "The CBS investigation suggested that the military review board that had changed the designation on Lt. Blassie's remains to 'unknown' did so under pressure from veterans' groups to honor a casualty from the Vietnam War," The New York Times reported in 1998.
Lt. Blassie was reburied near his hometown of St. Louis. His crypt at Arlington remains permanently empty. [Image courtesy of]
7. Vietnam vets go whole hog
On Memorial Day weekend in 1988, 2,500 motorcyclists rode into Washington, D.C., for the first Rolling Thunder rally to draw attention to Vietnam War soldiers still missing in action or prisoners of war. By 2002, the numbers had swelled to 300,000 bikers, many of them veterans. There may have been a half-million participants in 2005 in what organizers bluntly call "a demonstration—not a parade."
A national veterans rights group, Rolling Thunder takes its name from the B-52 carpet-bombing runs during the war in Vietnam.
8. Memorial Day has its customs
General Orders No. 11 stated that "in this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed," but over time several customs and symbols became associated with the holiday.
It is customary on Memorial Day to fly the flag at half staff until noon, and then raise it to the top of the staff until sunset.
Taps, the 24-note bugle call, is played at all military funerals and memorial services. It originated in 1862 when Union Gen. Dan Butterfield "grew tired of the 'lights out' call sounded at the end of each day," according to The Washington Post. Together with the brigade bugler, Butterfield made some changes to the tune.
Not long after, the melody was used at a burial for the first time, when a battery commander ordered it played in lieu of the customary three rifle volleys over the grave. The battery was so close to enemy lines, the commander was worried the shots would spark renewed fighting.
The World War I poem "In Flanders Fields," by John McCrea, inspired the Memorial Day custom of wearing red artificial poppies. In 1915, a Georgia teacher and volunteer war worker named Moina Michael began a campaign to make the poppy a symbol of tribute to veterans and for "keeping the faith with all who died." The sale of poppies has supported the work of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
9. There is still a gray Memorial Day
Several Southern states continue to set aside a day for honoring the Confederate dead, which is usually called Confederate Memorial Day: Alabama: fourth Monday in April; Georgia: April 26; Louisiana: June 3; Mississippi: last Monday in April; North Carolina: May 10; South Carolina: May 10; Tennessee (Confederate Decoration Day): June 3; Texas (Confederate Heroes Day): January 19; Virginia: last Monday in May.
10. Each Memorial Day is a little different
No question that Memorial Day is a solemn event. Still, don't feel too guilty about doing something frivolous, like having barbecue, over the weekend. After all, you weren't the one who instituted the Indianapolis 500 on May 30, 1911. That credit goes to Indianapolis businessman Carl Fisher. The winning driver that day was Ray Harroun, who averaged 74.6 mph and completed the race in 6 hours and 42 minutes.
Gravitas returned on May 30, 1922, when the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated. Supreme Court chief justice (and former president) William Howard Taft dedicated the monument before a crowd of 50,000 people, segregated by race, and which included a row of Union and Confederate veterans. Also attending was Lincoln's surviving son, Robert Todd Lincoln.
And in 2000, Congress established a National Moment of Remembrance, which asks Americans to pause for one minute at 3pm in an act of national unity. The time was chosen because 3pm "is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday."

David Holzel is a freelance writer. He edits The Jewish Angle.

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