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First Inaugural Address of Ronald Reagan

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ronald Reagan's 1981 Thanksgiving Proclamation



Date: November 12, 1981
By: Ronald Reagan

America has much for which to be thankful. The unequaled freedom enjoyed by our citizens has provided a harvest of plenty to this nation throughout its history. In keeping with America's heritage, one day each year is set aside for giving thanks to god for all of His blessings. On this day of thanksgiving, it is appropriate that we recall the first thanksgiving, celebrated in the autumn of 1621. After surviving a bitter winter, the Pilgrims planted and harvested a bountiful crop. After the harvest they gathered their families together and joined in celebration and prayer with the Native Americans who had taught them so much. Clearly our forefathers were thankful not only for the material well being of their harvest but for this abundance of goodwill as well.

In this spirit, Thanksgiving has become a day when Americans extend a helping hand to the less fortunate. Long before there was a government welfare program, this spirit of voluntary giving was ingrained in the American character. Americans have always understood that, truly, one must give in order to receive. This should be a day of giving as well as a day of thanks. As we celebrate Thanksgiving in 1981, we should reflect on the full meaning of this day as we enjoy the fellowship that is so much a part of the holiday festivities. Searching our hearts, we should ask what we can do sass individuals to demonstrate our gratitude to God for all He has done. Such reflection can only add to the significance of this precious day of remembrance.



Let us recommit ourselves to that devotion to God and family that has played such an important role in making this a great Nation, and which will be needed as a source of strength if we are to remain a great people. Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 26, 1981, as Thanksgiving Day. In witness where of, I have here unto set my hand this twelfth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixth. 




Review: Our Presidents ROCK!

"If you don't know where you've been, how can you know where you're going? Our Presidents ROCK!, by Juliette Turner, offers an important contribution to the understanding of our past by making the fascinating history of the American Presidency accessible and enjoyable for young readers." -- Donald Rumsfeld, former U.S. Secretary of Defense

The above quote from Donald Rumsfeld is included on the front cover of Juliette Turner's newest book, Our Presidents ROCK!. Mr. Rumsfeld is correct, both in his assertion of the importance of knowing history, and in his opinion that Ms. Turner's book makes the history of  the American Presidency "accessible and enjoyable for young readers." I would only expand on his comment by pointing out that her book, though aimed at young people, is also suitable, interesting, and enjoyable reading for adults, too! After all, I am a 47-year-old with a college degree in History, and I loved the book, and even learned from it.

Although aimed at a younger audience, the material presented is in no way "watered-down," and it's not just a trivia book filled with random facts. Its 316 pages are information-packed, and cover every President from Washington to Obama. It is the layout and graphics of the book that are designed to appeal to young adults.

Each President receives about six to eight pages of coverage. which is presented into quick, easy-to-understand sections:

The Bottom Line: a two-sentence coverage of the president's accomplishments during his time in office.

What Were They Thinking?: a quick explanation of the viewpoints of every president, from his views on debt and foreign relations to his views on social issues and war.

Why Should I Care?: tells you why it is important to learn about and understand the policies of that president in particular.

Breakin' It Down: An overview of each president's life, before and during his presidency.

Presidency: Information about his actual time in office - from policies to landmark accomplishments to important events affecting his presidency.

Quick Facts: lots of interesting tidbits, including election results, quotes from speeches, the president's thoughts regarding the Constitution, fast stats on each president, and details on each president's personality, among other information. I especially like the Presidential Times, a one or two page section for each president made to look like a newspaper covering events during his presidency.

What I really like about Juliette Turner's book is that she makes history come alive by showing why it is important for us to understand. She isn't just presenting facts about some seemingly unimportant, irrelevant past, but instead shows how the history of the American Presidency is important and relevant to us today.

Juliette Turner (on Twitter: @JulietteTurner) is a sixteen year-old historian, and the National Youth Director for Constituting America. She previously wrote the book, Our Constitution ROCKS!

I highly recommend both of her books as gifts for any teens on your Christmas or Hanukkah list. And if you are looking for an interesting and useful book on American history, pick up a copy for yourself. You won't be disappointed, and you will learn a lot.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Piano Guys!

We all need a little fun and entertainment in our lives. Too bad that so much of what passes for entertainment these days is vulgar, often bordering on the obscene. Rather than striving for excellence (which is too much like hard work, after all), many of today's performers utilize shock value to get noticed and play to the baser instincts of modern society. Fortunately, this is not the case with the fantastic group of talented musicians known as The Piano Guys.

Steven Sharp Nelson (Cello) and Jon Schmidt (Piano) 

The Piano Guys is a musical group consisting of Jon Schmidt, Steven Sharp Nelson, Paul Anderson, and Al van der Beek. The group features piano and cello music in a style that is difficult to describe. It is a very creative, inventive style that mixes classical, pop, and folk music, with maybe a little hip-hop thrown in on occasion. Like I said, it is difficult to describe their style. Their music and videos often are inspired by pop-culture, such as their Star Wars parody Cello Wars, and their Mission Impossible collaboration with Lindsey Stirling.

Not only is their music excellent, but their videos are really creative, very well-done, and extremely fun to watch. Check out their YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/ThePianoGuys to enjoy their videos.


They currently have four albums out:

The Piano Guys (2012)

The Piano Guys 2 (2013)

A Family Christmas (2013)

Wonders (2014)


Best of all, their performances are not only fun, but wholesome entertainment that can be enjoyed by all ages. Their CDs make great gifts for all ages, and for the entire family.

The YouTube video for their heart-warming rendition of The Charlie Brown Melody is below. You can follow The Piano Guys on Twitter at https://twitter.com/PianoGuys. Their website is http://thepianoguys.com/.

Charlie Brown Medley - ThePianoGuys 



Saturday, November 22, 2014

Advice for Non-Preppers

Preppers and survivalists are often unfairly portrayed as backwards, paranoid, right-wing nut-jobs, gun-nuts, conspiracy-nuts, or just plain-nuts. This makes "regular" folks reluctant to hear the prepper message of self-reliance and commonsense preparations for any future difficulties. So, how do we get around that unflattering image, so that we can reach our family, friends, and neighbors?

The following is advice that I give specifically to my non-prepper friends and acquaintances. There is no prepper jargon (no BOB, SHTF, TEOTWAWKI, etc.), no extreme head-for-the-hills advice, no conspiracy theories, no end-of-the-world doom-and-gloom, or any of the other stuff that might turn off "regular" folks to the idea of prepping.

1) Get you finances in order.

This means reducing your expenses, and living within your means (a budget or spending plan is an excellent tool for achieving this goal). Setting aside an ample emergency fund is also very important. Also: Pay off your credit cards and consumer loan debt. Avoid new debt. Refinance your home into a fixed mortgage. Pay it off if you can. Keep some extra cash in a safe place at home in case the ATMs are down. Spend a lot less money than you make, even if it means cutting back on your lifestyle. Make sure you have adequate insurance. There is a lot of good information on how to get your finances in order throughout the archives of this blog. Especially check out my three-part essay Get Back To Basics.

2) Make health a top priority.

Being sick doesn't just feel bad, it is expensive! A top priority for you and your family should be improving and maintaining your good health. Stop smoking and abusing drugs or alcohol. Get adequate sleep on a consistent basis. Eat healthy (check out the Mayo Clinic article on the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet). Eat less sugar (a lot less). Be physically active every day (walking, hiking, gardening, yard-work, biking, swimming, tennis, yoga, and exercise videos are just a few ideas). Visit your doctor and dentist for regular check-ups.


3) Take care of your mental health and attitude.

Surviving difficult times requires having "your head screwed on straight" and being able to think clearly. You can't do that if your frozen from fear, having a panic attack, or going through some sort of addiction withdrawal. Take care of your mental issues now, before a crisis occurs. Read my article on developing good mental health/attitude for more tips and information.

I also think getting right with God is a very important part of this step. I encourage everyone to pray, read the Bible, and attend the church or synagogue of your choice. Not sure about God? Talk to a local minister or priest. Or read check out The Roman Road. Or check out Journey to Orthodoxy. Or check out Peace with God.

4) Take basic precautions.

There are a lot of basic, commonsense precautions everybody should make: Have a good first aid kit at home (and one in the car). Take a first aid & CPR course. Have smoke & CO2 detectors in your home (check the batteries). Have (and learn to use) a fire extinguisher. Do a home safety inspection (if you know a boy or girl scout, they have to learn to do these for various merit badges).

Make sure you have at least a week's worth of groceries, water, and other supplies on hand. Two weeks' worth is even better. You never know when a snow storm, hurricane or other event may make it impossible to go shopping for a few days.

Have a good flashlight and battery-powered radio at home, along with extra batteries.

Keep your cell phone fully charged at all times.

In your car, have a first aid kit, flashlight, and jumper cables. Make sure your spare is in good condition, and that all drivers in your family know how to change a tire. Keep your gas tank full. Keep up with basic maintenance, such as oil changes, brake jobs, tires in good shapes, headlights and taillights working. In winter, keep a blanket or extra jacket and gloves in your vehicle, just in case.

5) Consider your security.

The first and most important tool for personal security is awareness. Awareness of your surroundings and the potential risks of your situation is essential. An excellent discussion of situational awareness can be found in the Stratfor report, Threats, Situational Awareness and Perspective, which can be read online for free by clicking the link. Also read their report Personal Contingency Plans.

Also consider the physical security of your home. How easy would it be for someone to break in? Harden your home by replacing weak external doors with heavy-duty security doors. Consider a home security system. Consider a gun (and if you do, PLEASE take the time and effort to learn gun safety, how to shoot your guns, and how to maintain your guns).

Guard against identity theft (an extremely fast-growing crime). Read my article on passwords for some ideas. Protect your personal and financial records. Don't give away too much information on Facebook and social media. Burn or shred important papers instead of just throwing them out.

Talk over with your family ideas about staying safe when away from home, including shopping in groups, parking in well-light, highly-visible locations, avoiding dangerous areas of town, letting people know where you are going and when to expect you back, and paying attention to your surroundings.

6) Build Self-Reliance.

This means learning how to do things for yourself - car and home repairs, sewing, gardening, home canning, and so-forth... Develop your DIY skills. Accumulate a good tool kit. But, mostly, it means to develop an attitude of taking care of yourself and your family, instead of waiting around for others or the government to take care of you.

Remember New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina? Remember all those people standing around in knee-deep water waiting for the government or someone else to help them? That is called "learned helplessness." Don't be like them.

Monday, November 17, 2014

First Inaugural Address of Ronald Reagan

President Ronald Reagan
TUESDAY, JANUARY 20, 1981

Senator Hatfield, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. President, Vice President Bush, Vice President Mondale, Senator Baker, Speaker O'Neill, Reverend Moomaw, and my fellow citizens: To a few of us here today, this is a solemn and most momentous occasion; and yet, in the history of our Nation, it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place as it has for almost two centuries and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every-four-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.

Mr. President, I want our fellow citizens to know how much you did to carry on this tradition. By your gracious cooperation in the transition process, you have shown a watching world that we are a united people pledged to maintaining a political system which guarantees individual liberty to a greater degree than any other, and I thank you and your people for all your help in maintaining the continuity which is the bulwark of our Republic.

The business of our nation goes forward. These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed- income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people.

Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, causing human misery and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity.

But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades, we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children's future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals.

You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively, as a nation, we are not bound by that same limitation?

We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no misunderstanding--we are going to begin to act, beginning today.

The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we, as Americans, have the capacity now, as we have had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.

From time to time, we have been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.

We hear much of special interest groups. Our concern must be for a special interest group that has been too long neglected. It knows no sectional boundaries or ethnic and racial divisions, and it crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and our factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we are sick--professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks, cabbies, and truckdrivers. They are, in short, "We the people," this breed called Americans.

Well, this administration's objective will be a healthy, vigorous, growing economy that provides equal opportunity for all Americans, with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination. Putting America back to work means putting all Americans back to work. Ending inflation means freeing all Americans from the terror of runaway living costs. All must share in the productive work of this "new beginning" and all must share in the bounty of a revived economy. With the idealism and fair play which are the core of our system and our strength, we can have a strong and prosperous America at peace with itself and the world.

So, as we begin, let us take inventory. We are a nation that has a government--not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our Government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.

It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the Federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the Federal Government and those reserved to the States or to the people. All of us need to be reminded that the Federal Government did not create the States; the States created the Federal Government.

Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it is not my intention to do away with government. It is, rather, to make it work-work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.

If we look to the answer as to why, for so many years, we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on Earth, it was because here, in this land, we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on Earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay that price.

It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government. It is time for us to realize that we are too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We are not, as some would have us believe, loomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a fate that will all on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing. So, with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew; our faith and our hope.

We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we are in a time when there are no heroes just don't know where to look. You can see heroes every day going in and out of factory gates. Others, a handful in number, produce enough food to feed all of us and then the world beyond. You meet heroes across a counter--and they are on both sides of that counter. There are entrepreneurs with faith in themselves and faith in an idea who create new jobs, new wealth and opportunity. They are individuals and families whose taxes support the Government and whose voluntary gifts support church, charity, culture, art, and education. Their patriotism is quiet but deep. Their values sustain our national life.

I have used the words "they" and "their" in speaking of these heroes. I could say "you" and "your" because I am addressing the heroes of whom I speak--you, the citizens of this blessed land. Your dreams, your hopes, your goals are going to be the dreams, the hopes, and the goals of this administration, so help me God.

We shall reflect the compassion that is so much a part of your makeup. How can we love our country and not love our countrymen, and loving them, reach out a hand when they fall, heal them when they are sick, and provide opportunities to make them self- sufficient so they will be equal in fact and not just in theory?

Can we solve the problems confronting us? Well, the answer is an unequivocal and emphatic "yes." To paraphrase Winston Churchill, I did not take the oath I have just taken with the intention of presiding over the dissolution of the world's strongest economy.

In the days ahead I will propose removing the roadblocks that have slowed our economy and reduced productivity. Steps will be taken aimed at restoring the balance between the various levels of government. Progress may be slow--measured in inches and feet, not miles--but we will progress. Is it time to reawaken this industrial giant, to get government back within its means, and to lighten our punitive tax burden. And these will be our first priorities, and on these principles, there will be no compromise.

On the eve of our struggle for independence a man who might have been one of the greatest among the Founding Fathers, Dr. Joseph Warren, President of the Massachusetts Congress, said to his fellow Americans, "Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of.... On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important questions upon which rests the happiness and the liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves."

Well, I believe we, the Americans of today, are ready to act worthy of ourselves, ready to do what must be done to ensure happiness and liberty for ourselves, our children and our children's children.

And as we renew ourselves here in our own land, we will be seen as having greater strength throughout the world. We will again be the exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not now have freedom.

To those neighbors and allies who share our freedom, we will strengthen our historic ties and assure them of our support and firm commitment. We will match loyalty with loyalty. We will strive for mutually beneficial relations. We will not use our friendship to impose on their sovereignty, for or own sovereignty is not for sale.

As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it; we will not surrender for it--now or ever.

Our forbearance should never be misunderstood. Our reluctance for conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will. When action is required to preserve our national security, we will act. We will maintain sufficient strength to prevail if need be, knowing that if we do so we have the best chance of never having to use that strength.

Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do have. Let that be understood by those who practice terrorism and prey upon their neighbors.

I am told that tens of thousands of prayer meetings are being held on this day, and for that I am deeply grateful. We are a nation under God, and I believe God intended for us to be free. It would be fitting and good, I think, if on each Inauguration Day in future years it should be declared a day of prayer.

This is the first time in history that this ceremony has been held, as you have been told, on this West Front of the Capitol. Standing here, one faces a magnificent vista, opening up on this city's special beauty and history. At the end of this open mall are those shrines to the giants on whose shoulders we stand.

Directly in front of me, the monument to a monumental man: George Washington, Father of our country. A man of humility who came to greatness reluctantly. He led America out of revolutionary victory into infant nationhood. Off to one side, the stately memorial to Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence flames with his eloquence.

And then beyond the Reflecting Pool the dignified columns of the Lincoln Memorial. Whoever would understand in his heart the meaning of America will find it in the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Beyond those monuments to heroism is the Potomac River, and on the far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery with its row on row of simple white markers bearing crosses or Stars of David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom.

Each one of those markers is a monument to the kinds of hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, The Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam.

Under one such marker lies a young man--Martin Treptow--who left his job in a small town barber shop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire.

We are told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading, "My Pledge," he had written these words: "America must win this war. Therefore, I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone."

The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together, with God's help, we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.

And, after all, why shouldn't we believe that? We are Americans. God bless you, and thank you.

RONALD REAGAN

As televised live on C-SPAN: