The #WomensMarch

An idea started by just a handful of women after the election of Donald Trump turned into something far greater than anyone could have imagined.

Citizens across the country marched yesterday in defiance of Donald Trump. It was an unprecedented moment in American history. One I’m glad I was here to see. There’s never been this level of opposition to an incoming President in history.

One of my favorite moments of the day came when Senator Kamala Harris made it very clear that women’s issues are the same issues we discuss and debate all the time. The most incredible thing I saw yesterday was in LA. Organizers there expected 80k people to take part in their march. 750k people showed up!

Some try to deligitimize the concerns of women, but yesterday showed me what can happen when people don’t just talk about coming together but actually do it. I’m immensely proud to be American, yesterday was no exception.

I chose not to pick and choose which images of marches around the world to show you because my guess is you’ve seen them. A simple search on Twitter or Google will show you all you need to see.

I’ll get back to talking about books tomorrow. I could not pass up the opportunity to discuss the events of yesterday.

A Reading Day

Today is January 20. Inauguration Day. I’ve watched the Swearing in Ceremony because I recognize that so many people around the world don’t know what this feels like. They don’t know what it’s like to elect their leaders or to witness a peaceful transfer of power between individuals.

But I won’t spend the day glued to the TV watching all of the festivities. I think my time would be better spent reading. So that’s what I’ll do.

Starting in 2020 I plan on visiting DC during every Inauguration for the rest of my life. My hope is to witness a Latino sworn in as President. That may or may not happen, but I’m confident this country will always continue moving forward. Even if it may not always appear so. 🇺🇸

Saturday Selects #17: Independence Day

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write on the first Saturday of each month to discuss something outside the general bookish theme of the blog. Today’s topic is out nation’s birthday. Well, my nation anyway.

Today is July 4, which of course is the independence day of the United States. Besides all the fireworks displays that happen all around the country, I really feel like this day is taken for granted by Americans more than just about any other.

Imagine a world in which war had begun. And leaders from the colonies have to sneak away to draft the Declaration of Independence, knowing that if the war is ultimately lost they will all be convicted of treason. The revolution ended in 1783 and the Declaration was adopted in 1776. So you see there was no way of knowing the colonies would ultimately come out victorious.

So I ask that you put yourself in the shoes of a colonist during the revolution. What would you do if war broke out in the only place you’d ever called home? Would you pledge allegiance to a country you’d never even visited? Or would you fight for your freedom? I can’t answer that question as it’s written. Because I don’t know. But I can tell you that if war broke out on US soil today, I’d enlist. And it wouldn’t be a tough decision. Not because I’d want to be some hero or patriot or bloodthirsty soldier, but because this is my country. This is home.

Which probably leads you to wonder at how come I don’t enlist in the military now. Especially since y’all know a little about my job hunt. Well, I don’t have an answer to that. But I respect every person serving in our military more than I can say. Those men and women are more brave and courageous than I’ll ever be.

But let me get back on topic here. What I want to say is that it took years of sacrifice from men and women during the years of the revolution to help get us to this point of fireworks, music, food, and fun every fourth of July. All I ask is that you not forget what this day really means in the history of this great country of ours.

Buying Books Without Money

Just yesterday multiple commenters said that they’d read or understand why people read in bookstores because not everyone can afford to buy new books. Well today I discovered that there’s actually a way for people to buy books without any money.

1010 Ways to Buy Without Money is a project that started in 2011 in Spain that has now spread to most regions of the world. The basic premise is that stalls at the events will be ‘selling’ books for a variety of prices set by organizers or by the donors of the books. And none of the prices I’ve read about are outrageous or embarrassing.

For example, one might be asked to eat all your food in exchange for a children’s book. Or someone might be asked to leave positive messages inside books. Or to donate your time to a charity. See, the thing is that the system essentially operates on a promise. The buyer can’t do everything right then and there at the stall, but they know the price of the book and are asked to send photos at a later date of them fulfilling their promise. And there are so many different ‘prices’ for books at these events that it makes buying a new book all the more exciting. Organizing a picnic for at least five kids. Taking snacks to work for your colleagues. Putting flowers on your balcony. Spending a day on your own. All of these things have been the price to buy a new book without spending any money at all. And I think everything about this is great.

The only downside I’ve found when reading about these events (that are about to start happening in the coming weeks) is that they haven’t caught on as much in the United States. There are smaller events held, but I’d like to see something in Houston or New York City or LA on a grand scale that is unmatched by any other place in the world. And maybe that will happen at some point, but for now I’ll just stick to reading about these great events from afar.

What do you think? Like the idea of buying books without having to spend any money?

You can visit the initiative’s website here to see more ways people are asked to buy books without money.


 

On this day in 2014 I published The Lack of Diversity in my Reading.

What’s Veterans Day Mean to you?

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I wasn’t planning on writing this today. Partly because it has nothing to do with books and also because I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to say. But I don’t think there is a wrong answer to my question. Also, I think Veterans Day is known as Remembrance Day in other parts of the world? I think. Just so you know what I’m talking about. And I think it’s celebrated on November 11 in most places to coincide with the end of World War I.

Let me see if I can answer this without thinking too much about it and giving some calculated response. To me, Veterans Day reminds me that during the 365 days a year I spend going through my day-to-day routine, whatever it may be, there are American soldiers deployed somewhere else in the world. Some are in combat zones and others aren’t, but so many are away from their families and friends. And that these soldiers are tasked with a job that I could never do. They are protecting the freedom and interests of the United States. And every one of us should be grateful for every one of them. That’s what Veterans Day means to me.

See, I don’t have any close friends or family members currently in the military. I think one of my grandpas served during World War II? But I’m not sure. All I know is that military personnel were present at his funeral and someone was presented with an American flag. But that doesn’t diminish the meaning of this day to me. My university was extremely military friendly and I had classes with veterans every single semester. I never asked about their service and I didn’t become close friends with any of them. But those classes taught me something I hadn’t realized before then, they’re just regular people like you and me. I guess I used to have this thought that anyone in the Army or in the Marines had to have a certain look about them that gave off some aura that told you not to mess with them, but no. It put a face to our military. At least it did for me.

There are always going to be some really bad things going on in the world, and the United States military will always be there. At the ready. For whatever arises. To serve the country and protect all of us. They don’t care who we voted for or if we’re White or Black or rich or poor, we’re Americans and that’s all that matters.

So if you’re reading this and you’re a United States veteran, I thank you for your service and also for your sacrifice. I know you won’t agree, but you ARE a hero. And I’m not the only one who believes so.

ESPN did a great video a little while back on veterans returning home. It’s got a sports theme to it, but these are real families and it shows how the entire families of these men and women are affected by their service. Just look at their reactions. Here’s the video. I’ve watched it maybe a dozen times and I cry every single time.

If you know any veterans, then thank them. Today and every day that you can. And don’t forget about the countless others who never made it home.

I wrote this poem a couple days ago for today.

What’s Veterans Day mean to you?

Show Some Respect

I’d intended to save whatever poems I decided to write for the weekends, but now I’m changing my mind. Sue me.

Did you know that it was Election Day on Tuesday? Maybe you knew, but I bet you didn’t vote. Cause something like 40 percent of eligible voters vote in midterm elections. That’s fine. If you don’t want to have have some small say in who represents you at the federal level, but more importantly at the state and local levels, then be my guest. But this isn’t a political post. Or even one that outlines why you should always vote. Nope. This is about respect.

I don’t care if you identify as a Republican or Democrat or Independent. I don’t. Because your political and social views mean absolutely nothing to me. And I’m near certain that mine mean the same to you, whether you’ll say it out loud or not. But something happened this week that I’d hope most Americans would be disgusted by. It was something with President Obama. No, I’m not going to go on a rant about what he’s had to endure during his time in the White House. This is just one event I’m going to talk about.

Did you watch it? Even though the title of the clip says all you need to know. I hope you recognize that this is not okay. I fully recognize that a lot of people disagree with President Obama on many issues. And I also recognize that there are plenty of racists out there. Hopefully you don’t deny this fact. Anyway, I have a story for you. I was too young to have an educated opinion when George W. Bush was first elected in 2000. But I was able to form my own opinions on things for the first time during his presidency. My opinion of President Bush as a person or of his policies is irrelevant. Why?Because I would never have exhibited such disrespect for the man who was the President of the United States.

I’m not saying that you need to treat President Obama as if he’s some greater being than you or I, but I will say that he is the President of the UNITED STATES. Your president. If you didn’t vote for him, fine. If you disagree with his position on every issue, fine. If you’re counting down the days until he’s out of office, fine. The thing is that you personally know people who you also disagree with on just about every issue, but you still manage to work with each other or coach Little League without any disrespect exchanged between the two of you. Why should you treat the president any differently?

Vote. Call your representative. Protest. Volunteer for a campaign. Do pretty much whatever you want, but I’d hope you  agree that this caller was in the wrong.

Showing some respect toward the president is no different from doing so with your neighbor. He’s a person just like you trying to do an incredibly difficult job.

Something More Important than Books

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Today is the 70th anniversary of something, do you know what it is? I hope so, if not, well whatever.

Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Please tell me you at least know the very basic premise of what happened now that I’ve said that. It was the start of the Allied invasion of France via the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 during World War II. I believe it is still to this day the largest amphibious invasion in history.

You’re probably wondering why I decided to post about this and not something about books today. I’m doing so because there are some events that we need not forget. Who doesn’t know about Lexington and Concord? Or Independence Day. Or Gettysburg. Or President Lincoln’s assassination. Or Pearl Harbor. Or September 11. As far as American history is concerned, the events that took place on the dates I’ve mentioned are as unforgettable as it gets. And there are others, but the point is that no one really considers D-Day to be one of these dates that should never go unknown to any generation.

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t know what happened that day or maybe you’ve never even heard the date, then I ask that you do one thing that will give you just a little perspective. Take a look at this map of Nazi Germany. Just about the whole of Continental Europe is under their control.

WWII War Map

Imagine that. A single foreign power having the ability to take over an entire continent, and Europe at that. The thing that people may not realize is that had just a couple of events gone differently during the course of the war, if Churchill had surrendered rather than watch London destroyed day after day, or Hitler had sent his men into Moscow to take over the capital rather than into Stalingrad in an apparent ego trip, then who knows what might have come next. If you know a little about the war like I do, then you know Churchill never surrendered even with London in ruins and the Red Army was able to stop Germany’s advance once the cold Russian winter hit. Had these two events played out differently and Hitler faced no more resistance in Europe, then an invasion of America would be inevitable. You’re probably thinking Pearl Harbor happened. That wasn’t an invasion. That was an attack with a very specific purpose, destroy the Pacific fleet.

But this post isn’t meant to be a history lesson because I know some of you will already know all of this. The invasion of France on D-day only happened because the Allies decided that Stalin had to become their ally if the war was to be won. According to what I’ve read, he agreed to help the Allies with Japan while the Allies agreed to help him with Germany, thus the invasion of German occupied France. This was the turning point of all turning points in any war. The invasion would not be called off and massive casualties were expected, but it was either this or let Hitler run wild and do whatever he wanted.

Very long story short, the invasion was successful and the Allies made their way across Europe over the course of the next ten months, ultimately ending the war with Germany. And of course the war with Japan a few months later by dropping the first and only nuclear bombs in history.

Now you might be wondering why I believe you all should know about this. Because it’s an historic event in the course of all human history, not just for Germany or France or the UK or the United States, but for everyone. The world would no doubt be a different place had the invasion been unsuccessful. It would have been a debilitating loss for the Allies that may not have allowed for another attempt to enter continental Europe for years into the future.

One last point that I want to make for you guys. Have you ever taken a look at the list of federal holidays? If not, you can do so here. You’ll find that there are only two holidays that are religious, right? Christmas and Thanksgiving. These should not be included on the list and should be on the list of other religious holidays that are recognized by the government, but not necessarily federal holidays. Why? Because what about the whole separation of church and State? But I guess it doesn’t apply to major Christian holidays. Anyway, these should be taken off the list and three should be added. June 6, September 11, and December 7. D-Day, the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and the day a foreign power attacked America. Every one of these dates represents a moment in our nation’s history that should not be forgotten.

I’ve read that the most accurate depiction of what took place on the beaches of Normandy may be the opening sequence from the movie Saving Private Ryan. Skip to the 5:00 mark and it’ll put you at the start of the fighting. I warn you, it’s graphic.

Photo Credits: Do You Know About

Wikipedia