Memorial Day 2014

More than 1,280,000 Americans have died in war since the American Revolutionary War. Memorial Day is a time to remember not only these soldiers, sailors, pilots, and marines, but also ALL American military personnel who have died while in service of their country.

Let’s start by clearly defining what Memorial Day is. I’ve heard many versions of what it is… I’ve even heard it confused with Veteran’s Day. Memorial Day is an American holiday used to remember the men and women who died while serving, while Veteran’s Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, living or dead. Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday during the month of May. Originating after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers (both sides!) who died during the Civil War, it was originally called Decoration Day. Traditionally folks put flowers and other decorations on soldiers’ graves. This was the start of Decoration Day.

Over time, the name changed from Decoration to Memorial. Then in 1967 it was officially changed to Memorial Day and also extended to recognize and honor all military men and women who died while serving (instead of just the Civil War). The holiday was celebrated on May 30th, but in 1968 Congress passed the “Uniform Monday Holiday Act,” and Memorial Day was one of the holidays moved from its traditional date to a specified Monday. This was done to make convenient three-day weekends.

Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. That said, the absolute definition seems to include anyone who dies during military service.

Because Memorial Day is the beginning of Summer, and most of the flag related holidays come after it, my family replaces our flag on the night before Memorial Day. Each year, we pull down and properly retire/dispose of our old flag and replace it with a brand new one. This way we will have a pretty flag for Memorial Day, Flag Day, Fourth of July, and Veteran’s Day…

Proper care of a U.S. flag is of utmost importance. For those of you who fly a flag, maybe you already know this part… Some of you may not be aware that there is actually a formal way to properly retire and dispose of an old and worn flag. I will discuss what the Ripley family does for this procedure. There are several options, including bringing your old flag to a local Boy Scout Troop, American Legion, or VFW office. However, we choose to burn the flag in our back yard. Any of these ways are valid. The one thing you MUST NEVER do is simply throw an old flag in the garbage!

We start by buying a high quality flag which will last for a year before it really starts to show signs of being worn and ready for disposal. On the evening before Memorial Day we dispose of last year’s flag. I picked this date, because it’s a great time to explain the importance of the flag to the children, and we can do so while going through our family ceremony.

Here’s our personal retirement ceremony in a nutshell:

1. While the flag is still hanging, call the group to attention, salute, place your hand over your heart, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States (originally composed by Francis Bellamy in 1892)

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

 

2. The leader says, “This flag has served its nation and our family well. It is worn to a condition which is not fit to be used to represent the United States of America. We are grateful for its symbolizing our great nation and we pay honor to this flag for the service it has rendered. We will now fold and dispose of this flag.”

3. Take the flag down and then properly fold it.

4. Move to the prepared fire and everyone salutes the flag one last time. The group holds their salute until the leader places it on the fire and then they all finish the salute with the leader’s final salute. The group remains standing reverently until the flag is completely consumed.

The last thought is… Remember that today is a special day and we should honor our fallen brothers and sisters. Spend at least a minute today to reflect quietly and feel sincere gratitude for all that our military has done in our name. Thank you for reading this, and thank you for listening to this patriot rant. I love you all.

-Vaughn “the patriot” Ripley

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Mother’s Day 2014

This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day. And, it is a time to be grateful for all that your mother has done for you. Make sure that you not only let her know how much you appreciate everything she’s done for you, but also show it by showering her with love.

Trinity, Xander, and I are going to bring my soul mate and their mother a special breakfast in bed. The kids are soooo excited, and already planning all kinds of fun stuff. This is a great opportunity for daddy to bond and have fun with the kids as well.

Today I wanted to take a different approach and hit on a special group of moms. I’d like to dedicate this post to hemophiliac moms. All mothers have a very tough job and they determine the outcome of a child’s beliefs and character. I consider this job one of the most important in the world (and toughest!) That said, there is another breed of moms that take it to a whole new level. Mothers who have children with disabilities are on on a whole new plane. These moms not only have everyday normal things to deal with, but they also do regular trips to the doctors, specialists, hospitals, counselors, and treatment centers (among other places). They do everything that all mothers do, plus have a plate of troubling times that most of us would run screaming from.

These moms are a special breed. And, today’s special breed is close to my heart, because my mom is one of them. And, my wife is one of them. I can never properly convey the amount of gratitude and appreciation that I have for these AMAZING women! If you are the mother of a child (or children) with a bleeding disorder than I salute you. You, my friend, are a rare individual who is doing more for the planet and human race than I can fathom.

Thirty years ago, the hemophilia population started dying off… I’m talking about 90% or more getting HIV from tainted blood products… Nearly 100% getting hepatitis C… This was beyond devastating to the community as a whole. Think about it for a moment… Almost the entire hemophilia population died over the twenty years that happened immediately after this disastrous event. As a matter-of-fact, all of my hemophiliac friends that I knew died. ALL OF THEM!

If you consider this for a moment, you will realize the depth of this tragedy. You might also realize the moms out there who lost their babies… Lost them by the thousands!!! I am crying simply typing this… Imagine (for a moment) their pain. These women have been through more than anyone deserves to endure. They have done so, and continue to do so. They are heroes. The real-deal hero!

Another point that comes to mind when I think about moms and what is known as the Hemocaust… Many of the community-run organizations were mostly managed and maintained by adult hemophiliac men. Almost all of these men died. Think on that. Literally, in a short period, we not only lost our brothers and sisters… We also almost lost the entire community, because no one was there to run the organizations. This is nearly unimaginable to me, yet it was happening around the country.

I often think of euphemisms for this occurrence. The one that really comes to mind is passing the torch. Well, I was talking about this with my buddy, Jack, the other day and it hit me… This was not simply passing the torch. It happened too fast and too devastatingly to let anyone pass anything. In an instant people started dropping like flies. No… What really happened was this. Thousands of men died. Thousands of men literally DROPPED their torches without the time or energy to pass them on. During that time, the community and future generations needed someone to act. Someone did act. The moms acted. The moms stepped up, despite their pain and anguish. Selflessly, they wiped away their tears and they picked up the torches from the ground. In some case the torches had gone completely out and needed to be re-lit. Regardless, a generation of moms… A generation of women stronger than most can imagine… A generation of loving and kind souls… Came together and rebuilt a community that nearly died.

I can tell you that I fell away from the community more than a quarter of a century ago. Heck, I assumed I was dying. But, to my amazement, when I came back four years ago, I found a thriving community… A community of strong people who were dedicated and focused. A community that had fixed itself with band-aids and duct tape through the nineties and into 2000. A community that was not only still standing, but standing tall, strong, and proud.

Damn! I mean… Damn! I am in awe of what transpired. And, I am eternally grateful to all of the people who came together to save us. Most of all, I am grateful to the moms.

I believe I speak for everyone, when I say:

Have a very special Mother’s Day, moms!!!

With love,
Vaughn

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Every Thorn has its Rose

Fairly certain that you’ve heard the song, Every Rose has its Thorn, by Poison. If you haven’t heard it, you certainly have heard the saying… Right?

Anyway, I think about this song and saying often. Honestly… I don’t like it. To me, it sounds negative. It sounds like, “you’ve got something beautiful in your life (a rose), but it always comes with pain (a thorn).” The other day I was scrubbing my underarms in the shower, and it hit me… What if you reversed the saying? Wouldn’t that put a positive spin on it? Think about it… “Life is full of pain (thorns), but where there is pain, there is beauty (roses).” Sort of like, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” Love it!

So I came up with my own saying, “Every Thorn has its Rose.”

Life is tough… Life will beat you up… Some days are incredibly hard… Bad things will happen to you, your family, and your friends…

So what? Bad days and hard times do not define you… They only make you stronger and more prepared. When bad days come (and they will), hunker down and roll with it. Just know that good times are coming.

If you run into thorns, just know that there is a rose on the horizon! Hang in there and believe. In the long run you will have many more roses than thorns. Take my word on this.

Life is a beautiful thing. It is a special experience designed just for you and me. Live. Live happy. And… Spread the happiness in the form of love!

I’ll leave you with a few of my related quotes that I’ve said throughout the years.

“We’re all going through something … The trick is to go through it anyway!”

“Life has its ups and downs… Ride the downs and climb the ups!”

“Life throws punches. It’s not about punching back… It’s about taking ’em, and still standing.”

 

Hoping this article touched you and maybe even gave you a dose of inspiration.

Hugs,
Vaughn

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The Ultimate Men’s Health Guy Search

A sudden and powerful change happened to me on (or about) March 11, 2014. I was flipping through the pages of Men’s Health magazine and saw an ad titled “Are you fit? Healthy? Driven? Giving? Enter to win the Ultimate Men’s Health Guy Search.” The ad went on to say that one lucky winner would be featured on the cover of Men’s Health magazine.

I smiled and thought… I’m extremely fit. I’m very healthy. I’m over-the-top driven. And… I absolutely love giving. My smile eased a little and the gears started grinding in my head. I chuckled… But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized… I was cut out precisely for this competition.

Then the doubt started creeping in. You know the doubt… The realist inside each of us. It was saying things like, “Dude, you’re 46 years OLD.” “You’re medication over the years has stripped fat from your cheeks and butt and stuck it in funky places!” “Life has put battle scars on you.” “There will be two dozen or more seriously good looking model-ish men competing in this among a field of hundreds of others.” Finally my inner demon said, “What possible chance do you think you have?”

For a few minutes I nodded my head in agreement with the dark side of my mind. Then, a tipping point happened. I thought of John Belushi saying, “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” I laughed again. And something neat happened… A glimmer entered my eye. And, I realized that this was doable. I knew it would be an uphill battle, but honestly what great outcome isn’t tough? I decided then and there that I would enter. The contest started on March 15, 2014 – so I stored this thought in the back of my brain, tore the page out, and got on with life.

Jump to 3/15/14 – Some of the original negative thoughts started pouring in. I was nervous. Am I being silly? Before these bad feelings could bring me down, I suddenly had another thought… Has a hemophiliac EVER been on the cover of Men’s Health? I don’t know… Maybe..? Has an HIV+ person ever graced the cover of Men’s Health magazine? Again, I didn’t know, but figured probably… (I should know this stuff). Then it hit me – I know… That there has NEVER been an HIV+ hemophiliac on the cover of Men’s Health magazine, because I know them all! It was settled then and there… I opened the website and started my entry process.

March is Hemophilia Awareness Month. For goodness sakes, Ronald Wilson Reagan made it so back in 1986!!! And, more than 90% of ALL hemophiliacs born before the mid-1980’s got HIV from a bad blood transfusion. And, almost ALL of them died from AIDS or complications around this horrible disease! It was destiny that I would stumble on this opportunity in March, during Hemophilia Awareness Month!!! I was in head first!

Honestly, I was simply hoping to be in the top ten, so I could raise awareness for hemophiliacs and HIV+ people. When I entered I sincerely did not think that I would win. The competition would be far too strong and who the heck am I?

Guess what… On day one, I skyrocketed to first place. And, I’m not talking about a little jump, I was ten times ahead of the second place person! It was incredible.

By day two, many more men had joined and they were gaining, but I was still at least four times as many votes ahead of everyone else.

By day three I realized, I could actually win the voting portion of this competition. That was when it happened. You see, in life, nothing (I mean NOTHING) worthwhile is easy. And, there is no reason that this would be different. Realizing that I could win this voting section of the contest, I re-read the rules carefully. There it was glaring at me…

Upload at least one (1) but up to three (3) digital photographs … taken within thirty (30) days prior to the date of your Entry into the Contest…

Holy crap! In my rush to enter… With the mindset of “I can’t possibly win this thing…” I had made a vital mistake. I had uploaded older photos of me… You see, I am 46 years old (47 next month) and because of how fit and healthy I stay, my physique really hasn’t changed very much in over a decade. So, I assumed any photo would do, because quite honestly I am in the best shape of my life NOW and even look better than those photos from a year or two ago…

The sinking feeling of dread overcame me as I realized that I could potentially be disqualified. And, on top of that, I was essentially cheating by not following the rules. My head pounded and my stomach was upset… This couldn’t be happening to me. Moments later, I wrote the editor of Men’s Health and explained my situation looking for a resolution. Well, fortunately for me, the editor was very cool and said simply “you are also permitted to enter once per day per email address throughout the entry period. So, you are welcome to submit another entry with current photos…”

Well… That settled it… I had to ditch my first place entry that had more than 2,200 votes already and start a new entry with current photos. So, I worked with my Aunt, Patty Abrams, to quickly take a few “today” photos of me. These photos were nowhere near as cool as my previous entry (me posing in a triathlon suit looking all heroic, me on Mount Rainier in -40 degree temperatures, and me on a 185 mile bicycle ride on the C&O canal towpath), but they are legit and follow the rules.

My new entry, was sitting there with zero votes in 113th place… Wow! Talk about a buzz kill. To add insult to injury, my original entry is still sitting there on top of the pack all pretty and perfectly happy. DANG!

Time to eat some humble pie… I spent a few minutes typing up a quick status update for my social media friends that had all helped escalate me to the top of the heap. I had to explain that our 2,200+ votes weren’t going to count toward this newest entry. I laughed at myself. Cheered them for their support. And then asked for their continued support. I wasn’t sure how folks would respond. I mean, I’ve already been SPAMing them with numerous requests to vote for me as a cover model… yada. I thought they might rebel. *insert upbeat music here* Something very special happened. They all stood behind me, and picked me up. From the nadir of this event, my friends and their friends all wiped the dirt off my face, picked me up, brushed the tears from my eyes, and gathered as a community to support me… Their brother.

After adding my second entry, folks got behind me and stormed the contest pouring in massive votes. Within one day I had gone from 113th place to 3rd place and had a solid 600 votes! Just when I thought all was cool, Men’s Health reached out again and said that they need to remove my second entry. So, they offered to put one of my new photos in the original entry and delete my second entry into the contest. Unfortunately they were not able to migrate my votes over. However, I still had the healthy amount of votes and a solid lead. Stuff happens, and I’m usually one that rolls with the punches. Besides, I can’t really complain considering my sizable lead.

You guys have all given me so much support during this entire process, and I am eternally grateful!

This is what it’s all about. I now know why I’ve entered this competition. It’s not some vain attempt to plaster myself on a magazine… It’s not about me. It is about us. It is about hemophiliacs. It is about HIV+ people, it is about average Joes who are beaten down ever day of their lives and continue picking themselves up and reporting for duty despite the odds stacked against them.

I have survived for more than 28 years as an HIV+ human being. I believe there is a reason why God spared me. I honestly believe that it is my duty to spread awareness and advocate for people who struggle to have their voices heard. Well… I am here. And, I felt you help pick me up. I feel your love. I feel your support and caring. I feel you. And, I love you. I will fight for this and every other opportunity that we have to scream at the world.

Together, you and I can and will put the first ever HIV+ hemophiliac on the cover of one of the most popular men’s magazines on the planet.

Please help support this cause by sharing my link, voting (you can vote daily), and spreading the word.
www.mhguysearch.com/entry/37/

I’m currently standing with a strong lead in first place…

Love to you all,
Vaughn Ripley

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Christmas 2013

 

Merry Christmas!!!

 

Thanksgiving 2013

Many of my posts talk about being grateful and expressing gratitude for all of the things that you have in life. As a matter-of-fact, I have one article, healthywealthytribe.com/what-are-you-grateful-for, that is specifically written around this topic. Well, what better time to tackle gratitude again than on Thanksgiving Day?

Thanksgiving is a national holiday that was originally celebrated as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest. In the United States, it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. More recently it is known as the holiday where you stuff your face with turkey (among other fatty foods) and watch football all day. I prefer to remember that it was (and is) a time to express thanks for EVERYTHING in our lives.

Many of us (me included) often feel worried about family events that will end with fighting and misery… Unfortunately, there are frequently practical brawls when we get estranged family members together. It is imperative that we find the good in our family and friends during these special holidays. Put your disagreements aside and love one another! You only have to do it once a year, people! If you are one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have any problems with family during these times than consider yourself lucky and disregard this paragraph… HA!

Regardless of what you believe or think, the name sums up this most excellent holiday. Thanksgiving is easily rearranged to “giving thanks.” If you dig, use this time to meditate briefly and concentrate on what’s important to you. Think about all of the fortunate things you have in your life. And, share your feelings and gratitude with those closest to you.

I’ve already mentioned my “thankful list” in that previous post, but I thought I would add to it a hair, and list it again as a reminder to myself… In no particular order, I am eternally grateful for:

  • Kristine
  • Trinity
  • Xander
  • Brothers and sisters
  • Moms and dads (yes, that is plural… HA!)
  • In-laws (all of them!)
  • My longevity and ability to outlive everyone’s expectations
  • Work (yep… I love it, and am grateful for it)
  • Hobbies and fun stuff
  • Home Sweet Home (shelter over my head)
  • Food on the dining room table (and in the fridge)
  • Five senses (fortunately I have all five at my disposal)
  • Arms and legs (not everyone is as lucky as me)
  • The sun (and the moon)
  • Computers
  • The snow
  • Four seasons
  • Social networks
  • My gift of writing
  • Internet access
  • Life coaches and mentors
  • Challenges (yes sir… Very grateful for these, because they help me grow!)
  • Decent brains
  • Music
  • Pets (dog, snake, fish, and even the cat)
  • Modern medical treatments and science
  • Filet mignon and lobster tail

What are you grateful for?

Enjoy yourself! Eat lots of food! And, most of all… Tell your friends and family that you are thankful for having them in your life!

I’m also thankful for you!

-Vaughn

p.s. I’d like to add one thing to my Thanksgiving Day prayer… “May the Dallas Cowboys get their proverbial butts kicked!” hee hee…

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Male Bonding Making a Rubber Band Loom Spider-Man

If you look, you will often find opportunities to bond with your children. The key here is that you must pay attention and be observant. Recently my children have gotten into this rubber band loom bracelet building craze. Normally, I barely notice passing fads like this… However, this time my son made me a beautiful bracelet and meticulously sized it for me. When he handed it over to me you would think he thought he was giving me a million dollars. His eyes were gleaming up at me, and he carefully handed it with two hands with a partial (proud) smile on his face. This stood out to me, and I knew at that moment just how important this “fad” was.

The other day on Pinterest (yes, I go there sometimes) I spotted a Spider-Man rubber band action figure diagram on my friend’s (Nikki) page. It looked cute, and I immediately realized the value… My son is a HUGE superhero fan, and Spider-Man is one of his favorites. I printed out the diagram and left it laying around for him to find. My plan worked… When he saw it, he was absolutely enamored and practically begged to build the character.

*hook line and sinker*

I offered to work with him and make it the next morning. His eyes brightened, he beamed a smile, and hugged me with a big “Thank you, Daddy.” This melted my heart. My heart was melted even further when he woke me early the next morning and asked if were still going to make Spider-Man. I said, “yes” and he ran off. Coming back with the paper, he said, “I slept with it under my pillow.” Holy crap, my heart was in my throat! I live for (and love) this stuff!

After brewing some coffee and making him wait a few minutes, we broke out the loom and started working. It was so fun learning about this fancy-dancy rubber band loom (this was my first time) and how cool it actually was. My son (Xander is five years old) was more than happy to explain how it worked and he diligently hunted for different accessories as we prepared.

The whole time we were working, Xander and I chatted and I could see him bouncing off the walls with energy and excitement as the project neared completion. His smile grew by the minute and he kept exclaiming how cool it was. This was an incredibly heartwarming experience for both us!

I highly recommend bonding time with your children, and this is a perfect example of something silly and fun that you can do that will remain as a fond memory for years to come.

This article was not meant to be an instructional one. I merely wanted to reference using the loom for the Spider-Man rubber band action figure thingy creation. Rather, this post is about bonding with your child (in my case, bonding with my son). However, I know that some might find this article purely by searching for “Spider-Man rubber band loom” and it wouldn’t be fair to at least point you in the right direction. So, I thought I would also share the YouTube videos (there are two of them) that I used to make the trinket. Here’s the videos that I followed along with to make this masterpiece:

PART ONE

PART TWO

If you plan to build the Spider-Man rubber band figure, I can give you a few pointers and tips to make your experience a tad easier…

  • This is what I would consider an intermediate level thing to build and will take some time (it took me about ninety minutes to complete).
  • Rubber bands do break from time-to-time… It is not the end of the world. I used a broken rubber band as another bonding/training tool, explaining to Xander that it’s no big deal. We worked carefully together to replace the broken band and moved on.
  • The video was very well planned and covers everything. But, you need to watch closely at a few key points (at least I did) to really catch on to what he’s doing.
  • Remember that you’re bonding with your child and let them do some of the work. I had Xander searching through his rubber bands to pull out a bunch of the deep red and blue ones. I also asked his advice a few times and had him do some of the actual work. We had a blast!
  • Be patient and methodical.
  • Cherish this time!
  •  

    After we finished, Xander made a long string of white rubber bands (sort of like a bracelet that didn’t connect the ends). He held it up grinning and said, Here’s his web.
    Spider-Man rubber band web

    How do you bond with your kids? And, have your kids gotten into the rubber bands?

    I hope you enjoyed this story,
    Vaughn

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    Love Your Family as if You Will Die Today

    One of my favorite quotes is from James Dean. I love the quote so much that it hangs (with a photo of him) in my den. You can see it and other cool quotes in a previous article (here).

    “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”
    — James Dean (2/8/31 – 9/30/55)

     

    This quote holds so much power, and it’s sort of ironic that it came from a man who died at the very young age of twenty-four. A man who lived his life to the fullest and died young. We should all be so lucky!

    In some ways I feel that I’ve been blessed by having to live with HIV. I know some of you are going, “What??” Well, allow me to explain. When I was nineteen, my family doctor told me that I had fewer than two years to live. As a teenager, that put some things into perspective! Immediately I realized all that I had and all that I would lose. Since that day, I have spent every moment realizing it could be my last. For that reason, I honestly think it is cool that I became infected and was faced with this reality.

    That said, I would certainly much rather not be HIV+ and lead a more “normal” life… However, I consider myself lucky none-the-less. I sincerely mean that… I consider myself lucky!

    Where am I going with this? You ask. Well let me tell you.

    You guys have an opportunity here… Use me! I mean it. Live through my eyes for a moment. Simply imagine that you were told by your doctor that you had less than a month to live. Sincerely think this and focus on it for a moment. How would that make you feel? After the momentary freakout, wouldn’t you start to assess your life? Wouldn’t you look at how you could tie up your loose ends? Of course you would! You know what else you would do?? You would spend time with those most important to you. You would honor them with love and shower them with hugs and kisses. You would treat them the way they aught (and deserve) to be treated. You would tell them how important they are to you. You would share with them. You would cry with them. You would live those last few weeks by giving them praise and words of encouragement. As your final days crept up, you would tell them over-and-over again how much you love them.

    Guess what…

    You don’t have to be dying to do any of those things.

    Cherish your family!

    Love Your Family As If You Will Die Today

    For tomorrow you may be gone…

    Posted with love,
    Vaughn

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    Veterans Day 2013

    Today’s article is about my father, George Borden… Well, actually it’s about Veterans Day and all of the people who have served in the United States armed forces also known as “veterans.” However, I’m going to dedicate it to someone that I’m very proud of and honored to call “father.”

    First off, let’s define what Veterans Day is:

    It’s a federal holiday that is observed on November 11; which also marks the anniversary of the end of World War I. The major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving.

    Now back to the star of our story… George was in Vietnam from July 15, 1968 until July 15, 1969. His unit was “A” Battery 1st of the 30th Artillery 1st Air Cavalry. During his tour in Vietnam, George served in I, II, III, and IV Corps. His radio handle was “Hard Charger 24” and his battery received numerous commendation ribbons, medals, and citations.

    George is not really a superstitious man, but on Friday the 13th, June 13th, 1969 he walked out of his tent and it took a direct artillery hit moments later. Unfortunately these kind of things happen on a regular basis during war, and George faced these types of things repeatedly.

    On one occasion, George ran into a burning building that contained several 50-gallon drums of fuel. He did this because an injured soldier was trapped in the building. When he realized he could not get the man out, he quickly rolled the 50-gallon drums out of the fire; which allowed others to help save the man’s life. For this heroic act, George was awarded the Bronze Star (this medal is the fourth-highest individual military award) for acts of merit, or meritorious service in a combat zone.

    The medal is obviously something I’m proud of, but that is not the extent of my feelings about George. War is hell and he served despite this. For that, I am not only proud, but also eternally grateful. I love my father with all of my heart and his military service is only one small piece of the things that make me proud and honored to be his son.

    I told my children that this article was about their “Granddaddy” and they both asked to say something…

    Xander, my five year old son, said, “I’m proud of my Granddaddy because he protected us in the war.”

    Trinity, my eight year old daughter, said, “Granddaddy always reads ‘Goodnight Little Mouse’ to us, and I love being with him on holidays. He’s my hero.”

    U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day for November 11, 1919. In proclaiming the holiday, he said:

    “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

     

    In 1945, World War II veteran, Raymond Weeks, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans (not just those who died in World War I). General Dwight Eisenhower, who supported the idea of a National Veterans Day, agreed. Weeks led the first national celebration in 1947 in Alabama and annually until his death in 1985. Also, in 1982, President Reagan honored Weeks at the White House with the Presidential Citizenship Medal and named him as the driving force for the national holiday. To this day, Weeks is known as the “Father of Veterans Day.”

    I’d like to take this time to thank all of the people in my life who have served in the U.S. military. I can’t possibly remember everyone, but I am eternally grateful to all. A few key people who have directly impacted my life are, Scean Ripley, Kim Ripley, Laine Ripley, Dano Christensen, Paul Ostrowski, Solomon Roller, Ben “slow poke” Srigley, Sadiki “WTJHAND” Harriott, Dan Bennett, Jack Breazeale, Jim Zak, David Crosby, Chuck Underwood, Robert “Mike” Johnson, Alan “William” Altizer, Richard Myers, Dan “Uncle Dan” McNally, Chris “what bone should I break next?” Marra, and Carl “Chuck Norris” Wright. Thank you very much for your service

    And, I’d like to give a shout-out to all who have served… Thank you for your past, present, and future service!

    Finally, I will close with a special thank you to the man of the day, my father, George Borden. Thank you, Dad!

    Please take a moment and think of all of the people you know who have or are serving our country in the military. Close your eyes and think gratefully about all military personnel.

    Thank you for listening (reading). Hugs and peace to all…

    -Vaughn

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    What are You Grateful For

    I know that this topic has been covered by most inspirational authors and in hundreds (maybe thousands) of books and magazine articles. Alas, I have my own take on it, and I wanted to share my belief about one of the strongest subjects I know about… Gratitude.

    As you may know, I have thousands of things to be grateful for. All of us do. But, we rarely take the time during the day to think about those things, let alone focus and be thankful for them. About four years ago I discovered a way that I could make sure that I concentrate on the things most important to me on a daily basis. This powerful tool is actually just a simple rock. That’s right… I carefully selected a nice small stone from beside a creek and use it as my reminder of the things I should be thankful for. I call this tool my gratitude stone.

    Gratitude Stone
    There’s not really anything special about my gratitude stone. I did want it to be fairly smooth, so it doesn’t snag on my pants pocket. It was also important to have it be small, to avoid huge bulges in my pants (I have enough of those already – HA!). This stone also happens to be one of the things that I am grateful for.

    You might be asking yourself how I use the stone… Well, let me enlighten you to my usage.

    First off, I put the stone on my dresser at night with my wallet and Chap Stick. This way I remember to bring it with me every day. When I finish getting dressed in the morning, I pick up the rock and start my daily ritual. Before slipping it into my pocket, I spend about two minutes holding it, rubbing it, and thinking about the things I am grateful for. Some things (e.g. wife, kids, work, friends, and so on) come quickly and easily to me, so I focus on them first. After thinking about each of those things, I dig deeper into my imagination and try to come up with five more things that I might not have thought of without prying a little. And, I do more than simply say, I am grateful for yada… After choosing the topic to be thankful for, I then take it one step further and ask, “Why am I thankful for yada?”

    This morning ritual is not the only time I thank the universe for the things I am so fortunate to have in my life. The reason I have the stone in my pocket is so that I will feel it throughout the day. Anytime I reach into my pocket to pull out keys, Chap Stick, or money I also find that wonderful trinket. Once I touch it, I spend a moment and rub it. During that time I quickly pop through my list of things I’m thankful for. It’s only for a moment, but I do this a dozen or more times each day. Then, at the end of my day, while I’m emptying my pockets, I do it again. So I probably spend ten to fifteen minutes (at a minimum) of every day focusing solely on the things that matter most to me.

    Since you guys are all probably wondering what I think about when I rub my stone, I thought I would list out some of the things:

    • My wife
    • My kids
    • My brothers and sisters
    • My moms and dads (yes, that is plural… HA!)
    • My longevity and ability to outlive everyone’s expectations
    • Work (yep… I love it, and am grateful for it)
    • My hobbies and fun stuff
    • My home (shelter)
    • Food on my dining room table (and in the fridge)

    After I finish with the easy list, I move on to the tougher to think of things like:

    • My five senses (fortunately I have all five at my disposal)
    • My arms and legs (not everyone is as lucky as me)
    • The sun (and the moon)
    • Computers
    • The snow
    • Four seasons
    • Social networks
    • My gift of writing
    • Internet access
    • Life coaches and mentors
    • Challenges (yes sir… Very grateful for these, because they help me grow!)

    You get the picture. And, hopefully I have helped you realize that there are lots of wonderful things for you to be thankful for too.

    Do you believe in gratitude? Please comment and let us know what you are thankful for. And, tell us if you use something like a gratitude stone to remind you of them.

    Hopefully this was a post to remember… And, maybe even be grateful for.

    I’m more grateful for you readers than you can imagine!

    -Vaughn

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