July 25, 2016
Every four years since 1896, the Summer Olympics are held in a pre-selected host city for several weeks. This year (2016) the Olympics are held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. These games will be the first to be held in South America and the first to be held in the Southern Hemisphere in recent years since the Sydney games in 2000.
Every Olympic games holds an Opening Ceremony, featuring spectacular performances, music, culture, and more. In the midst of the Opening Ceremony is the Parade of Nations, which usually take place in a stadium, arena, or another type of venue in the host nation. The Parade of Nations is where the participating countries parade into the venue, carrying their flag, along with their national team. The teams usually range from one person to several hundred. Each team has a flagbearer, and the flagbearer is picked due to various reasons. Sometimes the flagbearer may be the sole team member, a medal hopeful, a medal winner from the previous games, or an official from the nation’s team. Larger nations like the United States elect their flagbearer
The Parade of Nations is led by Greece and ends with the host nation, which in this year’s case is Brazil. The parade will proceed according to the host nation’s alphabet. The names of the countries are written in the host nation’s language, so it will be listed in a different order. The reason Greece goes first in the parade is because they are the country who originally started the Olympics, so they always go first (with the exception of the 2004 Olympics in Athens, when they went last as they were the host).
It is tradition for the flagbearers to dip (or lower) their country’s flag as a sign of respect, except for the case of the United States. When the US marches in the Parade of Nations, it is tradition for the flagbearer not to dip the flag to the leader of the host nation. This was apparently have been the case since the 1908 Olympics when the flagbearer, Ralph Rose, who was an Irish-American, said “The flag dips to no earthly king”. It is unknown particularly WHY it was done but it was made permanent after the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
Fast Fact: There is also a Parade of Nations for the Winter Olympics, as well!
July 1, 2016
Kansas joined the Union as the 34th state on January 29, 1861. The Civil War had started the year the state entered the Union and while they were a new state, they were the state who had suffered the most casualties from the war compared to any other state.
Kansas’ state flag was adopted on May 21, 1927. It had been flown at Fort Riley for the first time to honor the troops and the Kansas National Guard. The flag is a navy blue and has the state seal emblazoned in the middle. This seal depicts the rising sun in the East while life, of covered wagons, livestock, and farming, go on in the left hand corner and below. In the sky are 34 stars, each symbolizing a state at the time the seal was created during Kansas’ entry into the Union. Above the stars is a gold ribbon, reading Ad Astra Per Aspera, the state’s motto, meaning “to the stars through difficulties”. Underneath the state seal is the word “Kansas” in yellow and atop the seal is a sunflower sitting on a twisted blue and gold bar. This bar is said to symbolize the Louisiana Purchase in which the land Kansas was in was also acquired from. The sunflower is also Kansas’ state flower.
Sunflower State/Wild Sunflower: As one can see on the state flag, the state’s official flower is the sunflower. They were growing before the land even became a state, and explorers marveled at the beauty of the golden petals. Early on, their stalks were burned for fuel and the seeds had been fed to birds. It was sadly thought of as a “noxious weed” by people who disliked the flower but was still loved by many residents of Kansas. The flower grows native to the state’s soil and many life forms, like bees and butterflies, thrive on sunflowers. Their seeds also make a very tasty snack!
Along with Sunflowers, wheat is a very big commodity in the state. Large amounts of wheat grow (enough to provide everyone in the world with at least six loaves of bread!) but the wheat harvest is very short! From early June to the first part of July, according to the Kansas Wheat Commission.
Kansas is also known for the well-known film Wizard of Oz (1939) in which the first part of the film takes place in Kansas. In Liberal, Kansas, there is a replica of Dorothy’s house known as Dorothy’s House and Land of Oz!
June 30, 2016
Independence Day, or more commonly known as the Fourth of July is one of the biggest events and celebrations in America’s history. Still, we must not forget why we celebrate this important day and everything the led to it, plus more facts about it. Today, I am presenting you with some trivia about the Fourth of July that may surprise you:
- While many get the Fourth off today, it was not officially declared by Congress a paid Federal holiday until 1938. It was originally unpaid since 1870.
- Nathan’s Hot Dogs holds their Hot Dog Eating Contest annually. This is to see who can eat the most hot dogs in the fastest time. The event is held on New York’s Coney Island and is broadcast on national television on cable.
- Three presidents died on the 4th of July: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams within hours of each other on 1826, and James Monroe in 1831. The only president to the be born on the 4th of July was Calvin Coolidge in 1872.
- The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is tapped thirteen times in honor of the original thirteen colonies. The bell has not been rung since 1846.
- John Hancock was the first signer of the Declaration of Independence and the only signer ON the Fourth of July. It actually took a month for all 56 signatures to get on the Declaration of Independence and John Adams thought the Second of July would become Independence Day.
- While we light fireworks on the Fourth some 240 years after we became a country, in the first year afterward, many Americans placed a candle on their windowsills to show their patriotism for their new country. Those still loyal to the British crown left their windowsills bare.
- While we hold barbecues today that feature burgers and hot dogs, our founding fathers ate foods like turtle soup, poached salmon in egg sauce, peas, boiled potatoes in their skins, and apple pandowdy for dessert!
Hope you enjoyed all the trivia! Happy 4th, America!
May 27, 2016
May is a very important month for American service men and women. There is Armed Forces Day, which is celebrated annually on the third Saturday in May. Then there is also Memorial Day, a day in which to remember service men and women who have died in combat or while in service to their country.
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. The reason why it was first known as Decoration Day was because service members’ graves were decorated with flowers and flags. This day was created as a reaction to all the deaths of over 600,000 soldiers in the Civil War. These were from both sides of the war. Something had to be done to remember the dead. And so, on May 5, 1868, Memorial Day was created. On the inaugural Decoration Day, General James Garfield appeared at the Arlington National Cemetery and made a speech while participants decorated the graves of thousands of Civil War soldiers, both Union and Confederate.
New York was the first state to officially recognize Memorial Day in 1873 and was recognized by all Northern states just seven years later. The South opposed this day to memorialize the soldiers, so they celebrated on their own day until after World War I. The day is spent memorializing all members of the military who have died in combat after the Civil War
Thanks to the passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 by Congress, Memorial Day is now observed in nearly every state on the last Monday in May. Several states consider it a Federal holiday which allows for it to be a three day weekend for many. It is also considered to be the official start of the summer season in the United States.
Trivia: At Arlington National Cemetery, each grave interred there has one American flag to mark it on Memorial Day? This has been done since 1948.
May 25, 2016
Oregon is well known for the Oregon Trail which occurred in the 1840s and was about 2,200 miles long. It was a journey from Missouri to Oregon and other points west such as California (due to the gold rush going on at the time), and the settlers took the journey due to tough economic times. They traveled by covered wagon (first use of them was in 1836). The journey was successful, and more people came to Oregon in hopes of better land and promising futures. By 1846, the British handed power of Oregon over to the United States. Oregon obtained statehood on February 14, 1859.
Oregon’s state flag was adopted in 1925 and is the only state flag with different images on reverse sides of the flag. The flag is navy blue along with a gold shield on one side and a gold beaver sitting on a log on the other. On the side with the shield reads “State of Oregon” in large letters above the shield with 33 stars surrounding the shield. Inside the shield is a sunset over an ocean (Pacific), forests, mountains, and a covered wagon. On the sea are two ships, a British Man-of-War and an American trade ship. The British ship is departing and the American ship is arriving, symbolizing the claim of land by the UK and the USA at the same time and also America’s rising power in the West. Sitting atop of the shield is a bald eagle and underneath are the numbers “1859”, the year Oregon was admitted to the union as the 33rd state.
State Nickname: Because of the beaver on the opposite side of the flag, Oregon’s nickname is, of course, the Beaver State. Fur traders were just some of the key people in the Oregon trail and fur from beavers was a good source of fur for them. The beaver eventually became the state’s unofficial animal and is a mascot of Oregon State University.
Just Like Oregon: Paraguay’s national flag also has different images on reverse sides.
May 9, 2016
(c) Getty Images
It’s time for the Invictus Games! Brits are gearing up to cheer for their fellow countrymen in a Paralympic-like competition against a select few countries. If you have never heard of them, don’t worry because it’s still something relatively new. It was just started in 2014 but Prince Harry originally came up with the idea in 2013 when he was out on a trip to the US to attend the Warrior Games. He saw how sport was therapeutic for many servicemen, and helped them open up to people again after seeing the horrors of war.
Prince Harry came up with the idea of the Invictus Games. The games would be for active duty and veteran Service men and women who were injured, ill, or wounded. Now, why was the word “invictus” chosen for the name of the games? It is because it means “unconquered”, and it represents the spirit of the service men and women. They are moving on through sport despite injury and illness. These games show how courageous and inspiring these men and women are.
The first Invictus Games were held in London, England, UK. The second edition (2016) of the Invictus Games will be held in Orlando, Florida in the United States and then in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 2017, and then other international cities after 2017. Much like the Olympics, the games are held in different cities across different countries. There is an Opening and Closing Ceremony and the games take place in the course of just a few days.
In the past two years since the games were created, the Invictus Games have been given more attention, especially in the media and online. Prince Harry made a video with President Barack Obama and his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, poking fun at each other just before the games were to begin. Prince Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, was also featured in the video.
It is incredible to see the success of these games. Prince Harry is receiving lots of praise for his wonderful idea, especially since his mother, Princess Diana, had taught him to be kind and help others. He has the support of several current and former world leaders along with many in the military. Although only a handful of service people will compete, the support and encouragement is far greater.
May 2, 2016
Minnesota became the 32nd US State on May 11, 1858. Before then, the Eastern part of the state was owned by Great Britain and the West was owned by France. The United States gained the East from Britain after the Revolutionary War and the West was also included in the Louisiana Purchase from France.
Minnesota’s official state flag was adopted in 1893 but was not made the official state flag until 1957. Minnesota’s flag is royal blue with a gold fringe. Placed on the center of the flag is the state’s seal and encircled around it is a wreath featuring the state’s flower, the pink and white lady slippers along with a red ribbon. On that red ribbon are printed the years 1819 (the establishment of Fort Snelling, a significant historical landmark run by the Minnesota Historical Society), and 1893, the year in which the state’s flag had been unofficially adopted. In a separate gold ribbon inside the state’s seal reads the state’s motto, L’etoile du Nord, meaning Star of the North in French. There are five pointed star groups made up outside the circle to make a star, totalling to 19. While Minnesota is the 32nd state, they are the 19th post thirteen-territories state. Finally, the word Minnesota is written in red letters in the lower white circle.
St. Paul, Minnesota is the state capital and Minneapolis, Minnesota, is the state’s most populated city. However, due to the fact that they are just about next to each other, this area is otherwise known as the Twin Cities. The Twin Cities area is home to about sixty percent of Minnesotans.
Where did the name Minnesota come from? Minnesota’s name is derived from a Native American word meaning “clouded water” or “sky-tinted water”.
Home of 10,000 lakes: The state is known for having a vast amount of lakes and proudly has it written on their license plates. However, there are actually over 11,000 lakes! These lakes are enjoyed by both locals and tourists. Many go camping, swimming, fishing, and go on boat rides.