May 31 – National nightmare

National nightmare
goes on. Here, truth, laws, not men
Here, the people rule

Based on Gerald R. Ford’s Remarks Upon Taking the Oath of Office as President

Mr. Chief Justice, my dear friends, my fellow Americans:

The oath that I have taken is the same oath that was taken by George Washington and by every President under the Constitution. But I assume the Presidency under extraordinary circumstances never before experienced by Americans. This is an hour of history that troubles our minds and hurts our hearts.

Therefore, I feel it is my first duty to make an unprecedented compact with my countrymen. Not an inaugural address, not a fireside chat, not a campaign speech–just a little straight talk among friends. And I intend it to be the first of many.

I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your President by your ballots, and so I ask you to confirm me as your President with your prayers. And I hope that such prayers will also be the first of many.

If you have not chosen me by secret ballot, neither have I gained office by any secret promises. I have not campaigned either for the Presidency or the Vice Presidency. I have not subscribed to any partisan platform. I am indebted to no man, and only to one woman–my dear wife–as I begin this very difficult job.

I have not sought this enormous responsibility, but I will not shirk it. Those who nominated and confirmed me as Vice President were my friends and are my friends. They were of both parties, elected by all the people and acting under the Constitution in their name. It is only fitting then that I should pledge to them and to you that I will be the President of all the people.

Thomas Jefferson said the people are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. And down the years, Abraham Lincoln renewed this American article of faith asking, “Is there any better way or equal hope in the world?”

I intend, on Monday next, to request of the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate the privilege of appearing before the Congress to share with my former colleagues and with you, the American people, my views on the priority business of the Nation and to solicit your views and their views. And may I say to the Speaker and the others, if I could meet with you right after these remarks, I would appreciate it.

Even though this is late in an election year, there is no way we can go forward except together and no way anybody can win except by serving the people’s urgent needs. We cannot stand still or slip backwards. We must go forward now together.

To the peoples and the governments of all friendly nations, and I hope that could encompass the whole world, I pledge an uninterrupted and sincere search for peace. America will remain strong and united, but its strength will remain dedicated to the safety and sanity of the entire family of man, as well as to our own precious freedom.

I believe that truth is the glue that holds government together, not only our Government but civilization itself. That bond, though strained, is unbroken at home and abroad.

In all my public and private acts as your President, I expect to follow my instincts of openness and candor with full confidence that honesty is always the best policy in the end.

My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule. But there is a higher Power, by whatever name we honor Him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice but mercy.

As we bind up the internal wounds of Watergate, more painful and more poisonous than those of foreign wars, let us restore the golden rule to our political process, and let brotherly love purge our hearts of suspicion and of hate.

In the beginning, I asked you to pray for me. Before closing, I ask again your prayers, for Richard Nixon and for his family. May our former President, who brought peace to millions, find it for himself. May God bless and comfort his wonderful wife and daughters, whose love and loyalty will forever be a shining legacy to all who bear the lonely burdens of the White House.

I can only guess at those burdens, although I have witnessed at close hand the tragedies that befell three Presidents and the lesser trials of others.

With all the strength and all the good sense I have gained from life, with all the confidence my family, my friends, and my dedicated staff impart to me, and with the good will of countless Americans I have encountered in recent visits to 40 States, I now solemnly reaffirm my promise I made to you last December 6: to uphold the Constitution, to do what is right as God gives me to see the right, and to do the very best I can f or America.

God helping me, I will not let you down.

Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:05 p.m. in the East Room at the White House following administration of the oath of office by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger. The oath of office and the President’s remarks were broadcast live on radio and television. The White House announced that Richard Nixon’s letter of resignation as 37th President of the United States was tendered to Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger in his White House office by Assistant to the President Alexander M. Haig, Jr., at 11:35 a.m.

May 30 – Rest, comrades

Rest, comrades, rest, sleep.
Yours, the suffering been. Ours,
shall be memory

My Great Uncle Peter De Young, Wounded in Action, August, 1918 Juvigny, France
Photograph of the 32nd Division in action at Juvigny, France, August, 1918

Decoration Day

Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry’s shot alarms!

Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon’s sudden roar,
Or the drum’s redoubling beat.

But in this camp of Death
No sound your slumber breaks;
Here is no fevered breath,
No wound that bleeds and aches.

All is repose and peace,
Untrampled lies the sod;
The shouts of battle cease,
It is the Truce of God!

Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
Your rest from danger free.

Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When I was a kid, Decoration Day or Memorial Day was May 30th.

My Grandpa Hendricson would pick my Hendrickson cousins on the south end of Grand Rapids and then drive to the North End and pick up the Hoffman’s and take us to the Memorial Day Parade in downtown Grand Rapids.

Off to the John Ball Park Zoo after the parade and then to Grandma’s house on Elliot St. and pick up Grandma Hendrickson and pots pans of Chili and Goulash, wrapped in newspaper and tied up with string.

With about 10 kids, Grandpa and Grandma in the car, Grandpa drove over to Aunt Wanda’s or Aunt Joan’s house for the family picnic.

It was a great day to be a kid.

May 27 – One Flag

one flag, one nation
indivisible liberty
and justice for all

Flag Day, Fifth Avenue, July 4th 1916 by Frederick Childe Hassam (October 17, 1859 – August 27, 1935) The most distinctive and famous works of Hassam’s later life comprise the set of some thirty paintings known as the “Flag series”. He began these in 1916 when he was inspired by a “Preparedness Parade” (for the US involvement in World War I), which was held on Fifth Avenue in New York (renamed the “Avenue of the Allies” during the Liberty Loan Drives of 1918). Thousands participated in these parades, which often lasted for over twelve hours.

(first version)
“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

1892 to 1923
(early revision by Bellamy)
“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

1923 to 1924
“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

1924 to 1954
“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

(current version, per 4 U.S.C. §4)
“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.”

May 26 – minds most clouded

at minds most clouded
consequences multiply
risk being honest

Nirmal Purja’s picture of the overcrowded approach to the summit of Everest last week. Photograph: Nirmal Purja/Project Possible/AFP

Inspired by:

Mountaineering is a physical pursuit demanding an affinity for suffering. Where it is cerebral is in its requirement of good judgment, most importantly in extreme situations when the mind is most clouded and consequences of bad decision-making tend to multiply.

Considering risks requires being honest with yourself. At what climbers call the objective level, that involves assessing dangers you may encounter – weather, avalanches, poor rock, even whether there will be overcrowding on your route.

Taken from: Why I won’t be joining the queue at the top of Everest –

A startling picture of overcrowding near the summit shows the peril of turning the mountain into a form of adventure tourism

by Peter Beaumont

May 24 – Kitchen table

kitchen table
set for breakfast, room smelled
of coffee, bacon

Admit it, you can smell the bacon.

You can smell the bacon and it made you smile.

Last week while visiting my sister Lisa, she made bacon and eggs from breakfast on cold dreary day and I can still smell that happy smell.

This is based on this excerpt from Charlotte’s Web.

When Mr. Arable returned to the house half an hour later, he carried a carton under his arm. Fern was upstairs changing her sneakers. The kitchen table was set for breakfast, and the room smelled of coffee, bacon, damp plaster, and wood smoke from the stove.

Yesterday’s quote from Charlotte’s Web got me to thinking about this great book.

Sure sure it’s all about teaching kids about life and death and everything.

But for me it was just a joy to read and have read to you.

I never saw the great, dark picture of life that others painted from the book. (This is a reoccurring theme in my life of missing the possible intended pathos for the romance.)

Much of what is written about Charlotte’s Web reminds me of when I was in college and one Professor assigned a book that was written by another Professor at Michigan that I had a good relationship with.

To answer the first Professor’s assigned questions about the book, I walked over to talk to the Professor who had authored it.

That Professor looked at me, tossed the paper with the questions on his desk and said, “That guy has been telling me things about my book I never knew since I got here.”

EB White himself read the book for a recording and you can listen to it hear from YouTube.

(If you want to download this as an MP3 and add to your phone to listen to later or while at pool, use

For me, the magic of hearing EB White reading his words in his New England accent with his own phrasing, pausing, infliction and emphasis is real and beyond words.

You can smell the bacon and wood smoke and can hear the geese and see the barn.

One last tidbit on the book, I read somewhere that when EB White submitted the manuscript to his publisher, it was ready to go to press without any EDITING.

On the one hand, what else would you expect?

On the other hand, it is still a fascinating comment on EB White.

May 23 – such a different day

Woke up to alarm
it’s such a different day
after a good sleep

Wake up refreshed.

Who thought such a goal would be so desired and so seldom realized.

I wake up some mornings and sincerely thank God for a beautiful, restorative rest.

And the impact it makes on the day to come cannot be under estimated.

Where is sleep and why is so hard to come by?

The night seemed long. Wilbur’s stomach was empty and his mind was full. And when your stomach is empty and your mind is full, it’s always hard to sleep.

From Charlotte’s Web by EB White

May 22 – Standing by the door

Standing by the door
Last sips of coffee, comfort
My resolve kicks in

Sometimes the bravest person in the world is the one who sets down their coffee cup, gets into their car and backs out of the driveway.

In his Gospel, Matthew writes:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34 (NIV)

I was going to write that the troubles of my day cannot measure up to the guy trying to cross the border in Texas.

But who can say?

Each day has trouble of its own SPECIFIC to me.

Only I can know the height and depth of how these troubles affect myself.

I shouldn’t discount what I am going through even if I think my trouble’s don’t ‘measure up’.

Don’t discount ever, the trouble in each day.