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Good neighbors in Britain are most interested in the American political system and are as confused about the Electoral college as are many voters back home.  Every four years, sometime around the time of the inauguration, the controversy over the process gets laid aside once again to consider other critical issues. Hopefully, Sandy and the political storms will have abated to the extent that the Nation can get back to the business of being good neighbors.   The devastation of the big storm evokes concern and compassion from new friends.  This last summer as much damage was done to crops in Scotland’s rich farm land by too much rain as was done in the Midwest of the United States by the drought.  Weather everywhere is being unusual.  Champions out in the big world hear that things are just glorious back home and are pleased and excited to be headed that way!

The General reports to Cathie Alsup Riley over in Tennessee.  “Hello Cathie. Sharon and I went to Vera Cruz yesterday (Sat). On Friday and Saturday Civil War reenactors were there (with Cannons and small arms) and had mock battles celebrating the skirmish that took place 150 years ago (7 Nov 1862). Carole Coats Barnhart and her brother Wayne, with wife, kids, and grandkids were also there. Carole and I know you would have enjoyed being there, and now that it’s over, I am thinking you probably didn’t know about it. I will send pictures as soon as one of my kids come by (I’m going to have to learn how to do that).” Bennie Thomas said that he would like to have gone to the event but that he did not know about either.   A note on the internet says, “Once the bustling county seat of Douglas County, MO, the town of Vera Cruz is now simply a beautiful valley in the Ozark hills.  The landowners did not know until years later that their property once housed hundreds and included a courthouse, blacksmith shop, sawmills, gristmill and more, there being no evidence of these structures today.  Nor did they know that a Civil War battle was held at the site on November 7th 1862”  Skyline School kids knew about it and attended the sesquicentennial event and probably had some fun saying, “sesquicentennial.”  It will be exciting to hear just what they have to say about the experience.

Skyline School kids have a nice motto:  Soft paws–not claws!  Their credo is to be respectful, responsible, safe and caring.  First graders, William Litchfield and Hailey Hall have just had their 7th birthdays–William on the third and Hailey on the fourth.  A new student to the school, Lea Anderson, celebrated her birthday on the fifth.  She is a fifth grader and a nice addition to the student body.  She shares her day with Karisa Volner who will be thirteen, a seventh grader, and with Miss Emerson Rose Ogleby, a Champion grandchild.  The General’s lovely spouse, Sharon, will have celebrated on the 6th, and her many friends admire her resilience and her sweet smile.  Mason Solomon will be five years old on the 7th, and Justin Borders will be six.  Richard Heffern’s younger brother has his big day on the 8th and will for a few days be as old as his brother.  Lukas Brown, eighth grader, will be 14 on the tenth.  Amelia Olson will always have a special birthday since she was born on November 11th, celebrated as Veteran’s Day.  Maria Penn and Sherman Hall will both be eleven on the 12th of the month.  They are fifth graders at Skyline.

In 1605, Guy Fawkes was among a group of conspirators who felt that the government was going the wrong way particularly as it related to religion.  Their solution was to blow up Parliament, in spite of the knowledge that some innocent people would be killed.   The plot was spoiled by one who sent a note to a friend suggesting that he not attend that day.  Suspicions were aroused and a search of the cellar under the building found Fawkes with 36 barrels of old gunpowder.  There is speculation that the stuff was so old that it would not have exploded anyway, and it was just happenstance that Fawkes was alone with the evidence when it was discovered.   Bonfires were lit that night, November 5th, 1605, to signify the safety of the King.  That was King James the 1st.  Since then, November 5th has become known as Bonfire Night.  The event is commemorated every year with fireworks and the burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire.  Some of the English have been known to wonder, in a tongue in cheek kind of way, whether they are celebrating Fawkes’ execution or honoring his attempt to do away with the government.  Today, the Queen only attends Parliament once a year and, in advance of her arrival, there is conducted a systematic search of the cellars under the Parliament building.

A beautiful sunny Sunday in Edinburgh was finished off with a few minutes of freezing fog that had photographers out on the Meadows snapping pictures of the eerie site.  The sight-seeing is as interesting here as it is in beautiful downtown Champion.  The Highlands are quite high.  The mountains were largely deforested to support the industrial revolution and people were forced off the land in many cases to make room for sheep.   The Kingdom of Fife has some spots in it that could easily be somewhere along Highway C in the beautiful Ozark Mountains where many of Scotts and English descent are enjoying life now.   It is a small world in that people are very much the same.  The songs are as sweet sung with a little brogue and eyes twinkle similarly with new found affections as friendships are forged.  The American actor and dramatist, John Howard Payne, wrote the words and Englishman, Sir Henry Bishop wrote the melody in 1823, “Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”  Champion!   Looking on the Bright Side!

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