Monday, May 29, 2017

Rolling Thunder and Memorial Day Flowers

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”  – John 15:13

Rolling Thunder 2017 Pentagon south parking lot
Photo: Ileana Johnson
As soon as we exited the metro station, we heard the roar of thousands of motorcycles revving up their engines or simply lining up in the South and North Parking lots of the non-descript Pentagon building. It was a pleasant low seventies day but the sky was grey with heavy cloudy. We had checked the weather forecast and the report said, low percentage of precipitation. As usual, the forecasters were wrong when it comes to predicting the weather, much less the climate change.

Thousands of bikers on Harleys drove for days from places as far away as California, Puerto Rico, New York, Mississippi, Nevada, and Massachusetts. A Canadian group was resting in the green grass overlooking the South parking lot. Some bikers had served in the military, others have not, but they have come from far and wide to pay their respects to prisoners of war and those still missing in action. Each bike was proudly flying the American Stars and Stripes and the POW/MIA black and white flag. A sea of Old Glory bandana-clad Americans were waiting patiently by their bikes for the signal for the Rolling Thunder ride to begin their parade through Washington, D.C.

We got back on the metro for a short trip to Arlington National Cemetery. The mood was more somber there. No sooner had we left the escalator for the main entrance that a heavy downpour soaked everyone to the bone. Few people had come prepared with umbrellas or ponchos but everyone braved the driving rain. It was so wet, the guards had given up screening people at the visitor center and the volunteers fanned across the sections assigned to them.

In lot 33, we picked up our buckets of 133 roses, red, yellow, pink, white, and tangerine, equal to the number of tombs on each row. Big trucks were unloading thousands of buckets of fragrant roses and volunteers picked them up, one by one. I chose pink and red roses, and I stoically trudged through the rain and searing knee and leg pain to our assigned lot 66.

Our section was composed of many Americans who had served in WWI, WWII, Korean, and Vietnam wars. Some had died young, some on the first day of a war, some on the last day, and some died of old age. Entire families had lost their men, and a few lost the father and the son(s).

My husband David saluted each time as he placed a rose and thanked the person marked on the gravestone for his/her service. Strangely, we were instructed to not place flowers on the graves marked with a Star of David. I did not question why, I assumed it was a religious custom.

My tears were washed away by the deluge and I had a hard time holding the camera. Thousands and thousands of rows of white marble headstone of all the selfless Americans are just names to many, but they were highly decorated Heroes who served our country in so many God forsaken places and died on foreign soil so that we may now live so well and free.

A woman’s name and her year of death was often inscribed on the back of the headstone, as the widow wished to be buried with her Hero husband and chose his gravesite as her eternal resting place.

Each rose, placed one foot in front of the headstone, was a tribute to soldiers who served our country their entire lives or who died liberating people who never thanked them and perhaps never truly appreciated their ultimate sacrifice.

My physical pain and discomfort was a small sacrifice when compared to what these heroic soldiers had done. I was there to thank them for giving me freedom from oppressive communism and the opportunity to thrive and live a good life.

There was a feeling of camaraderie all around us; entire families, parents, children, grandchildren, grandparents, or lone individuals were carrying around buckets of roses and placing them lovingly one by one at each grave, thanking that person for their service and sacrifice.

People had a mixture of sadness and joy on their faces as they were waiting at the metro station; everyone was soaked and shivering but nobody complained. I could only imagine the marches our soldiers had made through jungles, strange territories, in rain, sunshine, and snow, and how many had died fighting while exposed to the harsh elements.

May the Memory Be Eternal for all the selfless men and women, our true Heroes, who gave their lives for our freedom and comfort! May their ultimate sacrifice remind us that “freedom is not free!”




Monday, May 22, 2017

Agenda 21/2030 Foreshadows the Convention of States

The recently installed speed tables around the mall are too high, the asphalt around is crumbling and deep pools of rain water are gathering around them as there is no proper drainage. These were totally unnecessary; on any given day traffic is backed up and very slow, nobody is speeding. They were installed to make it more difficult for people to use their cars to go shopping; the regional planners want residents to use the new metro line and the bus lines already in existence.  They want to “nudge” Americans out of their cars.

The entire area is now extremely congested thanks to the many high-rise, mixed-use apartments overbuilt to suffocating capacity. The construction of the metro line eliminated more driving roads and businesses.  

The EZPass lanes from the Beltway were reallocated without much input from the American taxpayers and given to investors who now scalp drivers during rush hour by as much as $30 per 8-mile commute one way. Because the average commuter cannot afford such confiscatory rates, now the interstate is even more congested. Before EZPass, when the lanes were HOV, anybody could use the lanes for free during non-rush hours and during rush hour if they had 2-3 occupants per car. It seemed very equitable; these roads were built with taxpayer’s money. The investing group claimed that they had spent a few billions in improvements.

Bicycle paths are being built everywhere , downtowns are closed to traffic completely, streets are narrowed to make driving more inconvenient, parking lots are eliminated, parking garages charge exorbitant fees, and high-rises are built without any parking spaces, all in an effort to discourage Americans to own a car and eventually to force them into public transportation.

New York boasts 400 miles of bike paths; they have transformed Times Square into a pedestrian zone, “equity of space” as planners said, where everyone can relax and spend quality time with each other rather than alone in cars, driving all the time. What if one needs to rush somewhere?

Millennials are first in line to advocate for bike paths but I don’t see any of them biking to work on the dangerous Beltway to and from D.C.; they are usually alone in their Beamers.

I am familiar with the proletariat masses having no cars during my years of living under a communist regime. We stayed close to home, within a 40 mile radius by bus or train, or as far as we could bike, or our feet could carry us. But the ruling elite had chauffeurs, elegant cars, and planes at their disposal.

Progressives are telling us or forcing us to tighten our carbon foot print belts, to use less water, less air conditioning, less electricity, to eat less meat, drive tin can Smart Cars, and build tiny apartments, while they live in mega mansions by the sea, sail in huge yachts, ride in limos, jet around the world to resorts and climate change conferences, and own many expensive cars running on fossil fuels.

Most people don’t know that all these changes are deliberate and have been implemented for decades under the aegis of United Nations’ Agenda 21/2030 and sold to Americans as Sustainable Development, regionalism, and Smart Growth/Green Growth, encompassing every facet of our lives.

Every state in the U.S., every nation on the planet that had signed onto U.N. Agenda 21 in 1992 is now a victim of Sustainable Development, the lynchpin of U.N. Agenda 21/2030, of social engineering, of regionalism, of urbanism, and of the “nudge” out of cars and into public transportation, buses, light rail, and long distance trains.

Regulations have been proven more restrictive and draconian than legislation. The people’s behavior has been modified bit by bit to align with the visions of the members of the Club of Rome who allegedly wrote U.N. Agenda 21.  Adults and children are conditioned and controlled to adhere to the core desires of those who designed Agenda 21.  The name Common Core Education and its Standards were not chosen randomly, it was a step towards indoctrination into their goals.

Take for instance the implantation of chips in trash containers in Manningham, Australia.  City officials have spent $6 million to retrofit bins with chips that supposedly help them find lost containers and monitor what substances people put in their garbage. The microchipped bins and the garbage trucks cameras help Big Brother pay close attention to what residents throw out and if their waste is on the approved list; if not, the offending resident is fined $200. “In cases where minor visible contamination is found, a warning sticker is placed on the bin lid to educate residents on what can and can’t be placed in the bin.”

The American Planning Association with other professional organizations have been instrumental in the deployment of U.N.’s Agenda 21/2030 through the voluntary design of architects and engineers who will do the bidding of those who reward them with grants and money. Federal grants fund local deployment of U.N.’s Agenda 21/2030.

As A.J. Cameron said, “Closing the gap on income inequality is not about shifting money and resources from the wealthy to the needy, it is about destroying the middle class to make everyone needy, except for those forcing the insanity upon the masses. In the meantime, the predatory puppeteers become wealthier and evermore powerful. Sustainability is a religion that is more dangerous than Islam.”

Kathleen Marquardt, Vice President of the American Policy Center, wrote recently about Austin’s ‘Complete Streets’ policy. “If Austin planners have their way, they’ll impose a California-style ‘complete streets’ congestion-inducing nightmare. Complete streets policies seek to elevate non-auto modes of travel by using already scarce funds to construct bike, bus, and pedestrian facilities while reducing capacity and access for autos.”

Marquardt mentioned San Francisco’s Proposition A which passed in November 2016. “The $500 million bond measure [aims] to impose a variety of traffic calming measures, which actually do anything but calm traffic. Rather they induce traffic.  The measure includes speed bumps, road diets, traffic circles, intersection islands, train upgrades, expanding bus stops, special boarding islands or ‘bulbs’ for buses (which undoubtedly take up road space needed for efficient auto travel) and transit-only lanes.”

The most focused and resolute advocate for property rights, the most important element of Sustainable Development, is the President of American Policy Center, Tom DeWeese. For over twenty-five years he has been educating groups around the country on the dangers of U.N. Agenda 21, now morphed into Agenda 2030.

Livable, walkable communities have sprung up all over the country, following the Smart Growth example of Portland, Oregon, a grand plan that destroyed the neighborhood atmosphere, increased population density, increased congestion, and escalated crime.

The Smart Growth plans have backfired, driving up prices beyond the reach of most people. The young and low income people are now forced to rent and the poor have no hope of ever buying a home and experiencing the American dream of home ownership. In Portland, according to Tom DeWeese, after decades of Smart Growth policies, more than 10,000 minority families were driven out their homes and in the San Francisco Bay area minority families were relocated against their will into “preferred development areas.”

Tom DeWeese is working on a book to define private property and why it is so important to create personal wealth and freedom, the single best way to eradicate poverty. “The book, with the working title, ‘Property Rights Matter,’ will contain a detailed plan on how to restore property rights, from the Great Plains to the inner city.” He is putting together a team of experts to draft such a plan.  His Property Rights Network will make property rights a national issue in local, state, and national elections. It will include organizations, individual activists, and elected representatives who advocate for property rights.

Tom DeWeese focuses on “how we can roll back regulations that prevent folks in the inner cities from not only owning and controlling their property, but also destroy or prevent the establishment of local businesses. Under Smart Growth programs inner city ethnic neighborhoods are being bulldozed and replaced with expensive high rise ‘walkable’ communities which the lower income folks cannot afford. So they are displaced into federal housing project, stuck on the government’s plantation. They live a life of intimidation in a world full of crime and hopelessness.” He plans to reach out to small business associations to help bring about a non-government, free enterprise solution to build a life of their own and to improve their own neighborhoods.

DeWeese wrote, “Meanwhile, in the western states, where the BLM is a reign of terror, I plan to use the network to focus a large spotlight on it, demand that the states get back control of their land and stop calling it public land.”

DeWeese announced that “the American Policy Center has joined with 40 other organizations to urge President Trump to keep his campaign promise to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement. He is now under massive pressure to ignore that promise.” Such agreement made under the Obama administration would be disastrous for our industry and our economy.

Under the excuse of stopping global warming and carbon footprint, your water, gas, and electricity consumption are monitored and controlled via smart meters. HOAs tell you what to do in your suburban home if you were lucky to have been allowed to build in what the planners call “urban sprawl.” In some areas, if you own land, you cannot build a single family home; you must build a high-rise, mixed-use apartment complex with no parking spaces.

In Maryland, unless your land is close to a sewer system, you cannot build a home with a septic tank; you have to build on approved corridors.

In Miami, bike paths will become bike highways. If they run close to your home and your favorite magnolia tree that is cut down without your permission, too bad; the regional council who gave the grant is not responsible for what happens to your home or your property. No one takes responsibility but shadowy NGOs  with unchecked power,  armed with grants, will decide what will happen to your property.

“More government power leads to more government corruption,” said Tom DeWeese. Protecting the environment and having clean air, water, and soil, is important, but oppressing Americans in the name of environmental protection and preventing manufactured global warming is a farce that aims to control our living.

Speaking recently to a group in Virginia, Tom DeWeese explained that the Convention of States advocates keep telling us that all these Agenda 21 problems will be fixed and government overreach will be brought under control if we just amend the Constitution one more time. But the shadow leftist government wants to completely change our nation, not fix it, and to replace the Constitution with their own version, a progressive constitution, an environmental green constitution, and any leftist constitution that harmonizes with international law. And all the George Soros funded organizations are busy incorporating their agenda into the progressive U.S. Constitution waiting in the wings to replace the old and archaic, out of touch U.S. Constitution. The “democracy” the leftists keep bringing up is nothing but a means to grab political power.  We are not a democracy, we are a constitutional republic. But if the left repeats a lie non-stop, the uninformed masses believe it.

The Constitution provides no guidelines on how delegates for a Convention of States are chosen, who does the selection, and how it will run.  The precedent has already been set when the original Convention of States did not focus on the specific orders given by their states; once delegates were locked inside the convention hall, the wishes of the states were immediately ignored, and the chosen delegates became the most powerful force in the country, with no “boss.” When they emerged, we had a new Constitution.

DeWeese asked a rhetorical question, “Why are they trying to redefine our Constitution?  Because everyone is ignoring the law, the left claims that we must have an amendment to force them to do their jobs. What motivations would drive the Schumers, the Pelosis, to say, oh, the Constitution is the law of the land, and we must follow it.”

“Nameless, faceless bureaucrats, yielding power in the backrooms is not freedom. The Constitution is not broken, it is the people we have been put in charge, they are broken,” concluded DeWeese.

Sustainable Development is harmonization of our system of government with the global government envisioned by billionaire elites. Private property ownership is the reason why the United States has been the most successful country on the planet.  “Stand up for property rights and we can stop Sustainable Development,” Agenda 21 , and its sibling, Agenda 2030.








Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Mary's Biology Lab

Mary Davidson, Ph. D.
Photo: Ileana Johnson
There were always oddities residing in and escaping from Mary’s large room on the second floor and storage area serving as biology laboratory and classroom. Strange and unpleasant odors and miasmas were wafting down the hallways from Mary’s biology lab, truly a room of curiosities that attracted some and made others flee for fresh air. She had freezers full of dead cats and frogs ready for dissection. When the formaldehyde smell was so overpowering and nauseating at the same time, we knew Mary and her students were preparing for dissection and the critters had been brought out of the freezers. We opened windows to air out the smell but, despite our efforts, the stench became part of our clothes, our skin, and our nostrils for that week.

There was a tarantula and a pet snake that kept escaping from their glass enclosures and terrariums. Students were always searching for them and finding them in strange places, dehydrated and hungry. Mary was always looking for someone to care for her many pets during vacations and to water her many plants which together resembled a giant Venus fly trap.

There were collections of pressed leaves and flowers gathered from the many trips around Lowndes County and the state of MS. An assortment of rocks stockpiled from trips to caverns was assembled by a few passionate amateur spelunkers who collected them during cave adventures. Soil samples, worms, moths, butterflies, cockroaches, and other insects, live and preserved, were gathering dust and making babies in dark places, in boxes all over the lab, and in the storage area.

Students were taught how to be responsible humans by doing two hours of work service a week for a specific teacher, a lab, or to clean the dreaded bathrooms and hallways. When they had to clean the nasty bathrooms, they were always more careful not to make them really dirty to begin with. Not hiring full time janitors also saved the school money. Some students got cushy assignments; they just had to help a certain teacher grade tests. Others were not so lucky.

Mary was a fantastic teacher and motivator and students loved her but, doing work service for Dr. D, was not exactly an easy assignment as students often had to clean the lab, the tools used, the beakers, and other glass jars. Cleaning the lab was a nightmarish proposition as nobody knew if the caged pets were loose or safely latched. 

One day students had to clean cardboard boxes laden with former students’ projects, tightly taped and not labeled. Mary and a crew of four students were opening these boxes, like Christmas presents, never knowing what mysterious project would be inside, salvaging any glassware contained within, and throwing the rest in a large trash bin.

But one box was unlike the rest. Imagine the protagonists of the movie “The Mummy,” being chased by millions of beetles emerging from the sand and devouring everything in sight. Once this box was opened, hundreds of cockroaches began flowing over everywhere, on the floor, chairs, tables, and pretty much any surface available, including the soles of a female student who was wearing sandals – the roaches crawled in between her feet and the sandals. The students were paralyzed with fear and screaming from the top of their lungs.

Mary jumped into action, closed the two lab doors, and emerged from the storage area with two very large bottles of Raid. She sprayed them copiously into the air as if they were perfumed air fresheners. Laughing copiously as she twirled with the two spraying containers in hands, she reassured the students that “everything was fine.” Choking on Raid fumes, chemicals that no human should have breathed in a confined space, students followed the leader, a farm boy raised around pesticides who had more common sense, and fled the room. We can only hope that the escaped tarantula and other live pets in the lab made a good meal of some of the cockroaches killed by the Raid assault.

No matter how hard Southerners tried to exterminate this pest every month, cockroaches thrived because they survived on very little, like the book binding glue or their own excrement.

Mary passed away a few years later, a victim of metastasized melanoma, and I often wondered if her cancer marker was genetic or environmental. She had certainly exposed herself to so many chemicals on the farm in Woodland, as a graduate student working on a Ph.D. in Biology, and during her teaching career of twenty-two years. Students will always remember her with fondness, her scholarship, kindness, dedication, and infectious smile.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Democrats' Love Affair with Communism

A bill narrowly passed the house in California, repealing part of the law enacted during the Cold War era in our country’s history when communists were really active and infiltrating our government, attempting to overthrow it.

The bill proposed to eliminate the section which allowed the firing of public employees if they were members of the Communist Party. The bill now goes to the Senate and its author, Democrat Assemblyman Rob Bonta, hopes that it will pass.

“Assemblyman Randy Voepel, a Southern California Republican who fought in the Vietnam War, said communists in North Korea and China are still a threat.”

Assemblyman Travis Allen, also a Republican, said that “this bill is blatantly offensive to all Californians. Communism stands for everything that the United States stands against.”

Why the Cold War era laws suddenly need changing is puzzling to other Republicans in the California legislature. It should not surprise anyone, given the fact that California is now ruled by a one party system, the Democrats; they have become advocates for communism, illegal aliens, and a sanctuary for law breakers.

Judging by the communist stance of academia on campuses around the country and the curriculum taught in our public schools, the Antifa fascist anarchists, Black Lives Matter, SEIU, and other “progressive” organizations around the country, communism is their way to attain social, environmental, and gender justice, an utopia that the U.N. is pushing through its many octopus organizations.

Why communism? The youth in this country have been taught revisionist history for a long time. Many have been purposefully asleep, in a drug stupor, or absent during their history classes. Communist teachers with an agenda of their own have glossed over the atrocities that various totalitarian communist dear leaders have committed against their own people.

Communism has been repackaged as globalism, global citizens, no borders, no national language, no culture, and no sovereignty under the rule of a few billionaire elites and the United Nations. And the Democrat Party has been hijacked and is run by communists who are no longer hiding their destructive agenda. Atheists are pushing hard for communism since atheism is the communist state’s sanctioned religion.

In a recent PragerU video, Dennis Prager wondered, “Why Isn’t Communism as Hated as Nazism?” If you consider the almost 100 million victims of communism and the six million victims of the Nazis, why is Nazism always cited as evil but communism praised?

Dennis Prager explained that communism “enslaved entire nations, Russia, Vietnam, China, North Korea, Eastern Europe, Cuba, and much of Central Asia. They ruined the lives of well over a billion people.”

Prager gave the following reasons why communism does not have the evil reputation Nazism has:

1.      “Widespread ignorance of the communist record”

Leftists (not liberals) have never loathed communism, they teach communism as a viable and desirable solution to crony capitalism.

2.      “The Nazis carried out the Holocaust”

The communists killed many more of their own people but they never carried it out in the systematic genocide that the Nazis have engaged in against every woman, man, and child of Jewish descent

3.      “Communism is based on nice sounding theories, Nazism is based on heinous sounding theories”

Teachers have focused their attention on the horrifying atrocities of Nazism and the academia glossed over the evils of communism, calling them “perversions of true communism.”

4.      Germany took responsibility for the evils of Nazism and attempted to make amends for the atrocities committed while the Russian did not apologize for Lenin’s or Stalin’s horrors such as the Holodomor in Ukraine.

Lenin, the father of Soviet communism, is treasured in Russia today. “People still deny, by assertion or implication, Stalin’s holocaust,” said Russian historian, Donald Rayfield, from the University of London. Mao Zedong is still honored in China.

5.      “Communists murdered mostly their own people. Nazis killed very few of their own fellow Germans.”

In the “world opinion” of academic circles, murdering your own countrymen does not carry the same weight as murdering people from other nations.

6.      The left considers the ‘last good war’ fought as WWII.

Lefties do not look at wars against communist regimes as ‘good wars.’ Thus academia considers the Vietnam and Korean Wars against communism as bad wars and the soldiers who fought in them were spat upon when returning home. But Jane Fonda, who sympathized with the Vietnamese and took pictures of herself on their tanks, was glorified by the left.

WWII was a ‘good war’ because the Nazis had occupied many European nations that were subsequently liberated at the end of WWII.

Most high school and college students have no idea what happened to millions of innocents under communism, despite testimonials from many of the survivors of communism. And we were saddened to see anarchists in D.C. cowardly photographing their arms and hands while flipping the Victims of Communism Memorial.

Young leftists mocked those who tried to educate by telling them the truth. They have been so thoroughly brainwashed by their schools that they no longer discern rational thought. They see themselves so diversely open-minded, yet their brains had fallen out long time ago.



Friday, May 5, 2017

My Box of Random Memories

I opened the box carefully. I have not seen its contents since May of 1989 after my Daddy’s passing.  The round Pobeda watch with a blue dial and a brown leather band was the first object I picked up. It was Dad’s watch. He was wearing it the day they threw him off the refinery crane into a pit of metal shavings. I think uncle Ion had replaced the leather band because it looked too new. I was surprised that there was no scratch or evidence of the severe fall that cracked Dad’s skull but this delicate glass did not even have a visible scrape. The winding mechanism still runs; I am not sure if it keeps good time. 

There is a small wooden spoon I painted in the tenth grade with the head of a typical peasant girl dressed in Romanian ethnic scarf. I saved it in memory of my grandmother whom I used to watch prepare food for our family with such a simple wooden spoon decorated with chiseled burns onto the handle.

I pulled out an intricately hand-made leather wallet. I opened the folds and the smell of leather wafted like a fine perfume.  Dad gave it to my husband as a wedding present 40 years ago; it looks as it did the day my Dad purchased it. Bill never wore it because it was too big, it did not fit American dollars but I saved it. There are no slots for credit cards; back then, credit cards were unheard of. We conducted business with cash, personal checks, and traveler’s checks. Farmers used the old system of barter. People strapped for cash paid for the doctor’s visit with chicken or a dozen fresh eggs.

Dad used to order hand-made fine wool suits for his son-in-law but a gentleman farmer did not need such fancy clothes. We always gave them away to a Chinese friend who wore the same size. Dad never knew and he continued to order one new suit each year. I am sure, it cost him a pretty penny. I did not have the heart to tell him to stop; it made him happy to keep my ex well-suited. Dad’s cousin was a cobbler who made fine leather shoes to order. They were beautiful but very uncomfortable. Bill never wore those either. We gave those away too but we did tell Dad the truth about the shoes.

A delicate ladies watch, well-worn, was my gold watch I bought when I first started to work in the U.S. I am not sure why I bought a real gold Swiss watch for the grand sum of $150, my weekly pay. I wanted something that would last a long time, which it did, but also something valuable that no communist would ever confiscate just because they were in power. I was told Wyler Swiss watches  are no longer made.

At the bottom of the box is an album which Mom assembled when Dad passed away. I opened a few pages and I realized that they are all photos from his funeral. So painful to look at his casket, the mourners, the flowers, his frozen face in death, barely recognizable after the long suffering in a hospital that gave him no food or fluid infusions for three weeks prior to his death.  Aunt Marcella fed him droppers of liquid and kept him alive until he lost so much weight that his organs began to fail.

Aunt Marcella, now 92 years old, is still alive and, following a successful broken hip repair surgery, has been moved to a nursing home that caters to the elderly with special medical needs who have no immediate relatives. Such places did not exist under communism, families took care of the elderly. But families have split up all over the world now.

A sterling broach, now tarnished black, is my 1977 wedding present from Dad. He bought it in the Omnia department store in our home town for 900 lei, literally more than his entire month’s salary. He had seen me admire it in the window every time we strolled past the department store on weekends. It was such an extravagant gift! I cleaned it and the delicately woven silver looked brand new again. Tiny amethysts cabochons decorated the round surface. It must have been made in China because it was the only trading partner for fine jewelry during the communist era.

A silver fish pendant, covered in delicate cloisonné scales, was a gift which Mom brought back when she traveled to the home country in the mid-nineties. There is an old silver violin and a frog pin I collected from the early 1980s. They have oxidized as well, not having been touched in decades.

A beaded flower necklace I painstakingly strung bead by bead added color to the Memory Box. I was so homesick and lonely in 1978, I picked up the hobby from a craft book. An experimental artist at heart, I could not afford to paint or draw, materials were hard to find in the backwoods where we lived and probably expensive, way out of reach for our $200 per month income. But beads, a needle, scissors, and fishing nylon thread were cheap. And my eyes were sharp as an eagle’s back then. One solitaire gold earring, still shining, was stuck in the red velvet lining in the corner. I wondered who lost the other one.

A black-beaded and quite heavy evening bag, with its brass snaps and chain turned green from the passage of time, was not missing any of the intricate design opaque beads. Daddy gave it to me before my high school prom to match the red woven polyester dress. I have worn this black bag many times since to parties and held it close to my heart and wrist. It was something tangible from the Old World that I missed so much. And Daddy worked really hard to buy me this special gift.

The brass key to the Memory Box is still held by a red and white silk tassel. The beautiful mother of pearl inlay swirled delicate cranes. The box came all the way from Korea in our friend’s luggage who was assigned there on military duty.  He had expensive taste and knew how to pick lasting gifts. The dark wood and lacquer stood the test of time quite well despite the humidity in the South.  

What will happen to this box one day, who will throw its contents away and replace them with her cherished memories?

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Day is March for Communism

The first day of May is the International Worker’s Day, May Day, or Labor Day, a day promoted by socialists, communists, anarchists, and the labor movement. Even though it is presented on quick search on the web as “an ancient European spring festival,” the date was chosen by the Second International, an organization founded by socialist and communist parties to celebrate the Haymarket event which occurred in Chicago on May 4, 1886, when marchers threw a bomb at police and policemen responded by shooting into the crowd, killing four people.

In 1904 the International Socialist Conference in Amsterdam, the sixth conference of the Second International, “called on all Social Democratic Party organizations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on the First of May for the legal establishment of the 8-hour work day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.”

Around the world, May Day is an opportunity for various socialist, communist, and anarchist groups to demonstrate against their governments. In the People’s Republic of China, North Korea, Cuba, and other similar governments, May Day is a huge workforce parade with soldiers and military equipment while the dear leader salutes and inspects them proudly. Nobody is present there by their own choice.

Even the Catholic Church celebrates May Day since 1955, by dedicating it to Saint Joseph the Worker, the patron saint of workers and craftsmen.

During the Cold War, large military parades were assembled in USSR’s Red Square. The Politburo and other top leaders of the Kremlin were standing on specially built stages by Lenin’s tomb.

May Day for me was a day when everybody was forced from their workplace and schools to demonstrate in front of the dear leader or the communist party leadership in each person’s hometown. The parades were elaborate, we had to wear our best communist uniforms, washed, starched and pressed, with berets, red scarves, and all the insignia given to us by the Communist Party. We had to stand in long lines all day, waiting our turn to parade in front of the elaborately built stages, adorned with red flags with the hammer and sickle, the symbols of the industrial worker and the peasant, thousands of fresh flowers, and portraits of the dear leader and his most prominent and trusted communist advisors.

I was a drummer, I am not sure who picked me since I have no musical talent to speak of, but you could not say no to the all-ruling Communist Party. Other marchers had to sing, carry heavy flags all day, or wave smaller flags in a certain pattern, in unison with their cadenced march.

There was a sense of relief that they all escaped their dirty factories for the day and the drudgery of toiling for small wages, while the students rejoiced in escaping the daily indoctrination, homework, tests, and bad grades.

My daddy was luckier, if you consider forced confinement lucky. Because he was such a big mouth opponent of the communist party and of the dictator Ceausescu in particular, daddy was always locked up at his workplace in lieu of attending these forced marches.

At the end of the day, we were all exhausted, having demonstrated in support of the communist party, a party that did not care for the proletariat, a party that used the proletariat to exploit their labor under the guise of taking care of them and their meager needs. Without the obedient and unarmed proletariat who worked for peanuts, these communist leeches could not have existed.

If you are marching on this May Day, in the freest and most prosperous country in the world and protesting imagined and manufactured oppression, you do not really know your history, you are asking for totalitarian communism, not for freedom.

Copyright:  Ileana Johnson 2017