Hail Columbia!


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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On October 8, 2012, Americans solemnly celebrated Columbus Day, marked by parades and pageantry, and mugs of fake red blood splashed on namesake statues.

A few activists consider this day as a “day of celebration of genocide. ” However, most of these protesters are unaware that the customary holiday they are protesting against previously performed an invaluable function in shaping a nation of people capable of being attentive to their issues.

Even today, Christopher Columbus is a compelling icon of American nationalism His name, transposed as Columbia, evolved into a historical and poetic term for the female embodiment of the United States of America. The American people situated their capital in the District of Columbia and adopted “Hail, Columbia!” as their unofficial anthem.

The Italian immigrants who arrived in thousands, in the later part of the nineteenth century, noticed the reverence paid to their celebrated countryman. However, they faced levels of hostility and discrimination based mainly on views that they displayed ignorance, lethargic or adverse to labor interests, and often portrayed as crude, hostile, and inassimilable into the American society, and subjected to abuse on account of their Catholicism. Several American nativists deemed Italians racially mediocre – the disparity being visible by their swarthy skins.

In 1891, New Orleans witnessed a terribly violent occasion, the lynching of 11 Italians – the largest mass lynching in American history. It provoked an international crisis. An editorial in the New York Times declared the Sicilians “a pest without mitigation.” It also asserted, “our own rattlesnakes are as good citizens as they.”

The animosity towards the Italians prompted many nativists to reject Columbus and search for a racially acceptable discoverer of the New World. They found him in a Viking explorer known as Leif Erikson, believed to be the first recorded Nordic person to have visited the area that is now the United States, Baffin Island and Labrador around 1000 CE. The Norwegian immigrants eager to find acceptance of their own promoted the exploits of the Viking explorer recorded in the Icelandic sagas.

American nativists went crazy. Artifacts purported to be of Viking origin were duly unearthed, and Viking motifs began to ornament architectural structures. The renowned Harvard chemist Eben Norton Horsford in his “Discovery of America by Northmen: Address at the Unveiling of the Statue of Leif Eriksen, Delivered in Faneuil Hall, Oct. 29, 1887″ claimed for the Norsemen “the honor of having discovered America, five hundred years before Columbus.” He concluded that Leif Erikson had made landfall in Cambridge.

Leif Erikson

Leif Erikson

In 1887, a committee of assorted worthies, comprising Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, and Charles W. Eliot raised funds to erect a statue of Leif Erikson in the midst of the stately residences of Boston’s Back Bay.

Today, October 9, United States observe Leif Erikson Day, which does not associate with any event in his life. On October 9, 1825, the small Norwegian sloop “Resturasjonen,” often called the “Norwegian Mayflower,” arrived in New York with 52 emigrants from Stavanger, Norway. On this day onward began, the organized immigration from Scandinavia to the United States.

The campaign for Leiff Erikson routinely crossed over into an explicit denigration of Catholics and impugning Columbus. It seemed “necessary for the truth, as to the discovery of America, to be established immediately” an endorser of Norse precedence expressed lest accepting the claims of Columbus would steer Americans to “yield to the foulest tyrant the world has ever had, the Roman Catholic power!

After all, if America did not acknowledge its existence to an Italian Catholic, then there would be no need to accept his immigrant compatriots.

Historian Joanne Mancini says, “At a moment of increasing fear that the nation was committing race suicide, the thought of Viking ghosts roaming the streets of a city increasingly filled with Irish, Italian, and Jewish hordes must have been comforting to an Anglo-Saxon elite.

Such attacks certainly enjoyed a support for some time, but by the end of the nineteenth century, the anti-Catholic bigotry waned off. Leaders of the establishment promote a Columbus stripped of his ethnic and religious characteristics, as an icon for patriotic veneration.

Francis Julius Bellamy, Author, editor, and Baptist minister hit upon the idea of a national celebration of Columbus Day in the schools to mark the anniversary, “to assimilate these children to an American standard of life and ideas.”

For the indigenous American Indians, Columbus Day is a “celebration” of survival.

Diana King, a member of the White Earth Indian Nation in northern Minnesota and a teacher in the school system there says, “Columbus Day is a chance to teach about who we once were, what has become of us since Europeans arrived on our shores, and who we are today — a struggling but surviving people… I want teachers to teach more about Indian civilization just like they do with Egyptian or European history,”

“Our history did not begin with Christopher Columbus,” she added.

On October 14, 2013, Americans will celebrate the next Columbus Day.

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Festival of Our Lady of Good Health, Vailankanni, in Washington DC


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj .

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The Oratory of Our Lady of Good Health, Vailankanni, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.

The Oratory of Our Lady of Good Health, Vailankanni, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

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On Saturday, September 8, 2012, devotees from Washington DC, Maryland, New Jersey and other parts throughout the country, and from Canada, undertook the pilgrimage to Washington DC. They celebrated the feast of “Our Lady of Good Health,” Vailankanni at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. The Most Revered Antony Devotta, Bishop of Tiruchirapalli, India, officiated as the main celebrant for the Pilgrimage Mass.

The members of the Indian American Catholic Association (IACA) – Tamils, Keralites, Anglo-Indians, Mangaloreans, Goans, Bengalis, Sinhalese, Asian Pacific Catholics, and other devotees organized the annual pilgrimage.

In 1997, the IACA realized its dream of establishing an oratory to “Our Lady of Good Health,” Vailankanni, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in Washington, DC. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the inauguration of the Oratory. This beautiful chapel at the nation’s principal Marian Shrine has become one of the most visited at the Basilica.

The devotees prayed and sang hymns in a variety of Asian languages – Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, Marathi, Konkani, Bengali, Sinhalese, etc.

It turned out to be a valuable experience for me and my family members. We participated in the celebrations that conveyed the vibrant Indian traditions mingled with spiritual, cultural and ethnic heritage in a spirit of cooperation and harmony in Washington DC., United States.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Movement


On March 31, 2012 my grandson rode “The Smithsonian Carousel”

This old carousel called “The Smithsonian Carousel” at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.is not big, but is a big draw on the Mall for kids – young and old. Even if you are not so young like me, it is still fun to just see a bit of old-world fun and the old horses.

We went by train to the National Mall

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The Carousel on the National Mall, Washington, DC.


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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On March 31, 2012 my wife and I visited the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Click here on this link to see a fantastic –> photo of the National Mall and The Capitol in Washington, DC.

Near the Smithsonian Castle, on Jefferson Drive, on the National Mall, is an authentic carousel with brilliantly painted hand-carved animals.

This old carousel called “The Smithsonian Carousel” is not big, but is a big draw on the Mall for kids – young and old. Even if you are not so young like me, it is still fun to just see a bit of old-world fun and the old horses .

The Smithsonian carousel was built in the 1940s by the Allan Herschell Co., but its history is far richer than the families who frequent it might suspect.

Before the carousel arrived on the Mall in 1981, it was a popular attraction at Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Woodlawn, Maryland, one of the region’s most booming parks. Gwynn Oak, as many amusement parks were at that point of time, was for whites-only.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the famous speech “I Have a Dream” on August 28, 1963.  According to Amy Nathan, author of “Round and Round Together, “Gwynn Oak Amusement Park dropped segregation on the very same day as the March on Washington, and on that day, Sharon Langley was the first African-American child to go on a ride there.”

For more history about the carousel read this article –> The Carousel on the Mall: Spinning civil rights history.

LOCATION:
Carousel on the National Mall
900 Jefferson Drive, SW
Washington, D.C. 20024

METRO:
Smithsonian Metro Station (Blue, Orange)
L’enfant Plaza Metro Station (Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow)
Archives Metro Station (Green, Yellow)

HOURS:
March 1 to Eve of Labor Day: Daily 10 am to 5:30 pm
Labor Day to February 28: Daily 11 am to 5 pm
Closed on December 25.

ADMISSION: $3.50

A friend said that he took his kid to the mall In November last year and the price for the ride was $2.50 and he hitched a free ride with his toddler. So, it was free then for the paremt or guardian if the children were under 42″ high or needed supervision.

As of April 30, 2011 the ridce costs $3.50. And if your child is under 42″, and even if you aren’t going to ride a horse, you have to pay for an extra ticket to supervise them.

The Shiloh Shepherds


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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The Shiloh Shepherd is the most awesome rare breed of dog on earth, first developed in the 1970s by Tina M. Barber, who has been involved with German Shepherd dogs all of her life. She breeds American Kennel Club German Shepherd Dogs (AKC), trains and titles dogs for NASA Schutzhund and personal protection, lectures across the country, writes many articles for major publications such as the GSQ, publishes Shiloh Shepherd newsletter.

She started her own training kennel and breeding program in 1962. Thus began her quest to develop the ultimate companion.

The Shiloh Shepherds are meant to resemble the German Shepherds but their coats can be a variety of colors and color mixes. Shiloh Shepherds are larger and have a straighter back than most modern Alsatians and German Shepherds.

They are bred for their intelligence, size, and stable temperaments. Very gentle with little children, they compete in obedience and agility. They can baby-sit children, lead a blind person safely across the streets and do a lot of other chores. They work as therapy dogs, search and rescue dogs, livestock guardians and service assistance. They are often reared as family protectors.

In 1962 Tina had a dream. She was obsessed with producing the “perfect” dog. With no degree in genetics, she developed efficient genetic research methods. She went beyond research and theory. Here are her own words:

“I knew in my heart what I wanted to produce….. SUPER INTELLIGENCE…HUGE SIZE… GREAT HIPS!!! Those where my 3 “biggies” but I also wanted a specific  “TYPE”– a “look” that would stop traffic!!! I worked very hard during those first 12 years, but I just couldn’t get the “package” I dreamt of! I would get HUGE size, but the hips would fall apart! I would get super intelligence, with good hips, but they would be small “bitchy headed” ugly (foxy looking) dogs! I would get looks, with no brains! A few nice ones would raise my hopes, but then they would produce absolute nightmares!! I was actually about to give up the whole “dream” as a totally unattainable fantasy! The money, time and energy I expended, didn’t reap any kind of reward, only heartbreak! There was no such thing as a “perfect” Shepherd type!!! After 12 YEARS of disappointments, I realized that without a “miracle” my dream was about to die!

“… Nevertheless, I finally gave up my pride & invited Jesus as my personal saviour on 2/26/74. Being a rebellious child, the first thing I did was to start “fleecing” my Saviour! Then one day while I was reading the story of Hannah, how she desperately wanted a child (she was barren) and how she went to SHILOH, to the house of the Lord to petition him for a son…promising that if he granted her desire, she would dedicate her son back to the Lord, etc… I realized that this was what I had to do too! So I went out to my kennel, and sat among my dogs, and grabbed a hold of the throne room, petitioning the Lord to grant MY DREAM!! Promising him that I would ALWAYS acknowledge him as my partner in life, as well as in the creation of these magnificent animals, and that FOREVER they would carry his name, and the symbol of his provision (the Fish) as a testimony to him! It was on that day that I changed my Kennel name to Shiloh Shepherds™.

“The word “Shiloh” appears in the Bible 33 times. Thirty-three is the number of PROMISE!!”

Plush Coat Shiloh Shepherd Dog

Plush Coat Shiloh Shepherd Dog (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1990s Tina’s dogs entered the rare breed world as Shilohs Shepherds, named for the kennel of origin. She wrote the Shiloh Shepherd Breed Standard. You can view it by clicking on this link

Illustrated Shiloh Shepherd Breed Standard

The Shiloh Shepherd is still under development but stands as a model of what pure breeding is all about.

On March 31, 2012 my wife Assuntha and I with our son Subas, daughter-in-law Ligia and grandson Rohan were lucky to be at the The Blossom Kite Festival on National Mall in Washington, DC. There, we saw a group of Shiloh Shepherds with their owners. They were huge and burly but looked benignly gentle, calm, and not a bark.

We were very much fascinated by these gentle dogs because this was the first time we have seen such fine specimens. In fact we have not seen such a handsome breed in India.

One dog named Ender owned by a young man Kevin was the only one active among the 6 shepherds that were there; others were lying serenely besides their owners who caressed them ever so lovingly.

My grandson Rohan was exuberant when he saw those gracious, amiable and gentle super intelligent Shiloh Shepherds and from the way he got all agitated we understood that he wanted to pet them.

The owners of the Shiloh Shepherds were glad when I asked them permission to photograph them with their pets. Kevin the owner of Ender was happy and eager to allow my grandson Rohan to pet his Ender.

Here is a video of my grandson and the group of gentle Shiloh shepherds.

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Blossom Kite Festival 2012 on the National Mall in Washington, DC


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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The Blossom Kite Festival, previously named the “Smithsonian Kite Festival”, is a traditional annual event, that takes place on the National Mall in Washington, DC, during the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Blossom Kite Festival 2012 on the National Mall in Washington, DC. (Photo: V.A. Subas Raj)

This year’s event has an international focus and the theme is “100 years of friendship,” encompassing 100 years of  blossoms, Japan-US friendship and springtime in Washington, DC.

My wife Assuntha and I were lucky to be at the The Blossom Kite Festival on National Mall in Washington, DC on March 31, 2012. There we watched colourful kites flown by little ones to old ones and enjoyed the joy, laughter and smiles all around us

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2012 Centennial of Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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Year 2012 is a once in a lifetime centennial celebration year to celebrate  the gift of 3,020 cherry blossom trees from the people of Japan to the people of the United States.

A century ago, a world-famous chemist and first president of Daiichi Sankyo Co, Ltd, Dr. Jokichi Takamine, played a pivotal role in arranging the gift of trees from the City of Tokyo to Washington, DC.

On March 27, 1912, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo City donated the trees to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and to celebrate the continued close relationship between the two nations.

First Lady Taft and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted the first two cherry trees on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin. These two original trees are still standing today near the John Paul Jones statue at the south end of 17th Street. Workmen planted the rest of the trees around the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park. Even after a century the trees have spread their roots and survived the elements, and have withstood the test of time.

This year the centennial celebration of the gift of trees will be celebrated from  March 20 – April 27, 2012 in Washington, DC.

On March 23, 2012, my wife and I were in Washington, DC. We felt blessed to be in US during this centennial of the gift of trees. I took countless photographs that day.

Here I have embedded a video that I created using my photos. It was an unforgettable evening that we spent surrounded by cherry blossom. The music playing in the background is one that I enjoy listening without tiring – Carlos Santana’s ever green “Flor D’Luna (Moonflower)”.

Spring Forward to DST


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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Yesterday at 1:30 pm I received a phone call from my elder daughter Sujatha who lives in Palayamkottai, Tirunelveli, India. I asked her “Is it an emergency call? Isn’t it midnight over there? Shouldn’t you be sleeping?”

She laughed and said, “Appa, it’s only eleven o’clock in the night, not midnight.”

Then it dawned on me. I remembered my daughter-in-law, Ligia, telling my wife that morning something about daylight saving time coming into force in the Eastern Time Zone (EST) where Elkridge, MD is.

In India we don’t have this phenomenon called Daylight Saving Time (DST) since in most part of the country we have almost equal amount of daytime and night-time the whole year round.

Daylight-saving time, or DST, is the period of the year when clocks are moved one hour ahead. This has the effect of creating more sunlit hours in the evening during months when the weather is the warmest. The clocks are advanced ahead by one hour at the beginning of DST, and are moved  back one hour (“spring forward, fall back”) to return to standard time (ST).

The  transition from ST to DST has the effect of moving one hour of daylight from the morning to the evening; and the transition from DST to ST effectively moves one hour of daylight from the evening to the morning.

Yesterday, Sunday, March 11 at 2 a.m., the Eastern Time Zone officially switched from standard time to DST, giving us a later sunrise and sunset. DST will now be in effect for 238 days, or about 65% of the year. DST will end at 2 a.m. on November 4, 2012.

So, from yesterday, the time difference between New Delhi, India and Washington DC, USA is -9:30 hours instead of -10:30 hours.

New Delhi is 9:30 hours ahead of Washington DC. That means when it is 8:00 a.m. in Elkridge, Maryland, USA, it is 5:30 pm in Palayamkottai, Tirunelveli, India.

Why does anyone bother with daylight saving time in the first place?

Benjamin Franklin, the 18th century icon, is widely credited with coming up with the concept of daylight saving time in one of his satiric essays. He suggested a later sunset to decrease the use of fuel for artificial lights.

In an effort to conserve fuel, war-torn Germany, during World War I, was the first country in the world to introduce Daylight Saving Time (DST). Germany began observing DST on May 1, 1916. As the war progressed, most countries in Europe followed suite.

United States introduced the Standard Time Act on March 19, 1918 that established standard time zones and set summer Daylight Saving Time  to begin on March 31, 1918. Though the idea of DST was beneficial to the country, it was unpopular on many fronts and US Congress abolished DST after the war. DST then became a local option and observed in some states.

When World War II began,on February 9, 1942 President Franklin Roosevelt implemented year-round DST, called “War Time”. It lasted till the last Sunday in September 1945. From the following year, many states and localities in US adopted summer DST.Today, most of the United States and its territories observe DST. However, DST is not observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the state of Arizona.

“There’s a Navajo saying about it,” said Marshall Trimble, Arizona’s State Historian, “That only the U.S. government could believe that when you chop the top off a blanket and sew it on the bottom, you have a longer blanket.”

Some tribes, including the Hopi and, locally, the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe, don’t spring forward in Arizona, but others like the Navajo Indian Reservation, does observe DST. This creates time zone pockets within time zone pockets, causing headaches for travelers in northeastern Arizona.

“Depending on where you’re coming from, you could change your watch, drive a few miles, change it again, drive a few miles and change it again,” said Trimble.