Productive Waiting

I hate to be idle. Even when I’m not doing anything, I like to be busy. A relaxed busy, but busy and productive. So whenever I have to take my car for service, as I did yesterday morning, I face the challenge of finding something productive to do with my time; otherwise, I feel as though I’ve wasted that hour or whatever.

I’ve tried reading the magazines in the waiting room, but few of them interest me. Most of them seem to be geared toward females. Or auto mechanics, which I’m definitely not. I’ve tried taking my own reading material, both physical books and books on my Kindle. But there are just too many distractions. Other customers who talk on their phones (to people who obviously are either deaf or far away because they always seem to shout to them over their phones). A blaring TV. Technicians who come in and out, calling for customers and discussing all the things that the customer absolutely must have done to his or her car today (even if they don’t really). People coming and going to the coffee machine. If it will distract, you’ll find it in the dealership’s waiting room.

I need something that doesn’t require a lot of focused concentration, yet something that is mentally challenging–and that will give me a sense when I leave the waiting room and get my car that I’ve not wasted my time. And yesterday I hit on what just might be the thing. Crossword puzzles.

I’ve always enjoyed working crossword puzzles, and I’m actually pretty good at it, if I so say so myself. Not nearly as good as my mother, of course, who could work them with an ink pen and hardly ever make a mistake. I still use a pencil–and a lot of eraser. I don’t like the too-easy ones or the New York Times-hard ones. The Premier crosswords by Frank A. Longo seem, as baby bear famously said, “Just right.” They make me think. They enlarge my vocabulary. And they give me a sense of accomplishment. I’ll admit, however, that I have some trouble with the clues that involve rock stars, modern actors, and Latin terms, but the older stuff I can usually manage–because I’m old, I guess.

Yesterday, I relinquished my car to the technicians for an oil change and tire rotation and entered an empty (!) waiting room. I brewed myself a cup of coffee in the dealer’s high-tech Keurig; walked past a wall-sized TV that was blaring some dark, sinister sci-fi movie; and nestled into a chair at the far corner of the room. I pulled out my crossword puzzle and went to work. An hour or so later, I finished the puzzle just as the tech came in to tell me that my car was ready. My greatest surprise was that he didn’t even try (as they usually do) to sell me on any repairs–other than replacing the battery on my key.

As I age, I’m becoming more aware of the threat of dementia and Alzheimer’s, especially so now that I find myself forgetting more and more things. (I almost panicked recently when I suddenly realized that I had forgotten to turn off the microphone I was wearing for the narration of the Christmas cantata at church just as the congregation started to sing the closing carol. That assuredly would have been a most grinchly sound!) But my ears perk up whenever I hear a news report that says something helps to prevent or slow the onset of the diseases. Like drinking coffee, eating dark chocolate, and working crossword puzzles. So I’m doing all those things–sometimes all at the same time.

Now, where was I–57 across? “See 68 Down.”

Copyright (c) 2017, Dennis L. Peterson

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No Losses Greater than Holiday Losses

In the past 24 hours, I’ve learned of the deaths of two friends. One, Susan Ridley, went to church with us and was active in our homeschooling community. She was especially dear to several of our daughters as she directed their children’s choir, helped with various plays and programs, etc. She also had a couple of children who were close to them in age (as well as several who were a bit older).

The other death was of a distant cousin and schoolmate from high school. I didn’t know Mike Vandergriff all that well–just knew that we were kin somewhere down the line. He married another distant cousin of mine, Connie Baird. What I remember most about Mike was that he had a soft, somewhat gravelly voice and always had a smile on his face and was friendly to everyone. Connie was one of the students who blew the teacher’s curve, excelling at all of her studies. The two of them made a perfect pair.

Any death around the holidays, especially the Christmas holiday, seems to affect one’s loved ones even more deeply than deaths at other times. That’s not to say that any death at any other time is not hard, but the fact that a death occurs around Christmas means that the holiday will thereafter leave the survivors of the deceased with a bittersweet feeling. While everyone around them is laughing and smiling and joking and feasting in the joyous occasions of the holiday, the survivors will be mourning, even years later.

The two particular deaths in the last few hours hit close to home for me. Mike was my age; he sat behind or beside or in front of me in several classes, and we graduated together. Susan was a bit older than us but was still within my age bracket. And whenever one gets to my age, he finds, as I have, that he seems to know more people in the “with the Lord” column than he does in the weddings, births, or achievements sections of the newspaper or alumni publication.

Such Christmas-season deaths also remind me of my mother. She was killed by a drunk driver just days before Christmas. She was on her way to church that Sunday night with my father and sister, anticipating the church’s Christmas cantata in which she and Daddy sang and my sister played piano. But God had other plans for her. The “accident” changed all of our lives forever, and Christmas would never be the same for any of us again. But what a Christmas celebration Mother must have had that year!

This year, as we all go about our seasonal preparations of buying and exchanging gifts, decorating the tree and the house, sending out Christmas cards, and doing whatever your family traditions may be, let’s remember those who have suffered losses recently. Say a prayer for them, that God would be especially near and dear to them this Christmas. It will be a hard time for them. Unless you’ve experienced such a loss at such a time, you couldn’t understand just how hard. Yes, remember those who have an empty place at their table and in their hearts this Christmas. May the Lord send them a special blessing to fill that emptiness.

And if you’re in that boat yourself, turn to the One who can fill your empty spot: Jesus, Emmanuel, “God with us.”

[You can read more about Mother’s death and other incidents in which God provides comfort in my brother’s book Leave a Well in the Valley, available at http://www.amazon.com.]

Copyright (c) 2017, Dennis L. Peterson

Playing Trucks, Undermining Foundations

Uncle Dillon had bought my brother Dale and me a set of toy tractor-trailer trucks and an assortment of accessories. Each of us had his own tractor, one red and one blue, I think. The set included a variety of kinds of trailers: a flatbed, a box trailer, a cattle trailer, and a car carrier. And then there was an assortment of highway signs.

Dale and I decided that the best place to play with these wonderful toys on hot summer days was in our cool basement. The basement was still unfinished, and its floor was just hard, leveled dirt. In the center of the basement were two 5 x 5-inch support posts sitting atop concrete piers about 6-8 inches deep. They held up the center beam of the house.

We already had a Tonka or Buddy L road grader, so we graded roads all over that basement. And we ran our tractor-trailer loads of imaginary consumer goods and livestock all over our basement roadway network.

At some point, I decided to start an excavation company to expand the economy of our basement world. The site I selected was right beside the first of the support posts, the one that was in the dead center of the house. I dug our dirt, loaded it onto an empty plastic dish on the deck of our flatbed trailer, and hauled it elsewhere in Basementville. I kept up my work faithfully every time we played there, which was practically every day.

One day, Daddy came down into this tiny world on some errand, and he immediately noticed my pit, where I had dug all the way down to the bottom of the pier and all the way around it. Suddenly we noticed that Daddy had added a Cape Canaveral (it wasn’t yet called Cape Kennedy) to our little world because he lifted off the ground. Was he ever angry!

Daddy caught up with me somewhere outside, where I was roaming the fields and woods, and he carried me quickly down to Basementville, but he wasn’t wanting to play trucks. He sat me down in front of my excavation site and gave me a very graphic lesson in what would happen to our house if I continued to dig away at the foundation post. I got the lesson with all of my senses: I saw what he meant, I heard what he said, and I certainly felt the intensity of his conviction!

The Bible asks, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psa. 11:3). As a child, I learned an important lesson about how a little chipping away at foundations, a little erosion of values, and a little undermining of standards can go a long way toward producing massive failure. Just as I had threatened the very structural integrity of our home by my digging around the basement foundation post, even so our nation has eroded its Judeo-Christian values, and it will ultimately (short of a spiritual revival) lead to God’s judgment, just as my digging around the footer led to my punishment. I learned my lesson in that instance. The bigger question is whether the United States of America will learn God’s lesson before it’s too late.

Not long after the episode I’ve described, Daddy found the time and money to pour concrete in the basement. . . . Supporting the upper floors then were not wooden beams but strong, adjustable metal posts. His “urban renewal”program spelled the end of Basementville. It wasn’t merely a ghost town; it ceased to exist altogether. But the lesson has stayed with me ever since.

Copyright (c) 2017, Dennis L. Peterson

(Excerpted from Look Unto the Hills: Stories of Growing Up in Rural East Tennessee. Available from http://www.amazon.com.)

 

Read and To Be Read

Here it is the first day of the last month of the year. Amid all the increasing hustle and bustle that leads to and accompanies the Christmas holidays, I began to take a few minutes while on the treadmill this morning to assess the results of my reading habit during 2017 and to plan my reading in 2018. I’m a voracious reader, but without a plan, my reading is haphazard at best. I like structure, so I plan. Invariably, that plan gets altered during the course of the year, but that’s okay. Serendipity is sometimes good.

As I looked back over my reading of 2017, I found some surprises, one of the biggest of which is how much fiction I read this year. I seldom read fiction. There are just so many good nonfiction books available, why should I waste my time reading something that’s not true? But I try to force myself to read at least one work of fiction every year. Sometimes I succeed; more often, I fail. But this year, I read four (!) works of fiction. Just to see how they do it. Maybe I’ll try writing my own fiction someday.

First there was Gunner’s Run, historical fiction, World War II. Eh, close to one of my main nonfiction interests, and it seemed to be a historically accurate portrayal of a downed bomber crewman trying to escape capture by the Nazis. Second was Jordan’s Star, one of Gilbert Morris’s numerous books. Hold onto your seat–historical (set in about the 1850s) romance fiction! But I was paying more attention to its historical authenticity than to the romance, and I found it to be generally accurate–until, near the end of the book, Morris referred to something that “President McKinley” did–about 40 years before he was even elected. How unromantic and disappointing! Third was Thomas Wolfe’s “classic” You Can’t Go Home Again. It was set in the Depression, another of my favorite periods to study. Let me just say that, like those who lived through the Depression, I persevered to the end of Wolfe’s book. Barely. The best part of it was the title–and finishing it. Finally, I read Wolf Hook, another story about World War II and spies and double agents and their efforts to escape detection. So now I’m three years ahead of schedule on my fiction reading! On to better things!

Another surprise I found while assessing my 2017 reading is that I’ve read 27 books on writing. The art and craft of it, the marketing of it, and biographies of those who have succeeded at writing. Some of those books were good and helpful. A few of them were worthless, more hype than substance. But when you read as much as I do, you sometimes get a lemon. Perhaps the most helpful were the biographies of writers because they encouraged and inspired me. It helped me to realize that even “big name” writers had some of the same struggles I do with my writing and marketing. They overcame them in spite of battling with drugs and alcohol and dysfunctional families–and without God. It made me think that maybe I, without drugs, alcohol, and family dysfunction (well, okay, some people might question that!)–and with the personal presence of God in my heart–can achieve something worthwhile with my own writing.

The second and third categories of books that I read most of dealt with history (18) and Bible study (5). I tend to breeze through the former, which I usually read while doing research for writing projects, but with the latter I tend to slow down, meditate more, and absorb for application; hence, the difference in the number for those two categories.

The final surprise was that many (I didn’t take time to count them) of the books I read in 2017 were books on Kindle. Almost all of those were FREE! I love books, especially if they’re free! My kids gave me the Kindle for Christmas a few years ago, and I’ve been building an electronic library of free books ever since. It’s taken this old codger a while to get used to reading electronically, and I miss the feel of a real book in my hands, the smell of its pages, and the ability to underline and take notes or argue with the author in the margins, but it surely saves room in my office!

So what will 2018 bring in the way of reading material? Who knows, but I’m already lining up several books I want to read. I’m sure that most of them will involve writing, either how-to for improving my writing or information for content in my writing. History and Bible study will also top the list. And I’m certain that most, if not all, of it will be nonfiction.

 

Copyright (c) 2017, Dennis L. Peterson

Don’t Forget the “Average” Kid!

Some classrooms will probably have one or two students who could become stars, but our teaching must not be toward them; rather, if should be toward reaching the average child. That does not mean that we ignore the need to enrich the education of the stars; they are an additional responsibility, not the primary target.

It is much easier and more enjoyable for the teacher to address needs and interests of the more advanced student whose level of understanding is nearer his or her own than to work patiently with the common, average, or slower students who make up the vast majority of the students in our classes. (Unlike Garrison Keillor’s imaginary town of Lake Wobegon, not all of our students are or can be “above average.”) The teacher is called to ensure that all students learn, not just the “stars.”

The ever-present tendency is to ignore or bypass the average and low students with callous disregard, to write them off as of no consequence. Remember, however, that history shows that it is not generally the “stars” whom God ends up using most in life but rather the average student, the plodder, the one who struggles and yet perseveres over time because a teacher cared enough to work with him or her.

[Teacher: Teaching and Being Taught, p. 210. Available at http://www.amazon.com.]

Copyright (c) 2017, Dennis L. Peterson

 

Only One Came Back

With Thanksgiving upon us, I’ve been thinking a bit about thankfulness–and how little we see it around us today. We take so much for granted anymore. Unlike earlier times, when people didn’t have as much and had to work hard for what they did have, I think we appreciated what we did have a whole lot more than we do now. As the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt, and having so much breeds ingratitude for what we do have.

I was reminded of this the other day when I read the account of how Jesus healed the ten lepers (Luke 17). Only one of them returned to thank Jesus for that wonderful gift of restored health. Jesus blessed him but asked, “Where are the [other] nine?” They were off enjoying their restored health with no thought of gratitude for His healing.

But before we hastily condemn those nine ungrateful former lepers, we should take a good look in the mirror. Don’t we, too, take an awful lot for granted? We live in the greatest, richest country in the world, enjoy the blessings of liberty, plenty, and other of God’s blessings but seldom pause to thank Him for it all. In fact, we sort of look upon it all as our right, and we too often complain about what we do have.

Many of us will stand in line for hours in the wee watches of the dark night for a chance to purchase some material item that will be used up, worn out, torn up, lost, or stolen soon thereafter without giving a thought to those who must work to make that item available to us or to the God who has blessed us with the financial and physical means to obtain it. We’ll spend hours pushing and shoving and elbowing total strangers and waste time we could be spending in meaningful interaction with those who should be the closest to us.

Such ingratitude and unthankfulness is a prophesied sign of the end times (2 Tim. 3:2). It seems that the more we have the less we appreciate it. That’s a sad commentary on our modern times. As the founder of my alma mater was fond of repeating to his audiences, “When the seed of gratitude dies in the heart of a man, that person is well nigh hopeless.”

The good news is that there’s something we can do about it! Pause to consider what you have to enjoy. Start being truly thankful, and begin expressing that appreciation to others. To God. To family. To those around us who help make our lives better not only by what they might do for us or give to us but also by simply being there with us. Consider how sad it is to be all alone, especially at these holidays. As the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons approach, stop to think of those who have lost spouses or other loved ones recently and who will be spending what should be happy, family-centered times all alone. And thank God if you are blessed with companionship.

Don’t be part of the 90 percent (like the nine healed but ungrateful lepers) who fail to show their appreciation for what God has given them. Rather, be a 10 percenter, like the one thankful healed leper, who truly appreciate the bounty with which God has bless them. Start counting your blessings, and you’ll find that your problems seem so much fewer and smaller.

The Perspective of Time

Some events in life seem small at the time but later prove bigger than they at first seemed. On the other hand, some events seem, at the moment that they occur, bigger than they really are. Such was the case with an event that began 154 years ago today.

The Union army was besieged in Chattanooga, licking its wounds from its earlier whipping at the hands of the Confederate army at the Battle of Chickamauga. But it was also offering thanks that the Confederate commander, General Braxton Bragg, had not capped his pursuit of them with an immediate attack on Chattanooga. Had he done so, his generals griped, the Confederates could have defeated the battered Unionists and perhaps even turned the tide of the war. But Bragg had stopped his attack, thereby snatching ultimate defeat from the jaws of victory when, weeks later, General Grant’s Yankees attacked the Confederates at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge and trounced them.

But that was yet in the future. Meanwhile, Bragg’s generals griped and complained, hardly any more than General James Longstreet (left), who had recently been transferred from Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to help Bragg. He had arrived at Chickamauga just in time to launch an assault through a gap in the Union lines and gain the victory for the South at that bloody site. Bragg, partially to rid himself of Longstreet’s disgruntledness after Bragg settled in to besiege Chattanooga, ordered Longstreet to advance northward against the Union forces that held Knoxville. Dragging his feet and continuing to gripe about nearly everything, Longstreet reluctantly moved northward.

At Campbell’s Station, just southwest of Knoxville, the Confederate forces clashed with Union troops under General Ambrose Burnside. Then Longstreet chased them right into Knoxville’s city limits, where, in a last-ditch stand by the Yankees, the commander of their rear guard, Lieutenant William P. Sanders (left), was killed by a Confederate sniper. The last of the Yankees scurried into the safety of the city’s defenses, particularly within a small salient on the west side of town called Fort Loudon, in the midst of what today is the University of Tennessee campus. The fortress had been built by the Confederates, but the city had changed hands, and the Union troops renamed it Fort Sanders in honor of their fallen lieutenant.

Thus began the Siege of Knoxville. Had Longstreet attacked immediately, the Confederates might have won. But he didn’t. Again he delayed, giving the Yankees time to strengthen their fortifications. Specifically, they strung telegraph wire from stump to stump in front of the fort and dug a deep ditch around the base of the walls. Seen from Longstreet’s headquarters at the Bleak House (now called Longstreet’s Headquarters or Confederate Memorial Hall), the ditch wasn’t very deep.

But then Longstreet received word from Bragg that Grant’s troops had broken out of the siege at Chattanooga, pushing the Confederates back into Georgia, and that General Sherman was on his way to Knoxville to rescue Burnside by lifting Longstreet’s siege of Knoxville. Knowing that he would be outnumbered when Sherman arrived, Longstreet decided to attack and capture Knoxville before that could happen.

He launched the attack in the freezing predawn darkness of November 29. The soldiers who surged forward, the rebel yell coming from their throats, tripped over the telegraph wires in the darkness, and the soldiers charging behind fell on them. It was a mass of confusion. Then those who managed to get through the wire obstructions reached the ditch and leaped into it. But it was deeper than they had thought. They tried to climb up the walls of the fort and found that they were almost too steep to climb. During the night, the Yankee defenders had poured water down them. As it ran down, it froze, making the walls even more treacherous. Adding to this confusion, the Union troops inside the fort were firing down point-blank upon the attackers.

In the roughly 20 minutes before Longstreet finally called off his attack, 129 Confederates were killed, 458 were wounded, and 226 were reported missing. Union losses were five killed and eight wounded. One newspaper of the time reported that the Battle of Fort Sanders ranked right up there with the Battle of Gettysburg in importance. Granted, after that 20 minutes of history, the Confederacy never again controlled East Tennessee, but to declare that event to be equal to Gettysburg was, we now know, an exaggeration.

But we must put ourselves into the shoes of the people who lived at the time and in that place. To them, it was equal to or greater than any other battle fought in the war. To the families of the Union and Confederate soldiers who fell that day, it was the greatest battle, the longest day.

I grew up and attended public school in Knox County. I never heard from my teachers anything about the Battle of Fort Sanders. I grew up thinking that Fort Sanders was simply a community with a hospital–Fort Sanders Presbyterian–in the middle of it. Not until I was in college did I learn of that historic 20-minute event. And the explanation for that studied omission of historical fact can only be that East Tennessee was so divided during the war that no one really wanted to remember or commemorate it. When Tennessee voted on the secession issue, East Tennessee voted overwhelmingly for the Union; only within the city of Knoxville did secession pass. And then, once war broke out, both sides drafted people from the area into their armies. People there really didn’t want to fight on either side; they just wanted to be left alone. Many of them fled to Kentucky or into the dark, high corners of the rugged Smoky Mountains to escape conscription. And every time the city changed hands, those who felt strongly wreaked vengeance on those who had mistreated them when the other side had been in control.

History is often a matter of perception. There are multiple viewpoints to every event. Just as multiple eyewitnesses to a traffic accident often give different stories about what happened and offer differing details, so it is with historical events. As we study history, we need to keep that in mind and avoid making simplistic conclusions or assessments.

The people who are so eager to tear down monuments need to keep that in mind, too. There’s no substitute for knowing all the sides to a story and recognizing that each perspective deserves its memories and monuments. The spot where Fort Sanders once stood and hundreds of soldiers on both sides fell in such a short period of time is now a quiet residential area. It includes two inconspicuous monuments, one to each side in the conflict, that most Knoxvillians never knew existed until the monument wreckers began their assault on historical memory.

Four Steps to Good Decisions

All of us are called upon to make decisions, most of them relatively small but a few really big ones. Some of those decisions are easy to make. We hardly have to think about them. For example, should I buy a new BMW? NO! (That was easy!) Should I blast an angry email to the editor who just rejected my latest submission? No, not if I expect to develop or to continue a publishing relationship with him or her or if I want to maintain my professional reputation. Should I take out the trash on Wednesday night? Yes, the garbage man comes on Thursday morning.

But some decisions are really hard. They require more than a cursory thought; they take some close mental weighing of alternatives and some serious soul-searching.

I recently was put in a position of having to make a major decision that was by no means easy. My decision could redirect the entire focus of my writing and reading. It offered some promising possibilities. And I had to announce my decision within a matter of days. I made that decision. But how did I go about it?

First, I listed the pros and cons, the possibilities and the problems, both actual and potential. The idea was to see which predominated–the pros or the cons.

Second, I discussed the matter with my wife. If I’ve learned anything from 40 years of marriage, it’s that I’d better talk such things over with her! I’ve learned that she can shed a lot of light on issues, and I’d better pay attention to what that light reveals. She has a way of seeing things–whether positive opportunities or negative problems–that escape my best intentions and closest observations and musings.

Third, I read God’s Word and prayed in search of God’s perspective on the “big picture” and seeking Divine wisdom on the issue. Proverbs, written by the world’s wisest man, Solomon, says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and learn not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Pro. 3:5-6). And in the New Testament, James wrote, “If any of you lack wisdom [and boy! did I ever lack it on this issue!], let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not” (James 1:5).

Finally, after taking the first three steps and still having no peace about the issue, I followed the advice given by a famous fellow Tennessean from the annals of history. (My father also gave me similar advice several times, but he wasn’t famous, so quoting him here wouldn’t carry as much weight as this historic character!) David Crockett–long hunter, frontiersman, congressman, and military hero of numerous Indian battles and at the Alamo–offered these two bits of advice for just such situations as the one in which I found myself:

  • “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.”
  • “When in doubt, don’t.”

In my situation, I didn’t know what was right, so I dared not move ahead. And I still had a lot of doubts and uncertainties. So my decision was made!

Better safe than sorry. I’ve used these steps before, and I’ve found them to work well. Maybe you should give them a try the next time you find yourself having to make one of life’s hard decisions.

Thank You, All the Veterans

Tomorrow is Veterans Day.

A lot of people confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day. Whereas Memorial Day honors those who served in our nation’s military and gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives and therefore deserve special recognition and honor, Veterans Day honors all who have served regardless of their level of service or degree of sacrifice or even if they were never involved in combat or never served during an armed conflict.

Sometimes we honor the former without giving a second thought to the latter, and that’s sad. Both categories, however, are critical to the defense of our nation and the freedoms we enjoy.

The buck private who peels potatoes in the back of the mess hall and never gets closer to an enemy than a history book and the seaman second class who is swabbing the deck of a destroyer or cleaning the head of an oil tanker during peacetime are as valuable and as necessary as the elite soldier who raids the enemy camp or the highest-ranking admiral who strategizes from behind a desk in the Pentagon. The truck driver who transports the food, ammunition, and supplies to a front-line outpost or a rear-echelon base back home is important. The soldier who mans a lonely weather station in the frozen Arctic or on a postage-stamp-sized, weather-beaten Aleutian island is important. Every member of our armed forces–Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard–is important, no matter what their pay grade or job assignment or time or place of service. And they all deserve our thanks and appreciation. That’s what Veterans Day is for.

We are fast losing our veterans of World War II and Korea. The Vietnam vets are aging quickly. We now have veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and countless little “police actions” around the world. They, too, deserve our thanks. Now. Someone once commented that we shouldn’t wait to attend a friend’s funeral to show how much he or she meant to us. Rather, we should tell that person of our appreciation now, while he or she is still with us.

If you know or see a military veteran today, tomorrow–or any day–let him or her know you appreciate the service they’ve rendered you. Yes, in serving their country, they are serving you and me individually.

To “prime the pump” a bit, I’ll set the example: Thank you, Joshua Peterson (my great, great grandfather), for your service during the War Between the States. Thank you, Uncle Dillon, for your army service in World War II. Thank you, Cousins Burl and Kyle, for your air force service during war and peace following World War II. Thank you, Captain Justin Peterson (USMC) for paying the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq. Thank you, Joshua Peterson, for serving in Iraq and accompanying your brother’s body back home and for the service you rendered stateside afterward. And thank you, LT. Commander Brandon Geddes, for treating the teeth of all those other sailors there in Okinawa.

Thank you to all our nation’s veterans!

Review in Journal of Southern History

Today’s mail brought the latest issue (November 2017) issue of The Journal of Southern History. Inside I discovered a review of my book Confederate Cabinet Departments and Secretaries. (I tried, unsuccessfully, to find an online link, so if you’d like to read it, you’ll have to find a hard copy. Many libraries should have it.)