Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

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Maritime Day 2015

May 21, 2015

Two days ago I started a long-term sub job for a middle school math teacher who took paternity leave to help his wife after her C-section. I will finish out the year for him. Let’s just say that this is in the middle of standardized testing and these students have already taken their respective math tests. AND THE INMATES ARE RESTLESS! Even with lesson plans (sadly many students mistakenly believed they were getting 17 days of free-for-all) I do have some time to fill … so I thought about my annual Maritime Day public service announcement. But this is a math class… how could I make it fit the subject? USMM.org and proponents of the merchant marine receiving veteran status have always touted that the MM had the highest casualty percentage of any service in World War II (though prior to 2006 this claim was always tempered with “2nd only to the Marine Corps”). In my search for casualty numbers and total in service I learned through usmm.org that recent research has found more data on the merchant vessels and crews lost. So I have amended my article and created a cross-multiply math problem (you could of course just simple divide the numerator by the denominator and move the decimal point over two to get the percentage…) and yes, T2 had to explain to me how it was done. (Why they thought it was a good idea to hire me, I don’t know!)

NATIONAL MARITIME DAY (May 22)

Our nation has a little-known national holiday this week: National Maritime Day—a day set aside to honor those civilians who gave their lives for freedom upon the high seas. Because members of the U.S.-flagged Merchant Marine are civilians, most Memorial Day celebrations only give cursory mention of these heroes. As a result, National Maritime Day is their day.

Established by a joint resolution of Congress on May 20, 1933, National Maritime Day is May 22 of each year. The day was selected to honor the first successful trans-Atlantic crossing by a steamship, S.S. Savannah, which set sail from the United States on May 22, 1819. The president of the United States issues a proclamation each year, calling for observance of the holiday. Each U.S.-flagged vessel is sent the proclamation, acknowledging the continued service of the men and women of the U.S. Merchant Marine. On April 4, 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a proclamation adding that observances of National Maritime Day include flying the American flag on homes and all government buildings.

The U.S. Maritime Administration, a branch of the Department of Transportation, holds a memorial service—the only national memorial service that honors those American seafarers who lost their lives in service to their country. American seafarers have been involved in defense of the nation since 1776 to the present. In World War II alone, over 1,000* American vessels were sunk, and over 9,500** merchant seamen and officers were lost as a result of enemy action and war-related causes. Members of Congress, leaders from maritime labor and management, and government all participate in this memorial service.

*A Careless Word — a Needless Sinking: A History of the Staggering Losses Suffered by the U.S. Merchant Marine, both in Ships and Personnel, during World War II, American Merchant Marine Museum, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, N.Y., 1983 to 1998. Captain Moore’s book lists approx. 990 ships. http://www.usmm.org list includes 1,600 ships.

**Total killed at sea, POW killed, plus died from wounds ashore

The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, N.Y., sends an honor guard and the academy’s Battle Standard to participate in the Memorial Service. USMMA lost 144 midshipmen in World War II. Since the academy’s founding in 1943, midshipmen have been involved in every major military action, including today’s war on terror. This makes the academy unique among the nation’s five service academies.

The U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command holds a wreath-laying ceremony also on National Maritime Day. The ceremony honors the civilian seafarers who gave their lives manning U.S. Navy vessels involved in the transport of vital supplies. It also honors the Navy Armed Guards who sailed on merchant vessels, an oft-overlooked group of servicemen.

Civilian seafarers helped to build and defend the United States. Fredericksburg began as a colonial shipping port. Shipping commerce is vital to our country’s economy. In time of war gallant seafarers have come to the aid of our armed services—delivering troops, equipment, and food, often putting themselves in grave and mortal danger. As we celebrate Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day, please remember those who served along with our Soldiers, Pilots, Sailors, and Marines. And fly the flag proudly on May 22 each year in observance of National Maritime Day.

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Merchant Mariners do not automatically have veteran status. In fact the Secretary of the Air Force (not even its own branch of service until after WWII) blocked granting veteran status and rights four times!

From usmm.org:

The judge ordered the Board to reconsider their denial and the Board granted veteran status to most WWII mariners on January 19, 1988. Mariners who went to sea after August 15, 1945, serving in wartime in hazardous waters, got veteran status on November 11, 1998.

One of the arguments against granting status is the civilian nature of their job. “They get paid more.” One argument for veteran status is the hazardous conditions of war time seafaring and the disproportionate casualties the merchant marine suffered during WWI and between Aug. 1945 and Dec. 1946 (as well as other conflicts such as Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf Wars).

To support this reason for veteran status, compare casualty numbers to the total number of personnel per branch to determine the percentage lost during WWII.

Service Number serving   War Dead
 Merchant Marine 243,000* 9,521**
 Marines  669,108  19,733
 Army  11,268,000  234,874
 Navy  4,183,466  36,958
 Coast Guard  242,093  574
 Total  16,576,667  295,790

*Number varies by source and ranges from 215,000 to 285,000. War Shipping Administration Press Release 2514, January 1, 1946, lists 243,000 **Total killed at sea, POW killed, plus died from wounds ashore

THE ANSWERS:

Service Number serving   War Dead  Percent   Ratio
 Merchant Marine 243,000* 9,521** 3.90% 1 in 26
 Marines  669,108  19,733  2.94%  1 in 34
 Army  11,268,000  234,874  2.08%  1 in 48
 Navy  4,183,466  36,958  0.88%  1 in 114
 Coast Guard  242,093  574  0.24%  1 in 421
 Total  16,576,667  295,790  1.78%  1 in 56

*Number varies by source and ranges from 215,000 to 285,000. War Shipping Administration Press Release 2514, January 1, 1946, lists 243,000 **Total killed at sea, POW killed, plus died from wounds ashore

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She Did It!

May 15, 2014
T1 Accepts!

T1 Accepts!

After months of applying, testing, writing, creating a stand-out project on “Fewtering”, interviewing in garb and with Crookshanks in tow, the long-awaited letter arrived last Saturday. Ear-splitting squeals of delight rang out.

T1 has been accepted to an alternative, fast-paced, duel-enrollment academically challenging high school program. Words can’t even begin to describe how proud we are.

As a family, because the Chief got home on Mother’s Day, we discussed this honor and achievement and all the pros and cons of accepting enrollment into the program.

The Chief was never sold on the program. We’ve heard so many different things and the only thing we know is that there is no middle ground–either your child thrives under the pressure or they end up dropping out with ulcers; either your child can handle both the academic rigors and can have extra curricular activities or they struggle under hours of homework and give up all semblance of a social life.

What kind of student would T1 be? Academically grade-wise she is the Chief, a future engineer in the making. But let’s be honest, who are we kidding? She is my emotional clone. Does she have the skills to get herself organized and not crack? I had those skills because we learned to write at earlier ages (it has taken her 7th and 8th grade English teachers to get her to a competency I’m please with and the rest were useless!) and we knew how to multitask because we took 7 classes a day … block scheduling gives more instruction time and less homework so children today have no idea how to handle homework and multiple projects.

If she survives the program she could begin college as a sophomore. But would she have time to participate in an amazing engineering internship at a nearby facility … real-world experience cannot be taught in the classroom and can be priceless for her future career… ?

So the Chief asked her, “Who chose to apply?” And her answer was, “Me.” We didn’t push her, and in fact even then we were hesitant but we said, “You can’t get in if you don’t apply. We’ll make the decision when the time comes.”

I forgot my tunes for my training run on Monday, so I spent the time in prayer. I had a lot to think about. I had announced her letter to the world and so the grandparents all called. I talked a long time to my mother about our concerns. And she agreed with me.

On Monday I thought about that. I thought about living in fear. My mother is a very fearful person. And let’s just say that when my mother told me she was afraid of big dogs I said, “Well then, I’m going to go out and find the biggest German shepherd I can.” (And that’s how we got Chewbacca the Mutt.) I am concerned for T1, afraid she will fail and have ulcers. Heck I’m afraid she’s going to never leave home and become a hoarder too.

Am I becoming my mother and trying to tell T1 what to do based on my fears?

As I ran (and I hate running) I thought, “If she never tries then she’s failed already. And if I don’t trust God, then I’ve failed her. Because even if she does struggle and maybe even fail, I still need to trust that God has a purpose for even that struggle or failure … and she needs to find the purpose God has planned for her. For her life.”

I need to show her my trust, not my fear.

The Chief spoke with her and they made a deal: there is nothing to say she couldn’t try it for a year and if the struggle is too much, no harm no foul if she drops back into the advance course program at her base school. But she has to give the whole year a shot, no dropping out early.

We asked her to think long and hard, and to pray for guidance, and to tell us on Wednesday her decision.

Today I dropped off her acceptance for enrollment letter. Hey, I have trust issues and well, I don’t trust snail mail to get it in my the deadline of the 16th.

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Protected: Time and a Place to be Snarky

March 6, 2014

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When Will this Winter End?

March 4, 2014
T2's reaction to ANOTHER snow day...

T2’s reaction to ANOTHER snow day…

We’ve had something like 13 or 14 snow days. And if you made it through my last really long post you know that my girls lost 2+ hours of instruction every day last week to either a bomb threat or a delayed opening.

Here’s the kicker: for the first time since my children have been going to school (pre-K for T1 10 years ago) our county decided that we should start school after Labor Day. We used to get special permission to go against the region’s amusement park laws because when bad weather hits we have rural parts of our county that just don’t get dug out well enough to ensure the safe transport of students. The county made a big deal about not extending our school year much past our end of school date in the second week of June–they got rid of the last week of school being nothing but half days and made them full days of instruction. Not that any instruction really goes on during those last days but still, they count!

If we had gone back to school at our usual date and time in August that would have been 9 of these 13 snow days. We’d still be in the positive. In the past it served us well when other nearby Labor Day counties were having to extend their school days and take away teacher work-days.

And now this. One of the worst and longest winters we’ve had in a while. And I don’t think we’re done. I’ve had as many snow days on my mid-March birthday as I’ve had snow on Thanksgiving (which interestingly is more times than I’ve had white Christmases). And let’s not forget that last winter we had a snow day the 25th of March. I know this because that was the last date the Chief used the local cancellation website on his Kindle when he called up the page a few weeks ago.

I hope the county realizes the errors of its ways and reconsiders the 2014-2015 calendar.

Snow days just aren’t as fun without the Chief. But we did go to IHOP today for National Pancake Day. Glad I rode my exercise bike for 6.2 miles. 🙂

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