September 6, 2011

Flight of Valor: Honoring United Airlines Flight 93 Victims




Scene of Flight 93 crash viewed from a side road

As the Somerset County Community Band approached its fifteenth anniversary occurring in 2004, its board discussed commissioning a celebratory piece of music. Then the United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in their “back yard.” The band’s board changed its focus on the commission from its anniversary to commemoration of the 9/11 event. In 2002 they commissioned James Swearingen, from Capital University in Ohio, to compose the piece. Swearingen based his composition on a well-known hymn, It is Well with my Soul.*

It was in this darkness that the Community Band played Flight of Valor, which received a standing ovation.**


     Jim Swearingen, a music professor, always wanted to create a composition around one of his favorite hymns, It is Well with my Soul. However, he was waiting for the right circumstance and setting.

Jim recognized that this hymn as a hymn of choice that is universally accepted during a period of grieving. “It has provided me comfort during these times.”

Then David Breen called him, asking if he would be interested in (more…)


November 8, 2010

David, Our German Exchange Student: Part 4



To read David, Our German Exchange Student Part 1, click on David, Our German Exchange Student: Part 1.

     I interviewed David at the end of his year 2000 stay as an exchange student from Germany.

     “My reason for coming to the United States was to learn the language, to speak it fluently. I think I met that goal,” David said. “I also came to get to know a different people and their culture.

     “My biggest impression is that the United States is big. I didn’t really expect it. You can drive twenty hours in one direction and still be in the same country with the same language. In the same driving time in Germany you would pass through four to five countries.”

     There are not so many churches in Germany as there are here, “where on one street there are ten churches and two are the United Methodist. Church…People go to church in Germany but not really that often like here.”

     According to David, almost everyone in Germany is in the church, “I am, but I go once a year, on Christmas Eve.” He said he is still at work at 10:00 a.m., or he doesn’t go because “I am just tired.”

     “Here, Sunday is just about church. In Germany, Sunday is to (more…)

November 4, 2010

David, Our German Exchange Student: Part 3



To read David, Our German Exchange Student Part 1, click on David, Our German Exchange Student: Part 1.

      He didn’t like Alex, the exchange program coordinator, and he didn’t feel he could respect the rules.

     “I can do what I want,” he said.

     Back at our house, he demonstrated some skate board moves, showed me a skate board magazine and showed me his paint ball gun.

     “I’m against war, but paintball is a game,” he said.


     One of the rules was that David had to do his own laundry. After all, my kids had done theirs since age 13 (albeit by their choice). He seemed surprised at this.

     “I didn’t do theirs, and I’m not doing yours,” I stated.

     On Thursday, David said he was ready to do his laundry.

     “I’ve never done it before,” he said, using his magnetic smile, I am sure, to convince me I should do his for him.

     I couldn’t be cajoled into doing it for him, but I would teach him.

     “I hate you but (more…)

October 11, 2010

David, Our German Exchange Student: Part 2



To read David, Our German Exchange Student Part 1, click on David, Our German Exchange Student: Part 1.

    We laid some ground rules—basically, we weren’t going to do things for him we didn’t do for our own children. We wouldn’t play a wake-up game with him. He would have to get himself up in the mornings. We presented him with an alarm clock.

     Neither would we drive him to school. As my children learned, if they didn’t get ready on time, they would have to go without a note the next day.


     It was Wednesday when Jared knocked on our door. It was dinnertime at his house, and David was expected. David was sleeping, so we had to awaken him, and he doesn’t wake up easily.

     I walked across the street to the neighbor’s house later that evening.

     Rene and Tom said David spoke about getting a driver’s license during dinner. Rene seemed in favor of the idea, and was encouraging Tom to take him out for practice. I was less enthusiastic, wondering if he could get a Social Security card.

     Jared, David and I played Uno for a while. David asked if he could spend the night at the neighbor’s house, since there was no school the next day due to an ice storm. He told me Rhonda said he could, and I responded sarcastically (in fun) that I was in charge. He replied that sometimes old people think (more…)

October 4, 2010

David, Our German Exchange Student: Part 1



     Perhaps if I’d retired to my porch rocking chair, spending my hours catching up on all the old magazines and books piled in my study “for future use,” I wouldn’t have had a teenager living in my house. But then, David, our German exchange student, brought much excitement into my life.

     My husband, Monte, and I, had just returned from a visit to Germany, where our son, Nolan, held a post-doctoral position at the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science (German: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften Eingetragener Verein).

     My teeange neighbor, Ryan, a junior high school student, was studying German. When I handed him a pile of fliers and thick newspapers he could use for (more…)

June 12, 2010

Flag Man (Bob Cornell) Shivers



Carolyn’s Online Magazine


Sonny Schwartz*

FLAG DAY IS ALWAYS JUNE 14. This year I’m posting a newspaper column Sonny Schwartz wrote about my father, Robert William Cornell.

Yesterday was Bob Cornell’s day.

Nah, not his birthday. That was May 28.

Nor the anniversary of his retirement from the Navy after 30 years of active and inactive service. That was June 4, 1971.

Flag flying on (or near) the original Cornell homestead, Portsmouth (Middletown), R. I.

Yesterday was Flag Day.

And on Flag Day, the former U. S. Navy chief aviation photographer stands tall.

Tall-ship tall…

Cornell, you see, is a flag fanatic, though he winces at the categorization.

And it’s the American Flag, good Old Glory, that turns Cornell on and sends star-spangled bannered shivers down his spine.

Now don’t think for a moment that Bob Cornell is your ordinary inveterate flag buff.

He’s much more than that. Much more.

He eats, drinks, talks, walks, breathes and sleeps the American Flag.

Cornell’s a veritable human book of knowledge when it comes to the U. S. Flag, a subject he’s studied with intensity since (more…)

May 11, 2010

Immigration is Positive for the USA



I observe with regret that the law for the admission of foreigners was not passed during this session, as it is an important moment to press the sale and settlement of our lands. From a letter written by William Bingham to Gen Henry Jackson, April 9, 1793*


     From the birth of the United States into the present time, immigration has had advocates. In the 1790s, immigration was supported by land speculators, who hoped to make it rich by settling their lands with immigrants.


     My interest in immigration issues was piqued during my research for a historic journal paper and a historic romance novel, both set in the 1790s. Many of the characters in my novel—including Gen. Henry Knox, Col. William Duer, Gen. Henry Jackson, Madame Rosalie de Leval, even Pres. George Washington—were land speculators. Except for Washington, they favored immigration to supply the settlers to fulfill their land purchase contracts.

     In Roy L. Garis’s book on immigration** I discovered the “great immigration” controversy that existed in the decades immediately following the American Revolution.

     My intention is not to indicate any personal preference or bias in the immigration issue. It is to present both sides of the issue as found in early United States documents. This post offers immigration pros. To read the negative views of immigration click on Immigration is Negative for the USA.


In William Penn’s time (starting 1682), all immigrants, regardless of their religious or ethnic background were welcomed. (In Philadelphia) Quaker immigrants arriving in need of financial assistance were given or lent money interest free, but the others (who were not Quakers) became the responsibility of the city. The Friends established the first alms house in the city in 1713…Poor of all faiths lived there in cottages and were encouraged to work. In 1717 the Assembly ordered that a “workhouse” for the colony be built in Philadelphia within three years. With the Friends’ alms house meeting much of the need, public officials continuously delayed construction. The first public alms house finally opened in 1732…it had separate facilities for the indigent and the insane, and also an infirmary…#


     As early the 1730s, Samuel Waldo encouraged immigration: (due to) certain difficulties having arisen in regard to the Muscongus Patent (Maine)…thirty miles square—about a million acres…between the Penobscot and Muscongus Rivers…one-half the patent…set off in 1762…was bestowed on (Samuel Waldo)…he subsequently became proprietor of five-sixths of the entire patent…thereafter known as the Waldo Patent…he planned and executed measures for peopling (this land)…(he) invited immigration

(to continue reading, click on )


Intertwined Love: Novel Synopsis—

Immigration is Negative for the USA

Doing Historical Research in Philadelphia

Eyes in shades of purple

Dog Fighting & Cock Fighting: Cultural Phenomenon?

From the Bastille to Cinderella

April 22, 2010

EARTH DAY 2010: Being Stewards of the Earth



Being Stewards of the Earth

Monte Holland

     Today is Earth Day’s fortieth year.

     The first earth day was celebrated on April 20, 1970, when we lived in the Borough of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. That year, Slippery Rock residents with foresight decided that the time had come to start a community recycling program. Within the year I was participating.

      Before we rehabbed an old barn in the Slippery Rock Community Park, recyclers in the area dropped off bags of recyclables at an outbuilding on the property. 

     We gathered used barrels, in which to sort glass, cans, and aluminum, from Armco Steel Corporation (today, AK Steel). Much time was devoted to the sorting, which included breaking glass and crushing cans to conserve space in the barrels. With the help of the Grove City unit of the Pennsylvania National Guard, and the U-Haul International, Inc., we transported glass to Clarion and metal to Neville Island, which produced enough money to meet our expenses.

     The center also recycled newspapers, many of which were used by farmers for animal bedding.

     We didn’t accomplish a (more…)

February 17, 2010

I Lost My Son on a Greyhound Bus



Part 1

In 1974 my husband, Monte, was employed in his first career: a university professor teaching physics. That summer he attended a six-week workshop in Berkeley, California.

I planned on traveling to Berkeley with our two young children, Sandy, four and Nolan, two and a half.

Actually, it was supposed to be a vacation for Monte and I. The plan was to let the children stay with our friends, Wayne and Shirl Murray. Our two families had adopted each other as family, and the children often stayed with them. However, Sandy and Nolan missed Monte, his being away so long, so we decided I should bring them with me to California. A cross-country Greyhound bus trip would be an adventure. Little did I know how much of an adventure it would be!

Shirl drove us from Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, to (more…)

January 25, 2010

Update on the Rector and Export Post Office Suspensions



     NOTE: Below is the January 13, 2010, updated information on the Postal Regulatory Commission’s public inquiry, Docket No. P12010-1.

     Two Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, communities are experiencing a problem common to many communities across our country: the suspension of local United States Postal Services. Both the Rector Post Office and the Export Post Office were closed when their building landlords refused to renew the Postal Service lease.

     Rector’s post office was located in a front room of a private home on Rt. 381 for 107 ½ years before it closed on August 27, 2005. The current owner of the house, Ida Ankney Tenney, was unwilling to sign the required twenty-year lease. By signing the lease, the post office facility would remain on the premises even if the family decided to sell the home.

     Export’s Kennedy Avenue postal facility closed its doors on June 26, 2008, after the owner of the building in which it was located decided not to negotiate a new lease. Arthur Spagnol, who owned the building since 1962, claimed it was too expensive to make the renovations the Postal Service wanted.

     Betty Eichler, a retired postmaster involved with the national group, maintains that post offices can be closed only in the case of an emergency, such as a natural disaster.

     “It’s not right what they’re doing. The Postal Service, in order to get around the law, temporarily suspends an office,” Eichler said. “The people have no rights. There’s nobody they can appeal to. … All I want to do is make them do it the right way.”

     Export’s case has garnered national attention.

(To read the complete story, click on:

Post Office Closings in Rector and Export, Pennsylvania, Mirror a Larger Postal Service Problem

 Or )

      On November 9 the Postal Regulatory Commission in Washington initiated a (more…)

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