For years, the idea of the euro was unloved, unwanted and unwept for. Europe never desired a common currency; it was something foreign to their way of doing business. Take the Germans, they loathed the idea of surrendering their cherished D-mark, which had become more than a measure of currency; it was an heroic symbol of post-war recovery, a Phoenix rising from the ashes of war transforming charnel houses into palaces of wealth. Most other Europeans felt the same as the Germans. Even the economists and the bankers were deeply skeptical that a single currency would be some sort of magic wand fostering European integration and solidarity.
So what happened? If everyone was against the euro, then who was for it? The politicians, who else? The idea of a united, democratic Europe was a delicious prospect to savor. A European economic engine firing off all cylinders was theoretically capable of surpassing the Promethean might of the United States. Salivating at the notion of frolicking in the empyrean precincts of the gods, Europe dove head first into shallow water.
Every year, the month of June represents the closing of one chapter in a person’s life and the start of another one. For younger boys and girls, that could mean either moving from one level of Little League baseball to the next, or for 12-year-olds, the conclusion of that segment of hardball with the pony leagues and its longer base paths and stronger competition on the horizon. June is also a favorite wedding month, where scores of single people trade a carefree solitary existence for a life shared with a potential soul mate that in most cases involves having children and battling life’s obstacles as a combined unit.
Baltimore is located in the heart of Maryland, along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. It was founded in 1729 and named after Lord Baltimore, a member of the Irish House of Lords and the founding proprietor of the Maryland Colony. The inner harbor of Baltimore is quite a tourist attraction with its panoply of shops and restaurants. Camden Yards, where the Baltimore Orioles play, is one of baseball’s great cathedrals. Situated in poetic proximity of that ball yard, just two blocks away, at 216 Emory Street, is the house where Babe Ruth was born. If your tastes, however, are partial to the literary and the macabre you can pilgrimage through the busy streets to the home where Edgar Allan Poe penned some of his immortal tales.
If someone were to ask you what falls on the third Sunday in June, would you know it’s Father’s Day? Inspired by her father, a Civil War veteran that reared six children as a single parent, daughter Sonora Smart Dodd founded the unofficial holiday in June 1910. While the complementary Mother’s Day was embraced more readily, it took considerably more time for society to hop on board with a day for dads. Despite the fact that President Woodrow Wilson wanted to make it an official holiday in 1916, Congress thwarted him due to fears it would become too commercialized. (This ended up being an inevitable fate for this and all other holidays.) It was not until 1972 that it became a permanent national holiday after President Richard Nixon signed it into law.
What a weekend! The roller coaster of political reporting over the past month emanating from Belmont Park, NYRA and Albany was suddenly eclipsed by the heartbreaking news that I’ll Have Another would be scratched and sadly 2012 would be yet another year without a Triple Crown champion. But all was not lost. The Belmont Stakes Festival, a week of events sponsored by or in cooperation with NYRA, bookending the Belmont Stakes, went off without a hitch. On Sunday, June 2, Elmont kicked off the Belmont Stakes Festival with its Belmont Stakes Parade, Family Field Day and Rotary Club Craft Fair to this weekend’s closing events: the Floral Park Art League’s two-day show at Memorial Park and the Belmont Stakes Street Fair on Tulip Avenue, with quite an exciting little horse race squeezed in on Saturday before 85,811 at Belmont Park.
During the past decade, we have heard endless talk about reforming our state education system. But we have little to show for it. So far, reform has focused on what happens inside our schools. The result? Flat test scores, an achievement gap that hasn’t budged and ballooning costs to help battle these challenges.
Now Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is taking a go at it, and has charged a commission with increasing efficiencies and improving outcomes at our schools. But if Cuomo’s team focuses on the same old solutions, we can expect the same dismal results. To really make a difference, we need to start thinking outside of the classroom.
With the May 24 arrest of 51-year-old Pedro Hernandez, there appears to be closure on this heretofore unsolved crime. Patz became the first missing child to appear on the back of a milk carton. His disappearance not only helped heighten awareness surrounding missing and abducted children, but it also spurred President Ronald Reagan to declare May 25 National Missing Children’s Day and for congress to establish the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 1983 and 1984 respectively. While this high-profile crime happened in an urban setting, there’s always been the concern of these insidious transgressions making their way into seemingly bucolic suburban settings. In fact, Hernandez hails from the middle class burg of Maple Shade, NJ, a community whose motto is, “Nice town, friendly people.”
In 1858, with much of the literary world entranced by the fantastic stories of Jules Verne, Fitz James O’Brien penned a charmingly delightful short story called “The Diamond Lens.” It’s about a microscopist enthralled by the mysterious, unrevealed and indiscernible universe of the infinitesimal. By depressing the wondrous lens of his miraculous instrument just a few hairbreadths downward, the curtain between the visible and invisible worlds is parted, revealing a heretofore unseen magical and enchanting existence. He is thus bewitched by the dazzling expanse and boundless dome of a hidden world; its images pied by countless hues and microscopic forms previously concealed.
It serves as the unofficial kickoff for the summer season and/or yet another three-day weekend for retailers to fill their coffers with the bounty of retail sales promotions. Sadly, this is what has become of Memorial Day, a national holiday meant to honor those who have died in our nation’s service. Its origins are murky. A number of cities and anecdotes lay claim to its birthplace ranging from women’s groups in the South decorating the graves of Confederate soldiers to freed slaves in Charleston honoring fallen Union soldiers. It was first observed on May 30, 1868 when General John Logan, commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (an organization for northern Civil War veterans) issued General Order No. 11, which led to flowers being placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington Cemetery. And while all the northern states officially recognized what was then known as Decoration Day by the 1890s, the South refused to acknowledge it until after World War I. Memorial Day became a national holiday and known by its current name in 1968, when the date was moved from its original May 30 date to the last Monday in May.
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