State of the Union Addresses: A Comparative Study


Portrait by Gilbert Stuart, 1795
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Coming to office at a time when unemployment was high and the economy had slowed to a crawl the President of the United States stood at the podium and delivered his State of the Union Address. He looked back to illuminate the past with it’s accomplishments and errors, and pointed to the future with hope and courage. He addressed the congress and the American people that change is hard but it must be done to erase the errors of the past and forge a new America. To restore again the values that we hold dear.

Now I present to you the President of the United States.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, distinguished Members of the Congress, honored guests, and fellow citizens:

Today marks my first State of the Union address to you, a constitutional duty as old as our Republic itself.

President Washington began this tradition in 1790 after reminding the Nation that the destiny of self-government and the “preservation of the sacred fire of liberty” is “finally staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.” For our friends in the press, who place a high premium on accuracy, let me say: I did not actually hear George Washington say that. But it is a matter of historic record.

But from this podium, Winston Churchill asked the free world to stand together against the onslaught of aggression. Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke of a day of infamy and summoned a nation to arms. Douglas MacArthur made an unforgettable farewell to a country he loved and served so well. Dwight Eisenhower reminded us that peace was purchased only at the price of strength. And John F. Kennedy spoke of the burden and glory that is freedom.

When I visited this Chamber last year as a newcomer to Washington, critical of past policies which I believed had failed, I proposed a new spirit of partnership between this Congress and this administration and between Washington and our State and local governments. In forging this new partnership for America, we could achieve the oldest hopes of our Republic–prosperity for our nation, peace for the world, and the blessings of individual liberty for our children and, someday, for all of humanity.

It’s my duty to report to you tonight on the progress that we have made in our relations with other nations, on the foundation we’ve carefully laid for our economic recovery, and finally, on a bold and spirited initiative that I believe can change the face of American government and make it again the servant of the people.

Seldom have the stakes been higher for America. What we do and say here will make all the difference to autoworkers in Detroit, lumberjacks in the Northwest, steelworkers in Steubenville who are in the unemployment lines; to black teenagers in Newark and Chicago; to hard-pressed farmers and small businessmen; and to millions of everyday Americans who harbor the simple wish of a safe and financially secure future for their children. To understand the state of the Union, we must look not only at where we are and where we’re going but where we’ve been. The situation at this time last year was truly ominous.

The last decade has seen a series of recessions. There was a recession in 1970, in 1974, and again in the spring of 1980. Each time, unemployment increased and inflation soon turned up again. We coined the word “stagflation” to describe this.

Government’s response to these recessions was to pump up the money supply and increase spending. In the last 6 months of 1980, as an example, the money supply increased at the fastest rate in postwar history–13 percent. Inflation remained in double digits, and government spending increased at an annual rate of 17 percent. Interest rates reached a staggering 21.5 percent. There were 8 million unemployed.

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Giving Thanks


"The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth"...
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Almost from the very beginning of America the call to give thanks to Almighty God has been heard in the land. Even before the Pilgrims settled in Massachusetts the proclamation of Thanksgiving was sounded upon these shores.

One of the earliest recorded celebrations occurred a half century before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in 1621. “A small colony of French Huguenots established a settlement near present-day Jacksonville, Florida. On June 30, 1564, their leader, René de Laudonnière, recorded that ‘We sang a psalm of Thanksgiving unto God, beseeching Him that it would please Him to continue His accustomed goodness towards us.”

In 1607, 13 years before the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts, a group of 104 English men and boys began a settlement on the banks of Virginia’s James River. They were sponsored by the Virginia Company of London, whose stockholders hoped to make a profit from the resources of the New World. The community suffered terrible hardships in its early years, but managed to endure, earning the distinction of being America’s first permanent English colony.

In 1610, after a hard winter called “the starving time,” the colonists at Jamestown called for a time of thanksgiving. This was after the original company of 409 colonists had been reduced to 60 survivors. The colonists prayed for help that finally arrived by a ship filled with food and supplies from England. They held a prayer service to give thanks.

While none of these Thanksgiving celebrations were an official national pronouncement (no nation existed at the time), they do support the claim that the celebrations were religious. “Thanksgiving began as a holy day, created by a community of God-fearing Puritans sincere in their desire to set aside one day each year especially to thank the Lord for His many blessings. The day they chose, coming after the harvest at a time of year when farm work was light, fit the natural rhythm of rural life.”

In July 1776, the American colonists declared independence from Britain. The months that followed were so bleak that there was not much to give thanks for. The Journals of the Continental Congress record no Thanksgiving in that year, only two days of “solemn fasting” and prayer.

For much of 1777, the situation was not much better. British troops controlled New York City. The Americans lost the strategic stronghold of Fort Ticonderoga, in upstate New York, to the British in July. In Delaware County, Pa., on Sept. 11, troops led by Gen. George Washington lost the Battle of Brandywine, in which 200 Americans were killed, 500 wounded and 400 captured. Early in the morning of Sept. 21, another 300 American soldiers were killed or wounded and 100 captured in a British surprise attack near Malvern, Pa., that became known as the Paoli Massacre.

Philadelphia, America’s largest city, fell on Sept. 26. Congress, which had been meeting there, fled briefly to Lancaster, Pa., and then to York, a hundred miles west of Philadelphia. One delegate to Congress, John Adams of Massachusetts, wrote in his diary, “The prospect is chilling, on every Side: Gloomy, dark, melancholy, and dispiriting.”

His cousin, Samuel Adams, gave the other delegates — their number had dwindled to a mere 20 from the 56 who had signed the Declaration of Independence — a talk of encouragement. He predicted, “Good tidings will soon arrive. We shall never be abandoned by Heaven while we act worthy of its aid and protection.”

He turned out to have been correct, at least about the good tidings. On Oct. 31, a messenger arrived with news of the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga. The American general, Horatio Gates, had accepted the surrender of 5,800 British soldiers, and with them 27 pieces of artillery and thousands of pieces of small arms and ammunition.

Saratoga turned the tide of the war — news of the victory was decisive in bringing France into a full alliance with America. Congress responded to the event by appointing a committee of three that included Samuel Adams, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia and Daniel Roberdeau of Pennsylvania, to draft a report and resolution. The report, adopted Nov. 1, declared Thursday, Dec. 18, as “a day of Thanksgiving” to God, so that “with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor.”

It was the first of many Thanksgivings ordered up by Samuel Adams. Though the holidays were almost always in November or December, the exact dates varied. (Congress didn’t fix Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November until 1941.)

In 1778, a Thanksgiving resolution drafted by Adams was approved by Congress on Nov. 3, setting aside Wednesday, Dec. 30, as a day of public thanksgiving and praise, “It having pleased Almighty God through the Course of the present year, to bestow great and manifold Mercies on the People of these United States.”

When the nation was finally established the First House of Representatives on Thursday, September 24, 1789, voted to recommend—in its exact wording—the First Amendment to the states for ratification. The next day, Friday, September 25, Congressman Elias Boudinot from New Jersey proposed that the House and Senate jointly request of President Washington to proclaim a day of thanksgiving for “the many signal favors of Almighty God.” Boudinot said that he “could not think of letting the session pass over without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining, with one voice, in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings he had poured down upon them.” and on October 3rd of that year President George Washington made the first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation.

On October 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared that the last Thursday of November 1863 would be set aside as a nationwide celebration of thanksgiving. His proclamation stated that:

“No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy…. I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday in November next as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent father who dwelleth in heaven.”

Starting with Lincoln, United States Presidents proclaimed the last Thursday in November for Thanksgiving. Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the celebration to the third Thursday in November “to give more shopping time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. At this point Congress enacted the ‘fourth Thursday’ compromise.” Ever since this pragmatic and commercial approach to Thanksgiving was promoted, its original meaning has steadily been lost.

As a nation we owe a debt of gratitude to those who arrived here before us and set in place the practice of offering Thanksgiving to God for the preservation of this great nation. Without which I fear this young nation would have been lost before it even began. Although many today attempt to remove the foundation Religion played in the formation of this nation, it is quite clear to this reader that the Divine Providence of God was responsible for the very survival of these United States of America. Thanks be to God!

Friday the Thirteenth


Random Ramblings of the Resident Raptor
Insight for your “Journey across the Sky”
A View from the Nest www.eagleviews.org

Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the destruction of wicked people when it comes. Proverbs 3:25

Friday the 13th did not even have a completed ...
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No it is not the nightmare on Elm Street but it is Friday the thirteenth again. It has risen again just like Jason Voorhees in the latest remake of the horror film by the same name.

Although long and difficult to pronounce Paraskevidekatriaphobia, whether you can spell it or not still means the same thing, "The fear of Friday the thirteenth." There is something about Friday the thirteenth. Call it childhood superstitions, or an irrational fear, but none-the-less there are those who for one reason or another tread lightly around the thirteenth day of the month when it happens to fall on a Friday. This year we have been blessed with not one but three such occurrences of this fear inducing day. The first was February and then again this month and hold on to your black cats because November will bring the trifecta.

Some people are so paralyzed with fear of Friday the thirteenth they simply won’t get out of bed. Others will steadfastly refuse to fly on an airplane, buy a house, or act on a hot stock tip. "It’s been estimated that [U.S] $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do," said Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina. Dossey’s organization estimates the phobia afflicts 17-21 million people in the United States alone.

This fear of “13” is strong in today’s world. According to Dossey, more than 80 percent of high-rises lack a thirteenth floor. Many airports skip the thirteenth gate. Hospitals and hotels regularly have no room number 13.

Many triskaidekaphobes, as those who fear the unlucky integer are known, point to the ill-fated mission to the moon, Apollo 13.

As for Friday, it is well known among Christians as the day Jesus was crucified. Some biblical scholars believe Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit on Friday. Perhaps most significant, is a belief that Abel was slain by Cain on Friday the thirteenth. And then of course was the fateful thirteenth guest for dinner when Jesus was betrayed during the Last Supper. Jesus even went on to call Judas the son of perdition. Rightly or wrongly the number 13 when combined with Friday is viewed as unlucky to many people.

Triskaidekaphobia can afflict anyone, even Presidents and Emperors, President Franklin D. Roosevelt would not travel on the thirteenth day of any month and would never host 13 guests at a meal. Napoleon and President Herbert Hoover were also triskaidekaphobic, with an abnormal fear of the number 13.

Mark Twain once was the thirteenth guest at a dinner party. A friend warned him not to go. "It was bad luck," Twain later told the friend. "They only had food for 12." Superstitious diners in Paris can hire a quatorzieme, or professional 14th guest to avoid the dreaded ’Last Supper’ scenario.

Jason Voorhees
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To the visitors of Camp Crystal Lake, Friday the thirteenth meant they were surely going to have an encounter with Jason Voorhees, the fictional machete wielding serial killer now in its 12th resurrection.

Whatever the reason for the fear, whether it’s a crazed fictional serial killer in a movie or some superstition learned as a child, for those who suffer from Paraskevidekatriaphobia Friday the thirteenth is one day to be avoided.

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Hero Worship: AKA Obama Mania


A View from the Nest

Random Ramblings from the Resident Raptor
Insight from the Journey across the Sky
By Allen Scott

President Barack Obama’s popularity overwhelms that of Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, and Mother Teresa, according to a new poll that shows Obama as the person Americans named as their hero.

American adults (age 18 and over) spontaneously named President Obama as the person they admire enough to call their hero in a Harris Poll that did not provide a list for respondents to choose from.

The Harris Poll, released on Thursday, was conducted on 2,634 U.S. adults between Jan. 12 to 19, 2009 – just ahead of President Obama’s inauguration

“The fact that President Obama is mentioned more often than Jesus Christ, should not be misinterpreted,” The Harris Poll clarified in its report. “No list was used and nobody was asked to choose between them.

Following Barack Obama, the next most popular, personal heroes are Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Abraham Lincoln, John McCain, John F. Kennedy, Chesley Sullenberger, and Mother Teresa, respectively, to round out the top 10 people Americans say they admire and would call their hero.

In the top 20 list, God held the No. 11 spot while evangelist Billy Graham tied with former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for the 13th slot.

Respondents gave multiple reasons for their choice of heroes, including: doing what’s right regardless of personal consequences (89 percent); not giving up until the goal is accomplished (83 percent); doing more than what other people expect of them (82 percent); overcoming adversity (81 percent); and staying level-headed in a crisis (81 percent).

Only 14 percent of Americans said they admire either their mother or father enough to call them their hero. In contrast, nearly half (49 percent) said a public figure is someone they admire and consider a personal hero

By Michelle A. Vu

Christian Post Reporter

And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly looking around they no longer saw any one with them but Jesus only. Mark 9:7-8

Peter, James, and John had their own chance for hero worship. One day Jesus led them up a high mountain to a place where they would be set apart by themselves. While there on the mountaintop, Jesus was met by Elijah and Moses who talked with Jesus a while. Jesus was transfigured before their very eyes. They watched Jesus’ garments become whiter than even Clorox bleach could whiten. Peter being ever impetuous, wanted to build huts for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. While contemplating the idea of building these huts, a cloud overshadowed them and a voice cried from heaven saying; “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.” When the cloud had lifted only Jesus remained.

One Solitary Life

Herein lies the basis for a Christian’s belief in God. Although taught by the prophets and lawgivers of old, it wasn’t until the arrival of Jesus on the scene, that all those ancient prophecies and stories took on fuller meaning. The only thing that sets our faith apart from the religions of the world is one solitary life, the life of Jesus Christ.

All religions have their laws and lawgivers. All religions have their prophets and holy men, but only Christianity has Jesus Christ. Some religions allude to Jesus as just another prophet. Thus this mountaintop experience set Jesus apart from both the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah) when the voice was heard from heaven saying “this is my beloved Son listen to Him”.

Peter, like many of us, wanted to honor all three men equally by building huts for them all. He wanted to show his appreciation and respect for these three men of God. He saw Jesus in the company of Moses and Elijah and viewed them equally. As a Jewish male, raised on the law and prophets, he grew to appreciate the history of Israel and to respect the great men of faith like Moses, Abraham, Aaron, and Elijah. Although Jesus continually called himself the “Son of God”, until this time, I am not sure the three men actually understood the importance of Jesus’ life and ministry. He was just considered a great man, or a prophet. Although Peter had alluded to Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God” in Matthew 16:16, I still do not think the fullness of that revelation had registered with him.

Even though transfigured before their very eyes and shining with the glory of heaven, it wasn’t until after Jesus’ resurrection that Peter, James and John fully understood the whole purpose of Christ’s coming. They had heard the stories of Moses’ face shining with the Glory of God when he descended from Mount Sinai, in Exodus 34, therefore the fact that Jesus also shone with the brightness of God’s glory was not really anything new. And then having Moses and Elijah there with Jesus, made it seem like a reunion. Peter, James and John, may have thought of themselves as special in some way, to have been invited to this gathering of by-gone saints.

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