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A HISTORICAL 2019 What’s After the Year of Poetry?
As 2018 comes to a close and we look to the new year, I have a very important decision to make: What am I going to read in 2019? You may remember 2018 was my Year of Poetry. I read a lot of wonderful poems, some from famous poets and others found in paperback collections I picked up at local coffee shops. As usual, I didn’t read nearly as much poetry as I had intended, but that’s par for the course. When I choose a theme for the year, I’m setting myself up to tackle some of the highlights and build a habit that carries into the future. I still read some Greeks throughout 2018 even though 2017 was my Year of the Greeks. I expect to continue reading poetry through 2019, too.
jump into Shakespeare. But turning to the Bard of Avon right after a year reading poetry felt almost redundant. I will do Shakespeare in the future — maybe in 2020 — but the reason I am focusing on a certain area each year isn’t just to add a theme to my reading plan. I am trying to fill the holes in my education. This undertaking should be diverse and balanced. For this reason, I’ve decided 2019 will be the year I read “The Story of Civilization” by Will and Ariel Durant. The Durants were very famous historians, and their 11-volume set of books covers the history of civilization spanning the course of millennia. It largely focuses on Western history, though the first volume gives an overview of civilizations in Asia and the Middle East. I have dabbled in this massive series before, but I’m going to dedicate a lot more time in 2019 to really learning world history. Will I read them all before next December? Probably not. Each volume is around 900 pages long! But like with poetry or Greek literature, I plan on reading more even after 2019 is over. I look forward to starting “The Story of Civilization.” In poetry, you go very deep, exploring the nature of the universe and the meanings of words themselves. History is almost the complete opposite, especially the history the Durants compiled. Even with over 100,000 pages, you can only scratch the surface. You could write 11 volumes about a single nation
and still have to rush over some areas! But it’s a great foundation to build on. When you read history, especially history that covers so much of the world, you start to see trends. Empires rise and fall with the same patterns, and it really makes you think about current events in a different way. History also adds flavor and texture to the rest of art and culture. One of the most impactful poems I read in 2018 was Dante’s “The Divine Comedy.” The poem itself really speaks to human nature, but when you study history and learn what was going on in 14th century Italy when Dante wrote his poem, it adds new layers of understanding. I am excited to spend 2019 reading something interesting and expanding my knowledge. This will be my third year with a theme, and I cannot overstate how enjoyable it has made my years. If you aren’t sure how you’ll spend 2019, I highly recommend picking an area of interest to focus on. For me, this means reading, but you could also get active by starting a new hobby, watching classic movies, or visiting different restaurants around your city. There are plenty of opportunities to broaden your horizons and make your year memorable.
When I sat down to decide what my main focus in 2019 would be, my first inclination was to
When you read history, especially history that covers so much of the world, you start to see trends.
Here’s to a historical 2019!
Call today – 205-705-3590 1. –Matt Dunaway
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REUNITING BROTHERS IN ARMS Sgt. Fieldy Comes Home
There are around 2,500 military working dogs currently in service, and their efforts help save the lives of countless soldiers and civilians every day. One of these brave military dogs is Sgt. Fieldy, an 11-year-old black lab who was trained to locate the No. 1 threat in Afghanistan: IEDs. Sgt. Fieldy was deployed to Afghanistan with his handler, Cpl. Nicolas Caceres, in 2011. Early in their deployment, their vehicle struck a pressure plate while they were on patrol. Fieldy and Caceres were all right, but one of the other Marines in their company was badly injured in the explosion. The injured Marine could not be evacuated by helicopter until the landing zone was secured. Fieldy found another IED in the area and alerted Caceres. The bomb was quickly disarmed, and the injured soldier was taken to safety.
retire. After three years apart and a total of four tours served, Sgt. Fieldy was reunited with Caceres. In 2016, Fieldy received the K9 Medal of Courage Award, and in 2018, he won the American Humane Hero Dog Award for his service. “These dogs are out there with us,” said Caceres when he and Fieldy accepted the Hero Dog Award. “The dangers we face, they face them too. They deserve to be recognized. We ask so much of them, and all they want is to get petted or play
thousands of lives. After his deployment, Caceres returned home, but Sgt. Fieldy served several more tours without him. While Fieldy continued to protect soldiers and civilians by tracking down IEDs, Caceres worked tirelessly to make sure he could bring Fieldy home when his service was over. Military working dogs can be adopted by former handlers, law enforcement, or qualified civilians when they
with a toy. They’re amazing animals, and Fieldy is just an amazing dog. I can’t begin to express the gratitude I have for him.” If you are interested in supporting our nation’s working dogs or would like to adopt a retired working dog yourself, you can learn more at Missionk9rescue.org.
This wasn’t the only IED Fieldy found. His sharp nose and dedication helped save
“I have been living under horrible financial stress for months, contacting several attorneys that were referred to me by friends or through searching online. None of them seemed to care or gave me the feeling that anything other than my money was important to them. One phone call (and yes, I spoke with attorney Dunaway the first time I called) with Mr. Dunaway and I felt all of the stress I have held for so long finally melt away. I am now in amazing hands and am so grateful found him!”
— Jill and Dylan Cook
The Origin of New Year’s Day WHY JANUARY?
The month of January kicks off by welcoming the new year — there are countdowns, fireworks, and of course, the ball drop in a freezing-cold Times Square. But why? Why do we start our calendars when much of the U.S. is in the dead of winter? Why January? The short answer is Julius Caesar and Roman politics.
Inspired by the Egyptian solar calendar, Caesar fixed the Roman year at 365 days and instituted the leap year to keep months aligned with the solstices. He moved the new year from the spring to the day that elected officials
Thanks in part to the spread of Christianity and to the colder conditions in Northern Europe, there was a lot of resistance to the January start date. Religious leaders saw it as a pagan holiday, and much of Europe chose to restart the calendar on March 25, during the Feast of Annunciation. Much of Catholic Europe officially recognized Jan. 1 as the start of the new year after Pope Gregory reformed the solar calendar again, correcting certain mathematical errors made in Caesar’s day. There were still holdouts, however. In fact, England and its American colonies continued to celebrate New Year’s Day in March until 1752. So there you have it — we were very close to having our fireworks celebrations in lovely spring weather. Ultimately, the ubiquity of the Gregorian calendar won out, as the demands of our increasingly interconnected world made a shared calendar a necessity. So if you struggle to start your New Year’s resolutions this winter, blame Julius Caesar.
traditionally began their year-long terms, Jan. 1.
This choice carried spiritual significance, since January was named for Janus, god of doors and gates. What better month to celebrate new beginnings? Under Caesar and subsequent rulers, the Roman Empire expanded its reach, carrying its calendar with it. While much of Europe adopted Caesar’s calendar, New Year’s Day remained a hot-button issue for centuries.
The calendar had long been a political tool in Rome. Depending on who was in power, Roman pontifices would add or subtract entire weeks from the year, manually adjusting the term limits of elected officials. As you could imagine, this caused a lot of chaos, because months frequently slipped out of time with the changing seasons. After becoming emperor, Julius Caesar brought about some much-needed reforms.
Good News Psalm 2 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. 7 I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. 10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
Chicken Chop Suey Recipe of the Month
Ingredients • 2 large or 4 medium chicken thighs • 3 pounds bok choy, cut into 3–4-inch ribbons
• 2 teaspoons sugar • 2 tablespoons cornstarch,
mixed with 4 tablespoons water • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil • Salt and pepper, to taste
• 4 tablespoons vegetable oil • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
Directions 1. In large pot, boil three cups of water. Add chicken and reduce to simmer, cooking for 30 minutes. Remove chicken and let cool. Once cooled, remove skin and bones, chop, and set aside. Reserve the cooking liquid. 2. In a large skillet over high heat, heat vegetable oil. Once shimmering, add bok choy and cook for 1 minute, stirring throughout. Add half of reserved cooking liquid, cover skillet, and cook for 2 minutes.
Remove cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Transfer bok choy to a plate. 3. Add remaining cooking liquid and chicken
to the pan, maintaining high heat. Heat chicken, then add oyster sauce, sugar, cornstarch-and-water mixture, sesame oil, and bok choy. Season to taste, toss together, and serve over rice.
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NSIDE What’s Next? ................................................ page 1 What Happens to Military Service Dogs? ... page 2 Our Clients Say It Best .................................. page 2 Why Start the New Year in Winter? ........... page 3 Chicken Chop Suey ....................................... page 3 Most Impactful Poem .................................... page 4
Dante’s ‘The Divine Comedy’ A Page FromMatt’s Bookshelf
Of all the works I read during my Year of Poetry, the poem that had the most impact on me was Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy.” Perhaps it’s cliche to choose the poem that has been called “the best book literature has achieved,” but the acclaim surrounding it is well-deserved. This incredible poem has become part of our civilization and culture so much that we forget where it came from. We just take it for granted. Artists, philosophers, and storytellers have been inspired by “The Divine Comedy” for 700 years. Dante spent 12 years working on this poem and finished it in 1320, a year before he died. Written in the first person, “The Divine Comedy” is about Dante’s journey through hell and purgatory before finally reaching paradise. At times, this poem can be hysterically funny, and in the next moment, it’s tragically sad. The work Dante put
into “The Divine Comedy” is apparent. It’s dense and can be hard to understand on the first read,
and when you’re reading it, you start to see yourself in the words.
but if you put the time in to really comprehend it, you’ll see why this masterpiece isn’t just incredibly good; it’s also incredibly insightful. At one point in his life, Dante Alighieri was at the top of the heap. Then his life took a dramatic turn, and he lost it all. “The Divine Comedy” is Dante’s attempt to assess his life and acknowledge his own shortcomings and failures. By doing so, Dante covers the gamut of human life and nature. His words are so real,
That’s the real power of “The Divine Comedy.” It’s not the vivid interpretations of heaven and hell that allowed Dante’s work to live on. He shows the reader their own shortcomings, and it hits close to home. We’re reminded that no matter how much has changed in the last thousand years or how fancy we think we’ve become, we’re still the same humans. And we have so much left to learn.
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