Monday was a federal holiday we now call Memorial Day. It is observed to honor the men and women who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. The holiday is celebrated every year on the last Monday of May. It was formerly known as Decoration Day and seems to have originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Unionand Confederate soldiers who died in the war.

By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.

It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season.

          When I was a kid my grandmother was the Red Cross lady in Abilene and Decoration Day was a big deal especially with the purchase of Poppy’s.

          Memorial Day should not to be confused with Veterans Day, a day that celebrates the service of all U.S.military veterans.

                The practice of decorating soldiers' graves with flowers is an ancient custom. Soldiers' graves were decorated in the U.S. before and during the Civil War.

          The first widely publicized observance of a Memorial Day-type observance after the Civil War was inCharleston, South Carolina in 1865.

During the war, Union soldiers who were prisoners of war had been held at the Charleston Race Course; at least 257 Union prisoners died there and were hastily buried in unmarked graves. Together with teachers and missionaries, black residents of Charleston organized a May Day ceremony in 1865, which was covered by national papers. The freedmen cleaned up and landscaped the burial ground, building an enclosure and an arch labeled, "Martyrs of the Race Course." Nearly ten thousand people, mostly freedmen, gathered on May 1 to commemorate the war dead.

David W. Blight wrote that African Americans invented Memorial Day. What you have there is black Americans recently freed from slavery announcing to the world with their flowers, their feet, and their songs what the war had been about.

However, Blight stated he "has no evidence" that this event inCharleston inspired the establishment of Memorial Day across the country.

So who did invent or discover Memorial Day?

On May 26, 1966, President Johnson signed a presidential proclamation naming Waterloo, New York, as the birthplace of Memorial Day.

          In 1868 General John A. Logan, from the Grand Army of the Republic declared Decoration Day be observed annually in May to honor fallen soldiers. He chose May because the flowers would be in full bloom.

          There are lots of stories and what’s important is we do observe Memorial Day. We can be proud of the observances we hold annually here and in surrounding communities.

          Wikipedia obviously provided me with lots of information..

          Thanks to all who are serving, those who have served and especially to those who gave all.

          I’m Steve Sauder.

          They say imitation is the finest form of flattery, so here goes.

          Sunday in the Wichita Eagle Edward Flentje, a WichitaState professor and former interim president of Emporia State (he did yeoman work between Mike Lane and Michael Shonrock) wrote a piece titled Kansas GOP turned back on party history.”

          Today I’ll share many things Ed said that I believe to be accurate.

          Flentje started by claiming to have been a “card carrying Republican” all his life and listed his work history that includes many Republican assignments.

          He asks current leaders? ”What exactly do Kansas Republicans believe?”

          He thought beliefs included: “balancing the budget” and not “reckless tax cuts, reducing revenues while allowing spending to grow.”

          But, he points out “by their own account spending $320 million more than taken in during the current budget cycle.”

          Flentje also thought Republicans believed in “fair and balanced taxation.” He points out Landon campaigned for a state income tax in 1932 “as a way to reduce the reliance on the property tax.”

          Our current Governor has campaigned “to eliminate the income tax and shift the tax burden onto sales and property taxpayers. A tax policy that places more of the tax burden onto lower-income Kansans….”

          Professor Flentje also “thought Republicans believed in Reagan’s ideal of a “big tent” political party – with leaders who embrace Reagan’s 11th Commandment: “Thou shall not speak ill of any Republican.”

          Check that idea – “Gov. Sam Brownback joined with political allies in campaigning against legislators of his own party.”

          Flentje’s suggested “These Republican officeholders have turned their back on their party’s history and on those who have shaped that history.”

          The current leadership of the Republican Party in Kansas have created a foul taste not only in Ed Flentje’s mouth, but also in many others who claim they are Republicans.

          Ed’s answer was: “This year’s elections promise to be a watershed opportunity for Kansas voters to embrace or reject this radical “red-state” experiment with the future.”

          Well said my friend, I’m Steve Sauder.

         Our choices to represent us in the First Congressional District of Kansas will be: Incumbent Tim Huelscamp, and Challengers: Kent Roth and Alan LaPolice.

          Believe it or not this is an improvement as Rep. Huelscamp, in Congress since 2011, ran unopposed in 2012! He initially won his seat after winning a wild primary with numerous contestants including Dr. James Barnett from Emporia.

          Speaking from a personal point of view Tim Huelscamp has been an embarrassment as my representative in Washington. His ultra conservative positions seem unwavering and only get worse. At a time when gridlock in Washington is one of the biggest problems Huelscamp is exactly the opposite of what is needed, yet no one even ran against him in the last election.

          There would appear to be reason for hope when polling consistently indicates over 51% of First District Kansans do not approve of Huelscamp’s activities.

          Former Kansas legislator Kent Roth from Ellenwood announced his campaign to unseat Congressman Huelscamp months ago. I sent him a donation and he sent me a bumper sticker that says – No Labels – Kick Too Crazy for Kansas Out of Congress.

          Not sure how effective that is, but I did put one on my car.

          Earlier this week Kent Roth solicited me again.

          His letter thanked me for my donation, defined the Federal contribution limits for me, pointed out the polling numbers mentioned earlier and suggested splitting the opposition vote in the primary would not be good. He then dropped the bombshell that truly explains the value of being an incumbent like Huelscamp.

          Kent told me had cash on hand of $15,756; the other person in the race had $14,402 but our incumbent congressman Tim Huelscamp reported cash on hand in excess of $800,000!

          Not exactly a positive message for a want-a-be supporter, huh?

          My question is what can we do about our congressman? He’s a bright guy, PhD in political science, concentrating on agriculture policy from American University, but he does not seem to represent us well.

          If you agree with me the time to take action is now, but fifteen grand compared to 800,000 THAT is a big problem. Any ideas?

          I’m Steve Sauder.

          This is Easter - the most important time of the year for Christians. The reason Easter is so important is because the events of this week give us the hope for eternal life; hope that our sins can be forgiven and our less than perfect lives can still have meaning.

          God sent his son Jesus to earth to teach us a better way to live. Even though his ministry lasted only three years it influenced billions of people. Eventually he paid for our sins with his life. He died on the cross, rose from the dead and gives each of us a way to return and live with God – thus the Easter celebration.

          For those who do not believe in God there is an ongoing debate. The movie “God is not Dead” is a wonderful tool to use if you question the existence of a higher power.

          As a Christian I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Because of him death is not the end thus giving my life new hope.

          I often wonder what non believers are thinking when they attend a funeral.

          As a Christian I am comforted knowing eternal life is available for all who believe in God.

          This is a good time for those who have doubts, don’t understand or do not believe there is a higher power to seek answers. It would seem that having hope for eternal life is a far better place to be than simply being confused or mad about death.

          God does love this world and he does so much that he sacrificed his own son’s life to pay for our sins. That’s a gift we should not ignore.

          Hoping you have a meaningful Easter, I’m Steve Sauder.

Emporia State Baseball Coach Bob Fornelli is my topic today because he represents a positive attitude most of us would love to possess.

          Bob came to Emporia Statehoping to play for Dave Bingham, but  Bingham took the KU job and Fornelli ended up playing for a different coach.

          Next, Fornelli was the pitching coach at Butler County Community College. The first three years he lived in a room about the size of his current office and showered with the kids. He was promoted to Dorm Director the last two years with an apartment in the dorm. He and new wife Jill lived in the dorm their first year of marriage.

          Bob worked at coaching baseball 24/7/365. Summers inElkhart and Liberal and less exotic places and then Ft. Hays State called. After seven years in Hays the ESU job opened up and Fornelli eagerly took over. This is his eleventh year atEmporia State. His teams have twice been national runners up.

          The Hornets made it into NCAA post season play in both 2010 and 11, but did not advance. 2012 and 2013 were not good years for the Hornets. Winning records yes, but post season action was limited to losing in the first round of the MIAA tournament.

          It may not have been so much ESU having slippage as much as other schools in the MIAA and Region starting to throw money at baseball.

          Fornelli has been offered at least two other MIAA jobs, both with larger salaries and promises of lavish budgets. Fornelli’s response has been “I’m a Hornet and if we can find a little more support I’m not going anywhere.”

          At the mid point of this past season Coach Fornelli had to be questioning those decisions. In early April with an almost entirely new team and one he really liked Washburn handed ESU three straight losses and a season record of 19 & 14.

          Fornelli’s response to Greg Rahe on KVOE was “this is not a time to pout.”

          That so impressed me I traveled to Topeka for the final game of the Washburn series. ESU won starting a 15 game winning streak. The Hornets have now won 21 of their last 24 including 4 in a row to win the MIAA Post Season Tournament. They start play in the Central Regional tomorrow.

          Bob Fornelli is all about playing hard, doing things the right way and having fun. He is the Dean of ESU coaches and someone many other coaches go to when their chins are dragging.

          Fornelli makes his living in a sport where you can be successful even when you fail 7 or 8 times out of 10. Maybe he read Thomas Edison who once said “People are not remembered by how few times they failed, but by how often they succeed.”

          Bob Fornelli is a text book example of never letting failure become permanent. He’s always looking for the next opportunity for success.

          Fornelli is a role model family man too. Jill and delightful daughters Emma, Rylie and Addison are seldom missing when the Hornets are playing.

          Look up positive attitude in the dictionary and you’ll see Coach Fornelli’s picture.

          I’m Steve Sauder

Sunday evening my wife and I were heading home when we notice two boys riding their bikes on the seventh green on the country club golf course.

                We chased them down and were able to have a conversation with the boys estimated ages 13 and 7. My hope was to let them know their behavior was not acceptable that they were on private property and especially that they could damage the green with a cost in the thousands of dollars possible.

                Unfortunately, the older boy was not impressed and in fact laughed at me. When I suggested I might call the police he said “go for it!”

                This is where my problem gets dicey.

                How exactly do I call the police?

                911? No, this is not an emergency and I recently heard stories about people who called 911 for a cat in the tree which obviously wasn’t an emergency, so 911 was not an option.

                I had no phone book, but did have the number for one of Emporia’s detectives in my phone. Calling that number got me to the City/Lyon County line. It asked me to choose between City and County. No problem. Then it said: Dial 1 for a Police for Fire emergency. No, so the next option was Dial 2 for a water emergency. No, so option 3 was for “All other needs.” That sent me to the City’s general mail box. I tried dialing “0” but that went to the mail box too.

                Bottom line my choices were dial 911 or leave a message. I guess finding a phone book was also an option, but that didn’t seem plausible since I was holding onto the handlebars of the older youth’s bicycle.

                As a sidelight we did eventually talk to the boy’s father, but that wasn’t very satisfying either as he basically said “boys will be boys and scoffed at the idea of involving the police.”

                Monday I was able to visit with Chief of Police Scott Cronk who agreed I had a conundrum, but advised me I could have hit 1 for the emergency/911 option and then ask them to call me back on a regular line because my call was not an emergency.  Guess that’s why he’s the Chief.

                Scott did agree to visit with Ed Rathke at the city to see if adding an option for non-emergency contact with the P.D. and Fire Departments might be possible. My hope is Ed will agree and seek a better solution.

                Personally, I went to the phone book and found with a little effort there are numbers for both departments for non-emergency calls. I put both in my phone and suggest you might want to do the same.

                The Emporia Police Department Non-emergency number is 343-4200 and the Fire Department’s is 343-4230.

                O.K. now it’s your turn. Let me know how dumb I was. By the way the boys did do some damage to the green.

            Hopefully, the story ends here. I’m Steve Sauder.

It truly is a great day in Emporia. Especially if you have an interest in our local institutions of high education – Flint Hills Technical College and Emporia State University.

          In case you have not noticed both are experiencing some very positive events.

          Once there was little or no cooperation between the schools, but today they are working well to help each other succeed.

          Take for example the 3-D competition being sponsored jointly by the two schools plus the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce. I was fortunate to be asked to help judge this first ever contest. While it doesn’t appear a Facebook or a Google will be invented from this year’s entries I can say the efforts were very good and the passion the students exhibited indicated a keen interest.

          Friday night at the 3-D Gala the best three from an original pool of 33 entries will be honored. They represent a wonderful cross section including both institutions, traditional, non-traditional and international students and ideas worth exploring.

          While the 3-D is about to conclude exciting news from both schools hit the airways this week.

          FlintHills Tech is absolutely blowing away previous numbers with success in many areas, but specifically in their Power Plant Technology and Industrial Maintenance areas. Both programs have cooperating partners from some really big names in industry and are attracting students from all over the United States. Placement results have been outstanding.

          Emporia State rolled out it Master Plan for the next ten years calling for some drastic changes in physical entries in to the campus. The endorsement of the Black and Gold District in the eleven hundred block of Commercial will further tie our town the university together.

          Never in the history of Emporia State has so much excitement been present. With another new Dean about to be hired ESU will showcase its’ ability to attract top grade people because of the school’s positive direction. It is indeed “Great time to be a Hornet.”

          Together these two fine schools with their excellent leaders working together are helping Emporia be a better place to live, work and raise our families.

          I’m Steve Sauder and there’s something to think about.

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