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The Statue of Liberty and Freedom

The Statue of Liberty and Freedom

Recently my daughter and I visited New York City. While known for its hustle and bustle, culture, fashion and architecture, our visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island was all about freedom. One glimpse at the beautiful Lady and it is easy to see how the words to Emma Lazarus poem are so fitting, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Ellis Island is where our ancestors, those “huddled masses” crowded through the lines waiting for their turn to see if they met emotional, medical and compentence tests that would allow them access to the “golden door.” My daughter Carrie commented, “They traveled such a long journey to get here, then once they arrived, they still had a huge ordeal to go through.”

While most made it in, there were many that were detained waiting for family or for a decision to be made. About ten percent of the arrivals had to go back home. On the audio tape, one woman reflected on a huanting memory of her great-grandmother being sent back while all those that could take care of her remained. She commented that it was the last time they saw her.

I took time to think about how hard won my freedom is on the 4th of July. I am thankful when I see the young men and women and veterans that fought so hard for us. But, from now on, I will also include my ancestors, our ancestors that traveled the treacherous seas to come to the New World and forge a new life. America was and still is the land of hope and the land of dreams.

Wines offered by the Walnut Street Winery

Wines offered by the Walnut Street Winery

On the fourth of July besides watching fireworks we took off and tried a cool restaurant, Abe’s Hide Out and Saloon in Mechanicsburg, Illinois and decided to also stop at the Walnut Stree Winery in Rochester, Illinois. They offer wine daily and out in the wine garden there is often entertainment . You can even try your hand at a round of bocce ball on the bocce ball court.

Owner Loren Shanle makes the wine onsite with grapes imported mainly from California. He produces, bottles and labels at the shop. A former insurance agent, he turned the house that used to be his office into a winery adding a tasting room and wine garden. The winery is a pleasant place to stop and while away an afternoon or evening. We particularlly liked the Tropical Breeze and brought home a bottle to try while sitting out on our own deck!

The Walnut Street Winery is not surprisingly located at 309 South Walnut Street in Rochester, Illinois 62563.Log onto their website http://www.walnutstreetwinery.com for more information.

The Public Receiving Vault at Oak Ridge Cemetery where Abraham Lincoln's body was prior to being placed in Lincoln'sTomb

The Public Receiving Vault at Oak Ridge Cemetery where Abraham Lincoln's body was prior to being placed in Lincoln'sTomb

While a visit to a cemetery seems to be a bleak thought, Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield Illinois holds Lincoln’s Tomb and an array of interesting historical markers and facts. I recently visited the cemetery and learned that Oak Ridge Cemetery is the second most visited cemetery in the nation, second only to Arlington National Cemetery. With around one million visitors each year this is a hopping place. Besides the beauty and historical connection of Lincoln’s tomb, the cemetery houses many connected with Lincoln as well. The minister that married Lincoln and Mary Todd, two brother-in-laws and many others as well as a notorious preacher with a story that warranted a book.

Reveran Rayburn, a deposed Methodist minister that started up his own religious group called the Pilgrim’s wife warrants the second tallest gravesite marker in the cemetery. There is a lot of question as to exactly who is buried inthe plot that bears the name Hannah Rayburn. If visiting Springfield, stop into the cemetery office and purchase the the booklet “Oak Ridge Cemetery, The Resting Place of Abraham Lincoln”. The two dollars is worth the marvelous history that this historic site will unveil. .

Celtic Cross Dedicated to the Memory of Charles Wesely

Celtic Cross Dedicated to the Memory of Charles Wesely

While St. Simons Island Georgia is a resort area, the island is filled with history. Some of the history that amazed me was that the beginning of the Methodist church has its roots on this small coastal island. Both John Wesley and Charles Wesley served as missionaries on the island arriving with Georgia’s founder James Oglethorpe. We had the honor of stopping outside the Christ Church Frederica (http://www.christchurchfrederica.org. ) A historical sign in front of the church shares, “This congregation was established as a mission of the church of England in February 1736. The Rev. Charles Wesley ordained priest of that Church conducted the first services in the chapel within the walls of Fort Frederica. The Rev. John Wesley, Rector of Christ Episcopal Church, Savannah also served this mission under the name of St. James. This was one of the first eight parishes established in 1756. After the Revolution these churches which had been served continuously by clergymen of the Church of England formed the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

Accross the street from the church is the Wesley garden and one path leads back to a large sculpture of a Celtic cross that in part celebrates the fact that Charles Wesely was also a hymn writer. At the baseof the statueis this wording, “Leader in the evangelical revival, as a Christian hymn writer he is unrivaled.”

Vidalia Onions from sweet Georiga Fields

Vidalia Onions from sweet Georiga Fields

The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort hosted the Georgia Food Experience. One of the presentations that offered a very beneficial taste test was a sampling of this sweet Vidalia onion cooked in a little onion shaped cooker with French Onion spices that made the onion taste like the best French Onion Soup a chef could offer.

I tried this out at home with great success right in my very own microwave. While my kitchen needless to say does not have the ambience of the King & Prince’s lovely digs, the onion was as good when I replicated it as when I tried it out at when Sarah Bland exhibited how sweet these onions really taste.

Did you know that to be called a Vidalia onion that the onion has to be grown in one of 20 southeastern Georgia counties?

Sarah Bland of Bland Farms which is head-quartered in Glennville, Georgia, shared that this year the Vidalia’s were earlier than ever. I found it interesting that many of the Ansar Shriners sell the delectable onion as a fund raiser that brings in dollars to their hospitals accross the US.

Bland Farms is the world’s largest year-round grower, packer, and shipper of sweet onions and the industry-recognized name for Vidalia® Sweet Onions. In fact, Bland Farms represents almost one-third of all Vidalia® onions marketed. Log onto their website for details at http://www.blandfarms.com!