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Happy Fourth of July!

Saturday, Jul 4 2020 by

American independence is celebrated each year on July 4, and if you’re looking for some ideas of where to celebrate, either online or in person, this list will give you some great ideas!

Washington, DC

If you’re going to visit one place to celebrate American independence, you should definitely put Washington, DC at the top of your list. It’s our country’s capital, and has so many memorials, monuments, and locations important to America’s founding story. It’s a perfect spot for a family vacation, history bonanza, or politico fest, whatever your interests are!

US Capitol

The U. S. Capitol building is the seat of the legislative branch of government, and has played an important part in so much of America’s history. During the War of 1812, the building was burned by the British, and it served as a war hospital during the Civil War. Visitors can tour the building and learn about the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as American government, history, and culture.

United States Capitol (StreetView)
United States Capitol

Lincoln Memorial

While Lincoln wasn’t around at the founding of our country, he presided over the most fraught time in our country’s history and helped keep our Union strong. His memorial sits proudly at one end of the Mall, and is a must-see on the Fourth of July. If you’re lucky, you can score a seat on the steps and watch the amazing fireworks display, which are launched nearby at dusk.

Lincoln Memorial (StreetView)
Lincoln Memorial

National Archives

The National Archives building in downtown DC is home to America’s founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, so it’s a no-brainer to stop here on the Fourth of July. It’s a great place to learn about our history firsthand, see some of the most important documents of our country’s founding, and just maybe pretend you’re part of National Treasure.

National Archives (Google Maps)
National Archives

Philadelphia

Philadelphia played an important part in our country’s founding, including hosting the First and Second Continental Congresses and serving as a capital during and after the Revolution. There are many places with patriotic history any visitor would love to see on the 4th.

Independence Hall

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were both debated and agreed to in Independence Hall. Visiting the site in July is especially educational, as it gives you a sense of what the men experienced as they debated in rooms locked for privacy during the heat of the Philadelphia summer without air conditioning.

Independence Hall (Birds Eye)
Independence Hall

Betsy Ross, tradition says, influenced the design of the American flag by talking to then-general George Washington about the design, leading to the five point star we know and love today. While the story may not be true, Betsy Ross is part of the American fabric, and visitors can tour her house; an appropriate way to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Betsy Ross House (StreetView)
Betsy Ross House

Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell was crafted in 1752, and was likely one of the many bells that rang to announce the country’s declaration of independence in 1776. It came back to fame in the 1830s, around the time it sustained its now-iconic crack, and has been known as a symbol of American freedom since. It is housed in its own pavilion, where visitors can get close to the bell–but they cannot touch it!

Liberty Bell Center (Google Maps)
Liberty Bell Center

Myrtle Beach, SC

If you’d rather have a relaxing, family-friendly holiday, there are few places better than Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It’s got amazing beaches, fun piers, lots of family entertainment, great dining, and outstanding fireworks. It’s an all-American vacation spot for sure!

Alligator Adventure

Yes, you can actually get face to face with live alligators at Alligator Adventure! This park calls itself the reptile capital of the world, and has plenty of alligators, as well as hyenas, exotic birds, and other reptiles to experience up close and personal. There are fireworks displays across the street here on the Fourth of July, so it’s a great place to be!

Aligator Adventure (Google Maps)
Aligator Adventure

Myrtle Beach Speedway

If you want to add a little speed to your vacation, Myrtle Beach is perfect. They have lots of NASCAR related venues, including Myrtle Beach Speedway. There are so many events from short track racing, trade shows, and even NASCAR experiences where you can go along for a ride on the track!

Myrtle Beach Speedway (Birds Eye)
Myrtle Beach Speedway

Family Kingdom Amusement Park

There are so many family friendly activities in Myrtle Beach, and the Family Kingdom Amusement Park is one of the best. It has a full-fledged amusement park, water park, arcades and more to stay entertained when you’re not at the miles of beach at Myrtle Beach.

Family Kingdom Amusement Park (Birds Eye)
Family Kingdom Amusement Park

Broadway at the Beach

This shopping center has fireworks displays twice a week all summer long, but their fireworks on Independence Day are out of this world! This is just one of many places you can catch an amazing fireworks display on the Fourth, because Myrtle Beach knows how to celebrate!

Broadway at the Beach (Google Maps)
Broadway at the Beach

This is just a short list of places and things to do on the Fourth of July. No matter where you are, as long as you’re with family or loved ones, you can celebrate America’s birthday in style.

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This Month in History: July

Thursday, Jul 2 2020 by

We’re halfway through an eventful 2020, and looking back it feels like it’s been an eternity. But, there’s much more to remember than just the events of this year.

Let’s look back on some life-changing, breath-taking, and earth-shattering events that have made it into the history books.

Assassination of President Garfield

President James A. Garfield ran for president representing the relatively new Republican party, supporting purging corruption in the civil service and enhancing civil rights. Garfield was assassinated at a railroad station in Washington, D.C. by Charles J. Guiteau on July 2, 1881.

President Garfield Assassination Site (Google Maps)
President Garfield Assassination Site

Guiteau was delusional and vengeful after not receiving a political appointment. He was initially treated by doctors who did not practice hand sanitation. This likely led to the infection that killed him about ten weeks later, on September 19, 1881. Guiteau was convicted of murder and put to death in 1882.

Garfield was buried in Cleveland, Ohio, and there is a substantial monument and tomb marking his grave site.

Tomb of President James A. Garfield (Google Maps)
Tomb of President James A. Garfield

Signing of the Declaration of Independence

America celebrates Independence Day on July 4, because on that date in 1776, a few dozen men gathered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, declared independence from Great Britain. It was more than a year into the fighting for greater independence for the 13 colonies. It marked a turning point in the war, officially stating that the American colonies were sovereign, independent from, and not part of Great Britain.

The war didn’t end for seven more years, but it has been celebrated as the national holiday for the United States ever since.

Congress Hall (StreetView)
Congress Hall

Fall of the Bastille

The Bastille in Paris, France, was originally built to be a fortress, but turned into a prison by the 1650s. As France descended into civil conflict in the 1780s, the Bastille became a symbol of the unjust power of the monarchy by the revolutionary leaders.

On July 14, 1789, a large crowd stormed the prison, ostensibly to free the prisoners, but leaders were in search of the gunpowder stored there. Since 1790, the day has been celebrated as France’s “national day”, much like Independence Day in the United States.

The prison was torn down during the revolutionary years, but has been replaced with the Place de la Bastille, with a large column in the center to commemorate the events of the July Revolution.

Place de la Bastille (Google Maps)
Place de la Bastille

Murder of Czar Nicholas and Family

Nicholas II was the last Czar of Russia. As World War I raged, domestic political and social upheaval tore the country apart. The country’s political structure collapsed and Czar Nicholas was forced to abdicate his throne. He and his family were forced into exile in Yekaterinburg. However, revolutionary leaders were not content as long as the symbol of the monarchy still lived, and the death of the Czar and his family were ordered.

He, his wife, and five children, along with close servants and friends, were shot to death on the night of July 17, 1918. Their bodies were dismembered and hidden to prevent supporters from finding them and turning them into martyrs and undermining the revolution.

Yekaterinburg (Google Maps)
Yekaterinburg

Apollo 11 Lands on the Moon

For as long as humans could look up, we have dreamed of being among the stars, but on July 16, 1969, three American astronauts left earth’s gravity and prepared to land on the moon.

On July 20, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin orbited the moon. Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, with the world watching as the two men descended from the Eagle lunar module, and took “one small step for man, one small step for mankind.”

Kennedy Space Center (StreetView)
Kennedy Space Center

John Dillinger is Killed in a Police Chase

John Dillinger was a famous gangster and bank robber in the 1930s. He robbed banks in four states, killed one police office, and evaded police for years. In an effort to catch him, the Department of Justice created what evolved into the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In July 1934, word got to the federal agents that he was in Chicago, and on July 22, they tracked him to the Biograph Theater. When he exited the theater, he saw the officers, tried to flee, and was shot in the pursuit. As word of his death spread, crowds gathered to see the crime scene and even dip handkerchiefs and newspapers in the blood as souvenirs.

Biograph Theater (StreetView)
Biograph Theater

Korean War Armistice

After World War II, supervision of Korea was divided between the Soviet Union and the United States. War broke out over the division in 1950, and carried on for three difficult years. Both sides eventually began negotiations to end the war, and on July 27, 1953, they declared an armistice, or ceasefire, which had been negotiated at the border between North and South Korea at the 38th Parallel, in Panmunjom.

Technically, the war is still not declared over, and both sides live in a state of constant preparation in case the conflict heats up again, as it has threatened to dozens of times over the seven decades since the fighting stopped.

Truce Village, The (Google Maps)
Truce Village, The

These historical events show that any day can change the world, whether it’s for one person like John Dillinger, or the entire world as when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Every day holds the potential to change your world–so make the most of it!

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Summer Getaways

Saturday, Jun 20 2020 by

Summer is in full swing, and it’s the time for family getaways and road trips across the country. Whether or not we’re driving cross country with the family camper or just looking at places on AirBnB, it’s fun to see new places.

Here’s a list of some of the coolest and most iconic destinations from East Coast to West.

Niagara Falls

Creating the border between Canada and the United States, the Niagara River runs along New York state and Ontario Canada. The river has a spectacular trio of waterfalls that have long been a famous natural attraction for visitors from around the world.

Visitors can see the falls from both the US and Canadian sides, as well as take a boat ride at the base of the falls, feeling and breathing in the beauty and wonder as you are splashed by the water falls.

Niagara Falls (Birds Eye)
Niagara Falls

New York City

New York City is the center of the world. There is something for everyone who comes to the city, from great eating to amazing sites to check out, shows to see and memories to make.

New York has a reputation for having the biggest and best of everything, and going to the Empire State Building is a great place to see it all for yourself. It is certainly worth the wait in line to see the city from the iconic  skyscraper.

Empire State Building (Birds Eye)
Empire State Building

Many people remember exactly where they were on September 11, 2001, and want to pay respect to those who died in the terrorist attack and the aftermath.

Those who do can visit One World Trade Center and see the memorial built to commemorate the day and the dead.

One World Trade Center (StreetView)
One World Trade Center

With all the hustle and bustle of the city, every tourist needs to take a break by visiting Central Park, the massive green space in the middle of the city. It provides both a respite and refresher for all who visit, a place of relative quiet in the middle of a city of more than eight million people.

Central Park (Google Maps)
Central Park

Washington, D.C.

Every family takes at least one summer trip to Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital. It’s a wonderful place for families to visit, but any visitor will appreciate the history, architecture and culture that the city has to offer.

Of course everyone has to see the White House at least once, because it is where the President lives and works. While it’s rare to spot the President or his family, it is always fun to see the house, the grounds, and all the activity that goes on there.

The White House (StreetView)
The White House

The National Mall is an outdoor museum, with monuments and memorials to presidents, fallen soldiers, wars and other important events in American history. The Mall never closes, and most monuments and sites can be visited 24 hours a day.

A relatively recent addition to the Mall is the World War II Memorial, which has been open since 2004.

National World War II Memorial (StreetView)
National World War II Memorial

Also on the mall, Smithsonian museums  are a favorite place for many families to go, even just to get out of the heat and humidity. One of the most popular museums is the National Air and Space Museum, with exhibitions including Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis and the Wright Flyer, the first plane to take flight.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (Google Maps)
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Mount Rushmore

If you’re driving cross country, be sure to take a detour to South Dakota and see Mount Rushmore, the tourist attraction with the faces of four important presidents carved into the side of a mountain in the Black Hills. Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are joined by Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

Mount Rushmore (StreetView)
Mount Rushmore

Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho is famous for its natural beauty amid the Rocky Mountains, with peaks and valleys, mountain meadows and streams. It also has stunning wildlife including bears, moose, deer and of course buffalo!

Yellowstone National Park (Google Maps)
Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone sits on top of an active geothermal site, which contributes to the unique volcanic activity, including geysers, hot springs and other breathtaking features.

Old Faithful is a famous geyser, so named because it erupts on a  predictable schedule, allowing tourists to wait and see a beautify display of natural waterworks.

Old Faithful Geyser (Google Maps)
Old Faithful Geyser

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the most famous natural wonders in the United States and possibly the world. The canyon carved by the Colorado River extends nearly 300 miles and is more than a mile deep in many places.

Grand Canyon (Google Maps)
Grand Canyon

There are several great places to view it, and numerous tours, hikes and water activities visitors can do all along the canyon.

Grand Canyon - Rim Road (Google Maps)
Grand Canyon - Rim Road

Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada, is a city in the desert famous for it’s gambling, entertainment family friendly and not, and crazy vibe. Most people who visit don’t stray far from the Strip, a stretch of development downtown with hotels, casinos and entertainment for visitors.

Hotel attractions, beyond the gambling and night life, include talent the likes of Britney Spears Cirque de Soleil.

Las Vegas: The Strip - Google Earth (StreetView)
Las Vegas: The Strip - Google Earth

Those willing to leave the confines of the city can visit Area 51, the military site famous for it’s rumored alien sightings. Many people believe aliens have landed and continue to visit the area, and that the military conducts secret research on the intergalactic activities.

Area 51 (Google Maps)
Area 51

Disneyland

No summer vacation list would be complete without a mention of the magic that is Disney. Either at Disneyland or Disney World, the magic of Disney is something that everyone should experience at least once, and hopefully many times. Since 1955, Disneyland outside Los Angeles California has been making dreams come true for kids the world over.

Disney perfectly completes the list of great summer getaways. Vacations are what make summer memorable, whether it’s a short weekend getaway or an epic road trip. Hopefully this list will be a start to planning an epic summer adventure of your own.

Disneyland (Google Maps)
Disneyland
Disney World - Magic Kingdom (Google Maps)
Disney World - Magic Kingdom

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Who's Having a Birthday in June?

Monday, Jun 15 2020 by

Summer is in full swing, and we’re starting to get out of our homes more, which makes celebrating birthdays even more exciting than ever. But some celebrities have such amazing houses, they want to celebrate their special day at home.

Let’s see who is having a birthday this month, and where they might be singing Happy Birthday!

Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper has become a celebrity newsman working for CNN and CBS, and became a first time dad in April. On June 3, he is turning 53, and he’s likely to have his best year yet!

This independent minded anchorman actually bought an old fire station in 2010 and turned it into an amazing five story home in Greenwich Village, New York. He paid $4.3 million in 2010, and has renovated it to incorporate a turn of the century feel while including amazing modern decor and features. It’s a great place for Anderson to celebrate with loved ones even when he’s working hard on keeping Americans informed about important news every night.

Anderson Cooper's firehouse (StreetView)
Anderson Cooper's firehouse

Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg started out as a rapper, but he’s become one of Hollywood’s most successful actors, both financially and critically, over the last twenty years. He’s even a part owner of his family burger chain. He’s turning 49 on June 5, and hopefully Mark takes a moment to celebrate his birthday with loved ones.

His Beverly Hills mansion is so epic, there’s no reason to celebrate anywhere else. The 30,000 square foot house sits on a 6.14 acre lot, has 11 bedrooms, 18 bathrooms, wine cellar, movie theater, and library. There’s also a massive pool, basketball court, and even a putting green! There’s no need to travel when you have such a wonderful place right at home!

Mark Wahlberg's House (Bing Maps)
Mark Wahlberg's House

Kanye West

Rapper, designer and sometimes Christian preacher Kanye West is turning 43 on June 8. Wherever he is on his birthday, his celebration is sure to be epic because Kanye does everything to the max!

He and his wife Kim Kardashian West and their four kids live in a massive estate in LA that he describes as a “futuristic Belgian monastery”. The couple paid around $20 million for the estate after their first baby, and have remodeled, expanded and decorated it to fit Kanye’s unique style. It is now reportedly worth $60 million. If you owned a place like that, you’d certainly want to celebrate your birthday there!

Kim Kardashian & Kanye West's House (Google Maps)
Kim Kardashian & Kanye West's House

Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris has grown up in front of the camera, so we should all wish him an especially happy birthday on June 15. The television, movie and theater actor is turning 47.

He and his husband have two kids that they raise in their amazing brownstone in New York City. The townhouse set them back $4 million, but with 8,000 square feet in the city, that’s a great deal! The family loves to go all-out for holidays big and small, so it’s a no-brainer that they’ll celebrate NPH’s birthday in a big way!

Neil Patrick Harris' House (Google Maps)
Neil Patrick Harris' House

Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman has been in Hollywood for decades, and in recent years she’s seemed to find a true and lasting peace with her country music star Keith Urban. The couple actually spends more of their time in Nashville, TN than Hollywood.

They have a lovely mansion that they bought in 2008 for $3.5 million. It includes a pool and tennis court, and beautiful landscaping in addition to 11,000 square feet of living space, seven bedrooms, 8.5 bathrooms and more. This is the perfect place to snuggle up with her husband and two girls on June 20 when she celebrates her birthday.

Keith Urban & Nicole Kidman's House (Birds Eye)
Keith Urban & Nicole Kidman's House

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep is Hollywood royalty if anyone is. She has been nominated for a record 21 Academy Awards, winning three. And she’s been nominated for countless other awards.

Despite her international fame and respect, Meryl works hard to live a normal life, including maintaining her primary residence outside New York, in Connecticut. Maybe she’ll celebrate her 71st birthday on June 22 in this lovely home. Hopefully her four kids will be able to celebrate with her, or at least give their mom a call to say happy birthday!

Meryl Streep's House (Birds Eye)
Meryl Streep's House

You don’t need to be a celebrity to have a wonderful birthday, especially in June when the weather is perfect and it feels like the whole world is celebrating with you. Happy birthday to everyone celebrating another trip around the sun this month!

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This Month in History: June

Wednesday, Jun 10 2020 by

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that we’re living in unprecedented times. But as big and life changing as things feel these days, we can look back through history and see that a few people can change history, and that living one’s best life is the most important thing they can do to change the world.

Massacre at Tienanmen Square

Months of student-led protests in Beijing resulted in a military crackdown and the deaths of hundreds or thousands of protesters and bystanders. Protesters were demonstrating in favor of increased transparency, democracy, and freedom of speech. After weeks of growing frustration, the government called in more than 300,000 soldiers to counter the protests on June 4, 1989.

Soldiers used force in several instances, including driving a tank into a group of protesters, firing on unarmed students and other acts of violence. The next day, a lone protester stood in Tienanmen Square, blocking a line of tanks,  and becoming the face of the protest.

Tiananmen Square (Google Maps)
Tiananmen Square

Robert F. Kennedy is Assassinated

Just a few years after the assassination of his brother, President John F. Kenned, Robert F. Kennedy was running for the Democratic nomination for president. He held an election night celebration at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California on June 5, 1968.

After the event, he and his security team were leaving the hotel through the kitchen when he was shot by Sirhan Sirhan. He died the next day. His assassination was one of many in the decade, contributing to the tumultuous and chaotic feeling of the 1960s politically and socially as people fought for change and looked for stability at the same time.

Ambassador Hotel (former) (Google Maps)
Ambassador Hotel (former)

Medgar Evers is Murdered in Mississippi

Medgar Evars was an African American civil rights activist in Mississippi. He worked for integrated education and for the NAACP. He was a target of white supremacists and anti-integration advocates. Threats were so serious that even his children were trained in how to respond to an attack.

On June 12, 1963, he was shot in his driveway. He died later that evening after achieving the dubious groundbreaking distinction of being the first African American admitted to an all-white hospital in Mississippi. He was buried on June 19 in Arlington Cemetery. His assassin was originally acquitted, but convicted in 1994.

Medgar Evers Murder (StreetView)
Medgar Evers Murder

Watergate Hotel Break-in

In the nighttime hours of June 17, 1972, five men were arrested inside the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate Office Building in Washington, D.C. They were hired by people tied to the Nixon reelection campaign, and as the investigation went on, it was clear that President Nixon himself was deeply involved in illegal activities intended to help him win reelection.

The arrests led to a years-long investigation and the resignation of President Nixon to avoid impeachment and removal by the House of Representatives and Senate.

Watergate Hotel (Birds Eye)
Watergate Hotel

Napoleon is Defeated at Waterloo

Napoleon Bonaparte rose to prominence and eventual power after the mess of the French Revolution. Being Emperor of France wasn’t enough, and Napoleon spent a decade invading other European countries and acquiring more territory. He was pushed from power in 1814, but came back in 1815.

The major powers of Europe formed a coalition to defeat Napoleon, and on June 18, 1815, armies from England, Prussia, and other countries met Napoleon’s army and defeated them just outside the Belgian town of Waterloo. Napoleon abdicated days later, this time for good. Europe formed new alliances that maintained peace for decades and laid the groundwork for the alliances that would lead to World War I.

Lion hill of Waterloo (Google Maps)
Lion hill of Waterloo

Berlin Airlift Begins

After World War II, control over Germany was divided among the victors: United States, Great Britain, France, and the USSR. The capitol Berlin was also divided. Because Berlin was deep inside the Soviet zone, it was difficult to keep the western side supplied.

In 1948, the USSR cut off all roads and train supply routes in an effort to gain total control over the city. Starting on June 26, 1948, the three allied countries airlifted in food and supplies to keep the city supplied. After more than a year, 2.3 million tons of supplies, and airplanes landing nearly every 30 seconds, the Soviets backed down and opened up the traditional supply routes.

The Berlin Airlift was the first of many tense conflicts between the USSR and the west during the Cold War.

Berlin airlift DC-4 at Tempelhof Airport (Google Maps)
Berlin airlift DC-4 at Tempelhof Airport

Assassination of Franz Ferdinand

While all political assassinations are intended to cause chaos, likely no single assassination has had a greater impact on the world than the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the presumptive heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. He was killed on June 28, 1914, while traveling in a motorcade in Sarajevo by a young revolutionary. His death, and that of his wife Sophie, had global importance because they set of a chain of events that caused World War I, and the deaths of more than 40 million soldiers and civilians worldwide.

Where WWI started - Franz Ferdinand assassination (Google Maps)
Where WWI started - Franz Ferdinand assassination

These are just a few of so many important events in Junes past, and knowing people have experienced so many crazy, life-changing, and amazing moments, and the world keeps on going can give us confidence that we can survive and thrive during these trying times.

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Remembering the D-Day Invasion at Normandy

Monday, Jun 8 2020 by

On June 6, 1944, Allied forces began storming the beaches of Normandy, France, in an effort to liberate that country, and all of Europe, from Nazi control.

On the 76th anniversary of this pivotal operation, let’s take a look back and learn a little more about how this event helped the Allies win World War II.

Portsmouth Harbor, GB

Much of the invasion of northwest France originated in Portsmouth, Great Britain. Thousands of troops boarded boats on June 5, for the overnight ride across the English Channel to the beaches of Normandy, France.

Evidence of the war still remains, including submerged  portions of Mulberry harbors, which were temporary harbors constructed to help bring material into France from Allied ships after they secured the beachhead.

Mulberry Harbor (Google Maps)
Mulberry Harbor

Omaha Beach

British, American, and Canadian troops each attacked different areas of the Normandy coast, and each section was given a code name. American troops landed at Omaha and Utah Beaches. Landing was tough in the cold, choppy water.

Fighting to take over the beach was intense here, as the area was the most heavily defended by German soldiers.

Omaha Beach (Google Maps)
Omaha Beach

Omaha Beach Memorial

On the beach, there is a memorial called “Les Braves” to honor the 2,400 brave soldiers who gave their lives to take Omaha Beach, and the more than 34,000 men who fought so hard to liberate France by coming up the beach on June 6.

Omaha Beach Memorial (StreetView)
Omaha Beach Memorial

Pointe du Hoc

Dividing Omaha and Utah beaches is Pointe du Hoc, which is a tall cliff jutting into the ocean. Because of its height and position, it was an excellent defensive position held by Germans, and had to be taken in order for the D-Day invasion to be a success.

American Army Rangers scaled the hundred foot cliffs under grave danger, and reached their objective of securing the batteries and guns. Over two days, more than 135 men were killed or wounded.

The bunkers have been turned into a museum, where visitors can see what it would have been like as a German soldier, and how terrifying climbing the cliffs would have been for the Rangers.

Pointe du Hoc (Google Maps)
Pointe du Hoc

Utah Beach and Museum

The other American landing site was at Utah Beach, where the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions parachuted in to help the men who came up the beach from the water.

A museum has been built on the beach to commemorate the attack, all that went into it, and the impact it had on helping to end the war.

Utah Beach Landing Museum (StreetView)
Utah Beach Landing Museum

Azeville Battery

Three kilometres. or just under two miles from Utah Beach, was the Azevile Battery, where the German troops blasted away at soldiers attempting to land on the beach.

It took three days to take out the battery, which is now a local museum.

Azeville Battery (StreetView)
Azeville Battery

Battle of Normandy Museum

Just a few miles inland from the coast is Bayeux, France, one of the first towns liberated as the Allies marched towards Berlin and the end of the war. The city has created a museum that displays a comprehensive telling of the invasion, from planning to execution to final outcomes.

It is an amazing place to learn about the battle, the war, who fought it, and who it was for.

Battle of Normandy Museum (StreetView)
Battle of Normandy Museum

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

Thousands of allied soldiers died in Normandy, and their bodies could not be returned to their home countries. There is an American Cemetery in France where nearly ten thousand soldiers are buried and another 1,500 unidentified soldiers are honored.

It is an important stop on any visit to Normandy, to get a feel for the human cost of the invasion, and to honor the dead servicemen, and to leave with a complete understanding of the cost of war.

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial (Google Maps)
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

Statue of Major Richard Winters

There are many other memorials throughout Normandy, including a statue of Major Richard Winters, made famous in the HBO series Band of Brothers. He was a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division of the American Army.

Major Richard Winters - Easy Company 101st Airborne (StreetView)
Major Richard Winters - Easy Company 101st Airborne

Memorial to John Steele

In Ste. Mere Eglise, there is a unique memorial to Private John Steele. Steele was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne who got caught up in a local cathedral, and hung on a pinnacle on the side of the church all night long. Amazingly, he survived the ordeal.

The town used his effigy to remember all those involved in the battle.

Ste Mère Eglise church - John Steele paratrooper (StreetView)
Ste Mère Eglise church - John Steele paratrooper

These are just a few of the many places people can visit, online or in real life, to witness, learn about, and honor the people who fought to liberate Normandy, France and Europe from the grip of the Nazis.

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Best Places to Commemorate Memorial Day

Monday, May 25 2020 by

Memorial Day in the United States, on the last Monday in May, is a holiday to commemorate those who died protecting the country while serving in the Armed Forces. American soldiers have fought for freedom on American soil and around the world. There are national cemeteries and memorials to honor the dead all across the US and around the world.

Let’s take a look at some of these hallowed places.

Arlington National Cemetery

General Robert E. Lee owned a considerable amount of land in Arlington County, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. At the start of the Civil War, the renowned general left his position in the US Army to lead Confederate troops. Towards the end of the Civil War, the Union Army ran out of places to bury fallen soldiers, so, in 1864, the Union government took Lee’s land and turned it into a cemetery.

Over time, the cemetery has become the most prominent national cemetery in the United States. It is the final resting place for more than 400,000 soldiers, their family members and important civilians. More than three million people visit the cemetery each year to pay their respects to the deceased and to learn more about their service.

Entrance to Arlington National Cemetery (Birds Eye)
Entrance to Arlington National Cemetery

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is one of the most sacred places in Arlington Cemetery. Here lie unidentified remains from soldiers from several major wars.

It is guarded by members of the Old Guard of the Army 24 hours a day, every day of the year, rain or shine, heat or cold. It is an honor to “walk the mat” and the guards follow a detailed routine designed to honor the unidentified fallen service members. Due to the solemn nature of the Tomb, observers are expected to maintain silence, and those who violate the order will be reprimanded by the guard.

Tomb of the Unknowns (Google Maps)
Tomb of the Unknowns

Gettysburg National Cemetery

The Battle of Gettysburg witnessed some of the most brutal fighting of the Civil War. It took place from July 1-3, 1863. Both sides suffered massive casualties; about one third of soldiers were killed or wounded in the battle, and General Robert E. Lee suffered a massive defeat both in the field and to his reputation.

After the battle, President Abraham Lincoln and others gathered at the site to dedicate the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. It was here, on November 4, 1863 that Lincoln gave the speech that later became known as the Gettysburg Address.

The battlefield has been turned into a national park, and visitors can drive through and learn about the battle, walking where soldiers walked and learning about those who died, and survived, the battle.

Gettysburg National Cemetery (Birds Eye)
Gettysburg National Cemetery

Pennsylvania State Memorial

Many states have created memorials within the park to honor their soldiers, and commemorate their sacrifice and bravery during the three days in July. Pennsylvania created the largest monument within the park, a large granite domed monument complete with a 7,500 pound statute of Winged Victory.

Pennsylvania State Memorial, Gettysburg (StreetView)
Pennsylvania State Memorial, Gettysburg

Antietam National Battlefield

Antietam National Battlefield is a National Park that commemorates a one-day battle outside Sharpsburg, West Virginia, that resulted in the highest single day of casualties in the Civil War. The battle took place on September 17, 1862, and left nearly 23,000 dead or wounded among the Union and Confederate Armies.

The Park includes a visitor center, a preserved battlefield, a field hospital museum, and a national cemetery.

Antietam National Battlefield (Google Maps)
Antietam National Battlefield

Pearl Harbor

While Europe had been involved in a massive war for two years, the United States managed to stay out of the fray until late 1941. On December 7, Japan attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, drawing the country into the war. Almost 2,500 soldiers were killed, and several ships were damaged, three irreversibly. Wreckage from ships still remains in the harbor.

Pearl Harbor (Google Maps)
Pearl Harbor

USS Arizona

The USS Arizona was damaged beyond repair, and sunk with more than a thousand sailors. It still “bleeds” oil to this day, from a leak in the hull. A memorial was created over the wreckage, careful to be respectful of the ship, which is a tomb to the men who died there.

USS Arizona (BB-39) Memorial (Birds Eye)
USS Arizona (BB-39) Memorial

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

Starting June 6, 1944, the Allies invaded German-held Normandy to help free France and end World War II. American forces played an integral role in the liberation of France, and about 10,000 American soldiers died or went missing during the action.

After the war, France turned a temporary American cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer into the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, where the remains of about 9,500 known soldiers are buried, as well as the names of 1,500 missing. The cemetery is a moving memorial to the fallen and their sacrifices for the freedom of others.

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial (Google Maps)
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial

More than 17,000 American soldiers who lost their lives fighting in the Pacific theater of World War II are buried in the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. These soldiers died fighting to free places like New Guinea and the Philippines from Japanese control.

Like in France, there is a memorial to the missing, which contains more than 36,000 names. The memorial and cemetery are in a beautiful and peaceful setting, with views of the lowlands, Laguna Bay, and mountains in the distance.

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial (Google Maps)
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial

These are some of the places dedicated to remembering and honoring those brave men and women who gave their all for Americans and freedom loving people around the world. It’s the least we can do on this special holiday, to take some time to learn about the wars they fought in and places where they have found their eternal rest.

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This Month in History: May

Monday, May 18 2020 by

The world is witnessing history unfold as the Corona Virus, or Covid-19, spreads throughout the world. It’s a stark reminder that history happens every day.

And while we cannot stop bad things from occurring on a global scale, we can look to history to see great events, and the individuals who play a role in them.

May 1: Empire State Building Officially Opens

When the Empire State Building opened in New York City on May, 1931, the city was in the midst of a “race into the sky” where multiple buildings were vying to be the tallest building in the city, and the world.

The Art Deco structure was the tallest building in the world until it was passed by the World Trade Center.

Empire State Building (Birds Eye)
Empire State Building

May 4: National Guard Fires on Kent State Protestors

As the Vietnam War dragged on, American sentiment turned strongly against the war. In early May 1970, a series of increasingly violent protests on the campus of Kent State University culminated in a large protest on the Commons on May 4. The National Guard had been called out, and, for unknown reasons, the soldiers fired on the dispersing crowd, wounding nine and killing four students.

A photograph taken as a young woman knelt over a dead student’s body has become a symbol of the day’s events and of the anti-war protest movement overall.

Memorials for the fallen are important parts of the Commons, and of the university’s commemoration of the event.

Kent State (Google Maps)
Kent State

May 12: King George VI is Crowned in Westminster Abbey

King George VI became King of of the United Kingdom on December 11, 1936, but did not hold his coronation until May 12, 1937. He reluctantly stepped into the role of King when his brother, King Edward VIII, chose to abdicate the throne to be with Wallace Simpson.

George brought with him a vital sense of unification and patriotism that was critical as the country prepared to enter what would become World War II.

May 17: Founding of the New York Stock Exchange

On May 17, 1792, 24 men got together on Wall Street in New York City and signed an agreement to organize securities trading among them. The agreement held, and the organization grew into the New York Stock Exchange, the largest trading floor in the world, and has made the term “Wall Street” synonymous with wealth, prestige and power.

New York Stock Exchange (StreetView)
New York Stock Exchange

May 23: Bonnie and Clyde are Gunned Down

During the Depression, the tale of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow and the Barrow gang captivated the nation; the idea of a gun-wielding criminal couple too much to resist. The gang was famous for robbing banks, gas stations, and country stores. They killed nine police officers and four civilians along the way.

In early 1934, the gang was pursued relentlessly by authorities. The gang was tracked to Gibsland, Louisiana, and in the morning of May 23, a posse ambushed them, shooting Bonnie and Clyde up to 50 times each. There is now a monument marking the place they were killed.

Bonnie & Clyde Ambush/Death site (StreetView)
Bonnie & Clyde Ambush/Death site

There is a museum in Gibsland, run by the son of one of the posse members.

Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum (StreetView)
Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum

May 29: Constantinople Falls to the Turks

If you know the song, you know the history: “Istanbul was Constantinople”, but you may not know the details. After more than a thousand years as the head of the Roman Empire, the city of Constantinople had been severely weakened, but was still an impenetrable fortress due to the 12-foot thick Theodosian walls built in the 5th Century.

However, by 1453, the advent of weapons technology and gunpowder proved too much, and the walls were breached on May 29 by Mehmet the Conqueror. After three days of brutal looting, Mehmet restored peace to the city. He made Constantinople his capitol and renamed it Istanbul, which is now the capitol of Turkey.

Portions of the walls still stand, reminding residents and visitors of the history and power of the ancient city.

Walls of Constantinople (Google Maps)
Walls of Constantinople

May 31: Johnstown, Pennsylvania Flood

Johnstown, Pennsylvania was an industrial town of more than 30,000 built on the Little Conemaugh River. In May 1889, the area was hit by a series of rain storms, including one 24 hour period that dumped 6-10 inches. The rain caused a dam about 14 miles upriver to break, sending a massive river of debris and rushing water that wiped out three towns and killed more than 2,200 people. 

It caused nearly half a billion dollars in damages (in today’s dollars), and led to legislation improving working and safety standards and requiring organizations to take increased responsibility for accidents. Clara Barton, a famous Civil War nurse who founded the Red Cross, led the volunteer relief effort. A memorial now exists at the site of the dam break, preserving parts of the dam and the river bed.

Johnstown Flood National Memorial (Birds Eye)
Johnstown Flood National Memorial

Everyone has the chance to make history, whether it’s in the newspaper or just changing the life of a friend, neighbor, or stranger for the better. We should all try to make the world around us a better place; we can certainly use it.

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Who's Having a Birthday in May?

Monday, May 11 2020 by

It’s May, and while summer is just around the corner, many of us are still spending most of our time indoors and in our houses. It makes celebrating birthdays unique, even for celebrities.

Let’s see where some celebrities might be spending their home bound birthdays this month!

Dwayne Johnson

May starts off with a bang for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who celebrates his birthday on May 2.

This year, the wrestler turned actor is turning 48, and his career is as hot as ever. Whether it’s acting or wrestling, or being a dad, Dwayne seems to be the best. He’s considered one of the all-time best wrestlers, is one of Hollywood’s top grossing actors of all time, and is dad to three children.

Dwayne recently bought an amazing estate in Powder Springs, Georgia, for $9.5 million. It has an eight-bedroom main house, a custom wine cellar, and amazing outdoor pool. This would be an amazing place to celebrate a birthday.

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson's House (Google Maps)
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson's House

George Clooney

Hollywood’s favorite leading man turns 59 on May 6, and if he’s lucky, he’ll be celebrating with his lovely wife Amal and their twins, Ella and Alexander. The family is often set up near London to support Amal’s career as an attorney.

They may celebrate George’s birthday in the Mill House, a 17th century mansion that they bought for $10 million.

George Clooney & Amal Alamuddin's House (Birds Eye)
George Clooney & Amal Alamuddin's House

They may also spend it in their Lake Como home in Italy, where the family likes to spend their summers. George bought the home in 2001 for about $6 million. The home has 15 bedrooms, a boat dock, and a special room devoted to the family’s weekly pizza nights.

George Clooney's house (Google Maps)
George Clooney's house

No matter where in the world George is, he’s sure to have an amazing birthday surrounded by loved ones.

Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett, one of Hollywood’s most successful Australian actors, turns 51 on May 14. The international star could spend her birthday She bought a gorgeous famous with lots of history in England, in 2015.

She dropped about $6.5 million on Highwell House, a seven bedroom country manor once owned by Sherlock author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. With five, count them five, reception rooms, there’s certainly enough place to throw a fun birthday party and make sure Cate feels very special on her birthday.

Cate Blanchett's House (Google Maps)
Cate Blanchett's House

Bono

One of the world’s most influential, and talented, men, Bono still gets older every year just like the rest of us. On May 10, he’s turning 60 years old! The rock star philanthropist could celebrate anywhere in the world, but there’s a good chance he’s spending the day at his home in Killiney, Ireland, which isn’t a bad place to be at all. The area is basically the Hollywood of Ireland, and Bono is just one of many celebrities who live there.

Bono's House (Birds Eye)
Bono's House

The gate to Bono’s house itself has become a tourist destination. Visitors write lyrics or messages on the copper gate, in English and many other languages.

Bono's Front Gate (StreetView)
Bono's Front Gate

Bono loves to celebrate anniversaries and other events in his elaborate mansion in Nice, France. The beachfront home has six bedrooms and a very open feel, a great place to relax and not thing about getting older.

Bono's House (Google Maps)
Bono's House

There’s also a chance he’ll be celebrating in New York City, because his children have spent more time there in recent years. He bought a duplex from Steve Jobs in 2005 for $14.5 million, in the very posh San Remo building on the Upper West Side.

The San Remo (Google Maps)
The San Remo

No matter where he is, a heartfelt and beautiful “Happy Birthday” will be sung, and he’ll be surrounded by loved ones.

Tina Fey

Tina Fey is one of Hollywood’s leading actors, and has a long-established career as a writer, actor, comedian, and host. On May 18, she celebrates a milestone birthday, as she turns 50. Even though she’s a Hollywood star, she and her family spend most of their time in New York City.

She and her husband have owned a gorgeous, four bedroom apartment since 2009, when they paid $3.4 million for the Upper West Side unit. They more than doubled their real estate in 2016, when they bought the penthouse upstairs for an additional $9.5 million. It has four bedrooms, an amazing kitchen, two fireplaces, and lots of light with 22 windows. For the NYC-loving family, this is the perfect place to celebrate her big birthday.

Tina Fey's apartment (Google Maps)
Tina Fey's apartment

Drew Carey

Turning 62 on May 23, Drew Carey will probably be grateful to turn a page and start with a clean slate, since he’s had a rough personal year. If anyone deserves a cheerful get together with friends, loved ones, and delicious food, it’s Drew. He might celebrate his birthday at his home in Los Angeles. We hope America’s favorite game show host will be able to smile and laugh on his birthday this year.

Happy Birthday, Drew!

Drew Carey's House (Birds Eye)
Drew Carey's House

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is a legendary musician. The talented singer and writer turns 79 on May 24. He’s been on tour much of the last two decades, so it’s anyone’s guess where he’ll actually spend his birthday.

Hopefully he’s scheduled a break in the tour to relax for a few days and celebrate another trip around the sun. He’s lived in the same Malibu residence since 1979, when he bought his home for only $105,000. He has done extensive renovations to the estate, including installing a trampoline, swimming pool, basketball court, and even a small cabin with boat in the yard. These are just the outdoor amenities people can play with if they come over to have cake and ice cream with Bob on his birthday.

Bob Dylan's House (Google Maps)
Bob Dylan's House

This is just a short list of people having a birthday in May, but it’s always fun to see what famous people are up to, and where they might spend their time. Especially on their birthday, when they get to celebrate life and prosperity. Happy Birthday Everyone!

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Donald Trump's Properties

Sunday, Apr 26 2020 by

Before he was President, Donald Trump was famous for being a celebrity CEO, shrewd businessman and of course a real estate tycoon.

From his Trump Tower on New York City’s Fifth Avenue to his resorts in Florida, Trump knows how to live in style, and makes sure we all know it.

Trump Tower, New York

Occupying some of the city’s best real estate space in midtown Manhattan, Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue is a sky scraping monument to Trump’s ambition and dedication.

He worked for decades to acquire and build Trump Tower, which now serves as a multi-use building with retail, office and residential units, including Trump’s penthouse, company headquarters and headquarters for campaign activities for Donald Trump. Other famous residents have included Johnny Carson, Steven Spielberg, and Sophia Lauren.

Trump’s three-story penthouse filled with gilded detail, including gold leaf toilet seats, and Greek style columns as visual reminders of his success.

Trump World Tower (Birds Eye)
Trump World Tower

Boyhood Home in Jamaica Estates, New York

Trump grew up in a posh neighborhood in Queens, New York. In contrast to the melting pot reputation of the Queens Borough, the area of Jamaica Estates is very exclusive, with columned homes and manicured lawns.

The Georgian revival home was designed by Trump’s real estate developer father, with 23 rooms including nine bathrooms. It was here that Trump was taught the value of a dollar and the importance of hard work. He even had a paper route as a young boy.

Donald Trump's Childhood Home (StreetView)
Donald Trump's Childhood Home

Mar a Lago, Palm Beach, Florida

Originally a private residence, Trump bought the sprawling Mar a Lago estate in 1985 for $5 million, a bargain considering he had earlier offered $28 million.

He turned it into a high end resort, with one wing reserved for his family’s private residence. The decor is pure Trump, with $7 million in gold leaf, four gold encrusted toilets and expensive detailing throughout the estate.

Mar a Lago is one of the first clubs in Palm Beach Florida to have allowed Jewish, African American and gay members. Membership dues increased in 2017 from $100,000 to $200,000 annually. Trump often visits the resort, nicknaming it the “Winter White House”. He has even hosted official events including dinner with the President of China early in his presidency.

Donald Trump's house (Mar-A-Lago) (Birds Eye)
Donald Trump's house (Mar-A-Lago)

Seven Springs, New York

Trump bought the historical Westchester Seven Springs estate in 1995 with the intent to turn it into a golf course, but after years of struggling to obtain permits and rights, has largely abandoned the effort.

The property includes 220 acres covering three communities, as well as a 50,000 square foot mansion constructed by the first owner of the Washington Post, and a smaller residences including one constructed by J.J. Heinz, the founder of the Heinz ketchup fortune.

The Trumps use the mansion and other residences on the property in the summer and on weekends, and the estate has sentimental value to the children is it is where they were educated in real estate, construction and the family work ethic, and especially since it is where Eric Trump proposed to his now-wife.

Donald Trump’s Seven Springs estate (Birds Eye)
Donald Trump’s Seven Springs estate

White House

The most exclusive residence in the world, the White House, is now Donald Trump’s official residence, at least for the next year.

The White House has been the official residence of presidents since 1800, when John Adams moved in. The White House complex is not only a home but working office building, with the East Wing for visitors, the First Lady and her staff, the West Wing for official Presidential activities, and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building for additional office space for presidential and vice presidential staff.

While past presidents or their wives have occasionally undertaken renovation or restoration of the residence, there’s not word yet that Trump has attempted to leave his personal style of gilded ceilings, walls and toilet seats as a legacy in the White House.

White House, The (Google Maps)
White House, The

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