Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Betsy Ross - Fact or Fiction? Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History

In April 1776 while Boston was being plagued with a smallpox epidemic George Washington, Robert Morris, and George Ross approached the upholster Betsy Ross with making an American flag.

Washington, Morris, and Ross were supposedly a part of a secret committee of the Continental Congress ordered to develop an American flag. Washington approached Betsy Ross with the project, and she happily accepted.

However numerous historians have said that this story is mere legend. They say there never was a secret flag committee and a Flag Resolution wasn't even passed until 1777. Furthermore, they claim that during the Revolutionary War the United States did not fight under a single standard flag.

But I believe there is enough historical evidence to make Betsy Ross' story valid. First there is her numerous connections with Washington. She was well acquainted with him, because they went to the same church in Philadelphia, and her daughter is quoted in saying he hired her to embroider "ruffles for his shirt bosoms and cuffs, and that it was partly owing to his friendship that she was chosen to make the flag."

So it makes sense that Washington would approach her, if anyone, for the assignment.

Then in the book Pioneer Mothers of America, the niece of Roger Sherman, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, is quoted talking about Betsy Ross. She was talking about how her aunt Rebecca Sherman was excited about America's independence:
"When a little later, George Washington designed and ordered the new flag to be made by Betsy Ross, nothing would satisfy Aunt Rebecca but to go and see it in the works, and there she had the privilege of sewing some of the stars on the very first flag of a Young Nation. Perhaps because of this experience she was chosen and requested to make the first flag ever made in the State of Connecticut."
Sounds like good enough evidence to me! Betsy Ross was the real deal!

And that's my two cents.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

America's got a Mulan too - Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History

I don't know why they haven't made a movie about this story...

Deborah Sampson was a poor girl with no family growing up in Massachusetts. With no one to hold her back, she became swept up in the patriot cause and "the zeal which had urged the men to quit their homes for the battlefield found its way to a female bosom."

She completely transformed herself into a man: sewing a soldier's uniform, changing her name to "Robert Shurtliff", and enlisting herself in Washington's Army.

She served for three years, during that time she was wounded twice but continued to fight. None of her fellow soldiers ever suspected that "Robert" was a woman, but they did jokingly call her "Molly" because she never grew a beard like the rest of them!

But one day she contracted an extremely high fever that nearly killed her, and when a doctor examined her, he discovered that Robert Shurtliff was definitely not a man. But surprisingly, the doctor protected her identity and allowed her to continue her disguise as she recovered.

When "Robert" returned to the army, the doctor sent her with a letter to George Washington detailing the confidential information, and without saying a word, Washington simply discharged her from the service and gave her money to help her find a place to live.

Years later Washington invited the woman who so fearlessly fought for her country to Congress where she received a pension and some land in recognition of her service. When she died, her husband petitioned Congress for survivor's benefits and Congress said that there was "no other similar example of female heroism, fidelity and courage" and her husband "has proved himself worthy of her, as he has sustained her through a long life of sickness and suffering (which were) occasioned by the wounds she received and the hardships she endured in defense of the country...the committee does not hesitate to grant relief."

Woah! I still cannot get over this story. I just cannot imagine literally going into battle and on top of that being wounded TWICE and still pushing on. I also think it is really interesting how both Washington and Congress handled Deborah's situation. You would think that back then a woman fighting would be viewed as a disgrace and they would have demonished her. But instead they helped her find a place to live and gave her and her family benefits for her service! When I read this story it made me really glad to know that Congress realized her level of service despite the probable shock of her being a woman and fighting at the time.

And that's my two cents.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Who else is excited about this!?

In October the movie The Social Network will be premiering in theaters, and it is all about the founding of our good ol' friend Facebook! Plus it stars Justin Timberlake - so that should be your reason to go see it right there :)

I'm really interestd to see this movie, purely because of how much Facebook has impacted our generation. I'm hoping it is going to show past generations that Facebook isn't something to be tossed off, but it has very legitimate purposes and benefits.

Take campaigning on facebook: Candidates are so much more accessible to their voters through their facebook pages. What's more democratic than that?

Or take marketing: almost every company now has a facebook page to sell their service or product to consumers, making it more accessible for buyers and gives companies more face time without having to pay pricey tv ads. What's more capitalist than that?

Of course there are the negative aspects of Facebook that our past generations have cried foul on. Facebook has quickly made our generation narcissitic and obssessed with...ourselves. Look at me, look at how awesome my life is, don't you wish you were me? And unfortunately, what's more American than that at times?

Good or bad, Facebook has affected this generation and ultimately represents this generation. It has completely changed how we socialize and communicate with each other. Eitehr way, I think The Social Network will be a movie worth seeing since it is truly about our generation and what we have contributed to society. It is a movie about us.

And that's my two cents.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Restaurant Review: Filomena, Georgetown

Today my family and I went to an Italian restaurant called Filomena in the heart of Georgetown, Washington DC and we loved it so much that they told me, "You have to write a review about it on your blog!"

So this is my review about it on my blog haha.

From the outside it looks really small and like not much is going on in there, but the restaurant is actually downstairs, and it is really pretty and well-decorated and actually a big restaurant, much bigger than you would first suspect.

They have both a buffet, and you can select entrees from their menu. The buffet is nice, because even though it is an Italian restaurant the buffet offers other foods such as fried chicken and brunch. But if you order an entree, you get the salad buffet included, so it is like the best of both worlds! The buffet AND an entree :)

Now to the main course: the food. We all agreed that it was DELICIOUS. Plus you didn't have to wait long for it either. The prices were also very reasonable for a nice Italian restaurant in Georgetown. My pasta alla carbonara was $11.95, and the 5 of us walked out spending $70 total.

Filomena is a really great deal, but the trick is to go during lunch time, when the prices are cheaper. You get the same amount of food for a LOT less.

We are definitely planning on eating again at this restaurant - the drive into Georgetown from Northern Virginia is easy and underground parking is everywhere. Filomena is right off of M street - the main hub of Georgetown. So you can also enjoy walking around the Georgetown shops and spending time with your favorite men: Tommy Hilfiger, Steve Madden, and Calvin Klein :)

Click here to go to their website for more information and directions.

So what's better than a nice afternoon eating pasta in a city you love for a great price?

And that's my two cents.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

America's favorite heroine...may be a myth - Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History

While the majority of our "Founding Mothers" during the Revolutionary War supported the cause by running the households and businesses while the men were away fighting, there were also a fair share of women on the battlefield.

But the most well known of these women, Molly Pitcher, may have never even existed.

According to the story, a woman named Molly brought water to the soldiers during the Battle of Monmouth. They would say, "Molly, Pitcher," calling her for water, and that is how her name became Molly Pitcher.

Then Molly saw her own husband shot on the battlefield. I cannot even imagine the horror...but she just continued the fight and took his place firing the cannon.

Some say that Molly Pitcher is just a generic name for all the women who were water carriers on the battlefield, but there is sufficient historical evidence by eyewitness accounts that there was a woman at the Battle of Monmouth working the cannons.

A woman by the name of Mary Hays was also accounted for at the battle, and she is believed to have been Molly Pitcher, because Molly was a common nickname for Mary at the time (I know right, don't ask me why, but anyway, it was). Mary even received a pension for her services in the Revolutionary War.

Sounds like good enough evidence for me - I'd say Molly Pitcher was real, let's not dilute her to mere folklore.

And that's my two cents.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Helping Homeless

It has happened to us all: we are walking outside in a city and we see a homeless person begging. He's holding a can asking for change as people pass him by.

We all think to ourselves: Should I give him money or shouldn't I?

I think it's a common debate we all have, because ever since we were little there have been numerous adults that told us, "Don't give homeless people your money, they will just spend it on drugs and alcohol, and you aren't really helping them."

While I am sure there are some homeless people out there who will take the money you give them and squander it away on alcohol and another hit of drugs, I believe there are more in the world that will actually use it for food.

Maybe that is the innocent, naive little girl in me, but I am still going to believe it. I am still going to believe that not all homeless people are lazy trying to live off of hardworking people and government. I still believe that there are some people who are honestly just down on their luck, sick, with no one to turn to.

I also don't think all these homeless people are spending the money they get from begging on alcohol and drugs. Last time I checked, both of these are not inexpensive commodities. So he is definitely not headed to a bar with the total of $0.73 he got that day. I've never seen a homeless person with a cup full of change.

But with even less than a dollar or a little more, he can buy food.

At the end of the day, I also think it comes down to that this is not a big, political question of whether we should or shouldn't give people handouts. It's a much more narrower reality. This is just you and a homeless person on a street corner in one city, in one country of the world.

And I would much rather be a few cents short with a compassionate heart than have the warmth of change in my pocket with a cold heart.

And that's my two cents.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Wives and Spies - Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History

The most notable Philadelphia woman to help the Patriot cause, was Lydia Darragh. She had a great view from her window to watch British activities, and she would record them in coded messages and hide the messages in her sons' coat buttons who would then bring them to his older brother serving in Washington's army.

Crazy right?

One night, British Major Andre commandeered Lydia's house for him and his fellow officers to bunker down in. Which, by the way, is why we have the 3rd Amendment - that civilians don't have to quarter troops. When a woman would have to "host" troops in her house, she would have to do all their cooking, cleaning, and laundry - at best. And at worst, she was raped as well.

When Andre commandeered her house he told her he wanted her asleep while his troops were in there, and he would come upstairs to let her know when they wanted to be let out. Sensing that something wasn't right, she snuck into the hallway and pressed her ear against the keyhole. Sure enough, she hears the British plan to stage a surprise attack on over 5,000 American troops two days from then.

This was during the wintertime, and in the 1700s, armies did not fight during the winter - all fighting was called off and each army camps out. So this attack would have been a huge blow to the American army, because it would be both unexpected and during the winter. All in all, a crippling defeat, moreover, not the fair way to play war.

Lydia rushes back to bed and pretends to be sleeping when Andre knocks on her door for his troops to be let out. He knocks on the door once. No answer. Knocks again. No answer. Then he bangs loudly on the door and a groggy Lydia pulls herself out of bed to open the door.

Lydia then came up with a plan to be able to report her findings to the American army. She pretended that she needed to go out of town to get flour, and since during the war they were under martial law, she had to receive a pass from General Howe to do so.

With the Americans informed of the British surprise attack, they were well prepared, and the British walked straight into a line of cannons, completely defeated by the end of the battle.

The British goes back into town, and Major Andre KNOWS that someone tipped off the Americans. He goes to Lydia and demands to know who in her family was awake, and she says, "All my family was asleep, you know that," and he says, "I know it definitely wasn't you, because I had to knock on your door three times to wake you up."

Tricky, right?

And the British never figured out who it was that told, and who it was that saved over 5,000 American troops that day.

The even more amazing part of this story is that Lydia Darragh and her family were Quaker. Quakers are known for not getting involved, remaining neutral. During this time, if they were to have taken any side, they would have been quiet Loyalists, because that was maintaining the status quo.

So not only is it extraordinary that Lydia as a Quaker she was a Patriot, but that she did something about it too. It's interesting that her husband refused to get involved, yet she did. And after she did, the church excommunicated her.

All in all, Lydia Darragh was an amazing woman who sacrified for a cause she truly believed in.

And that's my two cents.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Puerto Rican is a language!?

The picture I posted is the view from my apartment window here in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Pretty sweet, huh? It's called Isla Verde, the area where I'm staying and its strip of beach.

So in honor of me being in Puerto Rico on vacation now, I thought I'd tell a funny story:

My grandparents and everyone on my Dad's side live in Puerto Rico, and we visit them every year during the summer. But during the rest of the year, for our birthdays, mi abuela (grandma) always sends us checks.

Recently, our bank told us that they couldn't process her checks anymore, because they were from Puerto Rico and from a Puerto Rican bank. This is absolutely ridiculous, because Puerto Rico is a territory of the US! Why won't you process American checks??

So when my mom got her birthday check from mi abuela, and the bank wouldn't process it, she was on the phone with them trying to figure out why.

As she's talking to the bank teller, the woman responds, "Well we can't process the check, because it's written in Puerto Rican."


My mom just paused and said, "Umm, well the check is written in SPANISH, yes."

We just couldn't believe any of this. First of all: PUERTO RICAN!? Seriously? Second of all, Spanish is one of the most spoken languages in the world, and this bank teller was from Northern Virginia, so don't tell me she hadn't heard Spanish before. We all know Northern Virginia has its abundance of hispanics.

It's not like the check was that hard to read too. It was from el Banco Popular. Hmmm, I wonder what that means in English? And the amount was for "cuarenta dolares" and if she didn't have the simple motivation to look up "cuarenta" or ask a friend that easy question, the amount is written right there for her in the box! $40!

It's really not that difficult.

Puerto Rican!? Oh goodness...

And that's my two cents.