Freedom Week

To start this post I want to share a photo
that I took with my own two hands.
I am so proud of it.
I caught it when coming out of the grocery store.
I didn’t have a tri-pod,
but apparently I got the camera still enough
to do justice to that gorgeous moon.
I have this amazing ability at getting myself roped into things.
That’s a nice way of saying I often forget to say no.
This year, my big project has been
Freedom Week.
It’s be a beast.
Just enough to remind me to say no
for another year or so.
What a gorgeous view, eh?
Freedom Week
is a yearly week-long celebration
at the girls’ school
that focuses on the freedoms we enjoy
as Americans.
I was originally told that all I had to do
was plan a few dress up days
and line up a speaker for an assembly.
If that is all I had to do
I wonder why it occupied about
80 hours of my time over the past
two months.
Anything for freedom.
Or my kids.
Or because I can’t say no.
I did rope in a few people to help.
My ward’s (Mormon way of saying congregation)
young women
did a great job with the big banner
and small posters for each classroom door.
Aren’t they cute.
I was sad I didn’t get a photo of them all.
They cranked out 16 of these
in about 30 minutes
and no one uses glue and glitter
like young women.
The greatest sacrifice for me
was waking up at 6 a.m.
to hang up the flags outside.
It was dark
and I hate mornings.
I let Abigail drive around the
empty parking lot
as a reward for waking up early.
She was pretty stoked.
Each student got their own personal
American flag
as they arrived to the assembly this morning.
Aren’t they just the cutest?
We lined the halls with red white and blue.
And messages of freedom.
I’d like to think that this is what
I looked like
all morning.
This is me teaching the kids about IwaJima
while introducing Mr. Mason a WWII vet.
But I am sure it was much more like this.
 Props to the school orchestra and choir.
They did amazing.
Two of my perfect children
are singing
about voting
and loving America.
Can you spot them?
The Mayor of Orem
brought along some of his heroes:
A local police officer,
and some firefighters.
You should have seen the faces of the kids
when this guy walked in the room
in full firefighting garb.
It was awesome.
My personal favorite part of the day
was introducing a true
American hero.
He is in the middle of this photo
in the Marine Corps shirt.
His name is
Fred William Mason
and he faught at IwaJima.
What an honor it was to
give the kids a piece of history
and to see them give
Mr. Mason
the standing ovation
he deserves.
(See the bottom of the post
for his story)

Perhaps my greatest gratitude should go to this man.
He is always my technical support and go-to guy.
As you can see by the photograph,
he was perfect
at entertaining Caroline.

We’ve already over-established what a handful she can be, right?

Here’s the slideshow I made.
I had no idea what I was doing,
so give me grace people.
It was a great way to spend my 39th birthday.
And the day before it. And the two days after it.

We also did a few other things:

  • school-wide speech writing contest (the winners gave their speeches today at the assembly and got $20 giftcards to Wal-Mart)
  • The Cub Scouts officiated at the flag ceremony
  • A student soloist did the Star Spangled Banner
  • A mock presidential election (Governor Romney won with 74% of the votes)
  • Letters from the kids for Vets at the VA Hospital
  • We were supposed to do a donation drive but student council never got it together
  • Each student received a white star to write about what they appreciate most in their freedom. They will each tape them on their classroom door banners. (picture above)
  • Oh and we have dress up days all week.

Monday – stars and stripes
Tuesday – red white and blue
Wednesday – Dress like your favorite American hero or wear a uniform
Thursday – Denim day (jeans were invented in the US)
Friday – School spirit colors – which happen to be blue and white.

* Oh and an added not for future reference. I asked Bella what she liked best about the assembly and with all attitude she immediately responded with, “I hated it when you cried mom, you embarrassed me in front of all my friends.” Maybe someday she will see that differently and be proud of a mom who is so grateful.

Fred Mason’s introduction

It’s my great pleasure to introduce you to one of our great American heroes. He’s a friend and neighbor to us all.  He lives right off 1600 North in Orem. His name is Fred William Mason and I am proud to know him.
Mr. Mason was a corporel in the Marine Corps during WWII. He faught at Iwa Jima.  There is a famous photograph that won the Pulitzer Prize of soldiers raising the American Flag at Mount Serabachi on Feb 23, 1945. Mr. Mason know the soldiers in the photo personally.
IwoJima was a volcanic island and no civilians lived there. Its name means Sulphur Island. It was a very important military spot in the Japanese Territory and it was a critical victory for American strategy. If we hadn’t won at IwoJima we probably wouldn’t have been able to drop the Atomic Bombs and the war may not have ended so fast.
The Battle of IwaJima happened from Feb 19 – March 26 1945. Only 216 of the 21,844 Japanese survived and of the 70,000 Americans who faught 6,821 were killed and 19,217 wounded. Many of those soldiers were friends of Mr. Mason. He served in the 5th Marine Division of the 28th Regiment.
Mr. Mason is 86 years old.
He was born in 1926 in Lexington, KY.
He was the fifth child of 9 kids in his family.
His four brothers also served in the military.
Two also served in WWII
Richard fought in the army at Okinowa.
Earl was also in the army and was taken as a Prisoner of War at the March of Batan in the Phillipines.
Glen and Ernie enlisted after the war into the Navy and never had to fight like their older brothers.
He worked on farms from age 8. Sold veggies at the market.
He wasn’t able to attend school but a few years as he was expected to help provide for his family.
Around age 12, his family got indoor plumbing.
At age 14, he started taking the bus and going to church to every Sunday with his sister.
He grew up during The Great Depression. When I asked him what his favorite food was, he said he was always hungry and would eat anything he could get his hands on. He particularly like his momma’s biscuits and gravy, and was always really happy when he would get a little bit of ham in his beans.
He was drafted in 1944 at age 18.
Went from Lexington to Louisville to join the Navy, but there was a Marine recruiter who snagged him and 4 others in line up to fill his quota for the day.
Went to Camp Pendelton in California for Basic Training.
When he was done he boarded a ship and was told 4 days into it that they were on their way to the South Pacific to fight the Japanese.
After the Battle of IwaJima, Mr. Mason reboarded the ship and remembers many soldiers celebrating. He however just wanted to brush his teeth (they had been in the trenches for over a month) and went to the Red Cross to ask for a toothbrush but was told they didn’t have enough to give him one.
Mr Mason was shipped back to Hawaii, where he served 8 months of occupational duty and was discharged in 1946.
After the war he went back to Lexington where he worked at a Wholesale Food Distrubutor. He delivered food to Colonel Sanders of KFC and says he looked exactly like his pictures. In fact, he can’t remember him every changing from before the war.
Mr. Mason is a hero to me for another reason then his honorable military service, after the war, he taught himself to read. Remember he didn’t have much school growing up.
In 1950 he met Mrs. Mason and they had their first child, a girl named Debi, who is also our neighbor.
Mr. and Mrs. Mason then moved to Indiana so that Mr. Mason could work at a Defense Plant building helicopters. The had two more children. Both boys who still lived in Indiana.
Mr and Mrs Mason moved to Utah 14 years ago.
They have been married for 62 years.
Mr. Mason continues to make a difference for his country by working a Heritage School in Provo. He has worked there mentoring troubled youth for the past 6 years.
Mr. Mason is truly a remarkable person. Tom Brokaw once called his generation the Greatest Generation. I believe they were a great generation and I believe Mr. Mason was one of the greatest.
Please join me and give Mr. Mason and all his friends who fought for our freedom the round of applause they deserve.

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