Friday, March 24, 2006

yep -- i'm from illinois...

You know if someone is from southern, middle or northern Illinois as soon as they open their mouth.

While these are ALL true -- the blue lines are specific ones that my dear friends have so sweetly pointed out to me over the years!
Oh! And one thing I definitely want to clear up -- There is more to Illinois than Chicago. Just because I say I am from Illinois does not mean I am from Chicago. In fact, I have never even been to Chicago!

~ When you say "the city" - you mean Chicago.
~ You think ethanol makes your truck "run a lot better."
~ You know what's knee-high by the Fourth of July.
~ Stores don't have bags; they have sacks.
~ All the festivals across the state are named after a fruit, vegetable, grain, or animal.
~ You think of the major four food groups as beef, pork, soddie, and Jell-O salad with marshmallows.
~ You know what "cow tipping" and "snipe hunting" is.
~ You spent a good deal of your high school nights hanging out at DQ.
~ "Vacation" means going to Six Flags.
~ You don't pronounce the "S" in Illinois like the rest of the world.
~ Whenever anyone mentions going out for steak, the first place you think of is Ponderosa.
~ You know more than one person with a septic tank.
~ You pronounce the invisible "R" in the word wash.
~ Down south to you means Kentucky
~ You have no problem spelling or pronouncing "Des Plaines"
~ You think Chicago is a completely different state from Illinois.
~ You know the answer to the question, "Is this Heaven?"
~ You know where all the Yoders live
~ Detassling was your first job
~ You've ever been on a "Geode Hunt"
~ Your idea of a really great tenderloin is when the meat is twice as big as the bun and accompanied only by ketchup and a dill pickle slice
~ You learn your pickup will run without a muffler
~ When asked how your trip was to any foreign, exotic place, you say, "It was different."
~ You consider being called a "Pork Queen" an honor
~ People from other states love to hear you say "Illinois" and other words with "Os" in them.
~ Your dream vacation is a trip to Rock Home Gardens
~ You drink "pop." (Actually, I call it soda, but that's a sin here in Texas where every carbonated beverage is "Coke." I will not get on my soapbox... But -- Coke is a namebrand, folks.)
~ You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from Illinois.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Life Requirements

There are some things in life that should just be required. For everyone. Maybe by the time you are a certain age, I don't know. But, they should be required none the less. For instance, waiting tables. To eat in a restaurant you should be required to wait tables for one night, preferably a Friday or Saturday, in a busy restaurant. Just to experience what it is like to juggle 72 things at one time and keep a minimum of 5 or 6 groups of people happy. Some would learn, very quickly, that their entire meal does not rest on the shoulders of one person. There are 72 things going on in the back that the customer never sees or knows about. Unfortunately, some believe it is okay to take out their meal's frustrations on their waiter/waitress. Then there are those that just go out to eat in a bad mood. Why do you start out the night like that and then take yourself to a public place? I will never understand.

But I digress.

I recently read the book, Night by Elie Weisel. Yes, this falls into the category of something everyone should be required to do. Elie Weisel survived the Holocaust after being deported, crammed into a railroad car, losing his mother and little sister to the gas chambers, and struggling to survive with his dad in various concentration camps. An amazing book. A stomach turning book. It will make you groan out loud in pain for this teenage boy. It will make you think about all that you have taken for granted. Freedom. A bed. Food. Water. Your family. Your life. And so much more.

Which brings me to my next life requirement. Visiting the Holocaust Museum. I went today with Cassidy, my sister-in-law. The pictures, the videos, the handwritten documents, the spoken accounts, the various other objects from the Holocaust era. It was all so surreal. For instance, the photograph that I can see so clearly in mind right now, it may as well be sitting in front of me. It was a series of photographs actually. Photographs of Jewish prisoners digging their own graves before they were shot, either execution style or in the back of the head. There were other photographs. Prisoners waiting in line to go to the gas chambers, some of them not even realizing that was where they were headed. Families separated upon arrival at a concentration camp. The women and children on one side, the men on the other. Often this was the last time these families would be together. Photographs of piles (piles and piles and piles, unimaginably high) of shoes, clothing, eyeglasses. These were all discarded by prisoners before they headed to the gas chamber. I might add, that a lot of times the prisoners still did not realize that was where they were headed; they thought they were taking a shower. Photographs of prisoners enduring medical "experiments" conducted in the camp. I can see, in my head, the picture of about 8 children sitting in a group. They had burn marks on their bodies where they had been "experimented" on.

The videos. Videos of young German boys joining the Nazi Army. Videos of the ghettos and life in the ghetto. Dead bodies in the street being picked up by officers and then dumped in a pile. To be burned.

So many things I saw today, I can not do justice with my words. And so much more that I don't have room to type and you don't have patience to read. You must see it to believe it. How can anyone deny the Holocaust? There is too much evidence and history there. We must remember what happened so that we will not be blind sighted again and sit idly by while human beings are destroyed. I read a quote on a magnet in the gift shop. I know I will not get it right, nor do I remember who said it. But, it went something like this:

"First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not Jewish.
Then, they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a communist. Next, they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for me, there was no one left to speak up for me."

By the way, it was not only Jews who were targeted during the Holocaust. We cannot forget that the Nazi party worked to systematically eradicate the mentally ill, handicapped, Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, Communists, and Socialists. Now, I may not agree with everything that some of the groups stand for or believe in, but they also did not necessarily deserve to be treated the way they were. And, there were those that worked to save and hide the targeted ones. Some of them were ultimately arrested as well.

One thing that struck me today was the systematic and organized plans that were layed out to make the Holocaust happen. This was not something that was worked out between a couple of people and simmered out over a few months. This was a nation of people that blindly followed their leader and participated in the murder of innocent lives. This was a massive operation. Oh yes, I know there were many that tried to reverse what was happening and would do anything and everything in their power to protect the innocent. As I mentioned, many of these also ended up in the concentration camps. If they weren't executed on the spot.

And by the way, yes, I am aware that there were other times in history when humans were mistreated. Why do I dwell on the Holocaust? Why has the Holocaust always been such an interest to me? I don't know. All I know is what I saw today.