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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

United States heritage program presented at study club

The Modern Study Club met recently for an Americanism Department Program entitled, "Our United States Heritage: Remembering Our Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and the Magna Carta. Paula Fuller, chairman of the department, planned and presented her own program.

The thought-quote for the meeting was - "Eternal vigilance is the price of Liberty" - Thomas Jefferson.

Ms. Fuller began her presentation by telling of the medieval way of life in England which made law and order almost meaningless. Medieval Europe was a map of continually changing and warring Kingdoms, isolated walled cities, secluded monasteries, provinces and principalities over which hereditary claimants constantly clashed. Feudalism was a system based on an exchange of promises between the owners of land and their tenants. This was a pyramid arrangement with the king at the top, then the barons or nobles, their lieutenants or knights and so on down to the peasants.

She continued telling of the rulers of Europe down through the ages to when John, brother of Richard I-the Lion Hearted, became ruler. John was cruel, violent, greedy, treacherous and his rule was so harsh that the nobles and knights banded together as Englishmen and forced him to sign the Magna Carta (or the Great Charter). This was the beginning of our democratic heritage, in 1215, some 788 years ago. The Magna Carta established that the King had to come under the laws of the land and as a whole stands for the spirit of the law more than specific laws and therefore is flexible to changing times.

Ms. Fuller then told about the Mayflower Compact which was signed on November 11, 1620, on board the Mayflower (ship) in Cape Cod Bay. The Pilgrim Fathers voluntarily signed this compact agreeing to self-government. There were numerous references to God in this agreement: by the grace of God, in the presence of God, for the glory of God, and in the name of God; and for the advancement of the Christian faith. Taxation without representation was also discussed and called tyranny.

Rebels against King and Parliament, the men who signed the Declaration of Independence at Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, literally took their lives in their own hands commented Ms. Fuller. Many, like George Washington, had hoped that a complete break with Great Britain could be avoided. But the resistance began at Lexington and Concord had finally made this hope vain. The Declaration itself was written, in it's final form, by Thomas Jefferson. With its signing, all hope of reconciliation ended. Franklin is reported to have said, as the group of men left the hall after the signing: "If we don't hang together, we shall hang separately." The Declaration is one of the most famous documents of all times and was the Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America.

Ms. Fuller also spoke concerning the Bill of Rights. It's establishment by the Constitution Convention, presided over by George Washington, produced such a relatively strong federal charter, as a basis for a central government, that many were of the opinion that the new Constitution granted such sweeping powers that the rights of the states and of the people might be overridden. The various sections of this American Bill of Rights as these Amendments were called, after the English Bill of Rights granted by the Prince of Orange in 1689, were adopted finally by all the states as a guarantee of protection for the rights of the individual against any possible tyranny by the majority. To this day they remain the ordinary American's bulwark against mob rule.

Winning the War of 1812 finally established the United States as a sovereign nation. After the peace was signed at Ghent, that gave birth to our National Anthem. In 1814, Francis Scott Key, a Baltimore lawyer, had gone aboard a British warship to arrange the release of an American prisoner. He was forced to stay aboard during the night-long bombardment of Fort McHenry. At daybreak, as firing ceased, Key saw the Stars and Stripes still waving, and wrote the poem, which is sung to an English melody, that we know as our "National Anthem."

President Joyce Morton presided during the program. During opening ceremonies Catherine Travland led the Club Collect and Paula Fuller led the pledged to the United States of America Flag and the Texas flag, as those in attendance repeated all in unison.

Pearl Gustafson, treasurer, presented a report concerning club finances. She reported a donation from the Estate of Phyllis Stool to The Modern Study Club. The hearts of the club members were very touched by Phyllis' generous gifts to the organizations, that their work could continue on awhile even though they had lost so many faithful members.

During the report of correspondence the club received a thank you letter from Safe Place for their gifts to them. It was also reported that a thank you letter had been sent to the family of Phyllis Stool for her generous gift to the Club.

Federation Counselor Lena Harpham presented a Federation Report on "Stop Elder Abuse." She stated that currently there are no Federal Laws protecting the elderly. Types of abuse include physical, mental, psychological, sexual, exploitation, fraud and neglect. In February 2003, Senators John Breaus and Orrin Hatch introduced the "Elder Abuse Act." This bill addresses these crimes against the elderly and provides seniors the protection they need to live safely and securely. This bill would make the laws uniform throughout the nation.

A report was made concerning the Fall Board Meeting, 2003, of the Western District of the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs held in McCamey, recently. Joyce Morton and Lena Harpham attended representing The Modern Study Club. President Morton made reports for District Committee Chairmen Doris Moorman, Catherine Travland and Etta Sullivan, recently deceased.

The club made a donation to the Western District Alma Van Sickle Scholarship fund as a memorial honoring District Life Member, Etta Sullivan. Being a life member requires 25 consecutive years of local service and 10 years of service on the district board. Mrs. Sullivan also served on many committees, both on the local and district level, served in numerous offices in the club and served as The Modern Study President 1972-1973, 1974-1975 and 1988-1990. Mrs. Sullivan enjoyed her work in the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs and had many dear friends throughout the state of Texas because of her many, many years of Federation work. Etta Sullivan became a member of The Modern Study Club in 1958 and was a pillar in the organization since that time.

Gifts for lodgers at the Pecos Nursing Home and donations for Christmas for Kids were discussed and finalized. Both projects are long-time efforts by the organization

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