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Beauty on the Wing

Butterfly Wonderland is the largest conservatory in the country. Located in Scottsdale, Arizona, more than 70 species of butterflies can be found there in 3,000 square feet there in 3,000 square meters of tropical paradise in the middle of the Sonoran Desert.

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For Indian Immigrant, Dance is a Religion

Minnesota-based Ragamala Dance Company has educated, performed and evolved for over 25 years. Ranee Ragamala and her daughters Aparna and Ashwini are trained in the South Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam. Their performances capture an intercultural and multidisciplinary form of dance.

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Ragamala Dance Company: Beauty Through Mastery of Technique

Minnesota-based Ragamala Dance Company has educated, performed and evolved for over 25 years. Ranee Ragamala and her daughters Aparna and Ashwini are trained in the South Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam. Their performances capture an intercultural and multidisciplinary form of dance.

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Presidential Memorabilia at Its Best

Jim Warlick is the master of presidential memorabilia, trinkets and novelties. Owner of the souvenir store White House Gifts in Washington, D.C. Warlick’s company describes its mission as offering a “nonpartisan tribute to Presidential history.”

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It’s All About Presidential Memorabilia

 Jim Warlick is a collector of political memorabilia, and the owner of White House Gifts, a souvenir store in Washington located across from the White House.  As many as 3,000 people a day visit the store to purchase presidential memorabilia, trinkets and other gifts.  Warlick’s father, a Democrat and a history buff, worked in politics, and in 1965, the family took a trip to the nation’s capital.  “I was in the eighth grade and I wanted to come see John Kennedy’s grave site. While I was here, I purchased a little John Kennedy bust. It’s the symbol of my first souvenir and I think that the Kennedy assassination really affected me into being aware of politics.” Warlick grew up in a little town in North Carolina called Morgantown. He went to community college there then went to the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He dropped out of college four times to work on campaigns and travel with candidates. “I went to Raleigh and got a job in the legislature working on a Senate Sergeant at Arms staff while I was in school, and I really like this fellow from Greensboro North Carolina who’d been chairman the first Civil Rights Commission, very progressive. And he decided to run for the Senate against Jesse Helms. And so, he asked me to come help in the campaign, and I lived with the Senator Smith and his family for a year,” he says.  “We didn’t stay in hotels when traveling, we stayed with people, because we wanted to hear what people in the community was saying. I learned from Senator Smith that you need to stay close and listen a lot.” Warlick says he believed that he would end up being an advisor for a congressman or senator, but that didn’t happen. In 1980, Warlick designed campaign buttons for President Jimmy Carter. Though he knew there was also a market for buttons for Carter’s opponent, Ronald Reagan, Warlick wouldn’t produce them. “I’m a Carter man,” he said. “I went to the Republican convention in Detroit and sold campaign buttons on the street corner, making more money in one week than I did in a year working for the congressman,” says Jim Warlick. “So, I went back home and I said, ‘Congressman, I have to quit, because I’m traveling and seeing the country, and I want to sell buttons all over the country.’”
The Worker’s Legacy Exhibition video player.
Embed” />CopyThe Worker’s Legacy Exhibition Project “The most important thing left for me to do now is a history museum dedicated to honoring mill workers, furniture workers, hosiery mill and textile workers. My mother worked in the hosiery mill. Named ‘The Worker’s Legacy Exhibition,’ it is going to tell the history of all the workers and what their life was like back then.”    

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The Caisson Platoon: Honoring Those Who Served

Every day, the soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (“The Old Guard”) carry out the sacred duties of the U.S. Army Caisson Platoon.  The platoon conducts eight full honors funerals a day, carrying fallen servicemen and women to their final resting places at Arlington National Cemetery. This special honor is reserved for former presidents of the United States, military members of high rank, and service members killed in action. 
U.S. Army Caisson Platoon video player.
Embed” />CopyU.S. Army Caisson Platoon Sergeant 1st Class Michael Skeens is the caisson platoon Sergeant.  “I have served with the Old Guard from April 2016 until now, and I’ve been given a tremendous opportunity to serve in this platoon. So, from the care of the horses and equipment, to the soldiers’ appearance and riding style, it is an honor and privilege to be a part of this platoon,” he says.  “Every horse in this platoon has its own personality, just like every soldier here. I have 59 soldiers in the platoon and 61 horses. So, this is a pretty big organization,” says Skeens. Sgt. 1st Class Michael Skeens  Sgt. Skeens says every soldier volunteers for duty in this specialty platoon and must go through the basic horsemanship course.  “We run a 10-week course over our 10-acre ranch on Fort Belvoir. Each soldier, whether they have horse experience or not, is trained on everything they need to know about a horse, from picking the feet to grooming to different types of groundwork. Whether it’s the lead and pass, and half circles or full circles, things like that, all the way up into the saddle into a canter. Even cleaning all the leather and making sure it’s in pristine condition, as well as polishing the brass. So, the instructors of that course have been great at identifying and teaching soldiers exactly how to conduct the mission and how to treat the horses.” Sgt. Skeens says there are four riding teams, and the horses have to withstand some severe distractions.  “Each horse has to be able to endure different things, like sounds from trumpets playing, airplanes, rifles and even cannons going off. The horses must learn to ride as a team with the caissons. I have two squads of black horses, two squads of gray horses. At any given time, two teams are riding. We rotate them in the cemetery every day. So one black team goes out with a white team and they conduct four full honor funerals per day.” Sgt. Skeens says a caisson horse typically serves for a decade, and in that period, it will participate in thousands of funerals for service members. The Caisson Platoon of the 3rd U.S. Infantry is the last full-time equestrian unit in the Army. “One horse, ‘Sergeant York,’ has been with the caisson platoon for 22 years. He’s actually twenty nine years old this year which in horse years makes him about one hundred and one and a half. And he’s still out there performing missions every day. Most notably, he walked in the presidential procession for Ronald Reagan.” Sgt. Skeens says for him, it’s a solemn duty of honor and respect to serve his part in The Old Guard. 

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The Caisson Platoon: A Duty of Honor and Respect

The Soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) are part of the U.S. Army Caisson Platoon. These men and women soldiers have the honor of carrying departed military members from all branches and dignitaries to their final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery.