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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.

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A Breathless Ocean

The ocean provides many benefits to our planet and all the creatures that live there. It regulates the earth’s climate, produces 60 percent of the oxygen for the earth and is an important source of food.   Denise Breitburg is a marine ecologist with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. Her research and studies center on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, a large water system that stretches from New York to Virginia. The Bay itself receives about half its volume from the Atlantic Ocean. “I do work on a wide range of organisms, from fish, jellyfish to oysters. Any of the things large enough to see without a microscope. But, I’m also really interested not just in individual animals, but in how it all fits together, how food webs change, how the environment influences evolution and really the ecosystems as a whole.” Breitburg says one thing that has a negative impact on the ecosystem is oxygen decline in the ocean.   “Animals need oxygen to breathe, grow, reproduce and survive. The marine ecosystems require oxygen. But, oxygen is declining in the open ocean and coastal waters because of increasing global temperatures and excess nutrients.”Marine ecologist Denise BreitburgFinding a solution to this problem, Breitburg says, requires spending much of her time doing research and instead of being in the open waters. She also spends time speaking to policy makers and environmental managers to educate them on the issues so they can develop policies that are going to be effective. Breitburg says ocean deoxygenation does not occur in isolation or only in waters in the United States. “I’ve been co-chairing a working group that’s part of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission from UNESCO. It  includes about 20 researchers and scientists from around the world, who all work on various aspects of the problem of low oxygen in the oceans. Waters are warming and acidifying, food webs are changed by fishing and habitat can be degraded by plastics and other pollutants.” This is a problem around the world, says Breitburg. “Everything from fisheries to global models to trying to understand the effects of climate change. Many many places around the world have the same sort of problems that we have here.” Breitburg says the Clean Air Act and other kinds of management of coastal waters has reduced the amount of nitrogen coming into the Chesapeake Bay. In other words, policies, regulations, and research can make a difference over time, Breitburg says. “The Earth’s population has increased. It’s almost tripled since 1950, and things that we used to be able to do when there were many fewer of us just don’t work in a global population this size, and at a time when we still need to think about how to bring people from poorer developing countries up to a better standard of living so that they’re healthy and can lead long lives. And for that to happen, that means each of us having less of an impact on this earth and supporting government actions that will encourage that to happen. So, we can hopefully leave a healthier environment for our children and grandchildren.”     

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Minnesota Music Legend

James Samuel “Cornbread” Harris Sr. is a singer and pianist who performs in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Harris has been a part of Minnesota music history, performing on Minnesota’s first rock ‘n’ roll record, Harris was inducted into Minnesota’s Blues Hall of Fame in 2012.