Thanksgiving Over There in the Philippine-American War

I spent many Thanksgivings in the Philippines, and it was great. We had some fun parties, including one at our farm. The only drawbacks were that it was a normal workday for me, and I did not get to watch football live all day long. This year I have a little time off: my exams are graded and student comments written, so wheeeee! And, like in recent years, we will celebrate “Friendsgiving” in New England with two vegetarians. Meh, I’m not big into Turkey, anyway, so I’ll take it.

Thanksgiving 30th US volunteers Philippine-American War by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.
30TH VOLUNTEER INFANTRY REGIMENT: Thanksgiving dinner for the men of Company “D”, 30th Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the outer Manila trenches at Pasay. The photo was taken on November 24, 1899 and shows the men sitting down to their meal laid out on a long bamboo table protected from the hot sun by a canvas awning. The Soldiers from Company “D” are wearing their blue Army service shirts and campaign hats. Some of the men wear a special red kerchief around their necks, which later became a hallmark of the regiment and earned them the nickname, “The men in the crimsom scarves.” Company D was lead by Captain Kenneth M. Burr throughout their tour in the Philippine Islands. Photo and caption uploaded by Scott Slaten on the Philippine-American War Facebook Group.

What would it have been like in November 1899, though, just as the Philippine-American War was moving from conventional conflict to guerrilla war? Yes, the American military had more men, more guns (though not necessarily better ones), and more bullets. And without General Antonio Luna, who had recently been assassinated, the Philippine forces lost one of its greatest strategists. But Aguinaldo made the decision to disband his forces for an unconventional conflict, and that gave the Filipino revolutionaries a new edge. For the American troops, they had to realize they might not be going home anytime soon.

While I have the advantage of hindsight and can easily say that I do not support America’s imperialist cause in this war, none of that changes history. I wonder what was going through these young men’s minds on this day. Thanks to the Philippine-American War Facebook group, and especially Scott Slaten, for posting these photos. If you are interested in this war at all, you really should follow this group. It’s free, the discussions are strident, and the photos are amazing.

Thanksgiving 30th US volunteers Philippine-American War by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.
30th INFANTRY REGIMENT, USV – Thanksgiving Day at Pasay, outer Manila trenches with the 2nd Section, Company G, 30th Infantry Regiment USV, November 1899. The photo shows the men with their Krag rifles stacked on the street of their small camp. Note the sign for the 2nd Section in the middle of the photograph. Photo and caption uploaded by Scott Slaten on the Philippine-American War Facebook Group.

These photos are also nice reminders that even in war, people celebrate holidays and birthdays. They even fall in love. (That’s where we historical romance authors come in, as Beverly Jenkins so often reminds us.) But what these men’s families wanted to know was not whether they were having a good time, but when they would be coming home. They would not get their answer for another whole year:

From the November 22, 1900, edition of the Washington Post.

Since most of these soldiers had originally volunteered for what they had thought was a brief war in Cuba, this was probably a relief. Some did re-enlist as regulars, though, which meant a much longer commitment.

For your Sugar Sun readers out there, here’s a little Thanksgiving tidbit for you: Pilar Altarejos, daughter of Javier and Georgina, was born on Thanksgiving 1903. I thought that was appropriate. The couple could be thankful for being together— how romantic!—and I thought it would get Javier’s nationalist back up a little. (Yes, I’m terrible.)

Hopefully, wherever you are, I hope you have a great week. The best thing about this holiday is the reminder to be grateful for something. I am grateful for so many things, but I want to add you, my readers, to that list. Thank you for reading and for following the Altarejos clan through all its ups and downs. More adventures in love will be coming, I promise!

NaNoWriMo to finish Sugar Moon part of the Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Not That Kind of Spam

If you run a blog, you know that spam bots are constantly trying to post on your page. Here’s a hint: if they mention Viagra, Cialis, body part enlargement, breast milk (???), or any random pharmaceuticals, they are spam.

Blog spam post by Jennifer Hallock author of the Sugar Sun historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

But sometimes they are sneakier, pretending to be real people who are (of course) trying to “help you” write better content.

Blog spam post by Jennifer Hallock author of the Sugar Sun historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

This second spam comment reads:

Good day buddies.

I say you’re sorry if I wrote off-topic

But I not long ago had to discover a detailed post about methods to create essays for any university.

I just found a superb short article. Probably an individual else will desire this knowledge. [link] By the way, when I was looking for this article, I learned that lots of individuals decide to purchase dwelling works, compositions, paperwork and articles. I don’t understand how protected it can be and what high-quality is usually obtained in the end. Who faced this challenge, write, you crate or purchase? Were you caught by lecturer for this?

This reads like someone shoved their paragraph through the Google translator—from English to Thai, then Thai to Russian, and then Russian back to English. (I do not choose these languages randomly; they are the ones that most often appear in my spam comments!)

What’s the point? Well, folks, I am sick of battling spam. I am going to start turning off comments on each blog post after a week or so. If you still want to post on a topic after I’ve cut off comments, please go to my Facebook page and find the relevant post link there. Please feel free to add a comment there. Thank you for reading!

[Featured image by freezelight of the wall of spam outside of the Cannon Theatre during the first day of ticket sales for SPAMalot.]

The vIRaL Orange Flamingos of Weare

Ice buckets, yellow bracelets, pink bows…there is another viral cause in the town of Weare, New Hampshire: the Orange Flamingos of the #AbbyStrong “Army.”

Shortly before the start of this school year, twelve-year-old Abby Van Dyke was diagnosed with leukemia. Immediately, friends and family went into action. They put together a fundraiser selling plastic lawn flamingos in the color of leukemia awareness. “It was mostly about getting as many out before she came home from the hospital,” one of the organizers said, “so she’d drive through town and see them, and know that everyone was thinking of her and praying for her and her family.”

I first heard about the flamingos at Weare’s Old Home Day on August 27th, when their booth sold out by mid-day. But I was late to the party. By this point, flamingos were everywhere. They still are everywhere—and I mean everywhere. “We have people actually call us from Canada, and Florida, Arizona,” an organizer said. The #AbbyStrong “Army” encourages this migration—they just ask that people post pictures to their Facebook page.

Clockwise from top right: the flock outside Just Like Mom’s Pastries; a flamboyance of dressy flamingos on Dustin Tavern Road; flamingos who have migrated to the Apotheca coffee shop in Goffstown (and who can blame them?); the Flamingos of the Night’s Watch along The Wall…of Flanders Memorial Road; and patriotic flamingos outside the Weare Historical Society and Weare Public Library.
Clockwise from top right: the watering hole outside Just Like Mom’s Pastries; a flamboyance of dressy flamingos on Dustin Tavern Road; flamingos who have migrated to the Apotheca coffee shop in Goffstown (and who can blame them?); the Flamingos of the Night’s Watch along The Wall…of Flanders Memorial Road; and patriotic flamingos outside the Weare Historical Society and Weare Public Library.

In a time when we live too much of our lives online, it is comforting to see a community come together in real life. This is an old fashioned vIRaL campaign—viral IRL.

But this fundraiser has not been without its drama. When a bunch of the flamingos were stolen, the Weare Police Department reported the crime on their Facebook page. Their post was a graphic of a single word: “Really?”

The Weare Police Department’s Facebook page: the reaction to the theft and when the flamingos were returned.
The Weare Police Department’s Facebook page: the reaction to the theft and when the flamingos were returned.

The thieves realized they had done wrong, and they gave back all the flamingos—along with a donation to the #AbbyStrong movement.

Their letter read:

We are truly sorry for our actions and had no idea what the flamingos on Colby Road symbolized. We would have never taken them. Please know that we returned all the flamingos we took. We did not go around town [or] all over the place—they were only taken on Colby Road. If others are missing, that wasn’t us. We have enclosed a small donation hoping this will make a difference. Stay strong—you got this. Again we are truly sorry for our actions and will never do anything like this again.

[Note: I corrected the thieves’ grammar because I’m a teacher and that’s what I do.] The general consensus in town is that—while no one condones stealing the flamingos in the first place—their return, the apology, and the donation were appropriate penance.

Meanwhile, Abby has entered her second round of chemo, which cannot be easy. I have noticed from the family’s Thanksgiving photo (far right) that Abby is not using a hat or bandana (beyond what the weather requires). I wonder how much this is convenience and how much is a result of the support of her friends and community? I would like to think it is both liberating and comfortable!

Three views of Abby from #AbbyStrong’s “Army” Facebook page: before chemo, during, and between treatments.
Three views of Abby from #AbbyStrong’s “Army” Facebook page: before chemo, during, and between treatments.

I am heartened by the statistics on the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s webpage that five-year survival rates among those aged 15 and younger may be as high as 91%, depending on the type of leukemia she has.

And at least the thieves were right on one count: Stay strong, Abby. You got this.