Tuesday, July 21, 2009


These kinds of scenes quickly take me back 200 years. It was a beautiful day to visit the home of the fourth president of the United States - James Madison. Although noted as "Father of the Constitution," I don't hear as much about Madison as I do the other Founding Fathers. To learn more, visit here.
Here's the view of the front yard from the south terrace. No pictures were allowed inside. Had it not been a cloudy day, you could have seen the Blue Ridge mountains in the distance. Regardless, it was a beautiful site.
These were life-size statues of James and Dolley Madison. James was only 5'2" and weighed about 110 pounds. His character certainly made up for his lack of physical stature.
Mark was fascinated with the book Mr. Madison was reading. I wonder what book it was? :)
Madison erected a "temple" near his home. Thomas Jefferson suggested carpenter's for the job. Below it was a 2-story ice well so they could enjoy cool drinks and ice cream all summer long.
The kids, in true Christensen form, strike peculiar poses. James and Peter regularly win the prize for the most bizarre! :)
A subsequent owner placed a formal garden (where a practical garden used to be) and it has been well-maintained. It provided a nice walk back to the visitor center.
Here's a last shot as we were leaving. You can see Madison's temple near his home. James Madison is a man any student of democracy should study in great detail. He was inspired by the Almighty and it was here at Montpelier that he contemplated the formation of a "more perfect Union" and a new form of government--one that has safe-guarded our freedom for over 200 years.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Naturalization Ceremony

Have you ever clapped following the Presentation of Petitioners and Motion for Admission? Sixty-six names were presented (one happened to be a Christensen). After everyone's name was presented they took the Oath of Citizenship and the judge declared them citizens of the United States of America. It was very moving.
We're 15 minutes from the home of Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence. We really do love it here! While we live in Virginia, our 4th of July celebration will always begin by visiting Monticello.
And what a beautiful morning it was here. Low 70's, plenty of sun, and a slight breeze.
The ceremony took place on the west lawn of the Monticello. You try to capture events like this on camera but it never does it justice. Mark was excited to see the presentation of the colors. He's learned a lot about that this year in cub scouts.
While very well-behaved, this is how the kids spent most of the ceremony. :)
Luke was showing his patriotism!
Here are all 66 people being presented and taking the oath. The tall guy in the back and to the left is a Christensen. Had we had time, I would have found him afterwards and figured out how we're related. Tom Periello, a recently elected congressman from the 5th district in Virginia, was the key note speaker. He made some interesting analogies. He referenced baptism and the renewing of covenants when we partake of the Sacrament...and how each citizen today had an opportunity to renew their own promise and conviction to stand for freedom and the United States as we witnessed the events of the day. I might not agree on how the man votes on the cap and trade bill...but I was impressed by his comments.
Oh look, all the hard work our kids did during the ceremony turns out to be a display of their patriotism. From all the tiny pebbles on the walkway, they were able to build a mound big enough to secure two of their American flags.

Happy Independence Day! Make it a great one. God bless America!