Letter from America 13th November

Hi Guys and Gals,

Last Thursday we celebrated Veteran’s Day here in the park while all the schools and public services were shut down for the day. This was formerly known as Armistice Day and was originally set as a US legal holiday to honour the end of World War I. In legislation that was passed in 1938, November 11 was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.'” As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans. In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd US Congress (at the request of the veteran’s service organisations) amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting the word “Veterans”. With the approval of this legislation on June 1 1954, November 11th became a day to honour American veterans of all wars. This was celebrated in the Park here with a free lunch which was preceded by a service including a Veteran’s Day Reading, an Honour Guard, a Guest Speaker, folding of the American flag which was presented to the oldest veteran present who was 91 years of age, recognition of all the veterans at the luncheon of the various armed forces and concluding with the American National Anthem. It never fails to impress me just how patriotic the Americans are and how much they respect and look after their military.

When we returned from New York we expected to learn that the final launch of the space shuttle had taken place and that we had missed it. It turns out however that a further problem had arisen in that cracks had been discovered in the fuel tank. The two cracks, each some nine inches long, were found on the exterior of the aluminium tank, beneath a larger crack in the insulating foam that covers the 15 storey high tank. The cracks are in the area that holds instruments, not fuel. The next seven day window for a launch is now November 30th. At the moment engineers are not sure if it can be repaired at the launch pad in time to meet that deadline. The launch is set for 04.30am so the chances of us watching it are fairly slim! Also since our return I have managed to sort out the many pictures that we took and the attached picture shows part of the New York skyline at sunset from the top of the Empire State Building.

Back in October before the Mid Term elections took place I mentioned Amendment 4 which I personally hoped would be passed. This was to give voters the opportunity to veto any further sprawling overdevelopment of Florida by the construction companies and the big business interests the likes of Wallmart. It was however overwhelmingly rejected by the claims that it would hurt employment and further delay recovery of the economy. As I forecast the almighty dollar wins every time. I very much fear that when the economy does recover our little paradise in the “Real Florida” will be spoilt further, God forbid it ever becomes like the horrible development called “The Villages” which spreads over three counties as a great surburban sprawl.

Our little town of Eustis has certainly changed while we have been back in the UK. The main changes have been in downtown where, although not completely pedestrianised, the pavements have been widened by making parallel parking in place of the normal head on to the kerb parking. Some trees have been removed to accomplish this but it has led to the introduction of more restaurants with outdoor seating creating an improved ambience. Then the introduction at the back of the post office are the charging points for electric cars which are powered by solar panels and completely free of charge to consumers. The area where the old Waterman Hospital was is now a small green park. This was due to be the site for the Fountain Square at Lake Eustis, a complex that would have featured two three-story buildings along Magnolia Avenue and Eustis Street. Restaurants and shops are scheduled to occupy the bottom floors, with condominiums and town homes on the top two floors. All this has now been put on hold due to the recession.

We have been reading about the bad weather back in the UK with snow and high winds up north and in Wales with heavy rain in the south. Hope this has not been as bad as made out on the news here and that you have all still been able to ride.

Bryan Staples

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *