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Well, the boys’ Spring Break is in full swing. This year, we decided to do a “staycation”, which means, essentially, a vacation in our own backyard. We’ve spent so much time traveling recently, it’s nice to just relax and take it easy.

Today, the boys and I took a quick trip to the Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, just outside of Starke.

Camp Blanding

Camp Blanding is the primary military reservation and training base for the Florida National Guard, and covers about 73,000 acres. It’s named after Lt Gen Albert H Blanding, who is among the most distinguished military figures in Florida’s history. He commanded the 31st Infantry Division and was appointed by FDR to serve as the Chief of the National Guard Bureau. During WWII, he was the military adviser to the Florida Governor.

Not that the boys were too interested in any of that. They wanted to see the heavy equipment on static display, like…

The C-47, which the 101st jumped out of in “Band of Brothers”…



A Sherman Tank…

Sherman Tank

and a Howitzer…


An amphibious vehicle, the DUKW, otherwise known as the “duck”…


A field ambulance…

ield Ambulance

and a “Huey” Medivac Helicopter…


These static displays are part of the Camp Blanding Museum and Memorial Park. Located in one of Camp Blanding’s restored World War II buildings, the museum catalogs the history of both Camp Blanding and the Florida National Guard. The boys thought it was interesting, especially the Army uniforms and the weapons on display. Of course, I would’ve liked to have spent a little more time reading the history behind some of the displays, but the boys (being 8-years-old) were more into the “stuff” than the “substance”.

We’ll need to come back when they’re a little older. There’s a lot of military (and Florida) history on these grounds and within these walls…


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Americas Liberty Bell

Katie and the Liberty Bell Today we took a break from unpacking and ventured into Philadelphia for a bit of sightseeing. Cousin Katie (pictured left) has never been here before, so Nana thought it’d be nice to take her to see the Liberty Bell. The Liberty Bell is one of the most prominent symbols of the American Revolutionary War. It is a familiar symbol of independence within the United States and has been described as an icon of liberty and justice.

According to tradition, its most famous ringing occurred on July 8, 1776, to summon citizens of Philadelphia for the reading of the Declaration of Independence. Historians today consider this highly doubtful, as the steeple in which the bell was hung had deteriorated significantly by that time. The bell had also been rung to announce the opening of the First Continental Congress in 1774 and after the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775.

The Liberty Bell was known as the “Independence Bell” or the “Old Yankee’s Bell” until 1837, when it was adopted by the American Anti-Slavery Society as a symbol of the abolitionist movement.

The inscription on the Liberty Bell reads as follows:

Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof Lev. XXV X
By Order of the ASSEMBLY of the Province of PENSYLVANIA [sic] for the State House in Philada
Pass and Stow

The source of the inscription is Leviticus 25:10, which reads

“And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.”

Hanks at the Liberty Bell
Alex and Adam pose with mom and dad in front of the Liberty Bell.

The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall
The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall

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