Thursday, March 29, 2012

Shiny New Flag Pole!

Upon arriving in Sierra Vista on July 19th I investigated my new school-All Saints Catholic. Trying to get the daily routine down I noticed no flag pole. The janitor showed me where a rusty pole, no longer working, no longer visible was hiding. It was at that point I knew one of my first projects was to raise money for a flag pole.

At one of the first school Masses I announced the project to raise money for a flag pole for our school. Being a military town with the Army Fort Huachuca, the adults after Mass were shocked to hear we had no flag pole. Many came up to me and expressed this. One such gentleman was, Manny Trujillo, member of Woodman's of the World. He said he would contact the oganization to see if they could donate a pole. Wow! Fast work for my first project!

Within a couple weeks he said they would be shipping a 30 foot pole from out of New York. It would be coming by truck. The flag pole didn't come and didn't come so we put a tracer on it. It said it was shipped but didn't know where it ended up. So they sent another pole out from Texas.

Shortly after this I received a phone call from a high school in Ohio. They discovered our flagpole was dropped off at their school. They also received a flagpole but never checked the four boxes that were left. It took several months for them to install it and that was when they first noticed two boxes with our names on them. I contacted the shipping company and they quickly picked the two boxes up and sent them our way arriving in October. The one from Texas was canceled.

Once it arrived I realized I needed someone to dig the hole, put the pole together and hoist it up into the ground. I asked Our Lady of the Mountains Knights of Columbus. They agreed to take on the project. The goal was to get it up by Thanksgiving and have the dedication on Thanksgiving Day. That didn't happen as we had to coordinate with Cochise College to get them to dig the hole and put the pole in. We also had a donation of concrete around the pole by a local plumber. As you can see it was a total community project.

The flag pole was put up by Christmas Day and the flag was waving strongly in the winter winds.  A couple of weeks after the students were raising the flag, they came to get me. The hooks for the flag were stuck at the top of the pole!!!!!!!!! I couldn't believe it after all this time of waiting for the pole. The flag rope was one long loop and the hooks were not attached properly so that day when they lowered the rope to hook the flag the hooks went right to the top of the pole and got stuck. Soooooo we had to wait till the electric company was in our neighborhood doing work and then kindly used their "cherry picker" ladder to get the hooks down and then they were properly secured.

In the meantime I had contacted the Woodmen of the World to come for the dedication. It was set for March 28th at 12:30pm. At the dedication we had the Knights of Columbus, Father Ariel, Manny Trujillo and several Woodmen of the World from the Phoenix Office. A beautiful dedication of the flagpole and blessing of it was held.

Mr. Trae Gonzalez, Woodmen of the World

Father Ariel Lustan, Pastor, blessing the flag pole.

The school children sang the National Anthem worthy enough to do it before the next Super Bowl. They also sang America and My Country Tis of Thee. We had beautiful blue skies and a good wind to make the flag wave at the top of the shiniest, silver pole I have ever seen. A project started in August was at last completed on March 28th.

A big thank you for a large community and church effort to give us a very visible and working flag pole. We are proud to fly the flag in this Army Town.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

How Did Tombstone, AZ Get Its Name?

Tombstone, AZ is 20 minutes from our house-a great place to begin our Spring Break. Most of us thought Tombstone got its name from all the famous gunslingers of the  West who are buried in Boot Hill in Tombstone. We found out we were wrong.

The town was named after an Indian Scout who was stationed at Fort Huachuca. On his days off he would venture into the desert hills that Cochise and other Native Americans habited looking for silver. He asked the Calvary to protect him as he looked for the silver mines. They refused so he ventured out on his own. He was told he would never find silver but only his own tombstone in his searching. When he indeed found silver in the rocks he named the area Tombstone-and thus his discovery created the boomtown of Tombstone when in the days of mining silver it had 4,000 people.

We walked the streets that Wyatt Earp, his brothers, Doc Holiday, Billy the Kid and many other famous gunslingers walked. We learned the history of this famous Western town in no time. The main streets are blocked off to cars. We found only stagecoaches, horses and people walking on foot on these streets. Many people were dressed in costume of these famous years of this boomtown.

Doc Holiday, Sr. Elizabeth Ann, Wyatt Earp

We had lunch at the Longhorn Restaurant and viewed some gun fights at the Wyatt Earp Theater. The gun fights at the OK Corral were already sold out.

Original bar of one of the town's many saloons.

We also walked to Sacred Heart Catholic Church where the original Catholic Church is still there but now is their parish hall. The famous Nellie Cashman, who Bishop Kicanas talked about yesterday at the diocesan conference as being one of the early Catholic pioneers of the diocese who helped to spread the Catholic faith, lived here in Tombstone. She was an Irish immigrant lass who recruited miners and cowboys in her restaurant to tear down the gallows stand and build the first Catholic Church in Tombstone. She is called "The Angel of Tombstone".

Original windows of first church built in 1881.

Largest rose tree in the world.

Trunk of the rose tree.

 A colorful character of the West today!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Fence/Wall between Mexico & U.S.

Look straight back into the mountain to see the "Prohibition Tequila Trail" now the trail used to transport drugs & guns.

I got to touch the billion dollar plus border fence/wall. After listening to the chief forest ranger at Coronado National Park and the couple I go hiking with, I question it alot, whether all the billions of dollars was worth spending on this "infamous fence" which reminds me of the Berlin Wall.

 The Chief Ranger drove us down in his vehicle on the "authorized vehicle road only" right to the fence. It is 12 feet in the ground, (to prevent tunneling), besides being way over my head. It is heavy steel on the outside and reenforced with concrete on the inside. Before it was built a team tested how wide to make the bars apart so no child or adult head would get caught in between when someone chose to cross through the fence. This is the humanitarian side of our country-to an extent.

I looked through the fence and I saw barb wire-this is the Mexican fence the rancher put up on his land to keep his cattle in whom  I did see eating dry grass up to the Mexican barb wire fence. I was so surprised to see cattle. I pictured the fence that kept everything away from our border. There is a couple feet between the steel border fence and the barb wire fence. That is to allow for repair on the U.S. fence without stepping onto Mexican land.

This is Mexico-on the other side of the U.S. Fence. Barbed wire & very poor rocky land. Cattle were grazing here.

The fence runs for miles but when it gets to the top of the mountain range it stops and there is only barb wire fence. At one point the Mexicans with their rifles sit on the U.S. side to help the smugglers cross into the U.S. Looking up the mountain in this direction it was pointed out to me that this was the original  "Prohibition Trail" for smuggling tequila into our country.  This trail is now used to smuggle marijuana, guns and other drugs into the U.S.

Soon after the steel fence was put up the Forest Ranger Chief found narrow packages of marijuana on the U.S. side. They were squeezed through for the "coyote" or smuggler to take further into the U.S. They also catapulted drugs over the fence. So really-is this fence really worth all the money spent on it and it really isn't very nice looking-quite rusty. It only goes so far and now the smugglers have learned to go to the top through the barb wire to travel further inland into the U.S.

I was informed that there often are three "coyotes" helping the undocumented workers and smugglers to enter our country. One positioned at the front, one in the middle and one at the end. If Border Patrol or forest rangers find them the group will run and split up so all won't get caught.

Now who is really crossing the border into our country illegally??? People put their finger on the Mexicans all the time. Not true!  Now crossing our border are the Chinese, (greatest in number), Somalians, Mexicans,  Arab speaking individuals who the Ranger said, " You know they aren't coming here to get a job at McDonald's" There are also a few from Guatemala-only a few as this country borders Mexico. Mexico shoots instantly any Guatemalan who attempts to cross their border-few make it across and few try it even.  So is the fence really working to keep out other nations from around the world???

We then traveled 6,500 feet to the top of Coronado National Park. There was one border patrol truck parked next to their large camera truck that overlooks the Mexican valley below. The truck is there 24 hours as it has excellent night vision. Through the use of this camera they catch 700 undocumented a day coming into our country.

Looking out into Mexico where the undocumented are walking to get access into the U.S.

Some seasons are busier than others for undocumented to cross over: harvest season for marijuana or pre-harvest time to get rid of the old marijuana. Slow times are World Cup Soccer Days-when most Mexicans stay home to watch the games on TV.

The Chief Forest Ranger has worked about 20 years in his position. Times have changed he said. At the beginning you saw many Mexicans crossing back into Mexico at holiday times. The Rangers would give them a lift to the border to help them out.

To have the fence or to work on changing our immigration laws. That is a big question still facing our nation.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hiking the Neighborhood!

Warm weather has returned and it is time to hit the trails again. First hike was to Brown Canyone Ranch. The ranch was built in the 1800s and is now owned by Cochise County. Has lots of great hiking trails. We met a couple coming down with a large garbage bag of trash. Many people take time to collect the trash left behind in the mountains.

The Trail

We hiked behind the large blimp that is parked by our school's grounds. I got a better close up view of it. It is unmanned and when sent up can see 190 miles in all directions. It was commissioned to detect low flying planes from Mexico carrying drugs.

2nd hike was to Our Lady of the Sierras, a few miles from our school in Hereford. This large cross, statue of Mary and the 14 Stations, (Way of the Cross) survived the Monument Fire this summer. It burned the home of the creator of this shrine, the chapel and everything around it. God spared the large cross and the statue of Mary and the Stations. The chapel is being rebuilt. It is built into the mountain side. The cross can be seen on Highway 92 below. It is also on the internet if you wish to check the history of this shrine.

Before the fire, Mass was celebrated in the chapel and the rosary was prayed daily here also.  A small house was built below the Shrine for visiting priests to stay there on retreat. The only thing asked of the priest was to say daily Mass in the chapel. The priest house also burned in the fire.

Road to the Shrine

View from part way up to the shrine

Station of the Cross

Trees still burnt & dead from the summer's fire

View from the halfway up the Shrine.

Not touched by the fire.

Our Lady of the Sierras

As we drove and walked through the mountains we saw the burnt trees and blackened rocks. We are waiting to see if Mother Nature brings these trees back to life.

Waterfall by the cross

12th Station-Jesus dies on the cross.

Sitting to take a much needed water break.

Outside the Chapel of Our Lady of the Sierras

Palo verde branches inside chapel-waiting to be used.

Inside the chapel that is being rebuilt.

Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Tidbits from All Saints Catholic School:
  • A 3rd grade girl came late to school. Highly unusual for her as she lives on the dirt, rocky road right behind school. She was walking to school when there was a rattle snake curled up in the middle of the road. She turned around and asked her mom to drive her to school. To me this was an excused tardy.
  • Driving to school and a large coyote crosses the road into a field
  • Leaving our house and three roadrunners are running on the street
I just love seeing all the wildlife in great Arizona!!