Why December 15th In D.C. Was An Important Part Of The Holiday Season

Why December 15th In D.C. Was An Important Part Of The Holiday Season

An experience that honors the memories of veterans, will forever stay in the memories of volunteers.

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December 15th was the day of the annual holiday wreath laying at Arlington National Cemetery. Wreaths Across America, a non-profit organization, gathers volunteers every year to lay wreaths on the graves at Arlington in honor of the holiday season and America's lost heroes. The goal of Wreaths Across America is to remember, honor, and teach, and to make sure that those who have been lost are not forgotten.

Operating on a mainly volunteer basis, in previous years, Wreaths Across America has achieved their goal of placing a holiday wreath on every gravestone in Arlington National Cemetery. This year, they received thousands of volunteers who either helped them by sponsoring a wreath or by showing up in Arlington to help place the wreaths throughout the cemetery.

As someone who has laid wreaths for years, and who participated again this year, I can say that this experience is truly eye opening and exactly what the holiday season is all about. In the midst of the commotion of shopping, decorating, and organizing visits with family, the holidays can occasionally seem like a time of stress instead of a time of recognition. Those who have fought for our country deserve the utmost of recognition during the holidays. Afterall, if the holidays are about being thankful, who better to thank than a veteran.

This is why December 15th was such an important day in the D.C. Metropolitan Area, as it was truly a day of remembrance and gratitude. In honor of the holiday season, and in honor of those who have served or are currently serving in the military, everyone in the D.C. area should think about visiting Arlington during the remaining season, to see the wreaths and to remember those who have protected our country, and to prove that veterans' acts of heroism have not and will not go unnoticed.

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Are Soulmates Real?

Is your perfect other half out there?

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Lately, a question that has often plagued my mind is the concept of a soulmate. Is there a soulmate in the world for every individual? The idea of a soulmate is a fascinating thing. The dictionary defines a soulmate as "a person ideally suited to another as a close friend or romantic partner." It's quite a phenomenon that in a world of seven billion people, one individual is your ideal counterpart. As I grow older, I observe my friends in long-term relationships and the feelings that they've developed as time has progressed. It's interesting that people my age have committed themselves to another individual devotedly for long periods of time. I often wonder if I'll encounter such a love anytime soon.

When friends talk about marrying their current lovers after college, I feel panicked and wonder if the clock to find your soulmate has already begun ticking and I'm moving at a pace far too slow. It's good to believe in soulmates because it gives hope to people. If I believe that I have a soulmate in this world, I can live believing that someday everything will fall into place and my perfect partner will stumble into my life. Sometimes I wonder how love even works because it's crazy that two individuals just happened to both like each other and decided to see where this initial liking could take them. Often though, many people experience one-sided loves and it makes you wonder if you're doing something wrong compared to people who have coupled up. I'd ideally like to chalk up unrequited loves and romantic mishaps to the existence of soulmates. I tell myself that things didn't work out because it wasn't meant to be. I often glaze over the mishaps afterward and wonder why it didn't work out. I'm a dreamer and I'll paint these picture-perfect love stories in my mind which left me disappointed. However, living with the hope that soulmates exist helps.

Do soulmates exist in this world? Maybe all my mishaps and one-sided loves are the result of the world telling me it was not meant to be. The idea of soulmates gives me hope that one day, everything will work out in the end.

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Everything You Need To Know About The Government Shutdown

The longest government shutdown in history will impact every American.

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In the early morning hours of December 22, the longest government shutdown in United States history began. At this writing, the government has been shut down for 24 days -- and counting.

The current shutdown revolves around President Trump's request for over five billion dollars to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall, which he sees as a necessary response to the "massive Humanitarian Crisis" taking place at the southern border -- the flow of migrants from Central America. Democrats in Congress, who fervently deny the severity of the situation, refuse to allocate funds towards a wall, instead looking to negotiate other measures for border security. Unable to pass bipartisan spending legislation, the government remains closed.But what exactly is a shutdown, and what does it mean for ordinary Americans?

A government shutdown occurs when the annual appropriations bills that fund several government agencies and programs fail to reach passage by both Congress and the president. Congress is in charge of creating these bills, and each year the president must sign them into law in order to fund the government for a new fiscal period. In October, at the beginning of the current fiscal year, only a few of the necessary appropriations bills were enacted, and Congress had until December 21 to enact the rest. However, due to congressional infighting and the President's incessant demands for a wall, the government failed to reach a spending agreement by the deadline, and a shutdown ensued.

Without appropriated funds, any departments or agencies deemed "non-essential" are put on hold under a government shutdown. This means that many federal workers, including those within the Food and Drug Administration and National Park Service, are furloughed, or put on temporary leave without pay. The remaining employees, who work in departments or agencies considered "essential," are forced to work without pay until appropriations are made by Congress and the President. Once the government is open again, they will receive their missed checks in back pay.

Put simply, the 800,000 Americans who work for departments affected by the shutdown have been without a paycheck for almost an entire month now. In past weeks, several of these workers have taken to Washington to protest the shutdown and have appeared on television to voice their frustrations. Forced to deplete their savings to make ends meet, they worry about how they'll make their next mortgage payment and keep their families fed. Paying for daycare services for infants, or college tuition for young adults, has become almost impossible for some.

And government employees aren't the only Americans affected by the shutdown. Though social security checks are sent out and Medicare is paid for, the issuance of insurance cards could cease, meaning that those newly eligible for Medicare could be turned away. Hundreds of sites with hazardous waste or polluted drinking water will go uninspected by the EPA. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, responsible for feeding thousands of impoverished families, cannot last another two months without funding.

Perhaps the scariest effect of the shutdown is its impact on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), responsible for screening passengers at airports. Since the shutdown began, airports across the country have dealt with a shortage of staff, causing long lines and massive travel delays. George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Texas and Miami International Airport in Florida have both been forced to close entire terminals in response to a staffing shortage. On January 14, TSA spokesman Michael Biello tweeted that TSA "experienced a national rate of 7.6 percent unscheduled absences compared to a 3.2 percent rate one year ago, Monday, January 15, 2018." Although the agency claims that security has not been compromised during the shutdown, the lack of workers leaves many travellers skeptical.

As President Trump continues to exploit the "crisis" at the border (see the televised address) and top Democrats defend the merits of legal immigration, it is unclear just how long the shutdown will continue. In the House, Democrats have passed spending bills supporting the immediate re-opening of affected federal departments, but such bills have not yet been brought to the Republican-controlled Senate. There have been no meetings scheduled between the White House and congressional staff, and Trump has abandoned his idea of declaring a national emergency. It seems the only thing left to do is wait.

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