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Memorial Day – Then and Now

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A brief history of the Memorial Day holiday

Memorial Day or, more accurately, Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial beginning of summer. Memorial Day itself is now celebrated on the last Monday of May. However, this was not always true, so below is a bit of the history of this holiday.

A number of locations claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, Boalsburg, Pa., among them. Often called Decoration Day, it was established as a day to decorate with flowers the graves of those who lost their lives in the Civil War. Approximately 620,000 men lost their lives in the war so most families, North and South, had some personal relationship with the dead or injured.

alice-tombstoneOn May 5, 1868, Major General John Alexander Logan (1826-1886)  , an organization of Union veterans, declared that May 30 should be the day on which the graves of the war dead should be decorated with flowers. That year a large ceremony, presided over by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and various Washington, D.C., officials, was held at Arlington National Cemetery. Congressman James Garfield of Ohio was one of the speakers. At the conclusion of the speeches, members of the GAR and children from a nearby orphanage for children of Union veterans placed flowers on the graves of more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers while singing hymns and reciting prayers.

The back story for this: an anonymous writer had sent a letter to the GAR adjutant general, a letter in which the author told the adjutant general that in his native Germany it was a custom to place flowers on graves in the spring. alice-flagThe adjutant general, Norton P. Chipman, sent this information to Logan. Logan then expanded upon the idea, and sent an order to all GAR posts to observe May 30 as a day to honor the Civil War dead. This date, May 30, became the first nationally observed commemoration held in more than 200 locations, mostly in the North.

There are other claimants for the establishment of Memorial Day. In Richmond, Virginia, women formed the Hollywood Memorial Association of the Ladies of Richmond and they helped to establish the Oakwood Memorial Association; the purpose of these two groups was to decorate the graves, both those of Union and Confederate soldiers, in the Hollywood and Oakwood Cemeteries. The same year, 1865, Confederate veterans organized, but the decoration of graves remained women’s work.

From the 1870s on some observed the holiday as commemoration and others chose to enjoy themselves. By the 1890s May 30 had become more a popular holiday, less a memorial to the Civil War dead who had been forgotten by many. Congress declared Memorial Day a federal holiday in 1889.

Recent history

0142184e39c4a65c074e0437142edc22President Lyndon Johnson and Congress declared in 1966 that Waterloo, N.Y., was the birthplace of Memorial Day, based upon a ceremony held there on May 5, 1866, honoring area veterans of the Civil War. Other claimants are Boalsburg, Pa.; Macon and Columbus, Ga.; Carbondale, Ill; Columbus, Miss.; and others.In 1968 Congress changed the date of Memorial Day from May 30 to the last Monday of May. This change was strongly encouraged by the travel and resort industries; a three day weekend was an invitation to travel for many.

Since the late 1960s Memorial Day has become a major commercial activity. Originally many businesses closed, but this is no longer true. Now there are numerous Memorial Day sales – my email is filled with advertisements for these as are newspapers.

Congress passed a law, signed by the president, in December 2000, to honor the fallen of all wars, “The National Moment of Remembrance Act.” There are also Confederate Memorial Days still observed in many Southern States: Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Each of these states set its own date to honor their Confederate dead.

POPPIES

Picnics and memories

On a personal level, I grew up hearing Memorial Day referred to as Decoration Day, perhaps a regional or generational custom. I lived in western Maryland, south of the Mason Dixon Line, but an area more Northern than Southern in its history. I remember going with my family – grandparents, parents and younger sister – to visit a small, very rural hilltop cemetery where the adults spent the day clearing weeds and other debris from the graves and, when lunch time came, we had a picnic right there (Mom’s homemade meatloaf, kept warm by wrapping it in multiple layers of newspaper, and potato salad). Flowers, cut from my grandmother’s flowerbed, were placed in front of the tombstones. I knew an older widow who cut peonies from her garden to take to the cemetery to place on her husband’s grave. None of the graves in that old family cemetery belonged to Civil War soldiers nor was the widow’s husband a Civil War veteran. Even today I know family members who visit cemeteries to leave flowers on Memorial Day. Is this a local custom?

Many communities do have Memorial Day events with speeches honoring those who fell serving the United States, parades, picnics and other activities. How will you spend your Memorial Day?

Dig Deeper: Falvey resources

The National Memorial Day: A Record of Ceremonies Over the Graves of the Union Soldiers, May 29 and 30, 1869. 1870. E. F. M. Faehtz.
Memorial Lessons: A Sermon Preached at King’s Chapel, Boston, on Sunday, May 29, 1870, with a List of the Sons of the Church Who Entered the Service of the Country. 1870. Henry Wilder Foote.
Memorial Day, May 30, 1870, Oration by Gen. I. F. Shepard (Adjutant General of Missouri) at Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Mo. 1870. I. F. Shepard.
 A History of Memorial Day: Unity, Discord and the Pursuit of Happiness. 2002. Richard P. Harmond.
Honoring the Civil War Dead: Commemoration and the Problem of Reconciliation. 2005. John R. Neff.
Celebrating America’s Freedoms. (Online) 2009. United States Dept of Veterans Affairs.


Cemetery photos and story by Alice Bampton. Waterloo, NY photo credit: Joseph Sohm/Visions of America/Corbis.


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A Misconception about “Cinco de Mayo”

Happy Cinco de Mayo! In case you missed it the first time around, we are reposting a popular blog post from 2013 written by Sue Ottignon, Research Support Librarian for Languages & Literatures that answers the question, once and for all, what Cinco de Mayo commemorates. Always ask a librarian! 

Battle of Puebla, 5 May 1862

Battle of Puebla, 5 May 1862

Wait!!  Before you make the mad dash to enjoy all those delicious salsa combos you made to kick off your annual “Cinco de Mayo” celebration, I have some little-known facts to share with you about this day.

If you thought Cinco de Mayo was Mexico’s Independence Day, you would be mistaken! Mexico’s Independence Day is September 16th. Yup, you heard me. It was on that September day, in 1810, Mexicans declared their independence from Spain, which had controlled the territory referred to as “New Spain,” since 1521 when Hernán Cortés conquered the Aztec Empire. If you plan to add Independence Day, aka “Grito de Dolores,” to your celebration list, be sure to check out the article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica[1]on Mexico’s struggles!

So what’s so great about the 5th of May? Although it is not an official holiday in Mexico, it does commemorate the Mexicans’ victory over the French on May 5, 1862, in the town of Puebla; thus, the holiday is called “El Día de la Batalla de Puebla,” and there are celebrations. The Mexican-American community, from the western states, began the observance shortly after the event. Ultimately, the day’s events evolved within the US as recognition of the Mexican culture and heritage.  Moreover, the U.S. Congress recently issued  resolutions[2] recognizing the historical significance of Cinco de Mayo. The Congressional Record, for the House of Representatives, recorded on June 7, 2005, a concurrent, non-binding resolution recognizing the historical significance of the day,[3]

Selected resources about “Cinco de Mayo”:

Arellano, Gustavo.  Interview by Michel Martin. Arts & Life.  Natl. Public Radio, 5 May 2011. NPR.org. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.

“Cinco de Mayo.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.

Ganster, Paul. “Cinco de Mayo.” Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture.

Ed. Jay Kinsbruner and Erick D. Langer. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2008. 413. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.

Hamnett, Brian. “Puebla, Battle and Siege of.” Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. Ed. Jay Kinsbruner and Erick D. Langer. 2nd ed. Vol. 5. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2008. 401-402. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.

“Monthly Record of Current Events: Mexico.” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. 25.146 (1862): 261. Making of America, 1815-1901. Web. 29 April 2013.

“News from San Francisco.” New York Times (1857-1922): 1. Jun 01 1862. ProQuest. Web. 27 Apr. 2013.

Pérez, Daniel Enrique. “Cinco de Mayo.” Confluencia: Revista Hispánica de Cultura y Literatura 27.1 (2011): 210+. Academic OneFile. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.

Recognizing Historical Significance Of The Mexican Holiday Of  Cinco De Mayo of2007.  H.R. Con. Res. 44. 7 June 2005. Web.


Sue Ottignon is the subject librarian for romance languages and literatures. RS4540_FML164_SusanOttignon_018_EDIT---ed


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Mood Board: Falvey Scholar Joseph Schaadt

This week, we are featuring the 2015 Falvey Scholars and giving you the chance to get to know these bright young adults up close and personal. Not only are they very smart – they’re very interesting! Just last week, Falvey Memorial Library, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, and the Honors Program announced the 2015 Falvey Scholars Award winners: Katie Kline, Elizabeth Long, Jessica Swoboda, Nicholas Ader, Joseph Schaadt and John Szot. These six remarkable senior students have been selected from a pool of candidates from various disciplines for their outstanding undergraduate student research projects at Villanova University. Click here for a listing of their projects as presented at the 2015 Falvey Scholars Awards Presentation and Reception Ceremony.
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Featuring Joseph Schaadt
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“I’m a mechanical engineering major from the Bay Area in California and I work in Dr. Aaron Wemhoff’s Multiscale System Analysis Laboratory (MSAL) here at Villanova as part of the National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) for Energy Smart Electronic Systems (ES2). When I’m not conducting research aimed at improving the energy efficiency of data centers, I can be spotted playing on the Villanova men’s water polo team or using my free time to play recreational basketball with my friends. While at Villanova, I have enjoyed taking advantage of the numerous opportunities to do service in the community, being involved with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as the Vice President of our student chapter, and being a cohost on The Zone, a sports talk program on WXVU 89.1 Villanova Radio.”

Project Title: “Load Capacity and Thermal Efficiency Optimization of a Research Data Center Using Computational Modeling”


I am inspired by my father Russell. His diligence, hard work, confidence, and pursuit of excellence are something I try to copy daily.

If I could be any person for a day, I’d be Brandon Stanton, the creator of Humans of New York. He has a great passion for his job and is able to reach and inspire millions of people through his art.

My favorite Villanova memory is being at the Syracuse basketball game my sophomore year when we upset them in overtime at the Wells Fargo Center. I was with some of my best friends Ricky, George, Adam, Brandon, and Chris that day and had a great opportunity to go to a car show, see Reading Terminal market, and explore the city of Philadelphia after. Juice the Cuse!
Reading_Terminal_Market_Sign

While working on my research project, I was challenged by having to explore a topic so foreign to anything I had ever known. It forced me to step outside of my comfort zone, learn quickly, and seek out experts in my field of research who could offer advice when I needed help.

Today I’m feeling the color Yellow. I can’t wait for summer!

I’m listening to the Grateful Dead. Their music is relaxing and has a special peace about it and always reminds me of my Dad and my home.

One Summer Adventure I’m daydreaming about is adventuring around my birthplace and home of San Francisco with my Dad. I can’t wait to get back to the city by the bay.

Happiness is the feeling of what it’s like to have a wonderful family, close friends, and good health.

Everyone should know that everything you want in life is just outside your comfort zone or else you would already have it.

I am amazed by the inherent beauty and complexity of life on Earth. It’s easy to forget just how many great things there are to see in this world and how little time we have to do it!

Thanks, Joseph!


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Foto Friday: “Bring out … The Comfy Chair!!!!”

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If ever a photo needed a caption, this is it!

Rev Peter Donohue VU PresidentEveryone’s favorite good sport, The Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, ’75 LAS presided at the Annual Staff Recognition Dinner this week, and applauded Falvey’s own Bill Greene, Access Services specialist with a rather special tongue-in-cheek tribute! Staff members with 40 years of service were each presented with a commemorative captain’s chair, emblazoned with the University seal. Bill immediately gave his a whirl, and settled in comfortably. So comfortably, in fact, that Father Donohue immediately and theatrically went into ottoman-mode and offered Bill a place to rest his weary feet as well! (As photographer, I apologize for the somewhat blurry image, as I was giggling so hard, the camera couldn’t focus!)


Blurry photo by Joanne Quinn, Communication and Service Promotion team leader


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Mood Board: Falvey Scholar Elizabeth Long

This week, we are featuring the 2015 Falvey Scholars and giving you the chance to get to know these bright young adults up close and personal. Not only are they very smart – they’re very interesting! Just last week, Falvey Memorial Library, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, and the Honors Program announced the 2015 Falvey Scholars Award winners: Katie Kline, Elizabeth Long, Jessica Swoboda, Nicholas Ader, Joseph Schaadt and John Szot. These six remarkable senior students have been selected from a pool of candidates from various disciplines for their outstanding undergraduate student research projects at Villanova University. Click here for a listing of their projects as presented at the 2015 Falvey Scholars Awards Presentation and Reception Ceremony.
falvey-scholar-2015-small2

 

Featuring Elizabeth Long
Elizabeth Long

“I am a senior nursing major from Kensington, CT. I have been fortunate to participate in multiple activities on campus including the Student Nurses Association of Pennsylvania (SNAP). It has been a wonderful experience participating in undergraduate research as a Davis Grant recipient and also as serving as the Vice President of the National Student Nurses Association this past year. I have Villanova to thank for all of these enriching opportunities!”

Project Title: “Nurses’ Perceptions of Human Trafficking in an Urban Emergency Department: A Qualitative Study”


I am inspired by the strength of my patients.

If I could be any person for a day, I’d be Joe Biden.

My favorite Villanova memory is going on a nursing service experience to the Dominican Republic.

While working on my research project, I was challenged by recruiting subjects.

Today I’m feeling the color purple.

I’m listening to The Wolf, Mumford and Sons

Boston

Boston, MA

One Summer Adventure I’m daydreaming about is exploring New England.

Happiness is laughing with my friends.

Everyone should know I love barbecue.

I am amazed by my fellow Villanovans.

Thanks, Elizabeth!


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Mood Board: Falvey Scholar Katie Kline

This week, we are featuring the 2015 Falvey Scholars and giving you the chance to get to know these bright young adults up close and personal. Not only are they very smart – they’re very interesting! Just last week, Falvey Memorial Library, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, and the Honors Program announced the 2015 Falvey Scholars Award winners: Katie Kline, Elizabeth Long, Jessica Swoboda, Nicholas Ader, Joseph Schaadt and John Szot. These six remarkable senior students have been selected from a pool of candidates from various disciplines for their outstanding undergraduate student research projects at Villanova University. Click here for a listing of their projects as presented at the 2015 Falvey Scholars Awards Presentation and Reception Ceremony.

falvey-scholar-2015-small2

Featuring Katie Kline

Katie Kline

“My name is Katie Kline, and I am a senior honors Nursing student. I am a Presidential Scholar, College of Nursing Ambassador, member of SNAP, and member of Delta Delta Delta sorority here at Villanova. After graduation, I will be starting my career as a nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Lehigh Valley Hospital in PA.”

Project Title: “What to Know About Home Genetic-Test Kits”


neonatalI am inspired by watching the little Neonatal Intensive Care Unit babies grow – I cannot wait to start my first job in NICU in July!

If I could be any person for a day, I’d be Lauren Conrad.

My favorite Villanova memory is moving into Stanford freshman year and meeting my random roommate who, to this day, is one of my best friends here at VU.

While working on my research project, I was challenged by keeping up-to-date with the constantly changing information on my topic!

Today I’m feeling the color pink.

I’m listening to See You Again – Wiz Khalifa (ft. Charlie)

One Summer Adventure I’m daydreaming about is just relaxing after I (hopefully!) pass my nursing boards!

Happiness is spending time with family and friends.

Everyone should know that I love to bake.

I am amazed by how quickly these four years at Villanova flew by.

Thanks, Katie!


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Mood Board: Falvey Scholar Nicholas Ader

This week, we are featuring the 2015 Falvey Scholars and giving you the chance to get to know these bright young adults up close and personal. Not only are they very smart – they’re very interesting! Just last week, Falvey Memorial Library, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, and the Honors Program announced the 2015 Falvey Scholars Award winners: Katie Kline, Elizabeth Long, Jessica Swoboda, Nicholas Ader, Joseph Schaadt and John Szot. These six remarkable senior students have been selected from a pool of candidates from various disciplines for their outstanding undergraduate student research projects at Villanova University. Click here for a listing of their projects as presented at the 2015 Falvey Scholars Awards Presentation and Reception Ceremony.

falvey-scholar-2015-small2

Featuring Nicholas Ader
Nicholas Ader

Graduating this May, Nicholas Ader will further his studies in biology and biochemistry through a co-mentored PhD program at the University of Cambridge and the National Institutes of Health through his NIH-Marshall Scholarship. He plans to study the cellular basis for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.

Project Title: “Comparison of Human Nrf2 Antibodies: A Tale of Two Proteins” and “Novel Activators of the Nrf2 Pathway: A Quinone Alone?”


I am inspired by the endless possibilities to discover, not only in science, but also in the lives of other people through conversation and companionship.

If I could be any person for a day, I’d be Pete Souza, the Presidential Photographer.

My favorite Villanova memory is too hard to identify.

While working on my research project, I was challenged by finding a balance between being a full-time student and a scientist. Between coursework and experiments, it’s hard to find time for anything else!

Today I’m feeling the color green.

Jason Isbell via Wikimedia Commons

Jason Isbell via Wikimedia Commons

I’m listening to Jason Isbell. It’s usually Taylor Swift in the lab.

One Summer Adventure I’m daydreaming about is an epic road trip with my friends out West. We’re calling it “Take the West with No Rest.”

Happiness is making a friend smile.

Everyone should know how to put themselves in the shoes of another person.

I am amazed by the dedication of my fellow Villanovans striving continuously to make the world a better place.

Thanks, Nicholas!


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Mood Board: Falvey Scholar John Szot

This week, we are featuring the 2015 Falvey Scholars and giving you the chance to get to know these bright young adults up close and personal. Not only are they very smart – they’re very interesting! Just last week, Falvey Memorial Library, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, and the Honors Program announced the 2015 Falvey Scholars Award winners: Katie Kline, Elizabeth Long, Jessica Swoboda, Nicholas Ader, Joseph Schaadt and John Szot. These six remarkable senior students have been selected from a pool of candidates from various disciplines for their outstanding undergraduate student research projects at Villanova University. Click here for a listing of their projects as presented at the 2015 Falvey Scholars Awards Presentation and Reception Ceremony.

falvey-scholar-2015-small2

Featuring John Szot
John Szot

John Szot is a Senior Biology and English major from Keene, New Hampshire. He works in the Curry lab, which studies the hybrid zone between Black-capped and Carolina chickadees about an hour north of Villanova. He enjoys fishing, reading, and playing the piano.

Project Title: “Song Recognition in Black-Capped and Carolina Chickadee Hybrids: An Experimental Approach”


I am inspired by William Carlos Williams. Also, actor-firefighter Steve Buscemi.

If I could be any person for a day, I’d be Daniel Day-Lewis, which I guess means I’d be whoever Daniel Day-Lewis decided to be that day.

My favorite Villanova memory is the Special Olympics Fall Festival, every year.

While working on my research project, I was challenged by perfecting the art of self-discipline. With no deadlines or constant professorial oversight, I found I really needed to learn to put the onus on myself to come into the lab and get work done.

Today I’m feeling the color Crayola macaroni orange.

I’m listening to Startalk, with Neil Degrasse Tyson. And Run the Jewels. Definitely Run the Jewels.

One Summer Adventure I’m daydreaming about is finally getting to jump from the highest rock at the Fitzwilliam quarry.

Happiness is faith, family, and friends.

Everyone should know that there’s a proper way to tie your shoes.

I am amazed by waterbears, waterfalls, and Waterloo.

Waterbear

Waterbear via Wikimedia Commons

Thanks, John!


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Mood Board: Falvey Scholar Jessica Swoboda

This week, we are featuring the 2015 Falvey Scholars and giving you the chance to get to know these bright young adults up close and personal. Not only are they very smart – they’re very interesting! Just last week, Falvey Memorial Library, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, and the Honors Program announced the 2015 Falvey Scholars Award winners: Katie Kline, Elizabeth Long, Jessica Swoboda, Nicholas Ader, Joseph Schaadt and John Szot. These six remarkable senior students have been selected from a pool of candidates from various disciplines for their outstanding undergraduate student research projects at Villanova University. Click here for a listing of their projects as presented at the 2015 Falvey Scholars Awards Presentation and Reception Ceremony.

falvey-scholar-2015-small2

Featuring Jessica Swodoba
rsz_jessica_swoboda

“I’m an English and Humanities major with a love for all things literature, chocolate, JCrew, and Kate Middleton. I’m often found in the stadium playing for Villanova’s field hockey team, in the Writing Center, or in my favorite place on campus, the Humanities Commons, in my ‘reserved’ seat on the comfy couch, eating too many peanut butter pretzels and sharing in conviviality with my best friends, Marie, and my beloved professors. Next year, you can find me at Boston College, where I’ll pursue my MA in English and continue my research in religion and literature and 20th century British literature.”

Project Title: “Woolf and Waugh: Blurring the Distinction Between the Religious and the Secular”


I am inspired by my professors and friends who are pursuing The Good Life.

If I could be any person for a day, I’d be Kate Middleton.

My favorite Villanova memory is my first day of ACS: Moderns with Dr. Helena Tomko. I immediately knew my Villanova experience had been changed for the better, and 4 years later, this couldn’t be any more true.

While working on my research project, I was challenged by the need to accept that things wouldn’t always be perfect or go perfectly.

Today I’m feeling the color purple.

I’m listening to the Folk Pop playlist on Spotify.

One Summer Adventure I’m daydreaming about is running for enjoyment and not to prepare for pre-season conditioning tests.

Happiness is finding joy and excitement in what you’re doing and in the relationships you’ve formed.

Everyone should know at least one text — whether it’s a novel, a theological or philosophical piece, etc. — like the back of your hand.

I am amazed by all we can learn about the Human Person, Society, God, and the World in literature.

Thanks, Jessica!


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‘Caturday: Cats in the Grass

If you attended any of the sustainability lectures or went to the farmers market on campus this week, then you probably heard about the benefits of local, organically grown produce.

There are also lots of health benefits to increasing your intake of vegetables and fruits. Tomatoes, broccoli, cucumber, blueberries, and spinach, just to name a few, are known to be brain boosters. Villanovans are lucky to have a Dining Services department that employs sustainable practices and provides healthy, organically grown food.

This ‘cat eats his greens.  Do you?

Cat_Eating_Catgrass

 

 

‘Caturday feature by Luisa Cywinski, writer for the Communication & Service Promotion team and team leader, Access Services.


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Last Modified: April 25, 2015