Tragic shootings of black men by police and the ambush killings of police officers by lone gunmen happened in these cities during July, and cast a feeling of sadness over a month that we so associate with carefree summer fun.
On a gray, drizzly Saturday afternoon one December long ago, I was cramming for college finals when a jangling phone interrupted the quiet of my dorm room.
The caller, my 10-year-old brother, Jim, breathlessly said he had just finished the difficult task of going door-to-door collecting money from the subscribers on his newspaper route.
After setting aside the amount he owed our hometown paper, he announced with pride that his earnings were just over a dollar in coins. He intended to spend "the whole wad" on a surprise Christmas gift for Mom.
A never-ending sea of tourists descends on French Quarter every year to see its iconic Spanish architecture, sample the local foods and listen to the amazing music. (Mary Lee Hagert/Review)
Surprisingly, the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and catastrophic levee breaks simply was not on my family's radar as we packed our bags in anticipation of an August road trip to New Orleans.
What drives people to research their family histories?
Is it a longing to know who we are and where we fit in the continuum of time?
Or is it a desire to gain some understanding of our ancestors' lives -- their joys, hardships, successes and failures? To find out where they lived and how they made a living.
Maybe it's a curiosity about what our forebears looked like. Do we share the same facial features or hair color or body shape?
And for me, at least, why did they leave Europe and homestead on the vast, unbroken prairies of Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa? What prompted them to make such astonishing leaps of faith?