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General Lachlan McIntosh House, Savannah, GA (Vrbo): People say not to judge a book by its cover, but we all know this maxim isn’t entirely realistic. Who can resist the pull of first impressions? Most things in life are like Christmas presents: unless your family really gets you wrong—and that’s on you if you forgot to send “Santa” your list—the gift inside will be just what you wanted.

But it’s even sweeter when it comes wrapped in beautiful paper and a flurry of ribbons and bows.

Our feelings on this very important matter of judging things at first sight definitely extends to vacation rentals, and may we just say, what a pretty package this chic Georgia peach comes in. The black and white scheme, the wrought-iron wrapped balcony, the feeling of the French countryside—::chef’s kiss::—we can’t get enough.

Courtesy Vrbo

Bad news first: no matter who you are, you will always come in second when it comes to notables who have penned their names in the General Lachlan McIntosh House’s proverbial guestbook. No one—no one—can beat the prominence of America’s first president, the one and only, George Washington, walking through this distinguished front door in 1791. That’s right, not only did Washington stay in one of the rooms that could be yours during your visit, but he did so while he was president.

Courtesy Vrbo

It’s unfortunate that that little presidential fact often overshadows the crowning achievement of the house itself: longevity. Built in 1770, this 3,000 square feet mansion (or cozy bungalow as modern McMansion standards would rate that square footage) is “considered to be the oldest brick residence in the state of Georgia.”

Courtesy Vrbo

Cherry trees might have been safe in George Washington’s presence (that, dear friends, was nothing but a myth made up by an early Washington biographer), but even our first president’s presence wasn’t enough to preserve this Savannah home in amber. You will be happy to know that it enjoyed a recent renovation that has been described as “extensive.” (The adage “if it was good for George Washington” definitely doesn’t apply to things like modern plumbing…)

Courtesy Vrbo

Now for your obligatory look at the kitchen. Here is the place where you will repair to when you want to dream of all the gorgeous meals inspired by southern and coastal cuisine that you will eat while in Savannah. Just to clarify, the meals you will eat out.

Courtesy Vrbo

We love it when a home revolves around a dramatic spiral staircase. The hot new thing in fitness is when chic architecture meets exercise.

Courtesy Vrbo

Each of the five bedrooms spread throughout the three floors comes with its own bathroom. Naturally, the one George Washington stayed in is the favorite, according to the listing agent.

Courtesy Vrbo

Washington’s stay isn’t the only notable political event that the General Lachlan McIntosh House has witnessed…and hosted. At the end of the American Revolution, the newly democratic states were charged with getting their governments in order. The great Peach State held their very first constitutional session in this gorgeous brick home. Now, it’s not a requirement for modern guests to fix all of today’s political problems if they choose to stay here, but it is highly recommended.

Courtesy Vrbo

We spy an elevator with our little eyes. We know we suggested earlier that spiral stairs were a great workout, but we would never require you to lug your luggage up two whole flights of winding stairs. L’horreur! (Editor’s Note: there’s many an ancient castle where we have suggested just that.)

Courtesy Vrbo

When we imagine vacationing in the South, our visions involve lots of lounging and drinking (iced tea or mint juleps, travelers choice). Here, you have the option of gossiping and imbibing on this preppy covered porch formerly known as the smoking deck.

Courtesy Vrbo

If you couldn’t tell before, this home is positively dripping in American history. It overlooks Oglethorpe Avenue, one of the main roads in the historic district of Savannah. The street was named for James Oglethorpe, the founder of the city who was (gasp!) a bit of a socialist and centuries ahead of his time with his pro-prison reform views. On the other hand, he bought the land for his new city from the Yamacraw tribe for a price that included a single laced coat, laced hat, and shirt as well as things like gunpowder, bullets, and rum.

Courtesy Vrbo

Four of the five bedrooms are in the top two floors and are tricked out with king beds, like this gorgeous specimen with a wood ceiling. While the fifth room may be a little more petite with a queen bed, it has a few other things going for it…

Courtesy Vrbo

…like its very own kitchen. The fifth bedroom is known as the garden suite. While it’s connected to the main home, it also has all of its own features and fixins for those vacation guests (we all have ‘em) who need to recharge their batteries away from the crowds. (The “crowds” otherwise known as their closest friends, of course.)

Courtesy Vrbo

While your most introverted friend may claim the garden suite, they just might have to share as this looks like the perfect spot for us to lounge during our afternoon siesta. Pardon our interruption!

Courtesy Vrbo

This may no longer be the biggest home on the avenue, as we’re sure it was during George Washington’s day, but it is one of the cutest, even from the rear. Its historical bonafides and modern amenities are just the icing on the cake of this gorgeous three-story Savannah gem.

Book Your Stay: General Lachlan McIntosh House, Savannah, GA: $1,150/night via Vrbo

News Source: thedailybeast.com

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Zumwalt – On the Ground in Ukraine: Young Americans Answer the Call of the Child

NEAR THE UKRAINIAN BORDER, Poland – The safe house near the Ukrainian border served as a transit point for volunteers coming to Poland, heading into Ukraine, and those transiting out from Ukraine back to the U.S. and elsewhere.

All were volunteers working with a non-governmental organization (NGO), Aerial Recovery, which had one primary purpose – relocating as many orphan children as possible out of harm’s way due to the dangers created by the unprovoked Russian invasion.

That invasion was launched on February 24th. Aerial, established a few years earlier to provide recovery assistance whenever natural disasters struck, was now facing its first operation within a combat zone. Its task was made somewhat easier by the number of veterans who, having heard about the effort, volunteered to assist.

Volunteers, like ships passing in the night, transited in and out of the Polish safe house – some knowing each other from earlier humanitarian efforts, others new to the game. But due to a shared sense of purpose to help these orphans, it did not take long for all, whether the old guard leaving Ukraine or the new guard heading in, to share a common bond of all for one and one for all.

Walkway to the Ukrainian border from Poland lined with tents of volunteers providing food, water, coffee. (Courtesy James G. Zumwalt)

Walkway to the Ukrainian border from Poland lined with tents of volunteers providing food, water, coffee. (Courtesy James G. Zumwalt)

All were motivated to join for reasons personal to them. While most were veterans – experienced at venturing into harm’s way, risking life and limb – others who had not so served were motivated by recollections of their own childhood experiences. They included volunteers who had been orphans themselves or had siblings who had been orphans or had just grown up minus a parent and recognized what these orphans were going through.

One, a fitness trainer from Los Angeles, Vlad Finn, 29, had been a Ukrainian orphan himself.

James G. Zumwalt and Ukrainian-American volunteer worker Vlad Finn, April 2022. (Courtesy James G. Zumwalt)

Some, like me, despite punching the age clock at seven-plus decades, were motivated by a sense of frustration over the Russian invasion and sought to make some contribution, no matter how minor, on behalf of the Ukrainian people suffering the consequences of war. Spending most of April near the Ukrainian border, this ancient warrior and a fellow retired Marine, David Decker (the two of us had gone through basic training together 51 years earlier), due to the benefit of age, were relegated to a support role that kept us safely on the Polish side of the border. But it gave us a chance to observe with great pride more youthful volunteers transiting across the border to rescue Ukrainian kids awaiting the arrival of these superheroes relocating them to safety.

James G. Zumwalt and David Decker, Poland, April 2022 (Courtesy James G. Zumwalt)

Ranging in age from early 20s to late 40s, the volunteers were mostly men but included a few women. They had left their homes, wives or husbands, and children to fill a need in Ukraine that the government, responsible for operating the orphanages, was unable to fulfill. While these young volunteers called David and me “grandpa” – affectionately, we think – their participation renewed our faith in America’s younger generations. Among these superheroes was my own personal hero: my son, who had initially helped organize the relocation effort, returning for a second operational tour.

Author James G. Zumwalt and son James E. Zumwalt volunteering to aid Ukrainian orphans in Poland, April 2022. (Courtesy James G. Zumwalt)

Despite lacking many comforts of home, they were just as highly motivated when they left as when they arrived, having endured the cold and many sleepless nights. As many of their “snowflake” peers were making headlines complaining about frivolous things in life, these young people were making a difference, quietly saving lives, driven by a sense of compassion their pampered peers totally lacked.

Although some orphans had previously been brought across the border to Poland by other groups, this had created a two-fold problem. The orphans lacked documentation, making their later return to Ukraine difficult once hostilities ended. Additionally, sex traffickers lingered like wolves at the border to snap up isolated children who, with no place to go, were vulnerable to sinister advances. Thus, Aerial volunteers had to relocate the orphans to safe areas within Ukraine, ensuring a responsible caretaker remained with each group to provide for their safety and welfare.

Aerial Recovery helps distribute toys and supplies to Ukrainian refugee children in Poland, April 2022 (Courtesy James G. Zumwalt)

Courtesy James G. Zumwalt

Removed from the sound of exploding Russian artillery rounds, bombs, and missiles, as well as warning alarms of impending attacks, orphans – scared out of their wits – would quickly smile as temporary homes away from the fighting welcomed them. While they were finally able to get a good night of uninterrupted sleep, the superheroes who brought them there were left to catch a wink for an hour or two, curled up on a cold floor or in a vehicle before heading out on yet another relocation mission.

Aerial and an affiliate NGO, due to the long line of volunteers signing up to help, have been able to evacuate almost 1,000 orphans to date.

While the identity of the real author responsible for the quote is open to debate, its truth cannot be ignored: “Peo­ple sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do vio­lence on their behalf.” Today, we sleep soundly in our beds at night only because rough men – and women – stand ready to do right by children in Ukraine unable to save themselves. Thank God for those who have heard and responded to the “call of the child.”

Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama, and the first Gulf war. He is the author of Bare Feet, Iron Will–Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields, Living the Juche Lie: North Korea’s Kim Dynasty and Doomsday: Iran–The Clock is Ticking. He is a senior analyst for Ravenna Associates, a corporate strategic communications company, who frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.

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