Saturday, May 29, 2004

Moving Day

I've just moved a few things around on the sidebar. I'm always looking for ways to improve this site and decided today would be a good day.

Can't leave things well enough alone! You might think you know what I'm gonna do or say next!
Memorial Day

Americans like three-day weekends and we have one this weekend. Memorial Day is celebrated on the 31st this year. Memorial Day and my Dad will be forever linked in my mind. Dad's birthday was May 27th and quite often, Memorial Day fell on Dad's birthday. So I was able to celebrate two events on one day and got the day off. A nice two-fer.

I remember seeing men in campaign hats with buttons all over them selling the poppies. I know now that they were VFW members raising money. I don't remember how much or even what the money went for, or even the significance of the poppy itself. We also had parades. The vets would wear their campaign hats if the rest of the uniform didn't fit any longer. And everyone stood and put their hands over their hearts when the Flag passed by. The vets, of course, saluted the Flag.

Of course, we kids didn't understand the significance. We just knew that we got the day off from school. We had the parades, of course, but there were also backyard cookouts where Dad usually presided. Mom didn't get the day off; she was in the kitchen fixing the side dishes and doing the usual clean up as well as keeping the kids hydrated and supervised.

I don't remember, I was too young when we moved from Pennsylvania to Florida, but I can image the scene. We lived out in the country and the family usually came to our place for the family get togethers. It was Mom's family who came, Dad's family was in Missouri. We had a large garden and the vegetable were fresh off the vine. For years after we had moved to Florida and the garden was a thing of the past, Uncle Joe raved about the corn out of our garden. He was a city boy who had never had corn that went from the garden to boiling water in a matter of minutes. He couldn't get over how good it was when it was that fresh. It was the same with the tomatoes, green beans, spinach, and everything else Dad grew. And we all talked about how good the burgers were outdoors.

This is the part I have to imagine: my cousins and my brother and I would play ball. I was too young to actually play, of course, but I could chase the balls that went into the garden or the woods. If the ball went onto the road, one of the bigger kids would get it. They all knew better and to let the younger kids out onto the road. Dad would start the fire and all the uncles would stand around talking about the Pirates and how they were doing that year. The aunts would all be in the kitchen, talking about the kids, the family, recipes and all the stuff that women talked about in the 50's. Yes, I'm talking that far back.

You know, in some ways nothing has changed. Families still get together for Memorial Day cookouts. Kids still play, but it seems to have moved indoors to the computer or Playstation. The men still talk together about stuff and women still talk about their kids.

The difference is that we no longer celebrate the day itself. We've forgotten what we're supposed to be remembering on Memorial Day. Many towns and cities still celebrate with parades, but the living veteran isn't celebrated anymore, much less the dead. The Pledge isn't said in school and the National Anthem isn't sung anywhere. Oh, it's played or sung at sports events and a few people actually sing. Often, it's in a sort of half-hearted and almost embarrassed way. I can understand that, no one likes to be the only one doing anything. We do things if others do it too.

Here's an idea: if you're at an event where the Anthem is being played, sing the song and sing it loud. If you sing out loud and strong, you might give someone else courage to join in. Don't worry about singing off key, you'll probably never see the people around you again. And if the people you're with give you grief, just explain to them that you have pride in your country and that you're paying tribute to those who died to give you the freedom to sign our Anthem.

The National Anthem

As long as I've already mentioned it, I might as well discuss my love-hate relationship with our National Anthem.

I hate it, because I think there are other songs that would better symbolize America. Such as America the Beautiful. It describes our country from north to south, east to west. It's beautiful song and so much easier to sing. The Anthem has such a range that it's difficult for the best of singers. There are those who make the attempt and can't hit the notes, whether high or low, but honestly try. I have respect for those.

I personally would prefer Irving Berlin's God Bless America, but I know that it would never be accepted. I believe that God has indeed blessed America. I believe that as Americans we have been blessed to be born into this great nation. I believe that those who chose to become citizens were blessed when they made that decision.

But, saying all that, I love the Anthem because it's a symbol of our country. It doesn't matter where it's played, it's instantly recognizable to almost everyone of any nationality. When I hear the song, I well up with pride because, as an American, it's my Anthem. I remember that it's a song born in battle. I get a sense of what our soldiers and sailors saw in battle and the aftermath. I remember those who came home and those who did not.

If I had the opportunity to vote to change the anthem would I? Honestly, I'm not sure I would simply because it's an international symbol of our country.

The late writer Isaac Azimov wrote about his love for the anthem. The link is on the side bar. I think it's that important.

The Poppy

Earlier I said I didn't know the significance of the poppies that were sold by the vets back in the days of my youth. As it turns out, I did know, but had forgotten. This poem reminded me. I found it at Barking Moonbat.

In Flanders Field
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (1872-1918)

In Flanders Field the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Food for Thought

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman." -Thomas Paine

I took this from the page of The Patriette because I thought it was worth pointing out. Just think about it and let me know what you think.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Wandering Thoughts

Just read that GWB fell off his mountain bike and sustained some minor scratches and abrasions. I've read, but haven't been able to substantiate, that Kerry asked if the training wheels fell off GWB's bike. If he said it, that statement alone lost my vote, not that he ever had it to begin with. It ranks right up there with chanting, "na, na, na, na, na!" and sticking out his tongue. What is this? 4th grade?

Michael Moore's movie won the Golden Palm or whatever they call it at Cannes. You realize the movie won only because it was a Bush-basher, don't you? It surely isn't because of the quality of the movie or that Cannes is in France which is in Europe which hates the US.

Kerry wants to delay accepting the Democratic nomination? He should star in, what was it? Clariol? commercials. Remember the "does she or doesn't she commercials"? This can be "will he or won't he?" One good thing, Kerry's speech at the convention should be short...."I'll get back to you."

Whoever loses the election can always go to Yahoo! to look for a job. I'm sure Gray Davis has found gainful employment.

A gallon of serin gas was found in an artillery shell near the Baghdad airport recently. You realize that just a drop of serin is deadly. Can you guess how many deaths a gallon could cause? I don't know. Maybe someone reading this does?