Hell of a Guy
We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time. - Vince Lombardi

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Observing Memorial Day…

05/30/2010

I was excited yesterday morning at the prospect of this being a three-day weekend, and stated that fact on my Facebook page.  A little later, as I did my daily treadmill routine, and as I was watching a documentary on The History Channel about a battle in World War II on the South Pacific island of Tarawa in November of 1943, I was struck with what this weekend is all about; it was a sobering moment.  The commentator added at its conclusion 4690 Japanese soldiers and Korean laborers and 978 American Marines died as a result of this battle, one battle on an atoll in the South Pacific the size of Central Park in New York City. The series is entitled “World War II in HD” or, in other words, all the horrors of war in digitally enhanced, brilliant color. 

A visit to any National Cemetery has always been an emotional rollercoaster for me, even as a kid.  I have been to Arlington many times in my sixty-six years, the last being to attend a funeral, which cannot help but evoke all kinds of emotion.

In February 1992 I was in San Diego for an educators’ conference.  While there, for what ever reason, I took a ride one day and stumbled on the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.  As I rode through it and viewed what seemed to be mile after mile of rows and rows of memorial crosses, I was overcome with emotion and broke down in tears.  When I returned to my hotel I jotted this down in my journal:

Standing over fallen warriors
In lines so long and straight
Countless numbers side by side
White sentinels ever present
Engraved with nothing more
Than names and dates

Facing duty with stone coldness
Weathering the years
Graying with time
Speaking silently to passersby
Wetness covers a mournful eye

So many young lives stilled
To endless rest with peace
Never to see the light again
As eternity drifts by
Young men, young women, too!

Dying in wars they did not begin
And had no chance to end
So that others might find freedom
Or some fleeting noble dream

There must be a reason
Why young people die in war
Why sentries must stand watch
In rows for evermore
But never in a thousand years
Can one death be justified
And laid to rest
In a military cemetery
Full of Granite Guards.

Memorial Day, first called Decoration Day, was first celebrated in honor of the fallen of the Civil War. I have to wonder over time how many of the earth’s brave young people have died in wars.  Dare I say many millions?  Tens of millions?  It causes me to wonder when we will ever learn.  The President talks of a “new world order,” a “global governance.”  Is that the answer, or is it an Orwellian concept that will just bring a new chaos?

Whatever the future holds is another story for another day.  This day and tomorrow, however, I honor those who serve, have served and those whose service ended with the ultimate sacrifice.
 
And that is all I have to say about that…

 
Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Civility Lost…

05/12/2010

A couple of weekends ago I got tossed out of the stands at a soccer game.  The Nancy and I drove to Martinsburg, West Virginia, about 30-miles east, to see our granddaughter play.  I didn’t do anything wrong to warrant the expulsion, but volunteered to leave when a nasty ref, hell bent on tossing someone out, threatened to throw out all the fans that had traveled hundreds of miles to watch the game unless someone fessed up for some silly, imaginary indiscretion .  It’s a long story, but the truth is I was innocent of any untoward behavior.  Trust me?  However, there was an incident a couple of weeks ago wherein my innocence can not in anyway be proven.  I was guilty as hell.

It goes like this: I was driving up the road to town from The Farm.  The speed limit on this byway is posted at 40 miles per hour…I was doing 48.  I happened to look into my rear-view mirror and to my surprise some dude of inferior intelligence was coming up on me at a very fast rate.  Figuring it was a nutcase who would slow down when he got close to me, I just drove on doing eight miles above the limit.  People do tend to speed up on this road, and I assumed my speed, though exceeding the limit, would not have warranted a citation had I been stopped.  This guy got right up on my bumper, so close in fact I could not see the headlights of his beat up, piece of crap pickup truck.  I could see through my mirror he was not happy, his faced was all screwed up and he seemed to be yelling at someone.  I don’t like people riding my rear end, so I slowed down a bit, and it made him less happy, but he chose not to pass me.  Still riding me way too closely for my liking I attempted to slow to a stop and allow him to go around.

He finally came around me exhibiting a digital expression he must have found amusing, so I waved two back.  I then did something completely out of character; I opened my car door, waved at him to come back.  He stopped his truck and flew out of it as if he intended to engage me in something other than conversation.  As he approached we exchanged some unpleasantries at an octave somewhat higher than necessary to make a point.

Rarely in my entire life have I exercised my four-letter word vocabulary so extensively in such a short period of time.  After a few minutes of exchanging colorful language, and most thankfully he was a smaller man than me, I colorfully invited him to return to his vehicle and proceed down the road.  He, having accepted my invitation, did get back into his truck and meandered off unharmed, but quite red with fury.  As I returned to the driver’s seat of my Cherokee I began to smile, and with a slight chuckle realized how thoroughly much I enjoyed this altercation. 

I really hadn’t thought about again until soccer incident.  I have not shared it with anyone, and I know when The Nancy reads this I will be in trouble.  It was totally out of character for me, and it was an act of road rage.  I made the judgment this guy was a jackass, and though my assumption was completely accurate, my response was not.  So, hopefully, Jackass Boy will stumble across this and know how sorry I am for ruining his day, but I want him also what an absolute delight it was for me.  It was The Best Day Ever.

And that is all I have to say about that…

 
Sunday, May 09, 2010

Ladies in Hats…

05/09/2010

I am not sure what sparked this memory, but for some reason as I pondered this being Mother’s Day thoughts of my grandmother crept into my head.  The funny part of this is, my grandmother passed away in 1966.

Roberta (Bertie) Ellen Davis was born in Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1898.  Her father, Dr. Willard Quincy Adams Graham, was a Methodist preacher.  The “Doctor” part was, I suppose, a doctorate in religious studies.  Bertie, as everyone called her, was a piece of work.  She stood tall and full of pride in whom she was, and she was the widow of Thomas Settle Davis, another Methodist preacher.  She was a beautiful woman who on each of my birthdays gave me a dollar.

My fondest memories of her all have her wearing a hat with a pocketbook draped over her arm, head held high, walking down the aisle of Andrew Chapel Methodist Church in Baltimore where she would proudly take her usual seat in the first pew.  It was as though she were royalty, people just seemed to give way when she entered the sanctuary, she just commanded respect for who she was.  I suppose that is why my dad always referred to her as “Ms Davis.” 

In my youth everyone dressed in their finest for church and all the ladies wore hats to church.  “Matchbook” seems to stick out in my mind as what the type of hat she typically wore, or was it “Pillbox?”  Now I am not so sure I have any idea what the hell I am talking about, but I do remember at Easter the ladies wore big, flowing hats, some with veils, but Grandmother did not.  She just wore the regular, everyday some kind of Box hat.

Is it possible to miss someone who has been gone for forty-four years?  I think it must be so.  I miss Bertie.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there.  Thanks for being who and what you are. 

And that is all I have to say about that…