Monday, May 25, 2020

Honor U.S. dead by not making more of them

Pete Stockslager, former Commander of American Legion Post 791, participates in a Memorial Day ceremony. A Vietnam War vet, Stockslager was an Air Force pilot stationed in Da Nang. He served two tours, flew 336 missions, and left the Air Force after six years with the rank of captain and 80 percent hearing loss from the roar of the jet engines.


     Monday is Memorial Day, and I know what you're thinking: boo hoo, no Memorial Day sales, no picnics, no parades...
     Well, dry your eyes. That isn't quite true. Some stores are open—my wife and I bought a washer at Abt a few weeks ago. Yes, the shopping experience is not the unbridled joy it once was. The employees are wearing masks now, more or less. As are we. No jars of Hershey's miniatures to fuel the deliberative process. We ran in, tapped an Electrolux, paid and ran out.    

     And picnics...of course you can still go outside. Outside is right there, where it's always been. True, you can't go to the lakefront. That's rough. And you can't gather your family or friends in groups, at least you're not supposed to. When I think of barbecues at Memorial Day, I think of that joyous moment when the charred hot dogs and Polish sausage are heaped on the big oval platter, the poppyseed buns stacked high in their big circular basket, the superfluous burgers glistening, just in case someone wants a burger, the pickles slivered, the potato salad mounded, the relish, mustards and —judge me harshly if you like but really, give it up because it's tiresome—ketchup set out and ready. People crowd around the kitchen island, elbow to elbow, nose to nape, grins big and goofy, hands shooting out in all direction—plates! forks!—spearing franks, splitting buns, scooping big dense spoonfuls of potato salad and chattering away how delicious everything looks. There's always enough.
    Not this year. Parades are out too. I suppose some could try a social distancing parade, but the just Northbrook Junior High Marching Band, spread out, would cover a mile and take 20 minutes to pass by, "The Stars and Stripes Forever" a thin, disjointed ditty wafting along the scattered spectators, as the horns at Cedar Street try to follow the drums three blocks back at Western.
     So sales ... barbecues ... parades —we've dispatched Memorial Day, have we not? Having covered the holiday's various elements, and can now look forward to 4th of July without fireworks. That will be. ..
     Oh wait. I've forgotten something, haven't I? Memorializing fallen soldiers...

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11 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. What this administration has achieved is uncovering our many flaws. Not the least of which is hypocrisy. So many, draping the elves in the American Flag when in fact, all they to which they are loyal is themselves.
    The selflessness of those who sacrificed for our country includes not only those who paid the ultimate price but those on the front lines today as we fight this pandemic.

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  3. Land of the free because of the brave. How much longer will our fellow citizens be willing to risk the ultimate sacrafice so we can consume consume consume? No commas because there is no pause. People should take a moment to realize what they have is more important than what they want.if you and the people in your community have your health. You have everything.

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  4. I think it was Andy Rooney who said that the speechifying patriots routinely inform us that our war dead have "given their lives"...when (in most cases) their lives were not freely given--but taken from them.

    The majority of Americans are going to stay home this year. Some involuntarily, most by choice. It will be a "Meh-morial Day" for many folks who cannot shop or parade or party, but it's pretty much business as usual for some of us. Holiday weekend crowds have always seemed to be more boisterous and rowdy than the crowds on "ordinary" weekends, and the older I get, the more I want to avoid them. Especially this year. Staying home is fine. Plenty to do around the house, and our yard has never looked better.

    My TV has made it apparent that too many folks are now congregating, in even closer proximity than usual--and maskless, as a way of defiantly shouting "Nobody can tell ME what to do!" like big babies. And many of them will become dead babies. There's no vaccine for stupidity.

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  5. An impressive change of pace and tone. The first part light and amusing. The segue into what Memorial Day is about very moving.

    Tom

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  6. Hurrah! Well-said, Mr. Steinberg.

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  7. Hurrah! Well said, Mr. Steinberg.

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  8. Heroism is now being defined as something more mundane than being willing to take a bullet. And that's OK. Doctor Johnson would have to amend one of his pronouncements. "Any man must think meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or gone to sea."

    Tom

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  9. I love what you've written today. (FYI: I was drafted in 1968, went to Vietnam the same year, went where I was told to go and did what I was told to do, and was very lucky to make it back with no major trauma. Some of the people I knew did not. And I support the wearing of masks and do not understand even slightly those who will not wear them.)

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