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Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

July 4th 2015. Independence Day in the United States of America. Songs will be sung; America the Beautiful; the Star Spangled Banner; dances will be danced to Sousa marches; and, of course, fireworks displays will light up the skies all over the country. It’s a beautiful day and evening for Americans everywhere, right? Well…yea and nay. There are some of us, still thankful to Sam Adams and The Sons of Liberty; George Washington and his skills as a soldier; the Marquis de Lafayette and his French connection, but who also find Independence Day to have a tinge of sadness to it.

People die on the Fourth of July, just as they do every other day of the year. For their families who remain, the Fourth is always tinged with sadness; with memories of better days. Maybe they remember Dad in that ratty old apron, standing at the grille, his face red from the heat, smoke, and ash. He always wore a smile, though. “Who wants an overdone dog? Burgers are ready; come and get ‘em!” Dad hasn’t been standing by the grille for about five years now…one too many burgers or whatever, the heart attack took him pretty quick; now it’s Buddy who’s manning the grille. Oh, Buddy’s the oldest; guess that’s why he took over. First two years, we didn’t have the cookout, but then Buddy said Dan wouldn’t want us to just sit around, listening to patriotic songs and think about him…so…Buddy got it going, and it hasn’t been half bad. Mom’s still kinda quiet but she’s getting better and she even laughs once in a while.

There are a lot of Americans who are in that same position. They lost a loved one on a holiday or they buried a loved one on a holiday or, as in my case, they celebrated an anniversary on a holiday. July Fourth of this year would have marked our 58th wedding anniversary. We got to celebrate the first fifty together and would have made fifty-one if the cancer had just given us twenty more days. I’m sort of glad it didn’t; be even more difficult to die the day you had been married. However, be that as it may, life goes on. People are born; others die, whether it’s on a holiday or not. People used to kid us about giving up our independence on the Fourth of July. One of us would always remind people about the fireworks we created on that same day…whoopee. I never really thought of it as losing independence as much as gaining a partner in a pact that celebrated our independence from everyone else; as two, we made one, and that was a good thing.

So, for those people out there for whom the Fourth of July is tinged with something other than joy, I hear ya; I’m part of your circle. That doesn’t mean that we should hunker down and forget about celebrating America’s independence. After all, think about some of the Brits. I don’t think they’re setting off fireworks and having their backyard barbecues and celebrations today. Shit, they got stuffed. Think about that one for a while. Who knows, maybe Dad’s got the heavenly grille going and serving hot dogs and hamburgers to General George and the Culper Ring, and he’s probably wearing that same ratty apron.

Happy Fourth everyone!

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What a great holiday season, right? After all, the economy’s growing, unemployment is down, and gas prices have dropped to lows that we haven’t seen in decades. This gives people more disposable income to spend, save, or do with it whatever they wish. Looks like a pretty good Christmas season, eh?

Not quite so fast. Christmas can be one of the most depressing times of the year for a great many people. That’s right, holiday depression is a real problem. I was reminded of this recently when a faculty member at the college where I worked passed away. He was a psychologist and one of his areas of research and expertise was holiday depression. He wrote about it extensively, and I just wish that I had some of his documentation as I sit before this keyboard.

The holidays are tough on many people because it will be the first time they try to celebrate without a loved one who has died during this year. A friend of mine lost his Dad just yesterday. How the heck can he have a Merry Christmas when he and his Dad were so close? It’s tough because, like many holidays, Christmas generally has a number of family traditions attached to it. My late wife and I had some very special ways of celebrating Christmas, both before the kids came along and after our family was increased by one, two, and then the third. Around this time of year I recall those things. It brings a tinge of sadness but what the heck; the kids are now parents themselves. As a consequence, my holiday depression is something that doesn’t linger to the degree that I’m certain it does with others. How am I so certain? Well, that particular faculty member was a friend of mine. We would talk for hours around the holidays about the effects of the period of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I remember him saying that in extreme cases, suicide seems to be the only way out, and that it was important to be aware of how other members of one’s family were reacting to the get-togethers and good times.

Most of us have extra time around the holidays. It gives us time to reflect on what the past year has brought to us. In many cases, it’s brought joy, but also some disappointment. When we begin to focus more on the negative side of the year, it can cause a deepening depression which leads to greater anxiety. Toss in shorter days with more hours of darkness, and you have the perfect recipe for some folks to say, “The holidays suck.”

I really don’t want to get on a pulpit here, but Ben Stein put it very nicely in a You-Tube clip that I saw recently. He said, “I don’t mind when someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, and I’m a Jew. My family has been Jewish for centuries; all except my wife who’s a Presbyterian. The thing we should remember is that the celebration is of the birth of Jesus. Whatever your belief, that’s what the Christians are celebrating, and that’s something for which we can all be happy.” Are the words exactly as Stein put them? Probably not, but I’m not going back to find the You-Tube video. If you’re depressed, check it out and see exactly what he said; it will give you something to do and take your mind off your own troubles.

All I want you to do is to understand that not everyone thinks the holidays are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Well, that’s not entirely true because the young kids get time off from school and wonder what the guy in the red suit is going to drop under the Christmas tree. College kids are on winter break, many heading for warmer climes to do…whatever it is college kids do when they get a break and can make it to where it’s warm and relaxing. Parents, of course, are going nuts looking for the latest ‘in’ toy for the youngest or wondering if what that electronic gadget they bought for the older is “half-fast” as the ad on television would have us believe. It’s a time of stress, and between darker days, uncertainty over this, that, or the other thing, it’s not unusual to see the holiday blues on bold display.

It may not be what my late friend, Professor Charles Rotman, would have counseled, but my recommendation is to find a showing of White Christmas and watch it with a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies in your lap. It may not be the perfect cure for holiday depression, but perhaps it will help you to count your blessings…believe it or not, most of us do have things for which we should be very thankful. Me, I’m thankful that I have a wonderful partner who takes care of me; I’m thankful that I can get up each morning, put my feet on the floor and go to the gym if that’s my desire. I’ve survived three heart attacks, a pulmonary embolism, any number of bouts with skin cancer, operations on knees, back, shoulders, hands, and feet, and although I’m heading down the far side of the mountain, I’m happy as the proverbial…no, no, no, let’s make that happy as a clam at high tide.

I didn’t do it justice, Charles, but thanks for allowing me to discuss one of your favorite topics…and thanks for being my friend.

Merry Christmas everybody.

 

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It’s no longer enjoyable to give or receive Christmas presents.

Like you, I think, I’m not crazy about Christmas promotions that begin sometime in late September. Also like you, I recognize that need for merchants to sell goods, make a profit, even create jobs to help keep the economy growing, but I truly believe pushing some of this crap that you never see advertised at any other time of year is just plain tacky, tacky, tacky. For example, when else do you find ‘Clapper’ ads being pushed so hard, or the plush animals with all of their pockets? Want to drink fizzy flavored water, buy the stream dream or whatever the hell they’re calling it this year? I must admit that Chia Pets don’t appear to be big this year, but energizer bunnies are getting another shot in the arm.

This year, Christmas ads are vying with health care promotions; thus, it would appear making it unnecessary for writers to develop scripts too complicated. While there may be rules and regulations regarding how many minutes of advertising can be crammed into an hour of programming, I get the gut feeling that those rules are suspended between Halloween and the Super Bowl.

The one market that has yet to be tapped by the advertising agencies or the manufacturers is the over 70 group. Since some are saying the, “Seventy is the new fifty,” there must be a Christmas market there somewhere.  You can’t really sell them a “year’s supply of…” anything because while you’re preaching youth to these folks, the fact of the matter is they could go anytime…and they know it. Since so many seniors are computer literate, selling board games (a) isn’t particularly profitable and (b) can easily be found as an “app” somewhere. Pushing a Nook or a Kindle also becomes a complex issue when dealing with seniors, most of whom will tell you they “…like the smell of paper and ink” that a book gives them, and what do you say in a thirty-second spot to counter that one. Gift cards are great but for how much? Is the degree of importance measured by the amount of a Walmart card? Not only is it a gift card – which shows just how little you think of me” – but to what store…”you know I never shop there” – which means you’re just going to regift the card anyway. Understand something very, very clearly: When you are searching for a gift for a senior citizen, there is a ninety-nine point nine percent chance that you will screw up!

I sort of came to an agreement with my three kids years ago, after they were married and had children of their own…I won’t give to them and they don’t give to me. I will give only to the grandchildren and because I have no idea what they like – our ages being as separated as they are – I give money. Obviously, it can never be enough but I figure that’s their problem, not mine. If I have a rough year, they have a rough Christmas…my answer to their downturned-little-mouths is a very silent, “tough shit; get over it!”  I say that the agreement to give or not with the children versus grandchildren only, because the kids will sometimes try, but then, they don’t know my tastes, nor do they know that I really don’t need anything. I’d rather they put what money they spend on me into reducing their mortgage or buying something extra, like a good steak, for their refrigerator…”I don’t friggin’ need anything.” That’s not to say I have everything I want. Sure, I’d love the winter home in Boca or the Grand Caymans. The jet to get me there and back would also be nice, but who the hell is kidding whom. At my age, I like my bed at home; I don’t like flying anymore; and Boca in the winter is just as bad as it is in the summer – it’s God’s waiting room and who wanted to be reminded?

When Joan was alive, I would give a gift in her name to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. It was her favorite charity. If you asked her why, she wouldn’t have been able to give you a good reason, but she loved what they were doing. She may have seen a story on television or something that impressed her. To me she would give a gift in my name to the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge to help benefit the Dana Farber Cancer Research Center. I have lost so many friends and family to that insidious disease that anything that can be done to find a cure makes me happy.

Christmas is a great Holiday. It’s also a great Holy Day. Sure, scholars can prove six ways to Sunday that Christ was not born on December 25th. I don’t care; that’s the day we have chosen to celebrate the birth of Christian’s Lord and Savior. My rabbi next door and my Jewish friends at the gym all wish me a Merry Christmas and, tomorrow being the first day, I will wish them a Happy Chanukah. Our faiths may differ but I’d like to believe we all have faith. My prayers may be a bit longer around the Christmas Holiday, but that’s not to say that my faith is weaker throughout the rest of the year. It seems at Christmas I just like to spend a little more time talking to the Big Boss. Gifts don’t seem as important as prayers that He somehow help to unscrew this screwed up world.

My gift to myself is to watch White Christmas and a few other movies on that day. It’s a day when I cry some because Joan is no longer here to celebrate with me; and I cry some because I have a wonderful woman with whom to celebrate the holiday. I’m a pretty lucky guy when it comes right down to it. I pray that you feel lucky too.

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We are entering – once more – the season of insanity.

Thursday, November 28th is the fourth Thursday of this month and, by tradition, a day on which we celebrate Thanksgiving.  Defined, it is often referred to as “…an annual national holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal including turkey. The holiday commemorates a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621.” Well, I suppose that’s one way of looking at it. George Washington named Friday, November 26th, 1789 as a day of “public Thanksgivin,” and until Lincoln, every President made a declaration of when Thanksgiving should be celebrated. The Sixteenth President declared that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. That was fine until…

…In 1933 and again in 1939, November had five Thursdays. In ’33, some retailers asked President Roosevelt if he would move the celebration back a week indicating…”You will appreciate the importance that an additional week incorporated in this great holiday season will have upon the distribution activities of the entire United States and the added impetus that will be given thereby to the efforts of the administration and the N.R.A.1 to increase employment and purchasing power.” Roosevelt declined but in 1939, he did relent and move the celebration back a week. It was until 1941 that a Congressional declaration set aside the fourth Thursday in November as the official date for Thanksgiving. Two things become clear here: (1) Retailers pushing for more shopping time between Thanksgiving and Christmas isn’t a new thing; it’s been going on since the nation was coming out of The Great Depression, and (2) Congress has been sticking their fingers in the pie as far back as 1941 [the pie, of course, being mince or pumpkin].

Today, retailers are even more aggressive in their approach to relieve consumers of the contents of their wallets, and while most appear to desire green, any color will do if it happens to be plastic. The Friday following our day of thanks for the bounty that we, in some cases, have is known by many names, among them “retailer-salivation-day,” “come-on-suckers-and-bring-your-cash-day” “Ooh-have-I-got-a-deal-for-you-day,” and by its more acceptable terminology, “Black Friday.” This term has been applied because it is supposed to be the biggest shopping day of the year, and the one that will put retailers firmly in the black. Saturday is now being named “small-business-Saturday.” Thanksgiving, the day when families are supposed to be gathered around the harvest table and giving thanks is now being called “Brown Thursday.” It would appear that some retailers’ greed exceeds their consideration for family togetherness and therefore, their doors will be open on this national holiday. Woe befalls the employee who calls in sick or declines to work this day. Managers and supervisors need only remind them of the seven point three unemployment rate in the country or some other bullshit story, and they will be at work.

I don’t shop on Black Friday and I can tell you right now that I sure as hell will not be shopping on Brown Thursday. Next thing you know, we’ll have mauve Monday, taupe Tuesday, and Wisteria Wednesday…and those will be before Brown Thursday. This year, the day after Christmas is going to be renamed “Take Back Thursday” while “Find Bargains Friday” will follow.

I’m happy that our economy is on the rebound. I’m delighted that the Dow finally broke sixteen thousand. I’m pleased as hell that the United States is no longer dependent on foreign oil. I’m happy as a clam at high tide that I have a roof over my head, heat in the house, a new ‘smart’ television set, a car – albeit thirteen years old – in the garage, and a new puppy that is already housebroken. I’m even more delighted that I have a wonderful partner with whom to share all of these things plus all of the joys of the holiday. The pup was an early Christmas present to her and Widget has already brought great joy to both of us.

However, I’m mad as a son-of-a-bitch at the greedy bastards who have decided to open their doors on November 28th and who have pressured their workers to come in. I’m madder yet at the idiots who will elect to go shopping on that day. If you are one of them at least have the courtesy to apologize to the sales person who is ringing up your purchases. But, for cripes sake, don’t wish them a “Happy Thanksgiving!”

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Are you as sick and tired as I am of the local – and sometimes national – television ads promoting sales around holidays. We have Presidents’ Day sales in January so you’ll buy a new car in February. Macy’s, it would appear, has a one-day sale every week as do furniture stores, Home Depot, Loews, and every other goddamned store you can think of…yes, I’m aware I ended a sentence with a preposition; get over it!

We have before Thanksgiving sales and after Thanksgiving sales. The same is true for Christmas, Halloween, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans’ Day, Columbus Day, and any other day you care to mention. It’s sad to say but it wouldn’t surprise me if we’re getting close to the point where we are going to have Oklahoma City Bombing day sales and eventually, 9/11 sale day. As sick as that may sound to you; as horrible as you may think it to be, it will eventually happen. Last year, a golf course in the South was offering a round of golf for nine dollars and eleven cents…it’s not difficult for you to know on which day that was being offered…sick sons-of-bitches.

Marketers market, advertisers come up with new and different ways to promote the client’s product, and retailers have one goal…to make more money than their competitors. I happen to live in the Greater Boston area, and I’ve already seen a few subtle promotions for Marathon Bombing Day. These are not things to be celebrated by retailers; these are not days to be celebrated at all. Time should be spent on these days remembering those who died, both the innocents and those who saved our freedom. “Wait a minute,” you’re thinking, “Oklahoma City, World Trade Center, Boston Marathon; what does that have to do with saving our freedom?” Oh, did I forget to say that I’m opposed to the big Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans’ Day, and a few others that have become opportunities for giant sales and celebration as opposed to reflection and gratitude.

It appears to me that there are some holidays which should be above the concept of ‘selling’ and celebration. I remember a better time, when stores were all closed on Memorial Day, on July 4th, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. It isn’t as true today. Walmart appears to be open 24/7/365 [except on Leap Year when it’s 366]. One could argue that there are people who are all alone on these holidays and who would like nothing better than to wander through stores while others are celebrating, and I can empathize with them. However, I also have compassion for the people who are required to work on some of these holidays; therefore it’s a tossup.

I don’t understand this. Yom Kippur is the Holiest day on the Jewish calendar. It’s a day of repentance and yet some joy. It’s a day of charity, and it’s only a single 26-hour period of time. Is that too much for the rest of the world? No, I’m not Jewish; I am a Christian. Personally, I don’t believe that of which I’m speaking has any religious connotation; it’s just that at least the Jews have a day of repentance, reflection, and celebration all wrapped up in a single day. Why can’t we take a day such as Memorial Day; close every place that sells, and celebrate the fact that one hell of a lot of military personnel are beneath the earth on this day, and we are going to take this one day, a single 24-hour period to do nothing but remember their sacrifice for us.

Holidays just don’t seem to have the impact on many of us anymore. There is generally some point on Memorial and Veterans Days that I will, for no apparent reason, tear up and remember a couple of people who paid the price for my freedom. I hope there are some others like me, but I don’t know. This is not one of those things you just “get over.” Call me a sentimental old fool if you wish, but I’m honored to have known those people, and I may not remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but I sure can remember the people who didn’t return.

Lest you believe this to be some maudlin guilt trip, I do have some suggestions for the marketers and advertisers to replace the more serious holidays. We’ve already missed it for this year but can you imagine what the dealers could do with October 2nd which is actually “Name Your Car” day? Wow, what an opportunity. Buy it and name it. Dealers could cover their walls with car names…”here comes Harry with his roaring “Ratmobile,” yippee, Skippy! Certainly, grocery stores should be able to find some way in which to push October 9th, “Moldy Cheese” day. Hell, we’ve got all sorts of opportunities there. And what would you wear to an important business meeting on October 17th? Would you cop out and wear a conservative business suit to consummate that billion dollar deal with the Japanese representatives who have taken over your company or would you stay true to your celebratory principles and observe “National Wear Something Gaudy Day? I’m pretty sure I have the answer on that one. October is also Applejack, Awareness, Cookie, and Eat Country Ham Month. On a more serious note, it’s also Breast Cancer, Lupus, and Diabetes Month…I am diabetic; I have several friends with Lupus; and, Breast Cancer was a part of what killed my wife. Yeah, those are a bit more serious.

We can celebrate by the day, week, or month. Some are funny; others are not. I’d really like to see us take the more serious ones more seriously and perhaps make the humorous ones something with which we can all have fun. I mean, what the hell, everyone celebrates Halloween on the 31st; how about we all get together on the 29th and celebrate “Hermit Day.” I haven’t a clue as to what we might dream up, but with a bunch of creative types pondering it, I’ll bet we could have one great time! Just think about it!

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Two of the day-long workshops that I used to teach were Domestic Violence and Bullying. Both were quite popular, and while they were far from being ‘fun’ days, it was nice to at least believe the audiences left with a better understanding of what they could do to help prevent both from happening in their community. It also taught them that like the drug war that law enforcement faces on a daily basis, we will never wipe out either of these things. Someone is battered every 15 seconds in the United States of America. You think we’re going to stop that, let me tell you about the tooth fairy. How about the occurrence of bullying? During the course of a school year, it’s estimated that a child is bullied about every seven minutes. I don’t care how many courses or penalties or workshops or whatever, you cannot stop this phenomenon. The only thing that you and I can do is work toward the prevention of these forms of cruelty.

October seventh is “Stand Up To Bullying” day. It’s a day when, particularly in Southern Florida – don’t ask me why; I don’t have a clue – everyone is supposed to wear his or her blue shirt. The little kids who are wearing them will get punched out by the bigger kids who don’t give a damn and who will be bullies until somebody comes along, kicks the crap out of them and tells them to stop bullying younger kids…or the next time it will be worse! Get one thing straight…you cannot reason with someone who is a bully, particularly if he or she is a young child. You have a ball that I want and if you won’t give it to me, I will take it because I’m bigger than you are and I can knock you down. Six and seven year old kids don’t understand peer negation behavior, and if they get away with the bullying behavior, they will continue to use it to get what they want. There are people who go through life as bullies; they bully in the workplace and when they are called on their bad behavior, they either back off temporarily or they move on to a job where they can get away with it. Management by intimidation is not a myth, and that is a form of bullying.

I went off on a tangent in that preceding paragraph and I really didn’t mean to do so; it’s just that old habits die hard, and both of those topics really raise my blood pressure. By the way, October ninth is Domestic Violence day. They probably have a shirt for that, too, but I haven’t seen them on sale yet. It’s no laughing matter, and I shouldn’t make light of a situation that is just so repugnant to me, but it seems that the American way is to designate a day, week, or month to some cause or other. Many of these celebratory – if that’s what one wishes to call them – days are no cause for celebration at all. They are ongoing and bad things that we should be trying, with everything we’ve got, to eradicate them.

Depending on the calendar to which you adhere, October is Fair Trade, Pizza, Computer Learning, National Roller Skating, International Dinosaur, Hunger Awareness, and several other celebratory months. Personally, I look at October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is one of the cancers that contributed to the death of my wife so it makes October a pretty easy month for me to be more aware of that @#$%&* disease.

It seems that every day of the year has some kind of recognition. For example, my birthday, September 1st, is also Emma M. Nutt Day. ..don’t laugh. While Emma may have gone the way of the dinosaur because of technology, she was the world’s first telephone operator…sort of a patron saint of those switchboard wonders of yesteryear. It’s also Calendar Adjustment Day, and I don’t have a freakin’ clue what that is. As I was growing up, my parents seemed to take great delight in letting me know that on my fifth birthday, Hitler invaded Poland. Somehow, I never thought of that as being something of an accomplishment…although I have mentioned it to a few grandchildren as they were celebrating their fifth. They invariably let me know my age by responding, “What’s a Hitler?” Lovely little shits! September is also Chicken Month which could, in part, explain why I never became a boxer or a football player in the NFL, although I believe it actually means we are celebrating that fine bird that can be eaten in so many ways. If we begin the month with Emma Nutt, we end it with National Mudpack day. “Make yourself beautiful for Mud Pack Day by plastering your face and skin with (safe, ‘clean’) mud! Keep your skin supple, your pores clear and your face looking youthful and clean – just don’t forget to wipe the mud off!” Thus endeth the month of September.

You and I are living in a time when there is too little humor in our lives. Between the gun violence that is taking place not only in our country but throughout the world, the fear of our own government having to shut down, a staggering national debt for which there really is no cure, unemployment, and an economy that is moving ahead at what seems a snail’s pace, it seems easier to walk around with a grimace rather than a grin. Hey, don’t take life too seriously; what the hell, you ain’t gonna get out of it alive!

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Jihadists appear to hate America for any number of reasons. The two that stand out to me is that we’re trying to establish a government in their country that is foreign to their own and many of them don’t want it. For over 2500 years, they’ve been tribal cultures. They fight with other tribes over anything; they seem to like fighting and killing one another and struggling to survive. There are other people in those countries who’d like to change that and become more modern, and the jihads don’t appear to want that. I would compare it – if I wanted to really stretch a point – to the slaves before the Civil War stating that they really didn’t want to be free; that they liked getting beaten and raped on a regular basis. Certainly, it’s an invidious comparison at best, but that’s exactly how it sometimes appears. Another reason the jihadists appear to hate Americans is that they believe we have so much and they have so little. They appear to believe that all Americans are rich which, as we all know is total bullshit.

Everything that we have in America we have because we fought for it. We fought for our freedom against the British – not once but twice. We fought our fathers and brothers and cousins for the freedom of people who are of a different color. We fought for world freedom in two wars and have attempted to settle disputes between groups in so many other countries, I probably couldn’t even name the entire set. We have fought openly and courageously since the beginnings of our country. We have fought for freedom, and it has cost us dearly.

The key word in all of this is “freedom;” it isn’t kill or jihad or Allah vs. God; it’s freedom, and too many goddamned good men and women have sacrificed everything to ensure that you and I have that freedom. The problem is that too many Americans don’t truly appreciate their freedom. Gold Star mothers and fathers do. Wives with kids who will grow up without a dad do;; Fiancées who’ll never walk down the aisle with the one they love do, But if it’s never hit you right in the gut that Harry Hunt will never walk down Belmont Street in Rockland one more time; that Ed Hurtig will never set foot on Sandy Beach in Cohasset again; that Willie Jordan won’t watch a Friday night football game in Austin again, ever, then you really don’t know what it’s like. I don’t; I admit that; on one level, I’m not really sorry that I don’t know that feeling. I can’t imagine the pain that Mrs. Hunt went through. I saw the agony on Ed’s brother Carl’s face as he unveiled Ed’s portrait, and I did know Carl. Willie is just a kid I heard about and about the call his Mom made to another mother when Willie was killed in Vietnam. On another level, I know that it would make me much more appreciative of what I have if I had experienced that sacrifice first hand…but I’m glad I didn’t have to.

Too many of us think of Memorial Day, Veterans’ Day, and the Fourth of July as a time for parades, a day or two off, and fireworks. They are those things, but they are so much more. They symbolize sacrifice for a reason; they symbolize fighting for our freedom, the freedom we have today. Perhaps I’m being too selfish by writing about this from an American point of view. Certainly, if you’re English, French, Belgian, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Russian, or a citizen of any other ‘free’ nation, you know what I’m saying.

Tomorrow, July 4, 2013, would have been our 56th wedding anniversary. Joan always wanted to get married on a holiday, and I think we picked one of the best. It’s the day we lost our independence from one another, but it’s the day we gained our dependence on one another. It’s also the day our nation gave up its dependence on another and became America, a place where freedom reigns. There will come a time – soon, I hope – when every American can celebrate our freedom and independence on our own soil; a time when moms and dads won’t have to keep looking out the front door, afraid of seeing some soldiers, sailors, airmen, or marines walking up to the front porch to deliver the bad news; a time when relatives won’t gather at an airport to watch a son, daughter, cousin, father, or mother carried off in a coffin. Until that time comes I urge each and everyone to remember the true meaning of the holidays we celebrate.

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