"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Turn

The screen door slammed behind me, as I hurriedly headed outside to get my chores done. Once down the steps of the front porch and into the yard, I paused for a moment.  I felt it. There was no mistaking the feeling; it was in the air.  I’m talking about what I call “the turn”. I look for it every summer; however, it was in no way on my mind on this day, after 10 straight days of above 90 degree weather. But there it was; that still, calm change in the air which lets me know autumn is really not far from making her appearance.

That doesn’t mean we are not going to have lots of days of summer left. We will, but it will go quickly now. The turn is just a gentle reminder, of what lies ahead.  Maybe this is a chance to look back at what has happened thus far during this season of sun. Maybe it’s the time to contemplate what else one would like to accomplish before the opportunity is lost for another year. Either way, it always brings for me a moment of reflection; a reminder of the changing seasons and how quickly they come and go.  Fleeting moments that the older one gets, the more difficult it becomes to grab hold of them.

It has been a beautiful, wondrous summer in the way of weather this year.  I do not remember a more perfect summer since I was a kid in the ‘60’s.  These are the old fashioned kinds of summers that I remember from my youth. They have been rare since then it seems.

But in the way of summer fun and traditional activities, I have really missed out this year. No beach days, no picnics, no travel. And yet, because the workload has been stronger, the moments of pleasure have been more acute; I guess due to the scarcity of those moments.

Here’s hoping to finding a little more summer, in a lot less time.



Sunday, July 21, 2013

Those That Get It

No, I am not going to do it this time, I thought to myself.  I had already walked about 4 or 5 times; and with all I had going on, I really didn’t feel like I wanted to do it again…at least this time. But when it came time, and the phone call came asking if I wanted to, I couldn’t say no.

“Sure, I will be there,” I told her. This was, after all, an easy one: Small town, short commute, short parade route. It won’t kill me. It is for a cause in which I believe, and one I want to support. I had decided that a few years ago, when I first saw The Spirit of ‘45 march in another local parade that I was attending as a viewer on Veteran’s Day. Not too many days later, I found a Letter to the Editor in our local newspaper, thanking citizens for supporting The Spirit of ‘45, and asking for photos of WWII Vets. I immediately knew I wanted to send a photo of my dad – my own WWII hero. Thus the connection began.

The Spirit of ’45 originated a few years ago, as a nationwide program intended to bring honor and appreciation to our World War II Veterans. But it’s also a bit more than that, I think.  Their motto is: “Keep the Spirit of ’45 alive.”  To me, that’s more than just appreciation for our service men and women of the time, though that would be enough. But this program is also about understanding victory after a war well fought which was necessary for keeping our freedoms intact. It’s about welcoming those home that served us well, that offered up their lives and sacrifice simply because they knew it was the right thing to do. It’s about joy, and pride and unity of nation. It’s about the greatness of a nation, because of the principles on which we were founded. This is not a political group and The Spirit of ’45 works hard at keeping it that way, but for me there is a whole lot to gain in remembering our nation in their victory, and thinking about that which could have been lost.

As we walk a parade route, one can easily recognize those that “get it”.  They stand a little longer, clap a little harder; they are anxious to make eye contact. They want us to know that they are appreciative of us bringing recognition to our Veterans. And we want to say thank you to them, too. 

Those that Get It

There have been many memorable moments from the parades I have chosen to walk. One such moment was the time, a member from our group walked over to the sidewalk where the viewers sat watching attentively.  Our member wanted to shake the hand of a World War II Vet he had spotted in the audience - a rare site, indeed.  Turned out that vet happened to be my dad.

Another moment ingrained in my memory is the time we participated in the largest parade in our area. It is an evening parade that zigzags through the downtown streets of the largest city in our area. I was thoroughly enjoying the soft, summer night air while seeing these city streets and businesses from a completely different perspective. I usually only saw the heart of the city from a driver’s viewpoint, with bustling pedestrians in the crosswalks and cars weaving in and out of the 3 traffic lanes anxious to get to their location.  Though the streets were obviously now packed with more people present than ever seen on a busy work day, there was a certain calm over the city that was actually quite pleasant. The reception we received was incredible – this was an Armed Forces Day Parade and there were many military entries, with the goal being to honor those that have served our nation.

I was at the very back of our group this time, in the very last row. There were probably 45 teens and adults marching with us this time, so I could see why viewer acknowledgement of our group would wind down by the time it got to me.  We also would soon be arriving at the end of the parade route, so those we were encountering now, had probably been waiting a long time. I was getting tired, and ready to see the end of the route, but I happened to see a young man, probably in his 20’s remain standing throughout the entire time we were in his view. He was a bit radical looking, so it surprised me to see this type of appreciation from him. It shouldn’t surprise me I know, but sometimes it seems our youth don’t quite understand something so far removed from their lifetime. But this young man stood attentively, applauding until the very last line of us; and all of a sudden there he was looking at me, nodding his approval as we made eye contact. Almost out of sheer reflex, I pointed my finger at him and mouthed “Thank you!”  He approved; this meant something to him, I could see it in his eyes. My eyes fill with tears even as I write this, thinking about that kind of understanding and support from someone his age.
Yesterday as we marched, I found myself extremely glad I had said yes when my friend asked me if I would be there.  It was a subdued crowd for the most part, but I saw lots of old friends and customers from my book store lining the streets which made it a lot of fun. The walk was easy, the morning temperature mild. Applause was not rampant, but there were those that made a point to show their appreciation for a generation that should never be forgotten. This is simply a small way to ensure that what those men and women did will live on in our history; and with a hope that the spirit from that victory can be reawakened and renewed in pride and appreciation for a nation that desperately needs to remember and understand.
Freedom surely isn’t free. And it isn’t something we can only defend once in a while, but rather it is something that requires eternal vigilance.

I will do what I can to keep that spirit alive…and to honor and thank those such as the guy in the photo above - as well as the one that took the time to shake his hand because he is one that gets it.

Daddy and Me

Note: After I wrote, I read. I found this article that said what I could never say. I hope you will take time to read it: http://www.spiritof45.org/AINWWIIeditorial.pdf  From the article:
"They were, as my dad said, “just a bunch of dumb kids” when they stepped up to halt the greatest surge of tyranny, aggression, and outright evil the earth has ever seen. Then they helped rebuild their shattered world."
Now, that's the Spirit of '45!

*"Last year, both Congress and the Senate passed a resolution (HR 226) in support of Spirit of ’45 Day. Spirit of ’45 Day is observed every year on the second Sunday in August." ~ The Spirit of '45 Website

Monday, July 8, 2013

With Grass Between My Toes

The craving just wouldn’t leave me. No matter how I tried, I just couldn’t shake it. It was basically all I could do to stop myself from thinking about it.

I finally had to quit what I was doing to see what I could do to alleviate that insatiable yearning.

I was on my second lawn in two days. Mowing, mowing, mowing away; in the heat of the day! Barefoot this time - though I know it isn’t advised - it felt really good. Last night I mowed until dark and didn’t get home until almost 10:00 pm. “Enough of this!” I told myself, as I tried to finish up the second lawn, today. “I’m gonna eat!”

It was a bit of a strange craving for me to suddenly acquire: bologna on white bread. I knew I didn’t have any bologna, but I was pretty sure I had white bread. I hadn’t thought of, or eaten bologna in years.  I just don’t buy it anymore and I seldom want it or think of it. I did grow up on those sandwiches however, and I am pretty sure the last two days doing what I have been doing (gardening, weeding, mowing) triggered memories that took me back to that time, when bologna sandwiches on white bread were pretty much the norm on hot, summer days.
The Sound of a Shovelhead

Actually I love it when a certain scenario will trigger a memory from the past. I stopped what I was doing in the yard, to come into the house to see what I could find to quench that desire for a sandwich from my youth.  The closest I could come to it was Miracle Whip on white, buttermilk bread. That would have to do; the craving wasn’t strong enough to make a trip to the store that would take me away from my home on a rare day when I got to actually stay there.

But my crazy longing did bring back even more fond memories: mom, and her sandwiches on homemade white bread; a country home with a white picket fence fronted by a gravel road; gardens and tree forts and a Springer Spaniel named Casey. My craving also reminded me of a song by one of my favorite country music artists. It’s time to share another one, isn’t it?               

I Still Like Bologna
Alan Jackson
There's satellite communications
Long distance Internet relations
The world's a little faster every day
Now I know it's all well and good
And I don't embrace it like I should
But I wouldn't wanna go backwards even if I could. 

But I still like bologna on white bread, now and then
And the sound of a whippoorwill down a country road
The grass between my toes and that sunset sinking low
And a good woman's love to hold me close.

I like my 50 inch HD plasma
Feels like they just reach out and grab ya
500 channels at my command
I finally gave in and got a cell phone
That I hardly ever seem to turn on
I guess I never had that much to say.

And I still like bologna on white bread, now and then
And the sound of a whippoorwill down a country road
The grass between my toes and that sunset sinking low
And a good woman's love to hold me close.

I got a laptop that sits on a desk
I don't use it much except to check on
Some old car from yesterday
I kinda like that music thing

You just download 'em
And you can save about every song
That's ever been made.

But I still like bologna on white bread, now and then
And the sound of a Shovelhead down a gravel road
The grass between my toes and that sunset sinking low
And a good woman's love to hold me close.

Well, I guess what I've been trying to say
This digital world is okay
It makes life better in a lot of ways
But it can't make the smell of spring
Or sunshine or lots of little things
We take for granted every day.

Oh, and I still like bologna on white bread now and then
And the sound of a whippoorwill down a country road
The grass between my toes, that old sunset sinking low
And a good woman's love to hold me close.

Yeah, bologna, a woman's love, and a good cell phone.

Ok, yeah I know the lyrics are a little corny (especially when read), but the sentiment is not. And the melody is fun and catchy. Take a moment to watch the official video; it puts it all into perspective, and it will make your day seem better. Alan Jackson is my favorite singer after all…and with all his riches and success, he still craves bologna on white bread, too…with grass between his toes.
Oh and by the way, no one can tap his foot like Alan. ;-)

Now, that's country! "And that's a wrap!"  ;-)