Friday, December 25, 2015

Waiting for Santa Claus

Merry Christmas

A few words from William Shakespeare
through the voice of Marcellus
with reference to Christmas Eve / Christmas Day
in "Hamlet" .... Act I, Scene I ....

The bird of dawning singeth all night long;
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad,
The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow’d and so gracious is the time.

And, a song I was listening to six years ago today ....

Monday, December 7, 2015

Trying to do things right

                                                                                                  U.S. Navy photograph
The hull of the battleship USS Arizona, sunk by Japanese Imperial Navy aircraft on December 7, 1941, is clearly visible beneath the blue waters of Pearl Harbor at Honolulu, Hawaii. Above the vessel is a memorial structure/shrine constructed to honor those who died there. Nearly twelve hundred Sailors and Marines were killed aboard the vessel, most in a single, massive explosion, and more than eleven hundred remain entombed within it. More than twenty-four hundred Americans were killed in total. The ship actually is an active military cemetery, and the ashes of survivors of the attack still are scattered there or placed in urns within the sunken hull upon their death.

Time & distance

Part of my boyhood was spent standing in the background hidden in shadows watching men play poker and pinochle and variations of euchre .... watching them drink beer, sometimes with shots of whiskey -- boilermakers, in their parlance .... watching them smoke cigarettes and cigars until the air around them was blue .... and, at times, listening to them talk about when they were young and had been to places they never had heard of before war took them there. Some of them had physical scars; all of them had emotional scars.

The ages of these men varied, as did the wars in which they had fought. Some even had fought in the "War to End All Wars," including one who was the final survivor of an American Legion "Last Man's Club." The bottle of wine which came to him for that distinction was never opened, and is now in my possession, never to be opened, at least during my lifetime. That is another story.

A few of the men had been in and out of the Hawaiian Islands. One of them had been there on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese Imperial Navy struck from the sky in a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and other United States military installations. He survived the attack and the war. It was evident that he always felt guilty for doing so. He more or less drank himself to death to atone for his war-luck.

When December 7 arrives each year, thoughts of those men and their card games and their drinks and their stories drift back into my mind. Someday, I would like to be at Pearl Harbor when the anniversary of the attack comes around and, especially because of the survivor I knew, to be at the memorial for his ship, the battleship USS Arizona, shown in the photograph.
Not so this year. Another anniversary passes and I am not there, but someday I hope to be so the spirit of the survivor I knew and the ghosts of all of them who died there that day might know that some of us still remember them and think of them. We cannot make the world right, but we can make ourselves right with the world ....

Something special ....