Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The actuality of Memorial Day

Memorial Day was observed on May 30 for a number of years. For me, it still is the most appropriate day to remember, to honor, to renew. The photograph captures what I believe is the actuality and the essence of Memorial Day. The poem, published in 1624 by English poet and cleric John Donne, reflects the feelings which I believe should be in the heart of each of us. The videos provide lessons of the price many pay to ensure freedom for all Americans. This is the final of two posts ....

Meditation XVII by John Donne

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Here we are .... sort of Memorial Day

Memorial Day .... a time for remembrance

If this does not seem to be the usual sort of Memorial Day post that you are accustomed to, it is because it is not meant to be. I ordinarily would not use motion picture clips or script lines pertaining to war on solemn occasions and with beautiful music, but did today because, obviously, the drama of war can be portrayed more vividly in a film than in actuality. I think the clip and the composition go well together for Memorial Day, and I hope the combination stirs your emotions in a positive manner.

The words here -- those below -- are the thoughts of Chris Taylor, a young soldier played by Charlie Sheen in the film, "Platoon," as he is being evacuated the morning after a horrific night battle. The words were written by Oliver Stone, who both wrote and directed the movie, and who had been an infantryman with the U.S. Army in Vietnam.

The song, "Adagio for Strings," was a primary piece in the film and featured in the scene focusing on the death of Sergeant Elias Grodin, portrayed by Willem Dafoe. Sgt. Grodin had been shot by and left for dead by Sgt. Bob Barnes, played by Tom Berenger. Sgt. Grodin, however, was not dead and, as the platoon "choppers out," he is seen fleeing from and killed by enemy forces. The music was composed by Samuel Barber in 1936.

The photograph is said to be of a young Marine who served in Vietnam. I have been unable to verify that, so suffice to say it is a representation of a young man who may or may not have been a Marine who served in Vietnam. I would add to that it is not at all unusual or unique to encounter Marines who do look this young -- in fact, I think I did when I signed on the dotted line at age eighteen.

By the way, this is only "sort of Memorial Day" for me. I am old-fashioned and think of Memorial Day as May 30 -- as it traditionally was until Congress decided to "mess with it" .... this is the initial of two posts ....

I think now, looking back,
we did not fight the enemy,
we fought ourselves --
and the enemy was in us ...

The war is over for me now,
but it will always be there --
the rest of my days. 
As I am sure Elias will be --
fighting with Barnes
for what Rhah called possession
of my soul ...

There are times since I have felt
like the child born
of those two fathers ...
but be that as it may,
those of us who did make it
have an obligation to build again,
to teach to others what we know
and to try with what's left
of our lives
to find a goodness and meaning
to this life ...

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Never mind me .... it is just my mood

Stanley J. Morrow was a prominent photographer in the Dakota and Montana territories who operated from 1868 through 1882. One collection of seventy stereographs contains scenes photographed by Morrow between 1868 and 1881. It includes views of Morrow's home and studio in Yankton, D.T., and military expeditions including images of Captain George K. Sanderson's cleanup of the Little Bighorn Battlefield in 1879, three years after the engagement.

This stereograph reads, "Photographed and Published by S.J. Morrow, Yankton, D.T." on one end and "Photographic Views from the Great North-West" on the other end. It is No. 10 in the collection and is listed as "Gen'l Custer's last stand, looking in the direction of the ford and the Indian village." It is the place where Custer's body was found and buried by soldiers and again by General George R. Crook's men, with the original "monument" of stones and timber.

No. 38 "Decorating the graves on Custer's Battle field." Captain Sanderson is standing. The sign on the headstone reads: "Col. Keogh (Myles W. Keogh) And 38 Soldiers Of Co I 7 Cav (Company I, Seventh Cavalry) Killed Here June 25, 1876." Corporal John Wild's headboard is behind the Keogh marker.

No. 39 "Unknown, showing several graves and the ridge where the last stand was made." There is wooden sign nailed on a post with lettering that reads: Unknown.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

In the saddle .... or George passed this way

G.A. Custer and the Seventh Cavalry
departed Fort Abraham Lincoln in North Dakota
on this day in 1876, on their way to fame and to death
at the Little Bighorn in Montana on June 25 ....
The spirits of George and Elizabeth
evidently still roam the "Custer house"
at the fort ....

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

"Fight your way out of this one"

Dotty, the Pomeranian,
will be seven months old tomorrow ....
Born in Oak Park, Illinois ....
Currently en route cross country with me
to be delivered to her new home ....
If she were mine, I would change her name
to Odessa ....


Something special ....