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A TGB READER STORY: Not Here

Memorial Day 2020

From TGB reader Henry Lowenstern on the unofficial beginning of summer:

Tomorrow, as we've done before,
we'll commemorate those we lost in war.
This year, we'll also pause to grieve
for those who have taken leave
after succumbing to a virus that
we don't yet know how to combat.
As we celebrate Memorial Day.

Over the weekend, there were none of the usual previews leading up to Memorial Day parades that have taken place in towns large and small throughout the United States since just after the Civil War.

That's because they were canceled - even the national parade on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. Blame the virus.

In place of all those marching bands (I love marching bands), the American Veterans Center is producing a television program:

”The National Memorial Day Parade: America Stands Tall is an original television special featuring the story of our shared history through newly-produced celebrity engagements and narrative pieces, along with memorable moments from the National Memorial Day Parade including historical reenactors and active duty military personnel, musical performances and celebrity greetings.”

It will be broadcast nationwide on the affiliate stations of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox at 2PM EDT.

Just in time for the holiday, the president managed to coerce all 50 governors to open their states to one degree or another – restaurants, bars, nail parlors, hair salons, national parks, beaches, etc. - even as virus statistics continue to climb.

What will this open holiday do to the number of virus deaths? I wonder if the country – or perhaps the entire world – will need a new holiday to commemorate the people we have lost and are still losing to the COVID-19 pandemic when it is finally over.

Here is a Memorial Day tribute to the fallen men and women who gave their lives to protect the United States.

Comments

Thank you.

There were so many dedicated health care workers at the hospital where I just stayed 5 days...when I mentioned I'd missed seeing my nurse at one point, saying she must have been on a lunch break, she laughed. "I just shoved a sandwich into my face...no time away." They are working so hard...and this was the cardiac floor. I am very grateful for the war they are all fighting...against this invisible enemy. And the enemy doesn't need spies, it has the service of the economic welfare pushing to provide more victims. I'm sad that people are gathering here in restaurants and grocery stores without masks.

Pretty much everyone here has ignored tRump's get out there orders. Our town is very quiet and people are mostly wearing their masks. The news from (for example) the Florida and Texas beaches made my heart ache. Bad news coming from those mobs.

That was some poignant prose from Henry L, and thanks for the heads up regarding the 2pm show. And as always, a lovely & thought-provoking essay on your part.

This Memorial Day does feel like an especially somber day... at the same time, I can't help thinking they should all feel this way.

Thank you, Ronni, for the Lincoln Project's fine Memorial Day video. The one view of soldiers in front of the Lincoln Memorial brought to mind Trump's rally a few weeks back in the same location, and sadness, nixed with despair come to me.

Like today, when early "Google News" carried 5 or more separate headlines re: Trump threatening governors, blaming, criticizing and ridiculing ! Just these titles were enough to boggle an aging mind.  I never open any discussions about him, but this struck me as bizarre, shameful, enraging, pitiful...and where is my Thesaurus when I truly need it?      

Today in an effort to change my own mindset I found this again, even knowing this may be familiar to your readers I want to share it. Please read it once again to remember what true *leadership* is like.

It is just a fragment of the much longer poem,"The People, Yes"  published in 1936, I first read in high school English in the 50's. Carl Sandburg was so clear and spoke to minds of the common people in my small mining town. It was the beginning of my appreciation of both of these extraordinary  gentleman. It could be addressing  2020 with only a few changes of date..  I hope you will be reminded of something other than our 'today', as I was.   
               LINCOLN?
He was a mystery in smoke and flags
Saying yes to the smoke, yes to the flags,
Yes to the paradoxes of democracy,
Yes to the hopes of government
Of the people by the people for the people,
No to debauchery of the public mind,
No to personal malice nursed and fed,
Yes to the Constitution when a help,
No to the Constitution when a hindrance
Yes to man as a struggler amid illusions,Each man fated to answer for himself:
Which of the faiths and illusions of mankind
Must I choose for my own sustaining light
To bring me beyond the present wilderness?

       Lincoln? Was he a poet?
       And did he write verses?
“I have not willingly planted a thorn
       in any man’s bosom.”
I shall do nothing through malice: what
       I deal with is too vast for malice.”

Death was in the air.
So was birth.
Carl Sandburg, from "The People, Yes"  

How do we spell catastrophe in today's world? T-R-U-M-P!

Original Memorial Day Order:

"Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hinds slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon the Nation's gratitude — the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan."

From the original Memorial Day Order by John A. Logan, Commander in Chief, Grand Army of the Republic, May 1868.

Such a strange year. I can hardly get my head around the fact that we are entering June in just a few days. There will be so many things to try to sort out and make sense of (if that's even remotely possible) when this year is over. And difficult decisions over the coming weeks.

I am thinking today of my husband's father, one of the nicest men I ever knew, who served in Europe in WWII. He has been gone from this world for 9 years now and I miss his wisdom, kindness and positivity. He grew up poor, worked hard all his life to make a better life for his family, and helped many other people along the way. I can't imagine how it would pain him to watch how his country is being led by the current president.

One of the recent scenes being played again and again on national news of people leaving a more restrictive state to party in neighboring state, is from Lake Geneva, WI, a very upscale city just a short drive from Chicago and less than an hour from where I live in northwest Illinois. I saw no one, other than a restaurant owner who was interviewed, wearing a mask in this footage, confirming what reporters have been saying about the crowds who are not social distancing or using PPE. I just hope the movie turns out differently this time and a second surge doesn't lead to even more deaths. With a ratcheting up election campaigning added to the mix, it's likely to be a chaotic and dysfunctional fall even if we all maintain our health.

Thank you Charlene and Midori , for sharing the words from Carl Sandburg and John Logan to remind us that even in the worst of times there is still poetry, wisdom, kindness and eloquence.


Believing that economic inequity lay at the root of all social injustice,
from labor conflict to racial and civil strife,
Carl Sandburg responded to the economic and social upheavals
of the 1930s with "The People, Yes"

I agree with Charlene "The People, Yes" could be addressing 2020.

another excerpt:

"The people is the grand canyon of humanity and many many miles across.

The people is a Pandora’s box, humpty dumpty,
a clock of doom and an avalanche when it turns loose.

The people rest on land and weather, on time and the changing winds.

The people have come far and can look back and say,
'We will go farther yet'."

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