November 20, 2020 - I once looked forward to Thanksgiving, the all-American milestone of a prosperous year. When our family gathered the guys would bundle up and go out hunting for a while as the women made their final preparations for a big meal. As a kid that all made sense. It even made sense as an adult. Men get underfoot when large groups and big meals are arranged in the homes of the nation. Once we hunters were suitably frozen we could retreat to the warm house filled  with the steamy aroma of dead fowl, mashed potatoes, corn and warm pies to please every palate. 

When the meal was done the fellas would again coalesce somewhere away from the women, usually in front of the television to watch the Lions/Packers game. It was an education in law and civics, to see how much blood could be legally shed in the pursuit of sport. It would have been unkind to force the women to watch such a painful display, so we allowed them to remain in the kitchen to clear up and wash the pots, pans and dishes.  Again, it was all perfectly proper and part of the natural order. 

As the older generation passed away the gatherings felt less of a heartfelt family festival and more of a reason to have a big meal. At first my wife and I didn't feel like the senior generation. We were just a middle aged couple trying to feed our little family as we moved from one job to another, each one in another town or even a different state.  Any thanks we celebrated was that we were together as a family. 

As the kids left home to pursue their own lives the fall feast devolved from the big dead bird down to a small turkey loaf warmed in the microware and a pudding cup for dessert. The joy of the day came when the phone rang and one of two of the offspring called to say hello. There never were calls from all of them, they have their own lives which may not always include parents primed to fire the same repetive questions - yet we ask them anyway, "How are the kids. How are YOU? We miss you, can you come to visit?"

This year my bride and I turned 70. We are now officially the senior generation and we know that soon we too will pass away. We may, or may not, be missed at the Thanksgiving table. But it no longer matters because this year we entered a "new normal," one that demanded we accept that all of us are "in it together." The euphemisms are as distasteful as days old turkey and cold mashed potatoes.  There is no sweet dessert. The Lions took a knee a couple of seasons ago and I have heard rumors that the Packers are planning to sell their cheese elsewhere. 

What the hell went on this summer? At one point four major sports were playing at the same time; hockey, basketball, baseball and football players all wanted the attention of the nation and we didn't care to care about them. The NASCAR drivers and pit crews were racing two or three times a week at race tracks with empty grandstands - and we still didn't care. Our national pride could be found with our smiles - behind a stupid mask of dubious usefulness. 

Both of the major political parties nominated standard bearers unacceptable to many in their own groups. One bumbled and sputtered platitudes from his basement while the other stormed the field like Hannibal crossing the alps, and the feet of his elephants beat down the mountaiin snows, creating an unexcelled path for all to follow. Yet it was the stupefying, mentally deficient, hack that took the win. Did somebody cheat? We can't determine that, yet. Hell, millions of us are not even aware that a credible challenge is ensuing because the soon to be octegenarian has accomplices who control acess to information. And without information no reasonable mind can be changed. Is that the point of it all? To make all of us unreasonable?

So, Thanksging is here and what should be an honored time of family and fellowship has turned into a season of political discord and fear of others that may carry a virus of unproven origin and strength. Family means nothing and family gatherings even less. That must be the truth, because our political leaders would never mislead us. They shut down any attempt to honor our veterans and their fallen comrades. Children may not sit in Santa's lap this year, they can only expect a lump of coal at the bottom of their Christmas stocking.

At the end of this calendar year we will review a legacy of fear, hate and distrust unknown to most generations of Americans. They never knew and, thankfully, never endured a year such as this. America never before had a cadre of political leaders who so fully embraced the idea that a dark winter lay ahead. Our previous generations never gave us anything but faith in the unity which allows us to feast upon the bounty that is America. 

So, this year we will still give thanks for what we have received; cash handouts from a soon to be bankrupt treasury and a call to duty. We can thank our veterans of all eras for their service to protect the Constitution of The United States of America. We can thank the founding fathers for the Bill of Rights and a framework of political governance which will guide us as we stand against corruption.  We can be thankful for "the Republic for which we stand, one nation under God, indivisible, wiith liberty and justice for all."

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

A NEW ADVENTURE

Saturday, June 29, 2019

One week from this evening will find me asleep in a pup tent somewhere in Illinois. Crazy and silly but the start of an exciting adventure. Dad and I will be continuing his Ride Around America to document Veteran's Memorials. He has done the ride on a motorcycle for over 110,000 miles, but this year it is a car for him because I am tagging along.

March 3, 2019 - I spend most of my off season time researching the names of the fallen. Trying to uncover the details of their service; where they deployed, what their units accomplished, and how the particular service member fell and who may have gone down in the same incident. The procedure is a stroll through many forms of archived materials. Usually it's a written report published in an old newspaper or military unit log. Sometimes I am able to locate an audio or video recording that generally describes the action or the battlefields. It can bring a smile, empathetic tears, and always a good measure of admiration for my fellow veterans that marched off in uniform and never marched back. 

World War II civilian propaganda and entertainment recordings stand apart from the field reports and battle assessments of the era. They often reveal some disturbing facts about the attitudes held by the ninety-nine percent of our population that has not served. They understand, sometimes, that they benefit greatly from the service and sacrifices of those in uniform. But, to say in a slightly vulgar manner, it's obvious their ass isn't on the line and their appreciation of that fact is difficult to objectify.

 

 

July 17, 2018 - I have not posted anything to this journal for a long time. I was taught as a youngster that journals were not to be treated as diaries. They were records of significant events or moments that deserved to be recalled with accurate detail. Sometimes, when they are not properly recorded in the moment, the details fall through the cracks of time. That doesn't mean they were not important, only that a once sharp brain has been beaten and abused by a life full of significant moments and simply can't recall them. Hence, the importance of a journal.

At dawn on this date fifty years ago I paused a moment to enjoy the summer sunrise as first light crept through my east facing window. For several years this had been my daily summer routine - look out to the sun and determine if it would be a lazy day around the house or another opportunity to enjoy the freedom of youth and a life dominated by a large freshwater lake and a few close friends.

 

August 20, 2017 - I toured through Middlesex County early Sunday morning and I had the opportunity to visit the Minuteman statue without interference from many other tourists. A toddler or two whisked across Old North Bridge and past the monuments without reverence, stopping just long enough to disturb the ghosts of liberty before running on up the hill to the old manse. For a moment I was alone, or as near to alone as one can be in a venue of this nature. 

In my travels I have walked upon the first battlefields of colonial insurgency, stood beneath trees where some of the insurgents were subsequently hanged, and sat to overlook the monuments that honor and remember them all. Here at Concord is where history says it really began, at a short bridge over a small creek. 

The creek and the bridge, and all of the other places of combat are insignificant, they are just venues that can be represented anywhere by stage sets and movie scripts. It is the people that were here that create the moments of history that are unique, that are important to us. We cast their images in metal and etch their words and deeds into stone in the hopes that their efforts will last as long as the environment that is the battlefield.