Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday Child Two! I can't believe you're three today. Where does the time go? You roared into our life on a cold and blustery Thanksgiving Day, arriving well before dinner, and you've been bringing smiles to us ever since. I'll never forget eating my Thanksgiving dinner that evening in the cafeteria of Brigham and Women's' Hospital. Despite the fact that I was eating alone, in a hospital cafeteria and wolfing it down to get back to the room to see you and Mumma it was one of the best Thanksgiving meals I ever ate.

Happy birthday, and many, many, many more.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


My father's sister-in-law's father died today. He was 95 years old. He lead a long, interesting and good life. He made a decision after a recent hospitalization and recurrence of an infection that became pneumonia not to go back to the hospital and not to fight the illness. "It was time" he said to his family. He faced up to his mortality, took control of the end and made what I think is a wise and brave decision. To me, that's not sad that's powerful.

Rest in peace George, I raise shot of Scotch in your honor.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day, 2008

The other night I was watching "Saving Private Ryan" on one of the cable networks. I'd seen the movie before, and seen the scene in the US cemetery at Normandy before, but it got me thinking.

In 1993 I did the obligatory post-college European backpacking trip. a friend and I toured European capitals and the country side. One of the best destinations was the Normandy coast and a visit to the beaches of D-Day. We hitchhiked out from Bayeux and got dropped off at the exit for the beaches by a lawyer going to an interview in Calais. We walked from the exit to the beaches, along country roads boxed in by the huge, infamous hedgerows where undoubtedly Americans, Brits, Canadians, Poles, French and Germans died. It was a lovely summer day, 6 July, 1993.

We came eventually to the US cemetery at Coleville Sur Mer. A beautifully manicured and maintained piece of America, paid for by the blood of our soldiers, along the French coast. We walked down a path on a hill to Omaha Beach and looked back up at the ridge where the cemetery sits. I thought of the troops who came ashore there; considered their landing and how downright terrifying and awful it must have been to cross the ground we'd just crossed. Kids played somewhere down the beach, their laughter floated towards us on the breeze and an F-16 flew along the coast, low and slow -- a weapon that signified how what had happened on 6 June, 1944 would most likely never happen in the same fashion again.

My friend and I made our back to the cemetery and walked along the paths, looking at row upon row of white marble crosses, and Star-of-David-topped markers. I walked up to one cross, at random, and looked. The man buried there had died 49 years to the day that I was looking at his grave. He was about my age (in '93) and from Louisiana. I'm sorry that I can't recall his name now, but I'm sure that his first trip to Europe ended in Normandy. I'd already been to Europe about 4 times by this time in my life. It was at that moment that I understood what it meant to be an American.

That Louisiana man came far from home to fight and die and help people in a land far-away. We're Americans. It's what we do. It's who we are. We are an amazing people, and I consider myself so fortunate to live in this country populated with folks like the man whose grave I stood before 49 years after his death. I thanked him, rubbed the top of his marker and committed the experience to memory, glad that I could pay my respects to him, his family and their sacrifice, yet, not their sacrifice alone. I honor the sacrifice of all of the men and women and all of their families who served and continue to serve, in our armed forces to protect and defend the ideals for which this country stands.

Still, we have men and women in the field and under arms, being Americans and doing what we do -- defending our ideals in the hope that others may experience and live with the liberties we increasingly take for granted in this country. Today, I pay special mind, and pay honor to all those who have served, do serve, and will serve. Thank you and God bless you all.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Proud, Indeed

From an article by Jeff Jacoby in the 5 November, 2008 Boston Globe about the gray cloud of the 2008 election.

But the most lustrous silver lining of all is the racial one. As a politician and policymaker, Obama distresses me; his extreme liberalism is not what the nation needs. But as a symbol - a son of Africa elected to lead a majority-white nation that once enslaved Africans and treated their descendants with great cruelty - Obama's rise makes me proud of my country. The anthem of the Civil Rights Movement was "We Shall Overcome." Impossible as it might have seemed scant decades ago, we have.
No matter what, for now, we do live in the greatest country in the history of the world and proved it again yesterday.

I Am In Charge

Speaker of the Stepford Wives

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Civic Duty

On my way to the train today I stopped into my neighborhood polling place to vote. The line was longer than usual today and turnout seems heavy. It's good. Regardless of the outcome of this election it really has seemed to drive some turnout and gotten people to engage in the process and in the issues.

Though I'm not sure if I will agree with the outcome (based on last minute polls), I'll accept it as will most of us and wait to see what our elected officials wreak. I'll concede that the possibility of a black man as POTUS is a big deal, and for this reason alone, this election is historic. What is more interesting to me, and perhaps of greater historical importance is that if Obama wins, then this country has taken a huge turn from its history. Bigger, more intrusive government is definitely on the way. The United States seems to be swinging towards Socialism as it never has before.

Granted, many among us are war weary (though impending victory in Iraq should be curing that), scared by the near collapse of our financial system (precipitated in no small part by the Democrat party and their liberal allies) and annoyed at the stupidity of the Republican party (has a party been more inept at the PR game than the current makeup of the GOP?). These things, however, are not reason for me to hand the keys over to the Democrats. I don't see how more government is going to help us -- name one large event of the last three years helped by large government. The Democrats are certainly not free from special interests (labor unions, greens, abortion rights people, welfare-statists). Sadly, more government is what we're going to get if the Republicans can't hang onto the White House -- losing congress is a foregone conclusion . . .

It's our decision, we'll live with it, we (though not I and many close to me) chose to go this way, and though I neither agree nor understand why, that's the great power of our system and our society. Change happens, we have a say in it and we can enact change. I'm just not sure we truly understand what we've asked for.