Monday, May 11 is my parents 57th wedding anniversary. Sunday, May 10th was Mothers Day. All my brothers and sister except one (and many but not all their kids ) did one of those drive by parades for Mom. It was a glorious moment grief and obstructed by social distancing. We had a police escort. I had an Exclamation printed at print shop because that was my part of the caravan spelling out Happy Mothers Day! I have no pictures of the event except the ones in my mind which will soon fade. But it fills in with many other memories of our American family. Like any family the record has dark clouds and dangerous valleys as well as the moments of glory.
Family life is part of the main sequence and the principal photography. It is part of the warp and woof. It is part of the entree and principal table setting. But I have lived my life with a view as to how it would end even from my early youth, There has always been a sense of making the final shot, having the story end the right way and other such metaphors for the yet metaphorical final curtain. I was never sure how that would be but I think I had a few hundred possibilities that were somehow acceptable and thousands or more other possibilities that were not acceptable but that I knew were not necessarily avoidable just because I did not like them. The story was not entirely mine to write and I oft used the saying, the source of which I have forgotten, which says “Things generally end badly or they would not end.” In the larger context of Heaven and Hell, heroic last stands the sayings that have been given meaning for centuries of loyal subjects who made them trues like “The king is dead Long Live the King!” and other cries of succession — we all know that many things just fall apart and collapse. I am in a phase of wrapping up what is left of my life not building toward another phase of it. To a very remarkable degree I am just past the milestones where I might have stayed to settle or taken the turns to some other destination.
This post is called the Last Hurrah! It is not about death exactly but about the end of my life in a larger sense, This is one of the posts that sort of highlights my roles or nature as a critical and malcontent patriot in America. I have written a good bit in that vein and some regular readers would notice it but my blog was shuttered to long for any of you to be regular readers. I am happy to have this blog but the interruption has changed the graph quite a bit of what might have been. My attention is turning inward these days and I am not as interested in the future of my country as I once was but I do still care and not only enough to vote and opine and join students in class in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
A bit of evidence that I have a little gung ho left in me is that I support the USO. What follows is not the kind of thank you email I have posted here from other charities but it did come shortly after I made one of the small donations I try to make a few times a year at best. Pictures were provided in most of the segments.
As the COVID-19 crisis continues into another month, I want to highlight the importance of entertainment in fulfilling the USO’s mission. To some, USO activities and celebrity performances may seem like “extras,” or “nice-to-haves.” In reality, their impact on morale is immense. They offer much-needed distractions from the stresses of difficult missions and make service members and their families feel remembered and valued.
Social distancing, widespread quarantines and base restrictions have made boredom-busting and morale-boosting activities more important than ever — and much more challenging to pull off. I hope these stories of your USO in action will illustrate the power of your gift to us.
You can’t hide these smiling eyes.
At this impromptu party, the food and music didn’t matter nearly as much as the gesture. Recently, 109 Marines deployed from Camp Foster, Japan, to Guam at 1:30 a.m. The USO Foster team set up five tables in the parking lot, blasted some lively music and served our Marines with smiling eyes — due to the face masks covering their actual smiles. Members of our USO team were the only ones there to see them off.
These stars love the stars and stripes.
When superstars make time for you, you feel like a VIP. Award-winning actors, musicians, comedians and other entertainers – both long-time USO supporters and new friends – have helped us launch a virtual USO tour. We’re livestreaming performances and Q&As directly to bases and to service member phones. Check out some of our headliners.
The delight is in the details.
The USO Erbil team in Iraq assembled three different goody bags to distribute on base: a Card Shark Kit with a list of card games, a Spa Kit and a 550-Cord (parachute cord crafting) Kit. Before the COVID-19 base restrictions, our volunteer Amanda had taught a popular 550-cord craft class in person. For the kits, she made careful, step-by-step directions with pictures to guide service members through making a bracelet. (pictures were included here).
By Air or by Hair:
To close this week’s update, I want to share one story about a single veteran, and another about a group of leaders in our Pentagon who also understand how much morale matters.
In 1944, this WWII paratrooper (pictured in the email) cut his hair into a mohawk to intimidate the Germans. Now, he’s sporting the statement haircut again to raise spirits during the pandemic.1
Have you been keeping an eye on the sky? The Blue Angels and Thunderbirds have been conducting “Operation America Strong,” flying over U.S. cities in a rousing salute to first responders, essential workers and military service members battling COVID-19.2
Any contribution or donation right now will make a big impact on the lives of service members near and far.
SUPPORT OUR TROOPS »
I still do care about America and still wish at some level things had worked out to allow me to do more. This post is about the possible end of an era in our country and the world but it is also about the sense in which I live my own life. Little Richard just died but apparently not of Covid-19. He was yet another sign of a page turning in popular culture along with the Covid deaths. Roy Horn was getting to old to do his act and had never returned as a performer after being bitten by one tiger after so many had fallen under his talent based magic. It seems oddly horrifying tome that he has been replaced in American culture by the Netflix series the Tiger King — although I have not seen the show. It is less notable today but there was a time when a good number of people who knew me and actually got along with me might have said that I had a hero complex. I think that — as such people would have meant it very long ago — is fair comment. The world goes on but we must live with who we are in the ever changing and yet remarkably consistent world. Among other things I have read an article or two that his may mark the end of the stock market as we know it. The forty million dollar guaranteed minimum prizes of the Powerball and Mega Millions have ended. Supposedly thousands of small businesses have ended. These are just America centered facts. That does not do justice to all the many lives that have been lost in this country and around the world. For me this has been a time of trying to keep things together. It has been an attempt to end as little as possible but there have been many things that did end. Another important one ended Friday. Sunday May 10 was Mother’s Day and the day after that is my parents wedding anniversary. The same Sundaywasalso my nephews First Communion. He and another of my nephews were about to make their First Communions together when the pandemic closed the churches and upended those plans. I am sorry to say I was eager enough to go to that first ceremony but was not able to attend the private ceremony in a tiny chapel for the first one and will not attend the more open outdoor mass for the second one that will be held tomorrow. Maybe it is for the best. I am not a regular churchgoer anymore. Nor do I see that changing. I have been praying a bit more these days but not as much as I used to. I have still kept reading the short book (208 pages more or less) Failing Forward that I mentioned in my last post. It is helping me process some tough times but is not making it all clear nor am I applying it in a way that would fairly test its principles. But i find life to be about letting go of more and more things every year both old and new,
But, I am not as much of a standout for being Gung Ho as far being critical and not very content, I hold the two things to both be compelling obligations. I have to try to support what my country is and what keeps it together and equally I have to be true to myself and for me there are so many things going in directions that are burdensome, sad, troubling depressing and just bad.
The documentary series “The Last Dance” on ESPN is something I would like to watch but have not been able to watch yet. Friday of this week was perhaps the most disappointing day of the Corona Virus Pandemic for me personally. it was a day when the strains of a number of adjustments that I have had to make added up to such a significant cumulative total that I just could not go forward without being significantly affected. The interior storms are always the ones I mind the most. I do really find life in America in general amazingly hostile and depressing on a trend over what is becoming a series of great number of years and the general trend is that it gets worse in so very many ways every year. That is why it is strange to feel kindly treated by the society as a whole in this crisis. I feel that I am not being treated by the standard of lying, evil twisted and hate-filled smug authoritarianism that I personally experience as very much the norm in dealing with the major institutions of the Land of the Free. Friday with some accumulation from the past few days was closer to a reversion to the norm. Life showed me again how horrible and impossible my life here often is and I feel the very certain sense that things will get worse till my life is snuffed out to the satisfaction of the observers. But this last Saturday, I woke grateful for the little respite that I have enjoyed in the midst of all this crisis. Whether that will last or not for another day, week or year it is worth noting while it is reality. At this moment little in form of institutionalized hate and attempted murder is directed my way. I should enjoy that change of pace. I am grateful to be included in the relief and stimulus plans when so many plans were so carefully devised to exclude me. But I am only hoping and not at all sure that things will be alright for a while when we get through this crisis. I am only taking each little step I can/ Maybe the result of this rest and passive income will be to give a little more force, hope and style to the end — just maybe instead of a whimper I will be restored enough not for a new start or grand plans but enough to have a little last hurrah in a few ways instead of just watching the decay of some things I built and the burning structure of others.