Being as I spend most of my time looking at World War I memorials, I sometimes forget that Veterans Day, for most Americans, is the kind of federal holiday where you have to stop and think about why the library is closed and you aren’t getting any mail. There are still ceremonies if you know where to look for them (usually, at the town war memorials); there are often articles about veterans in the daily newspapers; Google has made a Doodle about it, but it does not command the public attention it once did. In the interwar years, Americans gathered yearly in long parades and large public gatherings to honor the dead of World War I. They did this even though Armistice Day was not made a federal holiday until 1938. In 1954, the holiday was renamed Veterans Day, to honor veterans of all wars.Continue reading “And They Shall Beat Their Swords into Plowshares”
Tag: monuments & memorials
The Light of Autumn
The light has changed;
middle C is tuned darker now.
And the songs of morning sound over-rehearsed.
This is the light of autumn, not the light of spring.Louise Glück, “October”
The light of autumn: You will not be spared.
Several weeks ago, exploring Minneapolis’s Lakewood Cemetery on a hunt for war memorials, I stumbled across the grave of a 5-year-old girl.Continue reading “The Light of Autumn”
The Past Still Needs Us
“I want to wander. But the past still needs me.
How could I ever leave?”
– Hua Xi, The Past Still Needs Me
A sentiment I have heard more and more in recent years from confused and weary liberals is the bitter sense that Lincoln made a grave mistake in keeping the Union together. Why bother? Why not let the South just go? I was first asked this question just after the 2016 election, but I get it more these days, both from my students and from folks who would be pretty happy creating a United Republic of the East and West Coasts and calling it a day. Let them have kept their slaves. Let them have their guns and their backward lives. Leave us out of it.Continue reading “The Past Still Needs Us”
Abandoning the ‘War’ on COVID
When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.
Sometime this month or next, the United States will hit a once-unimaginable milestone: one million dead from coronavirus. When that happens, the reaction from many will be muted. Americans are exhausted, most agree, and they are ready to put the pandemic behind them, whether or not the pandemic is done with them. We have hit so many milestones by now that these numbers appear almost meaningless to us. What makes one million more unimaginable than any of the rest of them?Continue reading “Abandoning the ‘War’ on COVID”
Somewhere in the first weeks of the pandemic, a knot settled in my chest. It falls in the middle of my sternum, some physical manifestation of grief and stress and whatever else we have all shouldered these past twenty months. It ebbs and it flows, but it has settled between my ribs and made its home there. In doing so, it has become my most constant companion over the last year and a half, with me through every loss and setback, every step forward.Continue reading “Endurance”