Happy Memorial Day!

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We’ve had a beautiful weekend in Columbus, with sunny, clear weather and a traditional cookout yesterday.  With the arrival of Memorial Day, though, it’s time to take a step back and think for a while about the reason for this three-day weekend, and the men and women whose sacrifices in the service of their country helped to safeguard the many freedoms that we enjoy.

When I was a kid, Grandma and Grandpa Neal took UJ and me on a trip to Washington, D.C.  We visited Arlington National Cemetery, with its long, quiet rows of white crosses, and the Iwo Jima Memorial and its depiction of the stirring photograph of a flag-raising effort on Mount Suribachi during one of the bloodiest battles in World War II.  Those visits made a tremendous impression on me, and on days like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Veterans Day I turn back to those awed, hushed memories and reflect on how many have served, and how well.

The inscription at the base of the Iwo Jima Memorial reads:  “Uncommon valor was a common virtue.”  It’s a fitting point of reference on this Memorial Day.

A grateful thank you to those who served, and those who serve still.  Happy Memorial Day!

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Happy Memorial Day!

The east side of the Ohio Statehouse features the Ohio veterans plaza.  It consists of two curved stone walls that face each other from opposite ends of the plaza, two fountains, and two grassy rectangles with room for flowers and plenty of Ohio flags that can be put in place for a holiday weekend.

The stone walls are adorned with snippets from letters written by Ohioans who were serving in the different wars in which America has fought.  It’s a simple yet elegant reminder of one unifying reality for all of the soldiers and sailors, regardless of when or where they fought:  they left home in service of their country, and as they put themselves in harm’s way they wanted to let the family back home that they were okay, that they accepted the cost of their service, and that they hoped to make it back home when their service was done.

This weekend they’ve also put up a simple wreath at the northern end of the plaza.  It’s a good place to reflect on the sacrifices of those who have served and to inwardly express our appreciation to them for making our current lives possible.

Profound thanks to all of our veterans, and happy Memorial Day to everyone!

That Wonderful Start-Of-A-Three-Day-Weekend Feeling

Today the French Wrestling Fan and I went to lunch at Milestone 229, a restaurant on the Scioto Mile.  We ate outside on a beautiful day, with a prime view of the cool outdoor fountains located next to the restaurant.

While we sat there a young girl took her shoes off and ran out to the fountain area.  She had a ball walking barefoot through the water, scuffling her feet and sending sprays of water into the air.  Her innocent fun captured the kind of giddy, fabulous feeling we all get on the cusp of a three-day summer weekend.  

It was all I could do to resist taking off my shoes and walking through the water, too.  We might need to do some barefooting this weekend, however.

Working On The Friday Before The Memorial Day Weekend

It’s the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend, the first big three-day weekend of 2016.

The Martin Luther King Day and President’s Day three-day weekends don’t really count, do they?  They come during the winter when the weather stinks and it’s not much fun to go outside.  The Memorial Day weekend is different.  Now, people want to get outside and get going.  The traveling types want to hit the road, even though they know the traffic will be a pain, and get to their destination at the beach or the mountains or the national park as quickly as possible.  The stay-at-homers are looking forward to partying with friends and family, grilling out, playing catch, and swimming at the public pool on its opening weekend.  And everyone, whether they are staying or going, is looking forward to donning sunglasses and putting on shorts and drinking a cold beverage in warm sunshine.

empty-office-007We’re on the verge of the unofficial beginning of summer.  You can feel it in your bones, and today you’ll feel it in your workplace, too, as you walk past lots of empty offices and darkened cubicles and overhear co-workers talking about their fun weekend plans and see them anxiously looking at clocks and watches  and cell phones .

I’ve always thought the Fridays before the Memorial Day weekend and the Labor Day weekend are two of the toughest working days of the year.  If you’re smart and have the seniority, you take a vacation day and enjoy that magical four-day weekend.  If you’re a marginal employee, or worse, you wake up this morning and somehow convince yourself that you can plausibly call in sick on one of the days when workplace absenteeism undoubtedly is at its peak.  But if you’re a solid, responsible adult like the rest of us, you show up for work today, accept that it’s part of the job, and feel like a kid on the last day of school, just waiting for the bell to ring telling you that you can run out the school doors without coming back for three months.

I look at it this way:  working on the Friday before Memorial Day just makes the three-day weekend all the sweeter.

Thank You

The Revolutionary War.  The War of 1812.  The Civil War.  The Spanish-American War.  World War I.  World War II.  The Korean War.  The Vietnam War.  The Gulf War.  The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

So many wars — and those are just the ones that have official names.  In between there have been countless smaller conflicts and instances of service, where members of the armed forces have fought against the Barbary pirates, or rescued hostages, or delivered crucial supplies to survivors of hurricanes or earthquakes.  And in the middle of it all has been the individual Americans serving in the Navy, the Army, the Marines, the Air Force, or the Coast Guard, who have safeguarded our shores, fought against the oppressors, and delivered help in times of need — and often made the ultimate sacrifice.

To those who have fallen, to those who have served, to the veterans and to the active members of the armed forces:  Thank you.

Memorial Day Money-Making

Memorial Day is one of the great American holidays.  It’s also widely recognized as one of the biggest driving weekends of the year, as people kick-start their summer with visits to relatives or a long weekend at a beach or lake.

So . . . why do our uniformed friends want to make the weekend painful for patriotic American motorists by looking to hand out speeding tickets by the bushel basket?

On our drive from Columbus to Cleveland on Friday afternoon every conceivable law enforcement representative — from the Ohio Highway Patrol with their spiffy gray muscle cars, to helmeted and booted motorcycle cops, to “County Mounties” and local police officers, seemed to be out on the road, aiming their radar guns at motorists.  It’s weird and unnerving to see a uniformed person pointing a gun-like device your way, and it aggravates an already stressful driving experience.  The roads are clogged as it is, and the immediate braking when a patrolman comes into view just adds to the congestion and the hassle.

Many people theorize that there are speeding ticket quotas each month that officers need to meet to help bring money in to governmental coffers, and therefore you’re more likely to see police stopping speeders and handing out tickets at the end of the month than at the beginning.  I’m not sure about that, but Kish and I saw more police officers out on I-71 on our drive up on Friday and back this morning than we’ve ever seen before.

I recognize that we can’t have people playing Max Max on our highways, but is it really necessary to send every officer of the peace in the Buckeye State out to hand out tickets?  How about letting us celebrate Memorial Day without getting hit with a fine?