“HOME OF THE FREE, BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE…” Memorial Day Thoughts

SEE NAOMI KLEIN WINS SYDNEY PEACE PRIZE – A.M. AFTER I POSTED THIS BLOG, below

This scene from Chatham, Massachusetts, which I call “Tethered Steeple” could also be titled “Tethered Flag.”  This morning I passed the Lawrenceville Volunteer Fire Department, en route home from having kayaked to the Fishing Bridge and back.  Our firemen had created their Memorial Day sign:  “HOME OF THE FREE, BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE.”

Tethered Tower  Chatham Scenes 002

Tethered Tower, Chatham, Mass.

Regular NJWILDBEAUTY readers know my grave concern for citizens’ rights in our land.  My immediate thought, upon seeing that noble firehouse sign this morning was, “Well, they all seem to have died in vain.”

1 1776 1876 Flag

1776 1876 American Flag from Internet

I worry a great deal about what our Founding Fathers must think of vanished liberty in so-called America.  About everyone’s being treated as a criminal in airports, and now even in museums and theatres (Manhattan, not yet in Princeton).

Lawrenceville Fire Department 002

Lawrenceville Fire Department Mailbox

I am particularly devastated that land, –even that preserved in perpetuity-, is being punctured already with PIPELINE pipes of hideous yellow – color of 21st-Century tyranny.

Pipeline Precursor D&R Canal Princeton July 2013 038

PIPELINE: “We have met the enemy, and he is …” Fossil Fuel Corporations.

This land is no longer OUR LAND, as the lovely song insisted when we were fighting our own government to end the Vietnam War.  “…and all around us, a voice was singing, this land was made for you and me.”       Reality seems to me, “this land was made for fossil fuels!”

Cape May Half-Mast Christmas 2015

Cape May Point Flag at Half Mast in Gale

The fossil fuel industry would have it otherwise, as would many so-called ecological organizations, significantly funded by those whose motto is “Drill, Baby, Drill!”, (referred to by the brilliant author, Naomi Klein, as ‘Big Green.’  (This Changes Everything — Capitalism vs. the Climate”.)

Bayhead Flag in April April wind 2016

Bay Head New Jersey Flag at Ocean where Sandy Landed, in high wind of April 2016

I don’t know what the rest of you do to counter these dire trends.  What would George and Ben and John and Abigail and Thomas (Paine) and Thomas (Jefferson) have done, faced with the restrictions and constrictions of liberty in our times?

Borden's Towne

Nearby Town of Revolutionary Fervor, including only home owned by the rightfully fiery Thomas Paine

Please note how many of my excursion pictures seem to be taken in high winds…  We should stop blaming the situation of ‘climate change’, and begin accurately targeting fossil fuel magnates, politicians bought by them, the organizations founded by and funded by them, who permit the continued ruination of our country, our Planet.

Chatham Light Storm-blown Flag jpg

Chatham Light and Flag in Wild Pre-Storm Wind, 2015

Memorial Day used to be called ‘Decoration Day.’  It was created to honor Civil War dead, and there were supposedly two different such days, — one for the North and one for the South.  Somehow they were, –after a suitable lapse of time–, merged into Memorial Day.

Maine Cemetery Old Headstones

Maine Cemetery, Harpswell, Old Headstones in Late Light

As children, families went to the family graveyards, honoring deceased relatives.  We did not, but many did, [and in Salem and Cumberland Counties of New Jersey, many still do], have a memorial meal at the grave site.  When we visited, we cleaned the graves, weeded, watered, brought new flowers, and parents reminisced.  Our ancestors lived on through these rituals.

O Say Can You See at Chatham Fish Pier

“O, Say, Can You See?” at Chatham Fish Pier, October 2015

Turns out we were ‘doing it wrong,’, as this day is supposed to be about honoring those who died in war for our country.

1 Starry Stars Flag

Starry Stars “Old Glory” from Internet

Lawrenceville Fire Department 015

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave – Lawrenceville’s 9/11 Heroes

“HOME OF THE FREE, BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE.”

Let’s KEEP it that way.  Write legislators, editors, heads of ruinous Fossil Fuel organizations.  There is a Women’s movement, called “Take Back the Night.”

We need to pledge OUR lives, OUR fortunes, OUR sacred honor, if there is any such entity in these troubled times.

We need a TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY mentality.  Our land needs to be OUR land again.

Beekman Arms Flags Rhinebeck NY

Full Glory, Rhinebeck NY: Beekman Arms Inn and Tavern – Oldest Continuously Operating in America – since Pre-Revolutionary Days

 

Naomi Klein awarded 2016 Sydney Peace Prize.

We are very proud to share the news that Naomi has been awarded the 2016 Sydney Peace Prize by the Sydney Peace Foundation.

Naomi will be travelling to Sydney, Australia in November to accept the award and attend an array of events organised by the Sydney Peace Foundation.

Tickets to her award speech at the Sydney Town Hall on November 11th are available here.

We hope this will be a powerful opportunity to continue to bring conversations around social justice and climate change into the discourse in Australia as well as support the work of social movements across the region.

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Naomi and look forward to welcoming her to Australia in November.

Edward Said London Lecture

Fossil fuels require sacrifice zones: they always have. And you can’t have a system built on sacrificial places and sacrificial people unless intellectual theories that justify their sacrifice exist and persist: from Manifest Destiny to Terra Nullius to Orientalism, from backward hillbillies to backward Indians. – Naomi Klein Edward Said London Lecture May 2016.

On May 3rd Naomi delivered the Edward Said London Lecture – if you haven’t had a chance yet I urge you to read or watch her powerful address.

In solidarity,
Alex for This Changes Everything team

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The Untold Story — Triggered by Memorial Day

Memorial Day — remembering….

Sometimes, it’s just too much.  I am expected to keep on working, hiking, writing poems and blogs, taking pictures, that this should be antidote enough.

It is not.

Part of me warns, do not send this post.

Another part knows that there are others for whom Holidays are ordeals.  Shared Holidays.  Holidays never to be shared again.

Even something so simple as a picnics, let alone a chance encounter with one of my daughters’ friends, brings up memories not to be borne, memories never to be re-lived, let alone expanded.

Loss of the highest magnitude is my fate, since the 1980’s.

It is said that the worst loss is the death of one’s children.  There is something worse. – when they are taken from you.  When, still alive, you do not exist to your children.

There isn’t a hike or a kayak or a trip anywhere on the planet that counters agony of this magnitude.

One of my daughter’s Princeton classmates brought about this tragedy.  He, evidently, has recovered from it, and is restored to his family.  Mine have heroically tried many routes to healing, and I honor them for it.  But the brainwashing that severed them from the entire family remains indelible.

It happened because my girls cared about community service from the time they were very young.  I worked at what was then called “The Old Folks Home.”  Nobody calls it that any longer.  I went there one day a week, to serve their patients.

My daughters’ two sets of grandparents were not with them in summertime — two settled into their native Switzerland, seeking various cures at baths that went back to the Romans.  The others lived far away The girls wanted grandparents.  So I took them with me every Wednesday.  We didn’t have the concept of ‘virtual’, then.  But this is what they sought.

Grown-up volunteers wore ghastly uniforms, a hideous hue, meaning nothing to wearer nor viewer.  My girls wore bright dresses I had sewed.  Both girls had that long Swiss luminous hair.

Barely anyone touched the patients.  Board members would come and go, ducking right down to the Board Room, without going near a resident.

My girls skipped down the hall carrying the welcome mail, scurrying eagerly into each room, knowing everyone’s name.  They went right up to each person, engaging no matter how gruff some of them could be.

The old people loved to see and touch the vivid dresses, stroke the blonde hair.  I see now, the girls were life, were the future, grandchildren whom these people could not see, let alone touch.

We’d been warned not to try to talk to certain ones, let alone try get them to complete their menus (lunch and dinner). The eager girls could get through, even to the deaf, the stubborn and the blind.  Each did know exactly what to eat, and the girls merrily marked it down, skipping triumphantly back to the front desk, bearing their trophies.

Relationships were built and they strengthened weekly.  Everyone was crushed if I came without the girls that particular Wednesday.

We’d bring our guitars sometimes, and play simple, old-fashioned songs for them in the different sunrooms.  They could sing right along.  Some had forgotten almost everything, but not the words to those songs. They also liked “Puff the Magic Dragon”, and “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore,” though those had not been part of their own young memories.

At Christmastime, we would bring the girls’ friends along, because those friends had witnessed the girls’ enthusiasm for this service.  I think it was two different weekends, each year.  One to decorate the trees with all the people sitting around in each sunroom.  And one to sit by the lit trees and sing carols.  One of those other children told me years later, “Mrs. Edelmann, of all the things we did with your family, doing the trees and singing the songs are my favorite memories.”

One woman patient was from Germany, so she sounded like the girls’ Swiss grandmother,  A very strong connection was made with her, and with her o, so faithful, very proper and dignified husband, Dr. X.

One day the girls came scurrying back to me, for they made rounds alone by this time — those patients belonged to them.  “Mommy, Mommy, something’s wrong with Mrs. X!,” they cried.  “Come with us!”  I asked, as we hurried back to the room, “How do you know?”  “She keeps saying ‘schmerzen, schmerzen” they chorused.     I murmured, “O, Honeys, that means pain.”

We could see that she was suffering, so much that all English had fled.  We had his phone number, I don’t remember why.  We called and told Dr. X and he came right over.  Whatever that crisis was, passed.  However, Mrs. X was not with us much longer.  A few months after her death, we had a dear hand-written note from her husband, thanking us for caring so much about his wife, inviting us to a formal tea in his lovely, almost archaic, Princeton home.

Service always mattered to my girls, though they were so young at this point.  In school, they took on official roles.  In all schools, and sports, they shone.  They cared about the community and its creatures, one, at seven dictating a letter to the editor of the Packet about deer in our town.  The other learned sign language in school, used it to reach autistic children at what was then New Jersey Neuropsychiatric Institute every week.  She later taught French with sign language to a student at a nearby New England college.  Service always mattered.

The Princeton classmate took advantage of their need to make the world a better place.  He ‘fed’ them to his guru.  It has been decades since I, myself, have touched their shining hair, let alone hugged either daughter.

Memorial Day is the least of the family Holidays, in terms of painful memories.  But it’s one more when we’re not together, when I can’t call them up and remember our backyard festivities in the Braeburn years.

Don’t let anyone insist you can get over loss.  No.  It grows.  It leaps.  It sabotages you when least expected.

Their guru taught all his captives that families are diabolic.  What he meant by his lie was, all families who disapproved of the cult.

Bereaved parents have all my sympathy, always:  No matter how or when they lose their dear ones, it’s always too soon.

Can you imagine that I envy other parents the funerals, even the flowers, gravesites where they may make pilgrimage?

When you’ve lost your children, every day is Memorial Day.

You don’t know how you are going to go on.

But you do.