The constant droning of the freeway, just a mile away from here, has almost become the much anticipated and appreciated holiday silence.
These quiet moments are treasured more than any words could possibly describe, and I’m thankful that they occasionally exist. They remind me of living in the Maine Woods, both on Sabattus Lake (in the summers of my youth) and Allen Pond (while raising my own children).
Today’s silence is marked by flags from “the land of the free, and home of the brave,” standing still in the silence of a breezeless, overcast morning.
A few flags, like mine, are still kept in their folded, molded shapes, representing a life that’s now gone by and put into someone’s closet for safe keeping… [Like anyone would actually steal this family treasure upon entering a home. I’m thinking it could be on a dining room table in plain sight, and would be left untouched right where it is, while all else would be stolen by any unwanted intruders.]
I once tried to give away Uncle Bill’s memento of all he had done in life, to a friend whose husband’s flag – which she flew on a pole in her front yard – was stolen. I thought, “I have Uncle Bill’s memories, why keep his flag?” So, I gave it to her in a moment of magnanimity and (perhaps?) closure.
She kept the flag for only a week, and brought it right back to me saying, “There’s something really eerie about this flag.”
So, I tucked it away, again. “Can’t put closure on a heart,” thought I.
I’m hoping that everyone that comes to wine country today will raise his or her glass in memory of someone that means something to him or her… Otherwise, why do we have this day off?
I was just struck by something that Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes once said, “Our soldiers don’t ‘give’ their lives, they’re ‘taken’ away.” Andy’s not going to celebrate Memorial Day until someone’s found something worth celebrating… like finding a way to co-exist in peace.
I’m with him.
This image of eternal peace, with the shadows of the past and the light of the future working together, says it all.
This weekend, I’m going to have a moment of silence for my own family members who may not have given their lives in battle, but they did give their sanity a good run for its money – all surviving with post war distress from participation in the “War of the Times.” I know, having lived so long with my dad, that survival was, in some ways for him, worse than death itself (post-traumatic stress disorder).
James Clark (Great grandfather, 5 times removed), born in Kittery, Maine, between brothers Elisha Clark (about 1732) and Ebenezer Clark (1744). He was known as “Uncle Jimmy.” He served nine months with the Continental Army, and was taken from a vessel and held a prisoner for three years when his daughter Patience was a baby. (One source stated he died 1778/9 in a British prison in Hailfax, Nova Scotia, which is wrong because he had children after then.) He is buried in Lincoln Cemetery, and there is a Revolutionary War flag holder at his grave, where there is a small foot stone with J.C. on it.
- He dropped the “e” in his name of “Clarke,” with which he was born, and was later picked back up again for all future generations. I was later born with the “e” in Clarke.
- His efforts earned my way into being a Daughters of the American Revolution, but I’ve not pursued the group… Who has time and they’re a little bit too proud. (“Pride cometh before a fall.”)
Harold Emerson Clarke (great uncle with no children), born May 7, 1890, Nobleboro, Maine, died June 5, 1946. Resided in Nobleboro, Maine. He was an inventor and was honored in World War II for inventing the foot measurer for U.S. Army. This device was used to process soldiers more expediently, at a point in history when time was of the essence.
David Emerson Clarke (father), born September 24, 1922, Waterville, Maine, died April 21, 1990. Served in World War II. Entered the war on the Beaches of Normandy. He was to lead a motorcycle brigade as an officer, having left Norwich University when the war broke out. My father was given the choice of joining with a commission, or being drafted as a Private. He gave up pre-med and joined the war.
- Bracelet above was my mother’s, and included all things from both of them; both pre and then post World War II. Items include Dad’s pin from Norwich, a uniform infantry pin, his Theta Chi Fraternity pin, a violin for his talent, and lots of Christian medals that came from my mom’s childhood, all to bring him home again.
Joseph Clarke (older brother of David E. Clarke and a first uncle), World War II. Uncle Joe served in both France and Germany. He graduated from Norwich, and he ended up on a couple of Posts in GA and VA before he was sent overseas. He was a Captain in reconnaissance with Patton. He was in the Battle of the Bulge.
William Clarke (middle brother, with my father being the youngest of three, and the flag that I hold, along with his spirit), World War II.
Joseph Clarke, son of Joseph Clarke above, graduated from Norwich and he was sent to Korea for a couple of years. It’s interesting to note that the died as a young man, and is no longer here, either, although he’d only be a few month older than I am.
In loving memory… Memorial Day Weekend thoughts from wine country… May you also hold dear those in your family who have, or are now serving, our country in this selfless way.
I constantly wish there were no wars – ever. That, however, isn’t the nature of our planet. What would we do without white blood cells? I wonder about that constantly, as I wish away all soldiering. I don’t have the answer to what our planet would be like with no killing of any kind, but I still wish it away…. along with Andy Rooney.