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Posts Tagged ‘WWII’

You remember the Christopher Nolan film Dunkirk. Most Americans had never heard about the WWII evacuation of British, French and Belgian troops off the coast of northern France in 1940, on the heels of German advancement. Technically a military defeat, the Brits have enshrined this event as a testament to courage and perseverance through dangerous waters. Fishermen and yacht men alike sailed to the rescue.

“…the tugs, drifters, trawlers, barges and motor launches, and rowing boats. Yes, and there was even a canoe.
This strange assortment was got together in record time by the Small Vessel Pool, an organisation which scoured the seaside places and rivers of Britain for every conceivable type of craft.
The response of owners of vessels everywhere was magnificent. There was no grousing at having to give up boats, indeed their only desire was to give their boats and a little more. In effect it represented the spirit of Dunkirk.

https://wordhistories.net/2019/04/16/dunkirk-spirit-origin/

Her Majesty the Queen of England just referenced the Dunkirk Spirit on a Zoom call with the builders and hospital staff of the new 155 bed Covid unit at the Royal London Hospital. The construction should have taken five months but was completed in five weeks. She recalled how Covid left her exhausted and then said:

“It is very interesting, isn’t it, when there is some very vital thing, how everybody works together and pulls together – marvelous isn’t it? …the “Dunkirk spirit. “Thank goodness it still exists.”

But does it exist here? Our response to 9/11 may be as close as we’ve come – people gave blood, knit booties for cadaver dogs, pulled together. Congress – Republicans and Democrats – sang the national anthem on the steps of the Capitol. The high school Rocker’s band played a concert in support of the rescue effort in Red Bank, NJ, not knowing that later he’d be scoring the Dunkirk trailer in Hollywood.

Maybe at the start of this pandemic, when people were singing on balconies and banging pots and pans, we approximated the Dunkirk Spirit. We were making masks for strangers, delivering pizzas to ERs, and felt compelled to care for our elderly and the immunocompromised. But how long can such altruism sustain itself?

Covid hasn’t gone away. We haven’t really defeated the microbe, in fact Nancy Pelosi just tested positive for the bug. You can be immunized and boosted as much as you like, but if you happen to be of a certain age, or have a chronic condition, it would be best to keep masking and avoiding indoor crowds whenever possible. It’s just that now, people would rather forget the pandemic. They are ready to get on with their lives.

Bob and I had a taste of the Dunkirk Spirit this past weekend. Our new Nashville neighborhood has a well established “Buy Nothing” Facebook group. The Bride has lured me back to Facebook because she noticed an elliptical machine that was up for grabs, and she knew we were in the market for one. I wrote to the owner that we’d stopped going to the gym in 2020, and that our “bodies and souls” could use her Nordic Track. Then the Bride wrote that we need to keep in shape for the wee grandchildren.

And Voila! Bob, the Groom and a friend hopped into a pick-up and delivered the elliptical to our family room. It appeared like magic, no shopping, no buying. Bob and I had posted the original kitchen appliances from our new/old house to Buy Nothing if you recall. We helped neighbors hoist and haul a perfectly good oven and a washer/dryer. I love this circle of giving. I just hope it’s not too late for my knees.

Ms Bean is delighted

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Did anyone else watch that horrific footage of the Beirut explosion this past week and think of a nuclear bomb? Or has the world forgotten that we still have over 13 thousand atomic weapons waiting peacefully around the world to be deployed. https://fas.org/issues/nuclear-weapons/status-world-nuclear-forces/

There are nine men in control of the bombs we know about, nine with their fingers on the button of a blast that could level the entire earth.

Yesterday marked 75 years since America dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima in 1945. Three days later, we did it again in Nagasaki. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians were incinerated or badly burned. The survivors are now well into their 80s. And yet, today the news is all about economic numbers and coronavirus graphs – nuclear disarmament isn’t on the radar of nationalist/strong/men leaders around the world.

Coincidentally, I’m right in the middle of July’s first edition book, “Inheritors” from Parnassus. It’s almost like reading a separate story every night; each chapter builds on the other with differing points of view from the same Japanese family two years after WWII ended. Right before sleep, before entering my COVID nightmares, I escape into a tragedy of the the war’s aftermath. How does one survive under American occupation? How will we survive this inflection point while trying to “reopen” our country? Here is what NPR has to say about Asako Serizawa’s masterpiece:

In the before times — e.g., pre-pandemic — the big thinking on social issues by institutional media, philanthropy and academia had reached a point of commodification — curated conversations about the nature and causes of oppression, public health, and public policy were (and still are) sold as revenue generating events. Fixing social problems meant having money and therefore access to policymakers. I’ve curated enough of these events to understand the impact monetized access has on the balance sheet of high profile think tanks and social justice organizations.

But the pandemic and upheavals in our civic culture forced a pivot. Now, we’re reckoning on fundamentals — on happiness, on good and evil. Now, ordinary citizens drive the conversations about solutions for the common good, in social media, through street activism, citizen journalism and grass roots litigation. This emerging civic culture is demanding access to solve tough questions: shall we re-boot the American idea? What are national boundaries for? Does American society need something else besides consensus government? What might that something else look like?  

“The Inheritors provides a stark scenario as one answer. These stories follow the impact of exclusion, of cultural and biological manipulation, of men turning away from humanity…” https://www.npr.org/2020/07/14/890571662/inheritors-maps-a-complicated-family-tree-through-the-centuries

A young photo journalist uploaded a picture of her high school’s crowded hallway in Georgia, no masks with students shoulder to shoulder, and she was suspended by her principal. She tweeted that she didn’t mind, this was “Good Trouble.”

The Groom uploaded a video urging Gov Lee to mandate masks in TN. Yesterday he spoke again from isolation, his voice not quite as strong, but his message was even stronger. https://fox17.com/news/local/tennessee-who-urged-gov-lee-to-take-more-precautions-tests-positive-for-covid-19

He is a critical care doctor battling this virus with courage. When I asked him if he’s losing weight, he said something that warmed my heart,

“No, your daughter’s love language is food.”

In our after times – post- pandemic – which way will the curve of equality and humanity go, what will keep us up at night? I have to believe our arc is trending toward Good Trouble.

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We are all figuring out ways to come together while apart.

Bob and I shared cocktail hour one night in a parking lot with neighbors. Some of us sat on tailgates and some got comfy on camp chairs. While keeping the appropriate distance, we got caught up on local gossip – the last time we’d seen each other we were cleaning up the streets after our Tornado.

I like to capitalize Tornado because it seems weighty, and it was my first time cheating death by Mother Nature. And we cannot forget Nashville was already reeling, before our “Stay at Home” order; some of us had no roof, or a home for shelter.

Yesterday we ordered cupcakes from our local bakery, The Cupcake Collection. Mignon is offering curbside delivery! https://www.thecupcakecollection.com/  They had just started up their business again, after losing a good portion of their historic house to record-setting winds last month. I remember the Bride’s Italian Nanny, Giovanna, loved red velvet cupcakes. But we were hoping to celebrate Great Grandpa Hudson’s 94th birthday with some sweet potato cupcakes.

Hudson was a redhead when he was young. He lied about his age to enlist in WWII and served on a ship in the Pacific Theatre. He is the only grandfather my children have ever known since my father died when I was a baby, and Bob’s father, well, he was of no use. My children never met him.

Hudson still serves as Ada’s co-star in Nashville. But when we would visit them in NJ, he was always the fix-it guy, having actually built a hospital in Ghana once upon a time when he was a missionary. He carved gigantic totem poles, fixed furniture, the pool every spring, and any plumbing or roofing problems that might pop up. He was the husband/handyman every woman ever wanted. Over the years, he’d officiate at more weddings than I can count, including the Bride and Groom’s.

We sang the Happy Birthday song to Hudson through a glass window in the vestibule of their assisted living facility. I’m not really sure if he could hear us. Only aides are allowed in and out, but we could talk with Ada through our cell phones. Her spirit is incredible, this virus cannot diminish that resilient light. “How are my babies?” she asked me. So I told her how the Bride is home-schooling, that she has enough PPE for now, and about Dolly Parton’s gift to Vanderbilt. Dolly for President!

She said she likes my red hair, and I told her it was pink leaning toward fuchsia. Leave it to me to decide to color my hair when I won’t be able to see my stylist for awhile.

Bob and I have figured out how to use Zoom, it’s actually pretty easy. I can still take a group Pilates class once a week through my iPad. I only need a yoga mat and a foam roller. I almost don’t recognize myself in that gallery window box – who is that purple headed lady?

Some of you know that I’ve often felt like a character in an Anne Tyler novel, going about her day to day existence, seemingly normal, while balancing an out-of-control inner life. Maybe most writers live in the subtext? It’s certainly helpful right now – in this out-of-control outer life – to stay in the moment, so I thought I’d recommend Tyler’s newest book to you, since we all have a lot of time on our hands. Why not call up your local bookstore?

Her new novel is “Redhead by the Side of the Road.” It’s about second chances, it’s funny and compassionate at the same time. You might want to eat a cupcake while you read it! https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-520904645953AE18-6DD5-4CA6-93ED-99E3EFF69A4C

 

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