Saturday, June 2, 2018

Memorial Day memories

So we were able to have a full rich weekend together last week.  Spring cleaning was, much to the chagrin of the boys, a dominant feature of the first day of the weekend.  We needed it done, what can I say.  I skillfully let Mom be the administrator of the charge, that way she caught the gruff :).  Nonetheless, we still managed some kick back time in the evening, enjoying the weather, and watching some of the many movies that rotate around our more patriotic holidays.

On Sunday, there was a memorial service at the Orthodox Church.  The Orthodox have a name day on every day of the year.  Often, after the close of service (which total can run three or more hours), they will still add services, depending on the occasion.  Sometimes it is a memorial service for certain individuals, though exactly who and why I've not yet figured out.  They always have a special dish for that (called Koliva IIRC), and it is brought up before the service takes place.   In this Sunday's case, they had a special memorial service for Memorial Day weekend.  Yes the Orthodox accommodate American culture once in awhile.

The cookout was epic.  The two oldest bought and brought four slabs of baby-back ribs.  In addition, we had already purchased brats, hot dogs and hamburgers.  Homemade side dishes and plenty of beverages over the smoker and grills kept us going through most of the morning.  We plopped down with Styrofoam plates in hand, staying inside since it was already a sweltering mid 90s.  We watched the 1941 Gary Cooper classic Sergeant York.  I had never seen that, though I've heard rave reviews over the years.

It lived up to the hype.  Cooper was pitch perfect as the reluctant but dedicated York, who was once a hoodlum, turned devout Christian and Conscientious Objector, who then becomes America's most celebrated war hero.  I loved the fact that the movie spoke of York 'getting religion' in a non-ironic, non-derogatory way.  My boys said, as they do of so many films from back then, that it was like watching movies from another planet, where the Bible was everywhere, even with those who didn't 'have religion'.  More's the pity.

Memorial Day evening took us to our local cemetery.  Due to the heat, we decided to wait until the evening, when the temperature had plummeted to a frigid 89 degrees.  We usually wander about, looking at the headstones of veterans and those who died in service.  There is a small crypt near the entrance for veterans of the Revolution.  The oldest section of the cemetery also has some who served in America's War for Independence, as well as some earlier conflicts like the War of 1812 and the Civil War.  We pay our respects and the boys, over the years, have taken it upon themselves to clear off any headstones they find that are covered with grasses, weeds and similar things that block the writing.

When we got home, we watched a little of the annual PBS Memorial Day special, but my boys noticed a premium on talking about soldiers who 'broke the mold' (ie., women, ethnic minorities) and not so much remembering the fallen.  They felt that would be more appropriate for Veterans Day (if, in fact, we need to forever divide people up into demographics rather than unite as merely Americans).  Memorial Day is, after all, a time of more somber reflection, remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

So it turned out well.  Everyone was together, we watched movies, played games, ate until we were full, visited and generally gave thanks for the country we've been blessed to grow up in.

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, mechanized infantry can have its away against German armor, even German armor backed by the legendary Tiger tanks.  All you need is a company of Shermans to outnumber them.

FWIW, when we do take time for our old wargaming pastime, I always remind them - and now sometimes they remind me - that what we are simulating was no joke.  Don't take it lightly.  It's only a game, but always remember what it represents.


  1. Your boys comment about watching old movies came to mind (I almost said something to you before) when I recently watched the Rocky movies all the way through for the first time. The first surprised me because you see Rocky kneel and pray right before the first fight without a sense of irony but in a genuine moment.

    This continues all the way through as in movie 2 he sits in a church when his wife is ill and (#3 I think) he actually goes and wakes a priest to ask him for a blessing. I think all 6 movies had moments like these signaling that religion was part of who Rocky is. (Probably my only complaint about Creed - which was stupendous by the way - is that there's no sign of his beliefs, even though blacks are often even more churchgoing as a demographic than whites.)

    1. I remember up until the late 80s, you could have popular references to Christianity in various shows or movies. I remember the Revelation reference in Ghostbusters, done not ironically (and notice that when the cardinal walks into the Mayor's office, the cast all act as if someone important has arrived). I seem to recall the show Nightcourt had, at different times, overt references to Jesus and Christianity in a positive way (mixed with decidedly non-Christian views of course). I think that speaks to that era of liberalism that promised a country where all were welcome, and we were supposed to be open to all things, Christianity included. That's a change from Rocky or Sgt. York approaches, but at least the Faith hadn't become almost exclusively the villain, as it more often than not is now.

  2. FWIW, when we do take time for our old wargaming pastime, I always remind them - and now sometimes they remind me - that what we are simulating was no joke. Don't take it lightly. It's only a game, but always remember what it represents.

    It could be an interesting school experiment to team up your gaming with say... VDH's "Second World Wars" (watch: and discuss the kind of things that came up then.

    1. That's what we do. Other games we use for other things of course. For instance we played Empires in Arms (off for now, will get back to it down the road), but used it to teach about the broader Revolutionary period, the Napoleonic era, Russia in the 19th century, War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, the Crimean War, and various topics we could trace or jump off from. That, BTW, is where our youngest learned of Sevastopol, how to pronounce it, and why it's been important (he also learned of the Crimea, and we did some Current Events too) - the joy of homeschooling :)

  3. Looks like you all had a great time. happy to hear it.


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