Wednesday, November 11, 2015

November 11: The War, Veterans Day, D. H. Melhem, "Salmon: The Seattle Aquarium," Off the Top of My Head

Then the war had come.  Exempted from active service because of bad hearing in one ear, from a time he had nearly drowned while swimming at Coney Island late one summer, he did his bit as a civilian employee with a unit of the Army Information Service out in Secaucus, New Jersey, where he worked for three years during the war, churning out instructional comics with titles like "Health Tips for the Lonesome G. I." and "Hygiene at Sea," pamphlets, and posters about everything from malaria to VD, dental hygiene to the practical necessity of using a condom during the act of love.  Every so often he was sent over to one of the military airfields, where he would spend many an hour in the open air painting inspirational insignia, cartoon characters, and movie stars on the fusilages of bombers and fighters--Betty Grable in a bathing suit one of his specialties...

Like many young men of his generation, when the United States enters World War II, Ives volunteers to serve in the army.  He wants to do his part to protect his country and the world from the threat of Germany and Japan.  When he isn't eligible for active duty, Ives still does his part for the war effort, using his artistic talents to help the war effort.  He is an honorable guy and does the honorable thing.

Today, in the United States, we celebrate Veterans Day.  It is a time set aside to honor and thank those people who have served in our military.  Free dinners are provided for veterans at restaurants.  School assemblies are held, commemorating the sacrifices of our service men and women.  Moments of silence are held.  It is a day of gratitude for the freedoms that all U. S. citizens enjoy and the people who have fought to preserve those freedoms.

Today, I am thankful for all the people who have put themselves in harm's way to defend the American way of life.  Granted, the United States is not a perfect country.  Far from it.  It is a work in progress.  Racism and inequality still exist within our borders.  Poverty and gun violence.  Yet, we can do something about these problems.  Protest.  Write blog posts.  Talk about them in classrooms.  Because we can, without fear of recrimination or punishment.  Thanks to our veterans.

Saint Marty salutes all these brave men and women, and he expresses his heartfelt thanks.

And now, for a poem about love and devotion (in a way)...

Salmon:  The Seattle Aquarium

by:  D. H. Melhem

Salmon have one love.
Sometimes swimming
fifteen hundred miles they
return to hail the Columbia River
give birth in their first waters
do the thing for which
they were crafted.  Salmon
are watched timewise
in the Aquarium.  Spawned
they swim overhead
in a circular
tank.  Are freed
by steps
to the sea.

Off the Top of My Head

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