Friday, May 22, 2020

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Battle Hymn of the Republic (1963)

Unfamiliar with Judy Garland's rendition of this week's tune? Hear it here.

Memorial Day is the federal holiday designated to honor American service people who died in battle. 

1) On May 30, 1868, President Grant presided over the Memorial Day observance at Arlington National Cemetery. Have you ever visited Arlington Cemetery? Yes. I've been to Washington DC twice and went there both times.

2) On Memorial Day, it is customary to fly the flag at half-staff until noon and then raise it to the top of the staff until sunset. Will you be flying the flag at your home this weekend? No. I'd like to, but all my windows face the same way, which means the only ones who could see my flag are the next door neighbors. I feel the same way about Christmas lights -- the decorations seems to be lacking something if you can't see them from the street as you pass by.

3) Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, because flowers and ribbons were left on graves of soldiers.  Do you find solace in visiting cemeteries? Not really.

4) The lyrics to this week's song were written by Julia Ward Howe in 1861. Her inspiration was a White House visit with Abraham Lincoln. In 2020, under normal circumstances, public tours of the White House are available but you must request your ticket in advance from your Member of Congress (House or Senate). When you travel, do you plan your trip weeks before you go? Or do you decide how your days will unfold once you reach your destination? If I'm going somewhere like our nation's capital (with many sights to see) or Vegas (with shows to be booked), I plan in advance. Otherwise, I play it by ear.

5) Judy Garland performed this week's song before a live audience as a tribute to President Kennedy, who had been assassinated just weeks before. She knew Kennedy personally and considered this a farewell to a friend. While the performance was difficult for her -- at one point she flubs the lyrics -- she believed it was important, and could perhaps help the country heal. Tell us about a song that reminds you of someone you loved who is no longer with us. This was my uncle's favorite song:


He was married twice and had countless girlfriends. I wish I'd asked him which lady was gentle on his mind. He was a very young man when it came out, so maybe it was one of those songs that brought back a happy time in his life and not a specific woman. But I'll never know because I never asked him. I regret that.

6) John F. Kennedy served in WWII and was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps medal and a Purple Heart. His brother Joe also served and was awarded the Navy Cross, but he received his citation posthumously, having died during a flying mission over East Suffolk, England. Here at Saturday 9, we consider everyone who serves a hero and want to hear about the veterans and active military members in your life. 

•  My dad was a corpsman in the Korean War. He was really good at butterfly stitches, which made him popular in the neighborhood. I remember kids with cuts and scrapes coming over with their moms to be tended to, and to avoid a trip to ER. 

•  The uncle I mentioned above served in Vietnam. I was 8 when he was discharged and I invited him to school for show and tell. I was so proud when he showed up in the doorway of my classroom, in his uniform. He looked quite tall, sitting on the radiator, taking questions from my classmates. I remember he stressed teamwork.

•  My oldest nephew was recently discharged from the Navy. He never saw any action, but his service was valuable because he readied the aircraft carriers that did. His first job out of the service began in March. He's now a firefighter in Washington state.


7) Memorial Day is considered the beginning of the summer season. Will you be enjoying warm weather this weekend? It's supposed to be in the 80s. Rainy, of course. It's rained a lot this month.

8) Berries are especially popular in summer. Which is your favorite: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or raspberries? Strawberries.

9) If you could attend a Memorial Day picnic with any fictional character, which would you choose? Jo, from Little Women. Her father was wounded in the Civil War and must have had comrades who died, so Decoration Day would have special meaning for her. Remembering how willingly the March family did without while her father was away, can you imagine how disappointed fiery Jo would be in some of us today, whining about something as simple as wearing masks, just to protect one another?

Fins to the left, fins to the right

Valerie is our receptionist. Since our office has been shut tight for two months already and will likely be closed for one month more, she was furloughed. No need to have anyone greeting visitors if your office is closed. But she was able to keep her benefits. Which is good, because her son was just hospitalized with the corona virus. He required a ventilator to breathe. A very tall adult male, he's still under 26 and on his mom's insurance. He is, thankfully, expected to make a full recovery.

Ivy is my friend Nancy's daughter. She's a 21-year-old who just finished her junior year at Minnesota's Macalester College. When school let out early this year, Ivy decided not to come home to Chicagoland but instead crashed with a friend who has an apartment in St. Paul. She planned only to stay until stay-at-home restrictions were lifted, but now she can't come home. Both she and her classmate have the corona virus. They are, thankfully, expected to make a full recovery.

So much for the comforting myth that only residents of old folks' homes get the virus.

It's out there. Covid19 is out there, and every day that goes by that it hasn't touched me or someone I love, I'm grateful.

An unexpected honor

Darius wants me on his Zombie Team! He has enlisted me in the group of those who will help him battle the undead after the Apocalypse. Considering that Darius is a lifer at the Western Illinois Correctional Center and has his pick of younger, tougher and meaner combatants, I take this as a compliment.

How did this overweight old lady make a convict's Zombie Team? Barbicide. It's the blue disinfectant developed specifically for salon/barber shop equipment. I became familiar with it back in the 1980s, when I was a writer for a haircare company. This spring, as Lysol and Clorox began disappearing from store shelves, and salons still closed, I thought, "Hmmm ... I bet Barbicide is available." I scored a 16 fl. oz. bottle and, considering I mix just 2 oz. in a 32 oz. spray bottle, this will last me a good long time.

I shared this little detail of my everyday life with Darius and it delighted him. He praised my "intellectual and resourceful move." He reiterated that he worries about me during the pandemic ("How are you is more meaningful now than ever") and says he's interested in hearing how I cope with it.

I'm glad, because my pen pal is hard to write to. I don't want to make my life sound too positive, because his life sucks. He is indoors all day most days, spending up to 16 hours a day in the 11.5 x 8 ft. cell he shares with another man. The food is terrible. He has no privacy whatsoever. 

I am willing to accept that he deserves this. He killed two people. But Christ said, "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." And so I'll write him every month. He seems to feel a connection to me now, and helping alleviate another human being's loneliness is, almost literally, the least I can do.


May Music Meme -- Day 22

A song that moves you forward. If working out constitutes moving forward, I'll go with this one. They used to play it all the time at the health club, and I loved doing my floor exercises to it. (Play along! Click here for prompts.)