Monday, May 27, 2019
Happy Memorial Day! I will be proudly wearing my red MAGA hat today on my journey out to Ft. Tilden to celebrate the holiday. I originally painted this flag on a bunker at Ft. Tilden in 2011 to honor the victims of 9-11. Since then, it’s been vandalized many times, and each time I’ve repaired the damage. This year I repainted the flag not only to honor the victims of 9-11, but also to honor all Americans who have fought for this country, and who are currently serving in the Armed Forces, as well as all Americans and all people everywhere who love this country.
As you’re enjoying copious food and drink today (and maybe too much sun; wear a hat!), let’s not forget the reason for the holiday: to honor members of the Armed Forces who died while serving their country. My own father served in World War II in the Pacific theatre, although he never talked about it when my siblings and I were growing up, and—typical of kids wrapped up in their own worlds—we never asked him about it. All I knew was that he left his studies at the Citadel in order to enlist in the Marines, thus relinquishing an officer’s commission upon graduation. I did not know until shortly before his death (at the age of 92 on Pearl Harbor Day in 2016) that he was among the first troops on the ground at Nagasaki after the bomb was dropped, to find and confiscate any remaining weapons. In his later years he was plagued with skin cancers on his ears and the top of his head, requiring the removal of part of one of his ears, which made him look a little like Dr. Spock. We never knew if that was caused by exposure to radiation at Nagasaki, or from his lifelong love of fishing and hunting. Or both.
I made this cross of driftwood and frayed rope, and raised it on the beach at Ft. Tilden when my mother died in 2014. She did not serve in the military, but she loved this country dearly and made sacrifices of a different kind. The cross was vandalized soon after I raised it. Clearly, we are still at war.
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