Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Happy Weekend Past

This weekend has been Memorial Day Weekend, a very busy and somewhat nostalgic weekend here in Palm Beach, as so many people are preparing to leave for summer houses in points North and South.  But it is also a busy weekend socially, and it was finished off by a wonderful lunch at the Sailfish Club, given by a couple who wanted to remind all of us that this is not just a three-day-holiday, but rather a time for reflection of what the day means and for commemoration of those who have given their lives for us in wars past and present.  So there we were, all of us in red, white, and blue, and before we began our lunch, we sang—together, with nice printed song books, just like when we were back in grade school and singing, with our bright yellow song books (remember them?  I am definitely dating myself!)—while Miss McElvey stood in the front of the room waving her arms and “leading us.  We sang songs from the Civil War.

First “Dixie” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” (while, of course, sap that I am, I cried.  Thank God I had on sunglasses!).  Then songs from World War I.

“When the Caissons Go Rolling” and “Over There” (more tears!)

And ending with songs from World War II,

“The White Cliffs of Dover” and “The Lights Will Go on Again.”

These songs truly resonated with me because I have been doing a lot of reading lately of the novels and short stories of an amazing writer, Jane Gardam, who has just finished the last book of her trilogy, starting with Old Filth.

A wonderful book about an old man looking back on his life starting as a English boy from The Malay States, sent to England during the war, and then The Man in the Wooden Hat

Telling the same story but through the eyes of his wife, and finishing with Last Friends, telling the story through the viewpoint of her lover and Old Filth’s enemy

Obviously, we have been in even more wars since World War II, the Viet Nam War, where my second child’s godfather was killed, such a tragedy to us, Korea, and today the dreadful losses in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The luncheon songs, narrated by our host and accompanied by the great Bob Hardwick on the piano, touched on all of us, ending with “God Bless America”.  I couldn’t possibly thank our host and hostess enough for reminding us that this is a both sad and thankful holiday, not just a day at the Beach.


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