Monday, July 4, 2011
To Honor America
Here I sit the day before Independence Day catching up on miscellaneous tasks that have been too long left undone. However, I stopped in the midst of that activity to write this post. I picked up a framed embroidered piece of linen showing the American Flag and the caption “God Bless America”. Quite fitting considering today's date. Yes, God bless America and all that live within her boundaries. However, those blessings are not hollow and require adherence to the responsibilities that are required for a society to remain blessed and free.
This memento from the past was handed down to me from my wife's uncle John. I think she requested it after he passed away, along with another framed print of the American flag that he had hanging in his room. Both are in my possession now, but I would like to hand them down and have them placed in a place of respect and honor, and not stuffed into a closet or tossed away. John was a very quiet man, lived simply and probably was American as the flag, baseball and apple pie. He was loyal to his mother caring for her as she aged and was unable to care for herself. He himself was legally blind but could see well enough to be able to walk through a doorway without hitting the wall. He was adept at using the touch of his hand to sense things he could not see. He lived with his sister, my wife's mother and earned his keep by helping out where he could with chores that needed to be done about the house which he could accomplish with very little sight. He did these regularly and on a schedule that a train stationmaster would envy. He was also close to a second father to my wife and her siblings and he was well loved by all. However, his world was small and he lived a mostly nondescript life. He had a small room where these symbols of America were hung with pride. I am uncertain if it is true or not, but it is my understanding that the needlepoint of the flag was done by my wife's grandmother, John's mother and possibly an additional reason why it was hung and cared for in the manner it was. He loved his God, country and mother with unwavering loyalty. He attended Mass each Sunday and Holy Day, attending the 7 AM service that only few would attend. Each time he attended Mass, he would put on his suit, shirt and tie, shined shoes and felt hat. In cool weather he would wear a top coat and carried an umbrella if it rained. However, I cannot recall a day he missed until he became ill and was no longer able to attend on his own. I think he preferred that early morning Mass due to his sight issue. He shied away from crowds and possibly it was due to his having an issue maneuvering past many bodies without some sort of a collision happening. John was never one to cause any sort of commotion and preferred the solace of his small modest room. I know he also loved to listen to each and every Boston Red Sox game that was ever played in his lifetime. Being born in 1901, I imagine he experienced the thrill of the 1918 World Series win but it would be the last that he would experience. John passed away in early 1969 from Lung Cancer. He had smoked for a major part of his life and finally kicked the habit two years before being diagnosed. I remember seeing his slender build lose its strength and vitality as he lost his bout with a near unbeatable adversary. However, I prefer to remember John, being animated, loud and excited as he and I groaned as he would listen and I would watch the Boston Red Sox lose the 1967 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. They would finally break through in 2004, thirty-five years after John had died, to beat those same Cardinals in a four game sweep. I thought of John and was hoping he was whooping loudly wherever his spirit may be. I am not sure about how John felt about apple pie, but in his simple and quiet way, his love of his God, country, mother and baseball are what I would like to believe are the attributes that all Americans possess.
For many, the Fourth of July holiday is a day for cookouts, ice cream and fireworks and I must say I also partake and enjoy these also. However, I think we should stop for just a moment and renew our pledge in order that we may continue living the American life and freedoms we each enjoy.
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
A happy and safe holiday to all and God bless America..