Yesterday was Memorial Day and like any good American family we celebrated it in our own way ending early this morning. Here it is. I find it pretty unique and interesting in the grand scheme of things. Here’s hoping you do as well. It’s just “A Different Perspective.”
We stayed at home and attended no Memorial Day Parade or organized activity of any kind. Now before you toss me in the basket with all the other anti-American folks allow me to add that I do have a lapel pin, several actually; a US flag, Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, one commemorating a year of perfect attendance in First Methodist Sunday School – 7th Grade, which was due largely to my desire to be closer to a cute little girl rather than God.
The reason for this seemingly anti-glorification of war sentiment is really pretty lame but true nonetheless. My daughter Victoria, who, if any of you know anything about [with]tv, know is my motivation in this endeavor has a true paranoiac fear of any and all loud noises. This includes all guns, balloons, thunder, etc. This makes for anything but an uneventful life and was particularly amusing during her pre k-12 school years when manually filled balloons are as mandatory as a label of “gifted” for a successful school event.
It is particularly exacerbated at present due to Victoria’s recent surgeries and extended hospitalization. I guess sort of a post-traumatic stress syndrome reaction. Anyway, we avoid any and all celebrations on Memorial Day. On the 4th of July, forget about it. We simply leave the country for spots that for some odd reason choose not to celebrate America’s Independence; at least not with firework displays and the odd string of firecrackers set off in the middle of the day in the middle of the street.
So just in case she might hear anything yesterday VCR (her initials and how I will refer to her) was inside on her computer, Bose sound proof headphones on and listening to …yes, loud music played by Maroon Five, Counting Crows, Dave Matthews Band, Match Box 20, and many others. Loud music is fine, loud explosions are not. Makes sense to me.
My wife and I scrubbed the front porch, side porch, back porch and all assorted pieces of wicker furniture and accompanying pads of the dirt which had accumulated over the past year. Guess whose idea that was gentlemen? Anyway it does look better and when I have my 5:00 AM morning 12 ounces of espresso my pants and shirt tend to not get quite so dirty.
We do get a wonderful replay of the festivities however. Jim Murphy a surviving twin of John Murphy and a Viet Nam Era Veteran of the US Navy is very active in a number of local Veterans organizations. He was integral in this year’s reinstituting of the local New Rochelle Memorial Day Parade and Picnic after a ten-year hiatus. It came off quite well since there was a sizable turnout and absolutely splendid weather in our area.
On a more sobering note, I arose today early as usual brewed the espresso and settled down in front of my Apple G4 (Shameless plug in case Mr. Jobs is reading). I went to The Inclusion Daily Express – that is a wonderful news aggregator of Dave Reynolds, which he runs from the treetops of Oregon. While I urge anyone interested to subscribe and while I find it indispensable and very well done, it can be extremely depressing, as so much of the news around our community is anything but celebratory. Today I was drawn to two stories that in my mind are the kinds of stories I want us to report on daily in depth at [with]tv in our news and reality shows of course, but to also weave these story lines into dramatic and comedic content as well. This is how we as a community and a people will be able to have a larger, and more authentic place in the fabric of our society.
In these two stories are wonderful aspects of the perspective people with disabilities bring to any story, in this case ones of Memorial Day, war and its after effects and its resolution. Last week politicians from both sides in a prolonged mid-east conflict headed to Doha, Qatar to arrive at a solution. They found the way to the airport lined with disability activists from the Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union holding up signs telling these politicians: “If you don’t agree, don’t come back.” After achieving an agreement in Qatar the chief negotiator mentioned on live television that this demonstration and the demonstrators had a profound impact on the successful agreement. Chalk one up for the lame, the halt, and the blind! Disabled? No! People with a disability? Yes!
The second and not so uplifting story details the disproportionate percentage of the population people with disabilities are in Afghanistan due largely to the war of course. Many of them are reduced to begging for daily food and money in the streets. Most but not all are amputees. Most lost these various limbs not as warriors but as citizens caught up in the war. Many are the residual effect of three decades of war, lack of health care, ordinary ailments left untreated, not to mention those suffering from psychological trauma.
Memorial Day is simply one more day that illuminates how people with a
disability are a sizable piece of our society, contributing much with
much more to contribute. So we will push on at [with]tv because there
are so many stories that only we can and should tell and that will move
us and our visitors to tears, to thought and to laughter.