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On This Day of the Dead

A photo taken of Battleship Cove in 2007.

Image via Wikipedia

This is the day we remember those who have left us over the past year.

We have Memorial Day and Veterans Day and Pearl Harbor Day and September 11 to remember the monumental tragedies of war and terror. Today we remember the people around us, who lived and died living what some call the normal life.

We visited Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts yesterday.  There are monuments to that same Pearl Harbor Day, to the Cuban Missile Crisis and to September 11th as well. 

What I found most touching were the looped videos being played at each station showing interviews of those who once sat in the same chair when the ships were in harms way.

Whether these people are alive now or dead, these videos serve as their ghosts. 

They don’t speak of heroism, but of their daily attempt to to live normal lives while on a ship where over two thousand men slept stacked deck to overhead and side by side with a volume of explosive death whose job it was for them to deliver to other people who too were attempting to maintain their normal lives living on similar vessels or crunched into lava tunnels defending islands they were commanded to steal only a few years earlier.

When we visited the Alamo, as we walked around the quite church surrounded by highways and warehouses; we saw the room where Jim Bowie was bayoneted. I wondered then how a modern war interview with combatants from both sides would have played. Did the Mexicans see this as a pursuit of terrorists from another country? Did the Texicans see this as their struggle to break free from a greater military power determined to crush the spirit of freedom they so recently won from what they saw as another dictatorial foreign invader?

What would videos of the normal people on both sides, thrust into this short usurpation/revolution say? Would they complain of the close quarters, the long walks, the noise of the cannon, the poor cooking skills on both sides?

Then I think of a the forlorn picture of a Pakistani musician in Boston.com’s recent Big Picture spread of the current conflict.  When you look at that sad and confused face, was he thinking of lines of battle, strategy for the supremacy of one mode of living over another?  Or was he thinking of the seven children that he needs to feed, of the instruments he needed to earn a living left behind, of the gigs he would miss?

While all of this continues, I hope we can still maintain this illusion of living normal lives.  It is the only way to survive.


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