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Measuring My Days

June 2007
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It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is:   “what are we  busy about? “   

Henry David Thoreau

 

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful. Welcome it in every fair face, every fair sky, every fair flower, and thank Him for it, who is the fountain of all loveliness.—

`                       Charles Kingsley

From the musical Carousel come these fitting words written just for today:

        June is bustin' out all over

The feelin' is gettin' so intense,
That the young Virginia creepers

Hev been huggin' the bejeepers

Outa all the mornin' glories on the fence!   --- Because it's June...”here in Virginia.  Spring has jumped headlong into summer with trees and plant life in full leaf.  Alas, how quickly and stealthily June arrived this year, marking the beginning of my sixth year here at Massanutten. 

        I was the fortunate recipient of a gift subscription to National Geographic, thanks to my cousin Dottie.  The May 2007 issue carried a splendid article about Arlington Cemetery, beginning with these words:

“No land in America is more sacred than the square mile of Arlington National Cemetery.  This has long been a liminal place, a threshold where the living meet the dead, and where national history is intertwined with personal loss.  Yet Arlington also is a shrine to valor and sacrifice, to service and fidelity.  Those interred here tell a story not just of the Republic in war and in peace, but also of a transcendent ideal, conceived in liberty and reconsecrated in every new grave dug, every benediction murmured, every commitment into the hallowed ground….”   If you are not a subscriber to National Geographic, I urge you go to your library and read this article.  Rick Atkinson, the author, has captured the remarkable significance of Arlington for all Americans.  He writes: “In section 60 the raw graves of the dead from Iraq and Afghanistan are appointed with amulets for the next world.  One message on a smooth stone could crack the hardest heart:  “I love you, Daddy.  Happy birthday.”

         

Atkinson interviews buglers who have rendered Taps for thousands of funerals there.  Reading this sparked a forgotten memory of a journalist’s account of Winston Churchill’s funeral in June of 1965.   As they laid to rest the great statesman, a whole world listening heard the sounds that signal the day was over and a life was ending…Taps…. But then came the most dramatic turn of all.  Churchill had predetermined in plans for his own state funeral  that promptly when "Taps" was finished,  another bugler on the other side of the great dome of St. Paul’s cathedral would immediately begin to play the notes of "Reveille":  "It's time to get up! It's time to get up! It's time to get up in the morning!"   Thus came his testimony that at the end of history the last note is not going to be "Taps," it is going to be Reveille.   Resurrection!!!  Thoughts revert to World War II years while sitting around the radio listening to the evening news:  a compelling voice:  “Never give up, never give up, never give up.  Never, never, never give up!”“….We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.  Winston Churchill, House of Commons, June 4, 1940.

If I read current events accurately, America may well need to similarly steel our resolve to soon combat a contemporary dictator in Iran, a menace to freedom akin to Hitler.