Friday, May 04, 2012

Finding myself in two strange worlds

Today I found myself in two worlds that were strange to me. One was the military. I went to the National Cemetery in Grand Prairie, Texas, for a memorial service for the father of a friend. Very different from memorial services I'm used to, but very impressive. Since there was no casket, eight young men standing rigidly at attention unfolded and refolded a flag, and then it was presented to Kathie. The pesenting soldier said a few soft words to her, and I could see her nodding her head.  One young man among the flag folders that I could see clearly looked terrified that he would do something wrong, and I wondered if it was his first time to do that. Next our attention was directed to a hillside just to the side of the shelter where we were. A lone bugler stood there, but three of the young soldiers joined him. He played "Taps" (Carol tells me now it is sometimes taped and the bugler, as it were, is playing karaoke--we couldn't tell about this one.) Eiher way, it made me teary because it always made my mom cry and I thought not of soldiers but of Mom. They must have played it at the funeral of my brother's father, who died from a WWI wound. This was followed by a three-gun salute, after which a soldier presented something else to Kathie and said a few words to her. A gentleman from the assisted living center spoke about his friendship with Larry, Kathie's father, and then Kathie, completely composed and in control, gave a brief but moving eulogy and invited us all back to the house for a reception. What I guess I missed, impressed as I was by the formality, was the presence of a chaplain, but it may well be the family didn't request one. Carol and I flew back so we could put out food before the guests arrived and pretty much we were successful. I tried to be as helpful as I could but left about 4:30 with friends Jean and Jim, leaving Carol behind because she was going to help clean up. Kathie is an exceptional hostess, and the reception was beautifully done. Still, I was tired when I got home, and I can only imagine how exhausted Kathie is tonight.
The other strange world I wandered into was a Facebook thread of conservatives, and I did that because I couldn't resist a comment on the original post about how awful things have gotten under President Obama. I refrained from asking if they were wonderful under W. but I did point out some things I thought Obama has accomplished (we sure aren't hearing high body counts every day) and ended with, "Is your glass half full or half empty. Mine's half full." Well, I was deluged with responses, and the bitter, hateful tone of some of them astounded me. One guy and I agreed that each side sees things from their own point of view, and he suggested people vote the issue and not the party. But for these folks the issue is President Obama, and the level of hate is scary. It's also absurd. One man said that since Obama is president there is no glass, so it can't be full or empty--he's taken it away (by then I was sorry I'd introduced that image). The original poster said he's talked to thousands of service people and they uniformly resent Obama taking credit for killing Osama Bin Laden because the mechanism was set in place by W. True, but W. didn't get it done; it happened on Obama's watch. And thousands? Is he sure of that number? Does he do anything else with his life? There was talk of how Obama politicized the moment, to which I couldn't help but respond with a comment about Bush's great fly-in moment when he announced "Mission Accomplished." Of course, it wasn't. The response that made me want to laugh and cry simultaneously was, "He's destroyed the very fabric of America." Hello! What does that mean? I decided countering was useless and bowed out of the discussion. But I have seen the enemy, and they really really scare me.
One wonders how much of this hatred has a racial element, a sort of "He isn't one of us" basis. That goes from John Boehner and Mitch McConnell who early on made it their mission to destroy the president when their mission should have been the good of the country to that nameless commentor about the fabric of America. A worrisome thought.


Bebe Bahnsen said...

Judy, right-wing Obama haters truly are scary. I went through the 2008 election saying we could talk to anyone about Obama; I no longer believe that.
I ended FB friendships with both a cousin and a friend who posted things about our president that deeply offended me. As far as I'm concerned, they're still my friends off FB but I refuse to listen to talk that sounds downright treasonous.
As for the guy saying he has spoken with thousands of troops: if his name isn't Leon Panetta, I doubt it.

Judy Alter said...

Bebe, serious as the subject is, your comment about Leon Panetta is funny. No, Panetta and I aren't Facebook friends (and maybe this guy and I aren't after today). But Panetta might be most interesting as a friend. I know someone who intends to write him in as v-p candidate.

Joan said...

Judy, I love this post and I totally agree with you. (BTW, we met at Geni's for the book club - I was the one who had read No Neighborhood for Old Women).
My husband is in the Marine Corps League and on the DFW National Cemetery Honor Guard. You are right about taps. Sometimes they do get someone who can play the trumpet but when they can't they do use the recording.
I just finished MATTIE and absolutely loved it. What a great book.
I love your blogs and have been following then since the book club.

Judy Alter said...

Joan, thanks so much. I was so impressed by the honor guard and one young man who looked terrified he'd do something wrong. I wondered if he was new to the job. Found out what i suspected--this bugler was live. Learned a lot that day--didn't realize it was a nine-gun salute (3x3).
Thanks too for following the blog. On the nights I don't post, you might check my food blog, Potluck with Judy.
Hope to see you at Book Club when Kelly #3 comes out or the first in my new series.