Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Now They Understand what Memorial Day is About

Today was Memorial Day, so my physical workout was a long bike ride which had occasion to encounter not one, but two Memorial Day parades, one for my own hamlet of residence and the other one, which stepped off three hours earlier, for the adjoining hamlet.

They had the usual marching groups, including but not limited to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Fire Department, VFW, Knights of Columbus, and the local high school marching band.  Because the local high school draws from both hamlets, the marching band did a double header and marched in both Memorial Day parades.

Each parade stepped off from its respective staging area in a shopping center parking lot, each marched along the road to its hamlet's respective veteran's memorial, at which each parade concluded with a memorial program recognizing the sacrifices of the fallen servicemen (and at least one servicewoman).

I attended the second ceremony, after which I struck up a conversation with a woman with whom I share a number of mutual acquaintances.  Her daughter, who plays clarinet in the high school marching band, came up to us after the ceremony.  She and her bandmates all stood at attention during each of the ceremonies; she was somewhat dismayed at the longwindedness of the speakers at the first ceremony, which lasted nearly 45 minutes.  The second ceremony was about half of that duration.

The daughter commented to her mother that, having stood at solemn attention, she understood the significance of Memorial Day in a way much unappreciated by many of the crowd of onlookers.  It is quite likely that the experience will have made a lifetime impression upon this fine young lady.

Another suggestion I heard was that those who will be lighting up their barbecues for Memorial Day should consider placing an empty chair at the picnic table, in recognition of the soldier who will not be joining the repast.

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day: This Year is Nothing Special, yet Everything Special

I have long felt uncomfortable with these Memorial Day sales and marketing events by the merchandizing sector.  They sort of completely miss the point of Memorial Day, namely, honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of America.

Upon me is now the aftermath of a perfect storm of my sister's passing, the litigation now at hand in my law practice, and grading exams and papers at the end of the semester.  Meanwhile, my wife has gone out of town on a family matter, and so, this weekend has been quite opportune for catching up on paperwork.  So I'm not entangled into any MemorialDayPalooza one way or the other

But amidst what otherwise would be a non-event, I did put in a remembrance for the fallen soldiers.  As a fundraising/involvement measure, my shul takes weekly sponsorships for the refreshments to accompany the Rabbi's discussion.  As it happened, the Torah portion read yesterday in synagogues worldwide was Bamidbar, which discusses, among other things, Moses taking the census of the Israelites and conscripting them for military service.  This, of course, is just a half step removed from the notion that in a war situation, there are likely to be some casualties.  So I sponsored the event this week, and made special mention of Memorial Day, and the Jewish American GIs who did not return home.

It is a message that needs to be reasserted.

Let this blog posting be a remembrance for ALL Americans who died in military service. 

Rest in Peace!

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Rough Week, More of it Coming.

[We have gotten up from sitting shiva for my sister.  It has, of course, been a rough week (and today, being Mother's Day, is certainly all the more so for my Mom).  The family needs to move forward from this (as my sister absolutely would want as to do), so I shall not dwell upon this loss except to say that her many worldly sufferings have concluded and she is now in the Best Possible Hands, and to thank all who have expressed condolences.  Heartfelt appreciations are also in order to my adversary in a case now in litigation; he readily and willingly postponed his client's deposition that had been scheduled for the day of the funeral.  Would that all in the legal profession be so professional].

Few in America and elsewhere need any introduction to Roberto Clemente, the Baseball Hall of Famer who was also a humanitarian and a U.S. Marine.  Because Clemente was Puerto Rico born and bred, and because the hamlet of Brentwood in the Town of Islip, Suffolk County, NY has long had a significant population of Puerto Ricans and other Latinos, the Town named a public park after Clemente.  Political pandering, perhaps, but it would be gross understatement to say that they could have chosen far, far worse role models than Roberto Clemente as tags to a recreational facility for the children.

Well, the Park was undergoing an upgrade, and some filler soil was apparently needed, and apparently, one or more construction/demolition contractors "donated" the soil -- laden with asbestos and other toxic substances.  Now, the Town of Islip has appropriately sealed off the Park, and is now prepping civil lawsuits against the alleged dumpers as the Suffolk County District Attorney studies criminal charges.

My question:  How much of this damage control is personal?  Did any Town of Islip officials have any closer-than-arms-length relationships with any of the dumpers?

Something tells me that this story may take some novel twists and turns.

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