Alright, listen up. It’s Memorial Day weekend here in these United States, and pandemic or no, Monday is a day off.
Additionally, we’ll be closing it down a bit early today, somewhere around mid-afternoon.
As is usual, there may be a scattered post or two, and some tweets here and there, but mostly, we’ll be off from this afternoon until Tuesday morning.
They say that any accident that results in zero injuries is a good one, but Detroit-area residents trying to beat Memorial Day Weekend traffic on Friday probably didn’t feel that relief.
Huge backups were reported west of the city after Interstate 96 was shut down for a heartbreaking reason. It was enough to make normally stoic fire officials pause as they considered what had been lost.
A couple of years ago on Memorial Day, songwriter Connie Harrington was driving her car, listening to NPR on the radio. On the air, Paul Monti was talking about his son Sgt. Jared Monti, who had been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, posthumously. Sgt. Monti, 30, was killed in battle in Afghanistan while trying to save the life of one of the men under his command, the third time in that firefight that he’d responded to calls for help. As the father described how he coped with his grief, Harrington pulled over and jotted down notes, particularly touched by the fact that Paul Monti still drives Jared’s 2001 Dodge pickup truck as both a memorial to his son and as a salve to that grief. It’s a four-wheel drive Ram 1500, a little beaten up, embellished with decals for the 10th Mountain and 82nd Airborne divisions, a Go Army sticker and an American flag.
At just 10:30 AM the sun was already near its full zenith and it beat down upon the city of Osaka with an intense, angry glare. Waves of heat shimmered up from the pavement and superheated the air which blew around in tepid, weak breezes that offered little respite. Perhaps later, the column of heat created by the great city’s many square miles of pavement would spark a sudden thunderstorm as it rose high into the stratosphere and the resultant rain would bring relief as it cascaded down and turned the streets into raging torrents. For now, however, there was only the glare of the sun, the stifling heat and, for me, the thought that riding an 1100 cc air cooled sport bike in a full set of leathers was a choice I should have avoided making.
This is the Memorial Day weekend, when we commemorate our fallen heroes and raise our cancer risk by burning chopped beef. Listening to the media, it looks and sounds like the fallen heroes of the year are not the ones who gave and give their lives in ceaseless wars, but the auto industry. It didn’t quite die. It was medevaced in a TARP and helped by the PTFOA to get over its PTSD.
Instead of thanking the nation’s heroes (he did so in an afterthought, asking for “single acts of kindness”) VP Biden thanked himself:
Despite the fact that the Greatest Generation keeps me cornered at my info desk for 45 minutes while telling me filthy dirty jokes, I know if not for everyone’s grandpa I’d probably be heil-ing allegiance to the flag of the Rising Sun or some German/Japanese combo thereof. I can’t imagine any 18-year-old boy I’ve ever known doing anything nearly as heartbreakingly heroic as some of the things these men and women did, although I know plenty have since and plenty, sadly, will in the future.
There are many legacies left to us by these old cranky dudes who fought so I could have the freedom to say whatever I want in my blog, but I think one of the strongest culturally is the love of the automobile. They are the ones who spent that post-war disposable income on those big, beautiful machines that became instant status symbols by their sheer power and heft. They are the ones that started the grand American tradition of the summer road trip and backseat shenanigans, and without them we’d probably never have those little shaky-shaky hula girl dash ornaments.
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