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Memorial Day thoughts

2004-06-17 - 5:12 p.m.

Between a frighteningly hectic schedule at work, the Move That Will Stretch Out For Over a Month, and server tie-ups here at D-land, it's been a while since I got any real news up on the site. So I'll go back and start with my earliest big news.

As some of you know, due to frantic telephone messages, I was on the national TV over Memorial Day weekend. Specifically, singing as a chorus member for the National Memorial Day Concert. I got picked real special by my conductor, and got to go sing "Ave Maria" with the amazing Joshua Bell--who is not only a cutie-pie, but sweet and humble as well. He signed my score for me and when I told him I was a big fan, he had the grace to look surprised and pleased and said, "Wow, thanks!" It was incredible to collaborate with such an artist--but that wasn't the moving thing about the concert. As I'm sure you all know, this was the same weekend the WWII Memorial was dedicated. The Metro and the DC streets were chock full of veterans. I felt like smiling and crying at the same time, seeing so many of the Greatest Generation able to make it here. I was so proud to be able to pay tribute to them with this concert, so proud and grateful to be able to say "thank you" in this way. As I told Ossie Davis when I met him (yes, I am a shameless namedropper) “I waited too late to thank my grandfather, so I want to thank you now.” On some level, this concert helped me get over having left too many things unsaid before my grandfather died.

What I found most interesting was the different atmosphere in the city that weekend. The vets were so polite; sitting next to me on the Metro, they’d strike up a conversation. I found myself smiling at them constantly, letting them know how thankful I was for their service to our country, and in a very real way, how thankful I was to them for saving my life. I’m sure I’d hardly be here typing away if Hitler had gotten to my family. During the concert, Tom Hanks asked all the WWII vets to stand so that we could thank them again for everything they did. The applause went on for so long that the teleprompter guards started to freak out and began waving their little white flags frantically at the screen, urging Hanks to cut off the applause. (Speaking of which, I’m in love with that man for everything he has done for our vets. Later during the concert, a couple other actors did a blurb about Iraq vets who had suffered injuries, and then went down to shake hands with a few who were strategically placed in the audience. Hanks, seated close by, jumped up and starting talking to these young men also. I could tell by his demeanor that this came from the most unselfish of motivations—what a classy, classy man.)

The week after, my parents came and we went to see the Memorial itself. I can't imagine how anyone could ever object to it. It's the most beautiful monument I've seen in DC, and has edged out Jefferson as my favorite. The site seems to be made out of light and water. Although one is conscious of the sacrifice and sorrow the WWII generation endured, the overwhelming feeling of the memorial is pride in a generation which, let's face it folks, saved the whole goddamn world. I promised my mom I'd bring a picture of Grandpa in his uniform; we'll put it next to the section dedicated to the Pacific theater.

Immediately afterwards, we went to the Vietnam memorial, as my father had never been through it. It was literally like night and day. I've been to the Vietnam memorial before, but have never felt it so keenly. To come from one memorial celebrating a glorious victory to another mourning the loss of so many young lives was shocking. At the WWII memorial, most people were speaking with pride and love, maybe a little sadness. At Vietnam, everyone was silent as we filed by the black wall, sinking deeper and deeper into the monument. Both brilliant designs, but such a study in contrasts.

Next week I’ll write about the joys of home ownership.


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