Monday, July 04, 2011

Norman Rockwell and Independence Day 2011

We have two sons. They are both alive and well. A lot of people have lost sons, or daughters, whom they will mourn today, and every day for the rest of their lives. Because our troops are fighting three wars, and doing a lot of other things they were asked to do.

The picture below captures, with a Norman Rockwell-like clarity of composition, a little of how most of us feel about the fallen. The casket contains the remains of 2nd Lt. James Cathey. The honor guard covered the casket with a flag, and prepared to meet the family on the tarmac. The passengers watched, letting Lt. Cathey get off the plane first. (Todd Heisler, photographer)

The night before the burial of her husband's body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of 'Cat,' and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. 'I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it,' she said. 'I think that's what he would have wanted'. (Todd Heisler, again)

(The pix are from 2006, but for some reason have been circulating as an email in the last weeks...Besides, for the family that's only five years. It is never going to be long enough ago. Thanks to AB for sending this to me).

1 comment:

Stephen said...

This is going to come across as cold, maybe even crass, so let me preface it by saying I too feel for Mrs Cathey and all the veterans and their families like hers. But ... am I just imagining it, or are we seeing a noticeable increase in soldier worship in recent years?

Today, for example, in the regular media I viewed, such as the local and national TV news, the coverage of the holiday was along two lines: partying (fireworks, cookouts, hot dog eating contests, etc.), and the troops (how they're partying over there, paeans to how they're sacrificing for our freedom, a montage of soldiers singing the national anthem, etc.). I don't recall seeing anything actually about our independence, what it's founded upon, why it was (and is) important, etc.

Today was just one example. It seems like many holidays have been coopted for soldier worship, extolling them for keeping us free, "Freedom isn't free" and all that. As another example, recall all the soldier Christmas greetings on TV each year--and it's not just here with our many military bases, but I've seen it too in central FL for instance.

Now to be clear, I'm not begrudging anyone's Christmas greetings or anything. They're regular people too, after all. But it just seems something has become culturally unbalanced lately. Am I just imagining it?