Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Reflections

Outside My French Doors 

On Memorial Day, my eyes travel to the red, white and blue flag outside my French doors, and my heart fills with memories of war brought to our country, memories of men who served overseas and a lasting pride in our country and what she stands for.

The Symbol

Every Memorial Day I hang the flag that draped my stepfather’s coffin, every year except for one. That year I did not look forward to the holiday as I had in the past. I did not hang the flag on Memorial Day, for I had hung it on the front porch on September 11th of the preceding year and had yet to take it down.
That September 11th was a nightmare of a day, and my heart ached as I watched the flag unfurl in the breeze. The reason I hung the flag was sad. The reason I owned it was sad. They both dealt with death. The flag hung through a complete cycle of the seasons and throughout that year I would look out the window and see the flag twisted into a tight spiral. It seemed appropriate that Old Glory wound around upon itself since my feelings were also twisted tight within me.
There are no words for how I felt. It was as if my ability to express emotion was shattered in the explosions that shook our nation that September. I stared at the tangled flag and could not summon the energy needed to set it free. There was a void inside me. The internal essence of the United States of America, that treasured part of my identity, had been damaged and I was afraid. I grieved.
Then one day as I stared at the flag the wind changed and this special piece of cloth unfurled and snapped in the breeze as if irritated at having its independence stifled. In a wild, daring dance of red, white and blue it cavorted, made me grin in spite of my fear. I watched it and my heart relaxed, the pain eased. I smiled deep inside for the first time in months. You can’t kill a good idea, I realized.
The spirit of America is meant to be free, not twisted and confined. We are a people who dance upon the winds of our dreams. So today I will take a long moment to thank my stepfather for the flag that lay across his coffin. Then I will go outside, hang his flag, place my hand over my heart and salute the vision that symbolizes our country. I will twirl around, synchronize my movements with those of Old Glory and I will celebrate the ones who released me from fear. They gave so much for me. The least I can do is honor Memorial Day for them.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend Harmony, Outside My French Doors

The birds are playing outside my French doors. They even have a little percussion thanks to a woodpecker and the music makes one smile. What a great way to celebrate on a Memorial Day weekend, Harmony by nature. Yet, we humans, the most intelligent species, can't seem to stay in tune, even amongst ourselves.

This year, when you've got those two bare feet on the dashboard and are singing along with Chesney, have fun and take a moment to harmonize in a special way. Remember those soldiers who lie quiet listening to nature, perhaps their spirits will join in. Everyone loves a good song.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Carrie Underwood at the Grand Ole Opry

Carrie Underwood at the Opry May 10, 2014

We traveled from North Carolina to Nashville, Tennessee a week ago to go to the Grand Ole Opry.  Why? To see Carrie Underwood, the Charlie Daniels Band and other great country artists. We had second row seats and I was pumped.

The last time I attended the Opry it was still being held in the old Rymam Auditorium in downtown Nashville, and Willie Nelson was in the line up. That tells you a bit about my age, and a bit about my enjoyment of country music.

I became a Carrie Underwood fan when she was a contestant on American Idol. Her voice took my breath away. You could say I was "blown away" by her talent. I've seen her in concert twice. Once the year she toured with Keith Urban and last year in Charlotte. Her voice was always perfect and she has improved her stage presence with each performance. 

As we waited to go into the Opry for the late showing we could hear her singing Blown Away clear out in the lobby. That girl has power and the place was packed. When it came time for her to come on stage, she was the next to last performer, a couple of security guards sat down in front. The moment they announced her name I understood why. Fans rushed forward to take pictures. The guards made them stay below the level of first row seats, let them take pictures, and then sent them back to their places, so others could come forward. Carrie smiled and sang, never missing a beat. It was quite a sight.

She sang Mama's Song, for her mother and all the mothers celebrating their big day, and I believe, Last Name, but I was so carried away seeing this tiny woman up close, I don't really remember. She closed with Before He Cheats. At the Opry, you are allowed two, three at the most, songs and that is all.

Three songs, by this singer, up close and personal was well worth the trip. Her voice is stronger than ever and she now looks relaxed and happy on stage. I guess Carrie Underwood finally believes, as we fans have always, that she belongs up there.