It's winter here, folks, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Memorial Day opens up with more of the same from the whole weekend, the arctic blast of fog we natives know so well and are seemingly confused by.
"Winter in Spring?" we say, forgetting about the 47 springs and summers we've lived through here.
This is the weather that Mark Twain didn't write about in terms of San Francisco: the coldest winter he'd ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.
No matter the author of this true statement, it's all about the fog.
But it is Memorial Day, and I was trying to determine my feelings. I'm not a patriotic person. I don't own a flag. I barely celebrate Fourth of July except for going to a BBQ. But my theory--especially when talking with my anarchist son--is that I respect the individual who enlists and not the machine that takes the soldier in and throws him or her to war. Memorial Day was started as a day to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. That, to me, seems to not be about ennobling war but of honoring lives.
Or honoring a life. I know there is a story behind the enlistment, often a lack of opportunities in other parts of society. I know that if he or she dies, there will be a family left behind to hold the memory and the story of that person. I've been to St. Laurent Cemetery in Normandy to view the American Battle Monument, and it took my breath away, giving me a feeling I haven't had before. So much wasted life, I thought, and then I argued with myself as I passed by rows and rows of endless crosses and stars.
Is it a waste? People tell us that they've all fought for my freedom and the way I live now, but who knows how any of these stories would have played out had the war taken a different turn. My family mythology involves my grandfather heading toward Japan as a naval doctor in a big ship. He is preceded by the atomic bombs and lives.
"Without the bomb," the legend goes. "No you."
I don't think I was worth it.
While in Normandy at the monument, I walked into one of the colonnades and remembered what I don't know. I remembered a feeling of loss and sorrow and felt the deaths of all the men behind me. Later, as I sat on Omaha beach, the water slapping the shore, my son and his girlfriend walking along the sand, I knew that a memorial is for those who died, who fought, no matter the ridiculousness of the war, some of that ridiculousness surely involved in the invasion of Normandy.
So I am thinking of the white crosses, the white stars, the hillside in Lafayette, CA with the same marking those dead in this current occupation.
Even in the chilly fog, I am remembering.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org