Heroes

Monday Morning Musings:

“She preferred imaginary heroes to real ones, because when tired of them, the former could be shut up in the tin kitchen till called for, and the latter were less manageable.”
–Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

“I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.”
–Florence Nightingale (I can’t find a source.)

I watch the veterans gather in the park,
realize the day and date of infamy—once stated–
here on a battleground site, they hold flags and remember
the dead; some were heroes, some were fools
or the desperate or despised–perhaps

if not felled in attacks, in battles,
bombed, bulleted, sabered, shattered
to die in hometowns or foreign places,
to be lost to the sea, buried in a mass grave,
shrouded for eternity—heroes–

Cold December Morning. Delaware River.©️Merril D. Smith 2020

and I think of the nurses, the caregivers,
the resisters, and deliverers of secrets,
carriers of food; those who’ve hidden the persecuted,
the arrested, the tortured, the executed
only for helping and caring, for not despairing

that a better time will come. They strive, they try
and if they wonder why, still they go on. I think of the heroism
of the everyday. The unsung, the ungloried ones,
who feed, teach, defeat addictions, live each day,
finding a way to make it through

another day to night, and again and again,
and perhaps even then to see the beauty of sun, moon, and stars,
to listen to the geese in flight, soar with them in dreams
of a better places and delight
in each small triumph. Wait for storms to pass—

to glory in the light at last.

Light through the clouds. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

Merril’s Movie/Theater/TV Club: We streamed Heroes of the Fourth Turning, a production of the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia. The cast and crew quarantined and worked in a bubble of rented houses in the Poconos (filling in for Wyoming) to produce this excellent filmed production. Though it certainly is not a play for everyone.
“Four Catholic conservative friends gather at a late-night backyard party in Wyoming, shortly before the 2017 eclipse. As they wait for the arrival of their mentor and newly appointed college president, secret passions and fears surface, revealing their troubled place in a divided country.”—Wilma Theater


We also are almost finished with the second season of The Umbrella Academy (Netflix). Not my usual type of show, but enjoyable, and I’m quite involved in this second season, which is surprisingly relevant. Elliott Page’s recent announcement reminded me that we hadn’t yet seen the second season of the show, and now we have only the last two episodes to watch. Today I read an op-ed by a young transgender activist saying what Page’s announcement meant to her. There are all sorts of heroes.

The Past That Wasn’t And Is

Monday Morning Musings:

“The blacklist was a time of evil. . .no one on either side who survived it came through untouched by evil. . .it will do no good to search for villains or heroes or saints or devils because there were none; there were only victims.”

–Dalton Trumbo, Laurel Award acceptance speech delivered to the Writers Guild of America West, The Writers Guild of America Newsletter, April 1970.

“Until now, we scientists have only seen warped space-time when it’s calm,” Dr. Thorne said in an email. “It’s as though we had only seen the ocean’s surface on a calm day but had never seen it roiled in a storm, with crashing waves.”

New York Times, February 11, 2016 

Gravitational waves have been heard

A chirp, hitting Middle C

Einstein’s theory confirmed

Space and time moving,

Collapsing,

Causing waves

A cosmic sea

Moving,

Ever changing.

 

We watched the movie, Trumbo

My husband and I,

We missed it in the theaters

But saw it “On Demand”

Yay, technology.

And science education.

Without it, you wouldn’t be able

To stream your shows

Or read the latest gossip news.

Do you think this happens by magic?

 

During WWII,

When Franklin D. Roosevelt was president,

Radio was important.

Sound carried by waves.

Imagine that?

He talked to the nation through

“Fireside chats”

And told us that December 7, 1941

Was “a date which will live in infamy.”

Which it was and is.

That was the date of the attack on Pearl Harbor

By the Japanese military.

Two months later,

February 19, 1942,

FDR signed Executive Order 9066

And with that order

Japanese-Americans,

Citizens of the United States,

Were forced to leave their homes,

And placed in internment camps.

Did you study that in school?

Fear took over.

People were profiled by their ancestry,

By the way they looked.

Locked up.

Does this sound familiar?

 

A political candidate called for

Banning all Muslims from the US.

He wants a wall built to keep

Mexicans out, too.

No matter that it would costs billions of dollars.

Mexico will pay for it, he says.

He thinks Mexicans are all criminals, rapists.

People believe what he says.

 

But back to Trumbo.

Remember, I told you we watched the movie?

It’s about Dalton Trumbo,

The screenwriter

Played by Bryan Cranston

Many people have never heard of him.

Trumbo, I mean.

Perhaps they’ve heard of some of the screenplays though.

He wrote:

Spartacus,

Roman Holiday (a must-see, Audrey Hepburn, in her first big role,

And the always wonderful Gregory Peck.)

Exodus

But those are just a few.

Yet Dalton was not credited with writing these movies.

At least not at the time.

Though they won awards.

Because he was blacklisted.

So he wrote them under other names.

He was one of the Hollywood Ten.

He—and many others–served time for standing up to HUAC,

The House Un-American Activities Committee.

That’s right, the 1950s were not just “Happy Days,”

There was Joseph McCarthy and the FBI

Knocking on people’s doors.

Witch-hunting of communists.

Arthur Miller took the witch part literally

And compared the time to Puritan Massachusetts

And the Salem Witch Trials

In The Crucible.

It was a shameful time

Of fear

The Cold War.

No, the US is not a theocracy,

Though there are people who would like it to be.

But that is not OK.

The separation of church and state is guaranteed

By our Constitution

Our Bill of Rights.

Also, guaranteed is the right to free speech.

So you have the right to

Say what you want.

And I will defend your right to do so.

But I have studied history,

And I can read and fact-check.

I know it is not against the law to be a communist

Or a Muslim.

So it would be fine for our president to be one,

Though he is not.

You can believe the Earth is flat, or

That humans have not been to the moon.

I know those things are not true.

You can believe

That building walls is a good thing,

I have a right to believe you are wrong.

I want to believe

Not in conspiracy theories

But in the value of education

To believe that everyone, men, women, and children

Of all races, religions, and social class

Have the right to learn

To read

To explore

To understand that the past repeating itself

Is not always a good thing.

History,

Water under the bridge

That flows one way only?

Or does it travel in a loop

Splashing like a waterfall

Into a river where it flows

Peacefully until the next storm hits?

An endless cycle.

Space and time

Warped

Disrupted

Changed?

Hate,

Fear,

Walls built,

Walls torn down.

So many people and places gone.

So many crimes repeated.

So much to learn.

 

I can’t imagine never wanting to learn.

I feel sorry for those who fear knowledge.

“Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”

–Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird