Veterans, Last Meals and an Oscar Win

I never throw anything away.

Take a deep breath Type As. I’m not talking about the stuff in my house where almost everything we’re not using is fair game for the trash, recycle or compost bin.

I’m talking about the writing process.

I never throw anything away when I’m writing, whether I’m working on an article, blog post or poem. Along the way, I save sentences or thoughts (partial or complete) that don’t make the cut for the piece I’m writing. You never know when they might come in handy for another writing project.

I call them “leftovers.”

While my writing leftovers would be as popular on my blog as eating leftover liver and onions at dinner, I do like the thought of sharing leftover ideas. Specifically, things that caught my eye online and elsewhere, throughout the week. Things that I really wanted to blog about, but either ran of out time or need to think more about and come back to later. Things that I believe should be shared.

From time to time, I plan to share these “things” in a blog post and call them “short shares.” They might include articles, fellow blogger posts, quotes, pictures or videos.

Here are a few things that caught my eye this week:

num 1

As the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran, I wasn’t quite sure what to think about an article in The New York Times on Sunday about a Marine who does not want to be thanked for his service in Afghanistan (Please Don’t Thank Me For My Service by Matt Richtel, The New York Times, Feb. 21, 2015).

veteran

Here’s an excerpt from the article…

…he was a vet and so I did what seemed natural: I thanked him for his service.

“No problem,” he said.

It wasn’t true. There was a problem. I could see it from the way he looked down. And I could see it on the faces of some of the other vets who work with Mr. Garth when I thanked them too. What gives, I asked? Who doesn’t want to be thanked for their military service?

Many people, it turns out.

I’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable thanking service members and veterans for their service. Yet at the same time, I feel uncomfortable not thanking them. It’s not that I’m not grateful to them, it’s just that the two words — thank you — never seem adequate enough.

As the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran, I can’t tell you whether or not my dad really liked to be thanked for his service. I could tell it made him uncomfortable sometimes, but I think overall he appreciated it. He greatly preferred it to the alternative — the “baby killer” comments and being spit on — when he came home from Vietnam. Saying thanks to his generation of vets was long overdue.

I cannot remember people thanking him when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s. I’d remember. I vividly remember the pointing, the hushed voices, the parents pulling their children away and telling them it wasn’t polite to stare and ask questions. Having lost two legs in Vietnam long before the prosthetics of today, my dad used a wheelchair to get around. He stood out as a veteran.

I may write more about this later. For now, it’s a topic that deserves a lot more thought — from all of us. I recommend giving the article a read.

num 2

Photo by Julie Green. Source: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/art/painter-immortalizes-last-meals-of-600-prisoners-put-to-death/
Photo by Julie Green. Source: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/art/painter-immortalizes-last-meals-of-600-prisoners-put-to-death/

A couple of weeks ago my daughter did a report for school arguing against the death penalty, replacing it with life in prison without the possibility of parole. She made good solid arguments, which would make a good future blog post.

The death penalty has been in the news a lot lately. Here in Washington, our governor, Jay Inslee, has declared a moratorium. The U.S. Supreme Court will soon take up the issue of legal injection drugs in Oklahoma.

But I have never seen capital punishment portrayed the way Oregon artist Julie Green does. She paints pictures of executed prisoners’ last meal requests on porcelain plates — 600 in all. The plates are fascinating, strikingly beautiful considering the topic, and staggering when seen together. (Painter Immortalizes Last Meals of 600 Prisoners Put to Death by Anya van Wagtendonk, Feb. 25, 2015.)

An excerpt from the article:

There’s a lot of state-by-state variations. The ritual, the eating of the meal varies a lot…In Louisiana, you’ll have a meal with family and friends and the prison warden — they’ll all eat together. That’s an anomaly. That’s the only state I can think of that’s like that. Most often, the meal is eaten alone, or with a guard, perhaps.

Through her art, she hopes to further the national conversation on capital punishment.

num 3

And finally, unless you were living under a rock, you surely saw a clip of screenwriter Graham Moore winning an Oscar for his adaptation of The Imitation Game on Sunday night. It was one the best moments of this year’s ceremony.

Moore’s words are worth hearing again. I admire his courage and congratulate him on his big win.

5 thoughts on “Veterans, Last Meals and an Oscar Win

  1. It’s like he was talking to High School me! Too bad I didn’t hear that 20 years ago. 🙂 Funny how weird is “just you” (usually) once we grow up and learn that everyone is different. (Except for the people who don’t grow up, and still think they’re in high school…) Weird and proud of it!

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    1. Yes, thank you Casey. It reminds me of a TED talk I heard last year on being “normal.” I went searching for it and found it here:

      The talk is by a girl with autism who questions why we all strive to be “normal.” Seriously, if someone told you “You are so normal,” would you take that as a compliment? I don’t think so!

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