Last night I couldn’t sleep and I was changing channels and saw the movie “Yankee Doodle Dandy” with James Cagney playing the great composer, writer and performer George M. Cohan. I knew some of this man’s work, but the movie just really inspired me and brought forth what a great American he truly was. At an early age he began performing with his family on Vaudeville and he went on to have some of the most successful musicals of all time and he also wrote two of the greatest American songs that you hear all the time in “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “Over There”.
When World War I started Cohan was just barely too old to join, but he did try. Instead of serving in the military he showed his patriotism by composing songs and writing great American plays. The songs and plays and then later the movies he inspired were so patriotic that many credited them as to the reason why they joined up.
Cohan’s family was fond of saying he was born on the fourth of July, even though he actually was born the day before. Whatever the case it never stopped this great American from cranking out great American masterpieces. On June 29, 1936, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt presented him with the Congressional Gold Medal for his contributions to World War I morale, in particular the songs “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Over There.” Cohan was the first person in any artistic field selected for this honor, which previously had gone only to military and political leaders, philanthropists, scientists, inventors, and explorers.
Don’t ever forget that although you may not be able to serve your country in the military anymore there are many other ways to serve. Obviously not everyone can write a broadway musical or a patriotic song, but if you had a decent education you could probably write a book about your experiences in war or in the military that could influence others to join up and fight for our beloved country. There are also plenty of opportunities to volunteer at V.A. hospitals, clinics, and other places that can help our veterans or troops.
Next time you hear “Over There” or “Yankee Doodle Dandy” remember the great George M. Cohan and his lifelong dedication to creating great masterpieces in American Theatre and some very patriotic works that inspired and continue to inspire generations of American men and women.
First of all, let me include a link to this great American organization for the incredible women who bond together to help each other and others in their time of loss after losing their child to war. http://www.goldstarmoms.com/
On my way from Wisconsin to Florida a man handed me a small package with a piece of an American flag – the star and on the back was a patriotic quote that I can’t recall. I was very tired from travelling and I said thanks to the man and stuck it in my wallet. I was thankful, but when I got to looking at it I couldn’t help think like many of us do that I’m no hero. I just signed up to do a job and followed through with it. It’s like marriage – for better or worse – it’s your job and it could be a good or bad experience at times, but it’s all yours and you made a promise to do something in front of god and country and our flag.
So this remained in my wallet for a while until we got settled in and I went to the local church. I was so happy to see some old friends and neighbors from when we lived here ten years ago. I was getting ready to go and a woman in the lobby noticed that I was talking to a man about my condition. All our lives we here “God works in mysterious ways”. Nothing could be more mysterious about a complete stranger and I just happening to run into each other. Somehow this woman and I started to talking next. She explained to me how she had lost her son about a year ago in the war. Of course I was overwhelmed.
I often am afraid of death as anyone else is, but what comforts me is moments like this and the hope that the goodness god has instilled in me comes out more often than not. So when I saw the pain in this loving mother’s eyes I suddenly remembered the star in my wallet. I was listening to her describe her son and how he was so liked by everyone and gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. My heart just pumped harder and my eyes swelled with tears that I was trying to hold back because I didn’t want to upset her further, but how can you not want to shed a tear for the fallen?
But, then I took out the star from my wallet and I looked at it and I looked at her.I told her the story about how a man had given me it on the way down from Wisconsin and I thought she deserved it more than me. I was so pleased to receive a long, warm embrace in return. I left her with a few words about how I’m sure he was a wonderful kid and she just nodded and smiled. I didn’t know what more to say, but I couldn’t help but think that we both were filled with god’s love and desire to make us both happy by serving others.
That’s what Gold Star Mothers of America is all about from my understanding. I’m not an expert, but from the ones that I have met and from looking at their website the concept is that when the mothers lose a child to war they don’t contain their grief and let it self-destruct, but instead they help other mothers after and they also do service to the veterans who come back from war never to return to their previous selves.
It is a noble thing, motherhood. In many ways I know it for a fact the my wife is an excellent mother and like all good mothers she would do anything to make sure her children are safe and comfortable and grow up to be happy Of course it’s not every mother’s dream for their child to grow up and go to war, but such is the way of our world and if we don’t protect our freedom we are weak to our enemies. Many mothers may not even understand and it and who could blame them for possibly having anger issues about it? But they all can find peace in serving and then somehow through the confusion and the black hole that is left inside of us as after loss we can find happiness in serving others and slowly heal that hole.
I want you all to hug your mothers today. I lost mine to ovarian cancer when I was 17 so this is always a hard day for me, but I know she is with me, possibly guiding my thoughts as I write this. God bless mothers and God bless the Gold Star Mothers.
I just got approved for a VA home loan but I have bad credit as I’m sure many of you do. I knew many people when I was in the service who for whatever reason let their finances get out of hand. You know – they pretty much used to make it so you had to re-enlist when I was in back in the 80’s and early 90’s. They had all kinds of car dealerships around the base and then you end up not realizing that when you went out to get your dream Truck your wife or girlfriend just went and bough a bunch of clothes, a stereo and a ton of stuff for your home! Or vice-versa. I don’t mean to sound sexist – it’s happened both ways from my experiences. And anyway, my point is – if there’s a comany that can act with you especially for those of us who are getting a guaranteed disability check each month then that would be great for me and hopefully all of you as well. But keep in mind – there is a lot of identity theft going on – mine was stolen and my bank refuses to give me the guy’s name. More on that in post.
I am a big classic rock fan. I grew up with 2 sisters who are about 10 years apart from me so they handed their albums down to me. Anyway I love this song by Pink Floyd called, “Wish you Were Here” It makes me think of all of those we lost and what we gave up to do what we thought was our duty….
Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here
So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell,
Blue sky’s from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
And how we found
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.