Archive for May, 2013

The Real Meaning of Memorial Day

May 28, 2013

I saw a sign that said, “Happy Memorial Day.”  And that’s all right.  Nothing wrong with the day being a happy one.  It should make us happy that we have brave men and women who give their all for their country. However, it should not be a frivolous happy, but a serious one.

It’s really a solemn occasion.  It’s not the same as Veteran’s Day.  Veteran’s Day is a day to honor all who have served in the American military. Memorial Day is a day to honor those who President Lincoln said “gave the last full measure of devotion.”

I heard a veteran say this morning on C-SPAN that on every Memorial Day he makes sure his grandchildren know why we celebrate Memorial Day.  No, it’s not just a day to cook out and have a beer with friends and family.  It’s a day to reflect on the costs of war and honor those who have paid the ultimate price.  

 

Advertisements

The Bloomberg Donation Stirs Memories of Meeting Eleanor Roosevelt

May 21, 2013

When I finished reading in the Rotarian magazine about New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s philanthropic foundation’s gift of $100 million to support polio eradication efforts,   memories came flooding in about this crusade which was started by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The one that stands out the most for me is when I interviewed Eleanor Roosevelt and Dr. Jona Salk in  January of 1958. I was working for WSB Radio in Atlanta at the time.  The station sent me to Warm Springs to do a piece for NBC Radio.  Mrs. Roosevelt and Dr. Jonas Salk, developer of the Salk polio vaccine, were among those who gathered at the small Georgia village made famous by FDR to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the National Foundation  for Infantile Paralysis.

I don’t remember what either of them said, but I do remember the impressions I got from those interviews.  Mrs. Roosevelt was gracious and all I had to do was get her started. Her words flowed easily as she enthusiastically talked about the Foundation. Dr. Salk was a lot more reserved and didn’t appear as comfortable being interviewed.  That could have been because she was an international public figure a long time before he became one. 

Not only did NBC Radio air rhe report nationally, but originated the Today Show with Dave Garraway, and Queen for a Day on NBC TV from Warm Springs that week.  

The Rotary Foundation has raised many millions as a global partner with Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the World Health organization, UNICEF, U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  The effort has paid off with polio just about eradicated world-wide.

PBS’s “Mr. Selfridge” Stirs Memories of my London Experience

May 13, 2013

As I watch the extraordinary  United Kingdom ITV series “Mr. Selfridge” on PBS, I have to reflect on my department store experiences in London.  I’m not sure whether I went into Selfridge’s, but I went into a department store in the posh Kensington section of London and bought a British-style hat.  I bought the hat so I would blend in with the folks on the sidewalks. It didn’t work. No one else was wearing a hat like that. Everybody was wearing baseball-style caps just like the ones in the good old USA.

I definitely visited Harrod’s and Fortnum Mason.  Both lived up to their reputations. They were shows within themselves. Harrod’s is huge, the largest department store in Europe and has extraordinary merchandize displays.  Selfridge’s is the second largest in the U.K. Fortnum Mason is not all that big, has only a few departments, but is luxurious and patronized by the Royal family. Queen Elizabeth has visited the store herself.  It is also  famous for its many restaurants and its high tea service.

Visiting those stores helped me understand why a department store could be a tourist attraction.  Harry Selfridge, the American who founded Selfridge’s in 1909, said that he wanted his store to be a shopping adventure. That’s what you get in the world-famous department stores in London.

“Mud” Updates Mark Twain Very Well

May 6, 2013

A good story, bolstered by first-rate acting and directing, can still give low-budget movies a good chance to make a neat profit and give mentally adult people a reason to go to the movies.  “Mud” is, in my view, one of those very special movies.

Like Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer,” and “Huckleberry Finn,” which inspired writer-director Jeff Nichols, “Mud” is a coming-of-age story about two boys learning about the pains and joys of  love and life, with the Mississippi River serving as the backdrop. Twain wrote his tales in the late 19th Century. “Mud” is contemporary. 

Matthew McConaughey, as Mud, who hides on an island in the river because he is wanted for murder, turns in an excellent  performance.   Tye Sheridan,  and  Jacob Lofland, as the two young teen-age boys who try to help him, and Reese Witherspoon, as the woman he tries to reunite with, match McConaughey’s performance, with Sheridan standing out as the central character.

We saw it a the Ritz 13, which was doing really big business Sunday afternoon.  “Mud” had a respectable turn-out, with adults out-numbering teenagers by a large margin.  The reason, thoiugh, was that the parking lot was packed because “Iron Man III” was playing on six screens.  I can guarantee you the teenagers were not outnumbered in those theaters.  I plan to see it, too. You know, young at heart and all that.