Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Decoration Day

Family, Memorial Day, Veterans

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5th, 1868 by National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic - General John Logan. 

It was first observed on May 30th, 1868 with the placement of flowers upon the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.  Over the years this day has changed dates, names and emphases.  For instance, Decoration Day is now Memorial Day.  Admittedly, I'll stretch it a bit today.

Sometimes I think that the public has generally lost interest (and discreet knowledge) of the true meaning of this solemn occasion.  For many it is nothing more than the last day of a three day holiday weekend.  A time for grilling, cold adult beverages, maybe some yard work, opening the summer cottage or fishing and Indy car racing.

It is a day of remembrance. 

A day to reflect-upon and honor those of the military who have gone before.  My 82 readers know that I am attracted to a cemetery like a moth to a candle.  If it is a military cemetery all the better.  When walking among the dead I often wonder what they might tell me about their lives.  Perhaps they might render an opinion about this special day too? 

If only the dead could talk.

Last fall the day job allowed me to be in San Diego for a conference.  Jill accompanied me and we added a few vacation days to sightsee and take-in what this southern California city had to offer.

Highlights of this short trip included time with my cousin Pete and his family along with sightseeing, music and terrific food. We also spent the better part of a day climbing all over the USS Midway.  The first of the Midway Class of carrier, CV-41 was commissioned at the close of WW II and decommissioned in 1992 following a deployment in Operation Desert Storm.

There was more.  

San Diego has so much to offer.  It is easy to hop on the city bus or the train to visit all sorts of other points of interest on terra firma.  If you were to take a bus to the end of the line - Point Loma affords the casual observer one of the most stunning panoramas of San Diego Bay.  It also happens to be home to Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.  One of the most beautiful of veteran cemeteries - I think it rivals Arlington National Cemetery.

Unable to attend the funeral a year ago we took the opportunity to visit the resting place of my cousin Rob.

Rob was the third son and fourth child of my mom's older brother.  We were the closest in age of these four siblings.  As a member of the 'west coast family' my time with Rob was limited to his visits here or my visits there.  

One of my fondest memories of Rob was a beer-soaked Summerfest weekend in 1977.  What a pair of young Turks we were.  I was just out of college and working on my Masters while Rob was embarking on a career in the US Navy.  On a short visit to Milwaukee we seized the opportunity to make up for lost time.

Back to the aircraft carrier.

When visiting a museum I like to avail myself of the audio tour.  With a headset the disembodied voice will provide the details of the Monet I am gazing-upon or some long dead pharaoh wrapped in crumbling linen.  The Midway Museum allows you to do the same with five dozen interpretive points throughout the ship and a couple of dozen restored aircraft.

While limping about the flight deck I approached an aircraft poised for launch.  Pressing the appropriate code the narrator had this to say –

Here is Lieutenant Commander Robert McNulty to explain the operation of the forward catapult.


In his own voice - cousin Rob began detailing the preparation and launch routine for fixed wing carrier aircraft.  Including how the timing of the launch had to precisely match the momentum of a pitching ship at sea.

I suppose the dead can speak to you...

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