Fussy about Memorial Day


If I were honest, I’d have to admit that I’m rather fussy about Memorial Day. This is pretty weird for me actually. It’s not that I regularly go to cemeteries and put flowers by the graves of the war dead, or something similarly significant.

It’s just that I hate the holiday being reduced to being “the unofficial beginning of summer.” I’m also pedantic enough to want to correct people about the difference between Veterans Day in November, which honors all veterans, and Memorial Day in May, which is set to REMEMBER those who died in military service to their country. Now, I don’t ACTUALLY correct people in person.

To the best of my knowledge – and obviously, my information is necessarily incomplete – I have no one in my lineage who has died in a war. I have a great-great-grandfather, James Archer, and two of his relatives who fought in the Civil War for the Union. When he came back from the war, he and his wife had my great-grandmother, who eventually had my maternal grandmother.

My paternal grandfather, McKinley Green, fought in World War I. And my maternal grandmother’s brother, Edward Yates, fought in World War II. Of course, my father, Les Green, served there as well. His cousin Sheldon Walker, who died recently, served in the military, but I don’t know if he was stationed in a combat zone. Still, thankfully, they all survived.

A matter of a few inches

I was recently watching an old episode of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates. He was describing to late-night talk show host Seth Meyers how the comic’s ancestor went to Canada during World War I so he could fight to support his native Britain. The ancestor was wounded, but not grievously so. Meyers noted correctly that an explosive being launched a foot closer to his grand and there would be no Seth Meyers.

So I’m grateful that, to my knowledge, my people made it back to their lives. This makes me think about all of those who did not.

David Low, Seth Meyers, Kim Jong-Un, others

David Low was given complete freedom in the selection and treatment of his subject matter as well as half a page for his cartoon.

I was really fascinated by the cartoon above. It was created, obviously recently, by Rainer Hachfeld, “a freelance writer and caricaturist living in Berlin. His cartoons appear in Neues Deutschland, a socialist daily newspaper in Germany.”

It’s interesting because it notes it is done “after the famous cartoon by LOW,” “after” in this case meaning “in the style of.”

Then I saw the David Low cartoon which is referenced:

I said, “I remember that guy!” Not so much the specific drawing from 1939, of Hitler and Stalin congratulating each other over the body of Poland. But certainly that style.

From the Political Cartoon Gallery:

“Born in New Zealand and probably the greatest political cartoonist of all time, [Sir] David Low was first attracted to caricatures and cartoons through reading British comics. Prior to moving to London in 1919, David Low worked for the Sydney Bulletin in Australia…

“In 1927… the Evening Standard’s proprietor Lord Beaverbrook had had to promise Low a unique contract giving him complete freedom in the selection and treatment of his subject matter as well as half a page for his cartoon in order to secure his services…

“Describing himself as ‘a nuisance dedicated to sanity’ Low was a hugely influential cartoonist and caricaturist, producing over 14,000 drawings during the course of his 50 year career.”

I’m reminded how much I admired, and was influenced by, the editorial cartoons of my youth. They just don’t hold as much sway, in large part because newspapers don’t.

In fact, it seems that YouTube videos seem to have captured that niche, even if the content originated on network TV. One example is “A Closer Look”. I have almost never actually watched “Late Night with Seth Meyers” on NBC (12:35 a.m. Eastern Time). But I usually watch the regular segments in which he breaks down politics.

His assessment of the Singapore meeting that Hachfeld portrayed might make more sense than the actual event. Check it out here. Or maybe it won’t help, as you view the action-movie style trailer Trump says he played to Kim Jong-un.

Maybe cartoonists can’t capture the moment as well because the moment Dennis Rodman? – is too damn surreal.

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