Situated .5 miles southwest of Bony (Aisne), France, the Somme cemetery is a 14.3-acre site that contains 1,844 American graves. The chapel walls bear the names of 333 missing.
“Established by Congress in 1923, the American Battlefields Monument Commission (ABMC) commemorates the service, achievements, and sacrifice of U.S. armed forces. ABMC manages 24 overseas military cemeteries, and 25 memorials, monuments, and markers. Nearly all the cemeteries and memorials specifically honor those who served in World War I or World War II.
The sacrifice of more than 218,000 U.S. servicemen and women is memorialized at these locations. Nearly 125,000 American war dead are buried at ABMC cemeteries, with an additional 94,000 individuals commemorated on Tablets of the Missing.”
One day, about ten years ago, I was with a friend, walking down Prince Street. I’d known her 15 years, and she’d grown up in the neighborhood — in the days when you put your keys in a mitten and threw them down to the street to let someone upstairs, and the neon sign on Fanelli’s was the only way to orient yourself as to direction — in the evenings, there was no one on the street you could ask.
As we walked in front of the old Post office, my friend recognized an older woman, and stopped to chat. I stood people-watching until they were done a few minutes later, and we resumed our walk.
I asked who the lady was. “Judith Patz”, she said simply. I knew my friend had been in the same playgroup as her son, and in fact, been on the schoolbus meant to pick him up that morning. I was thirty-six or so then, and think it was the first time, I really had any inkling of what the scale of grown-up loss and grief might be.
As we walked, I remember feeling as if it I’d been on the seashore of some giant, fathomless ocean — and the smallest drop of spray had touched my cheek — and I knew it was more than enough, and here was a woman who had to swim in it, every hour of every day.
The night after John Lennon was killed, Bruce Springsteen said,
“It’s an unreasonable world, and you have to live with a lot of things that are unlivable.”
I hope the Patzes can step a little closer to the shore now.
I’d sworn to myself I would never write anything about the case unless what happened was ever known. It felt pornographic to add even a drop to that ocean of sadness. I hope they have the right guy. I hope this is ok.
RIP Adam Yauch. His obituary made the front page of the Times. In a way I’m surprised, but it certainly is (sadly) merited.
If the Beatles was the ego of four smart, working-class Liverpool teens, the Beastie Boys were the id of smart, Jewish, upper-middle-class, New York City kids.
Their masterwork, Paul’s Boutique is not only one of the greatest albums ever, but was twenty years ahead of its time when it came out in 1989, and remains twenty years ahead of its time in perpetuity.
Its ambition, achievement, and influence is on a par with Sgt. Pepper’s. It also happens to be thematically tighter. Miles Davis said it was the only album he could listen to over and over again, without getting tired of it.
From all accounts, Yauch was a funny, and gentle soul. The “gruff” Beastie Boy, and their conscience as well. Condolences to his family and friends. His fans, and the city will miss him. I already do.
And for probably my final post of the season, here’s a cool little clip of Snowbird Ski Patrol. What a cool job — skiing, helping people, and blowing things up. Some great demonstrations of Utah powder technique, too.
I happened to run into the guy with the helmet back in March. I recognized him from the video — patrollers who wear helmets are rare at Snowbird, and don’t exist at Alta (they keep me safe and ski better than I would if I had two lifetimes, so I don’t question their wisdom).
Anyway, I mentioned I’d seen the video, and remarked that it’s tough to make a good video for a job where you’re saving people. Showing people being dug out after a slide, or screaming because they’ve blown an ACL doesn’t sell a lot of lift tickets.