Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

30 May 2016

The Day After A Ride: Memorial Day

Yesterday I rode to Greenwich, Connecticut.  Upon arriving, I propped my bike on a park bench, where I drank some Poland Spring water and munched on Welch's fruit snacks.  (Strange combination, perhaps?)  More to the point--at least for the purpose of this post--that park bench stood to the side of a memorial to Greenwich residents who died fighting in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

Now, if you've been reading this blog for a while, you've noticed that I've written a bit about the roles the bicycle has played in the military.  As interesting as I find that aspect of cycling history, I hope that no one has construed it as a love of war on my part.

As anti-war as I am, though, I still believe that those who have served--and died or suffered life-altering injuries--should be remembered.  (One of the most shameful facts about this country today is that there are veterans living under bridge and highway overpasses.)  However, I abhor the rhetoric that celebrates the violence of war, or that touts service members for "making the ultimate sacrifice" for "our freedoms" or some such thing--especially since such treacly phrases are so exploitable by the worst, most opportunistic, politicians.

Instead, this day should be an opportunity to remember, rather than memorialize, them.  That they lost their lives or limbs or eyesight at such early ages is, in itself, tragic and thus in need of remembering.  Also to be remembered, though, are the ones they left behind:  the mothers, the spouses, the siblings, the other loved ones whose lives will never be the same.

We Began With An Epitaph

My family began
on the Fifteenth of November
the day my uncle was born.
1934:  There was no spring
or fall that year, only
bare trees twisted
in the wind
                  like my grandfather's
arm, jabbing the air.  "Winter's
gonna be long and cold.  Nothing
we can do about it."

My uncle was named Christopher
in the middle of his father's
desperation:  that year, a struggle
until summer.  Somehow he grew...

Christopher, you grow in my mother's
stories.  You climbed trees
to the attic. 
                   You had
a view of Flatbush Avenue, like the dark
river you saw
from a hill in Korea
which we know only as the Fourteenth
of April, 1953.


  1. Justine:
    You've echoed the sentiments I often express in my blogs about the stupidity of all things military and what it is we should really be remembering on these holidays. We sacrifice our "Invincible" youth for someone else's power-hungry avarice and eulogize the incredible waste of it all. "What if we held a war and no-one showed up?"

  2. Fred--"What if we held a war and no-one showed up?" I couldn't have asked a better question. Thank you!