Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day

Memorial Day on Guam is different from anywhere else. This small island, intensely patriotic, unabashedly mourns each and every Son of Guam or the Marianas. Every loss is deeply felt and the rituals of rosaries and military honors are commemorated.

Guam PDN Memorial Day Article

Here is something from one of my Marine buddies:

Memorial Day is their day, isn't it? It is supposed to be the day a grateful nation pauses to quietly thank the more than one million men and women who have died in military service to their country since the Revolutionary War.

Or is it the day the beach resorts kick into high gear for the summer season, the day the strand is covered by fish-belly white people basting themselves in coconut oil, the day the off-season rates end and the weekend you can't get in a seaside seafood restaurant with anything less than a one hour wait.

Or is it one of the biggest shopping center sales days of the year, a day when hunting for a parking space is the prime sport for the holiday stay-at-homers? Or is it the weekend when more people will kill themselves on the highways than any other weekend and Highway Patrol troopers work overtime picking up the pieces?

I think the men and women who died for us would understand what we do with their day. I hope they would, because if they wouldn't, if they would have insisted that it be a somber, respectful day of remembrance, then we have blown it and dishonored their sacrifice.

I knew some of those who died, and the guys I knew would have understood. They liked a sunny beach and a cold beer and a hot babe in a black bikini, too. They would have enjoyed packing the kids, the inflatable rafts, the coolers, and the suntan lotion in the car and heading for the lake. They would have enjoyed staying at home and cutting the grass and getting together with some friends and cooking some steaks on the grill, too. But they didn't get the chance.

They blew up in the Marine Barracks in Beirut and died in the oily waters of the Persian Gulf. They caught theirs at the airstrip in Grenada in the little war everyone laughed at. They bought the farm in the I Drang Valley and on Heartbreak Ridge, Phu Tai and at Hue.

They froze at the Chosin Reservoir and were shot at the Pusan Perimeter. They drowned in the surf at Omaha Beach or fell in the fetid jungles of Guadalcanal. They died in the ice and snow of the Bulge and the Vosges Mountains. They were at the Somme and at San Juan Hill and at Gettysburg and at Cerro Gordo and at Valley Forge.

They couldn't be here with us this weekend, but I think they would understand that we don't spend the day in tears and heart-wrenching memorials. They wouldn't want that. Grief is not why they died. They died so we could go fishing. They died so another father could hold his laughing little girl over the waves. They died so another father could toss a baseball to his son in their backyard while the charcoal is getting white. They died so another buddy could drink a beer on his day off. They died so a family could get in the station wagon and go shopping and maybe get some ice cream on the way home.

They won't mind that we have chosen their day to have our first big outdoor party of the year. But they wouldn't mind, either, if we took just a second and thought about them. Some will think of them formally, of course. Wreaths will be laid in small, sparsely attended ceremonies in military cemeteries and at monuments at state capitols and in small town's squares. Flags will fly over the graves, patriotic words will be spoken and a few people there will probably feel a little anger that no more people showed up. They'll think no one else remembers.

But we do remember. We remember Smitty and Chico, and Davey and the guys who died. We remember the deal we made: If we buy it, we said, drink a beer for me. I'll do it for you, guys.

I'll drink that beer for you today, and I'll sit on that beach for you, and I'll check out the girls for you and, just briefly, I'll think of you.

I won't let your memory spoil the trip but you'll be on that sunny beach with me today.

I will not mourn your deaths this Memorial Day, my friends. Rather, I'll celebrate the life you gave me.

This Bud's for you, brother!

-Author Unknown-

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Surfing in the Rain

When it rains in Guam (and it does quite a bit), it can really come down. Harder than anything I've ever seen anywhere else. It is not unusual to get three or more inches in one hour.

The kids, of course, love it. They put on their bathing suits and play in the gutters as they overflow from the deluge. Check out Drew in our most recent downpour. (Click image for full size photo)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Photographic Son

Anna is jealous that Drew keeps getting his photo published in the local papers. This week he even made the flyer for the Annual Memorial Day Beach Bash...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Banana Tree in Backyard

I just recently noticed we had a banana tree in our back yard. How cool is that? I guess my first clue should have been the presence of gigantic banana spiders...

The bananas here on Guam are small, about the 1/4 the size of the bananas you find in the supermarket. They are also amazingly sweet and creamy.

I've eaten a lot of strange fruit since arriving on Guam---I love coffee hour after church because the locals bring whatever fruit is in season to share with the church family.

You can see some of the fruits our family has eaten on this blog (although Gregg tends to be more reluctant to try the ones that look slimy):

When we went to Hong Kong, I saw the Durian. I wish I would have known how to determine when it was ripe and to try it. Apparently it has a horrible odor (bad enough to be banned in the Singapore mass transit) with a heavenly flavor. I love paradoxes.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

2007 Guam Islandwide Science Fair

Anna decided she wanted to enter the Guam Islandwide Science Fair in the Chemistry division about a month ago. I asked her what she wanted to do, and she said she wanted to recreate the Mentos-Diet Coke experiment we saw on TV and on the web.

Good choice, I guess. She ended up taking first place in Chemistry in the 3rd - 5th grade division! Not too bad, particularly since she's only in 3rd grade.

Click here to see a short video of her experiment. If you have small kids, you should try this at home because they will love it. Simply get a pack of Mentos (about 15 or so) and one 64 oz bottle of Diet Coke. Roll a piece of paper into a tube with a hole that is slightly larger than a Mentos and long enough to stack about 12 Mentos in a row. Place the Diet Coke on the ground and remove the lid, then place a 3 x 5 card over the mouth of the bottle. Put your tube on top of the 3 x 5 card and directly over the mouth. Stack your Mentos, get ready to run, then pull the 3 x 5 card to allow them to all enter the Diet Coke. Watch the video if you have any questions.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Raceline Motorworks---the "American Girl" for Boys

Imagine being out in the western Pacific, reading the business magazine, Fast Company, and seeing a story on a new entertainment at a suburban mall you used to frequent. Billed as the boy's alternative to Libby Lu or Build-a-Bear, Raceline Motorworks looks like a cool experiential destination for boys of all ages. And considering Drew is so competitive, this adventure plays right into his desire to win. I wish I would have thought of this.