Showing posts with label veterans day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label veterans day. Show all posts

10 November 2015

The 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month


by Paul D. Marks

“The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard."
The Katha-Upanishad and from The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham

On the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month, the Guns of August Fell Silent. November 11th was originally Armistice Day, the day World War I ended. It became Veterans Day in 1954.

Several weeks ago, on September 8th, I did a piece on this blog called Noir and the Returning War Vet Sub-Genre (http://www.sleuthsayers.org/2015/09/noir-and-returning-war-vet-sub-genre.html ). At the time I didn’t know my November post would fall on the day before Veteran’s Day. It would have been a good post for today, but since it’s a done deal, I’ll take a different tack this time.

And on October 29th, Brian Thornton did a post on what it means to be a veteran. I don’t think I could say it any better—I don’t think anyone has. You can find it here: http://www.sleuthsayers.org/2015/10/being-veteran.html .

I thought about making a list of books and movies that deal with veterans and there is a brief list at the end of this piece. But instead, I think I’ll talk a bit about one book that deals with a veteran that’s also been made into a movie twice over: The Razor’s Edge, by Somerset Maugham.

This book is tied for my favorite book of all time with The Count of Monte Cristo. Monte Cristo strikes a chord with me because it’s the ultimate revenge story and revenge is a form of justice (at least in some cases) and I like justice. But we’ll leave the Count aside for now.

The Razor’s Edge is the story of Larry Darrell, a World War I veteran who returns from the war a changed man, as most people do. He no longer accepts the shallow and superficial values of his friends. Instead, he goes on a search for a deeper and more transcendent meaning in life. To that end, he gives up the love of his life when she refuses to change or accept him as he’s become after the war.

I related to this book on many levels and in some senses it changed my life, making me see things differently, though I won’t go into all of that here.

Click on link below to view film clip
The first film version, from 1945, starred Tyrone Power as Larry Darrell, Gene Tierney as Isabel Bradley and the terrific Clifton Webb as Elliot Templeton. The other version, from 1984, starred Bill Murray. Of the two I’d have to say I like the earlier version better. It’s my understanding that Murray wanted to do the part and wouldn’t do Ghostbusters II unless the studio let him do The Razor’s Edge, though I’m not sure if the story is true. But either way, I just don’t think I see Murray in the part, he didn’t have the right demeanor, for me anyway.

And just in writing this article, I realized something I hadn’t realized before. The character of Zach Tanner in my new novella Vortex has a lot in common with Larry Darrell, though Zach doesn’t go on a mission to find transcendent meaning in the world, he does come back from the war in Afghanistan a changed man and this creates the conflict in the book. And the character of Jessie, his girlfriend, has much in common with Isabel; they’re both looking for superficial material happiness. I didn’t do this on purpose, but it shows how much The Razor’s Edge is with me on a subconscious level and how much a book or movie can affect someone, even years and decades after we’ve read or seen it.

And now back to the main issue of this blog post, Veteran’s Day. Here are a handful of movies about veterans that I like. There are others, of course, but here are a few that come to mind:

Films:
Americana
In-Country
The Best Years of Our Lives
The Razor’s Edge
Forrest Gump
Born Losers (introing Viet Nam vet Billy Jack)

Noir films w/ veterans:
Fallen Sparrow
Dead Reckoning
The Blue Dahlia
Somewhere in the Night
In a Lonely Place
***
And here is a salute to the men and women of the armed forces:

Click on link below to view youtube video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bThVYvaHY2o

And the Marine Corps Silent Drill Team, which always fascinates me:

Click on link below to view youtube video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2-BEkqOVUo

And one more thing, a couple of lists of places where Veterans can get discounts on Veterans Day:


http://www.military.com/veterans-day/veterans-day-military-discounts.html

http://themilitarywallet.com/veterans-day-free-meals-and-discounts/

***

Vortex is on sale in e-form at all the usual places.

And there’s Goodreads Giveaway for Coast to Coast: Murder from Sea to Shining Sea running for a few more days. Maybe win a FREE copy. https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/161413-coast-to-coast-murder-from-sea-to-shining-sea






*Marine Corp Silent Drill Team photo by Jackie downloaded from Wikipedia Commons.



11 November 2012

Red, White, and Blue


by Leigh Lundin

Today is Veterans Day. Saying "Happy Veterans Day" doesn't seem right, but like Thanksgiving, this is a day we say thanks, especially to those who didn't survive to see a Veterans Day of their own.
 Bish
© Bish
Florida Fallout

The election is over, thank God. We can clap ourselves on the back for yet another peaceful transition of power. The year was long and the invective sometimes nasty, but I admired the symbolism of Chris Christie and President Obama. They stood shoulder to shoulder helping storm victims, reminiscent of days when opponents respected each other. Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman were known for hiring their admirable adversaries, which is the way it should be.
 Wiley
© Wiley Miller

I'm grateful we had decent candidates. Despite differing political persuasions, both were decent family men, both well educated, both moderate, both dedicated to improving the country, and both seemed better than their parties. (I know, I know… opinions vary.)

But in Florida, we have a problem. The past half year alarmed me. I gathered news clippings– 55 to date– about my home state's attempts at voter suppression. As an independent, I disdain both parties, but coming up to the election, how could I document voter suppression without seeming to zero in on one party? I couldn't; the only solution was to let the problem become so evident it could no longer be ignored.

By now you know Florida's governor and legislature made it difficult to register and vote. Changes in state law reduced the number of days to vote by 43%, reduced the number of hours, and reduced resources. Worse, the law provided harsh, harsh penalties for the simplest of mistakes when helping others to register.

League of Women Voters– out of Florida

Penalties were so draconian, the League of Women Voters– sneered at in Florida as 'leftist'– abandoned its registration drives for the first time in 72 years.

What we took for granted was no more: Civics teacher Jill Cicciarelli headed New Smyrna Beach's student government association, which encouraged students to take part in democracy. She tripped over the new regulations and found herself subjected to prosecution and 'massive fines' for helping qualified students to register.

Why restrict new registration? Florida is a magnet for several groups, including retirees and Hispanics. Florida's percentage of voters past a certain age tends to top other states. Health care is of great concern to the elderly as insurance premiums and outright rejections shoot up while income plummets. The aged was only one minority group targeted by strategists, but that was where another part of the new restrictions kicked in.

Not Just Any ID


Originally an applicant's details were gathered during registration including address and signature. On voting day, we once simply identified ourselves in the book, we signed in, precinct workers matched the signatures and addresses, and we were free to vote. The new law required not merely ID, but Florida photo ID. An out-of-state license would not do, nor would student ID, or a utility bill to prove residence, or even a passport if it still had an address from 'up north'. On election day, hundreds of new residents were turned away because, as per the new law, they hadn't updated their IDs.

By the end of October, former governors Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush had had enough and spoke out. Charlie Crist sharply chastised Governor Scott reminding him he was supposed to serve all Florida citizens, not just his own party.
Voting Overseas

Although I've often lived and worked in other countries, this is the first time I've filled in a ballot overseas. The process takes two steps.

For federal election, you can request a mail-in package from your embassy or consulate, or visit the nearest consulate, in my case Durban, South Africa. Before 911, a reception center might have looked like an old-fashioned drawing room where avuncular employees called you into wood-paneled offices for conversations. These days consulates are found on secured floors in secured buildings with lexan and more lexan, rather like banks. Once you're admitted, you wait at a teller-like window until an employee comes to help.

The federal package contains questionnaires and identification forms, then a couple of envelopes and a ballot, or 'smart ballot' if you vote by party rather than candidate. What that means is if you don't happen to know your congressional candidates or senators, as long as you select a president, the rest will be filled in automatically by residence and party affiliation. To split a ticket, fill in your candidates as you please.

Place your ballot in the small envelope and seal it. Place the small envelope and the questionnaire in the large envelope and write your county and state upon it. Your ballot is delivered, presumably by diplomatic pouch.

For state, county, and local, you have to contact your county elections office and request a packet well in advance of elections. Fill in the questionnaires, fill in the ballots, and mail them before election day. Florida ballots are huge as is the postage required.

Sim-Florida

The Speaker of the House of the Florida Legislature ducked acknowledging the obvious when he said he'll investigate what went wrong during the election. Cynics perhaps unfairly say the investigation will be how his party failed to deliver his party's vote. For his part, Governor Rick Scott still insists the election worked exactly as planned– precisely what most people feared.

Who is Governor Rick Scott? He engineered the largest Medicare/Medicaid fraud in US History. The fines alone were $1.7 BILLION. That didn't touch the great wealth Scott socked away. Records show he spent $71 million of his own money to acquire the governorship– actually $71 million of our money.

Florida should feel embarrassed even if Scott isn't. Since then, he's run the state like he's playing a Sim-City game. In doing so, he's managed to become one of the most unpopular governors ever.

Meanwhile in America

I once lived in a forest in the distant north. I got to know two men– one young, one not– each who caused fatal DUI accidents and spent time incarcerated. Each petitioned the state for restoration of civil rights including the right to freely travel and vote.

We're taught in civics classes once a felon pays his obligation to society, he's free to rejoin and live his life as normal. But that doesn't always happen. Some people endure continuing punishment: sex register lists, restrictions on foreign travel, and often curtailment of voting rights. Not all states restore civil rights when a sentence ends.

A California sheriff is taking a different approach. He encourages inmates in his jail to integrate into society by voting. And, as long as an inmate isn't a convicted felon, he helps inmates register.

Who knows how that might work out? I admire lateral thinking and any experiment that offers a chance of reducing our exploding prison population deserves a shot.

On this Veteran's Day, I'm pleased this election year is behind us. For many of us, a shorter election season now looks attractive. Whatever your political party, whoever your candidate, we owe a debt to others who can't be with us. Have a good, good Veterans Day.