Memorial memories

>> Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of times I spent with my Dad watching World War II movies. Dad has always been a lover of history, most especially WWII. When other family members, ie my mother and younger brother got sick of watching war movies or trekking Civil War battlefields (I've probably seen almost every one--most certainly the major ones and even some of the minor ones), it was always me who would stay up and watch The Great Escape, with him, even if it was the tenth or so time that I'd seen it.

Yesterday, being Memorial Day, and a day that The History Channel devoted almost entirely to WWII, I watched a special broadcasting of several episodes of Steven Spielberg's WWII series that he and Tom Hanks produced for HBO in 2001, Band of Brothers, the story of Easy Company, the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Paratrooper Division. I found myself remembering those times spent laying on the couch while Dad would lay on the floor, a pillow rolled up under his neck, watching some WWII flick that we'd both seen at least a dozen times. Most generally he'd fall asleep. He could probably quote every word of every line and every time we'd watch one, he'd have to explain to me, once again, where the battle took place and when, (even though I remembered from the last 100 times he told me). I recalled the time that he took me to the theater, when I was seventeen, to see A Bridge Too Far, about the efforts of allied troops to capture a series of bridges in Holland, culminating in the failure to capture the final bridge at Arnhem, costing the allies tens of thousands in casualties and setting back the allied effort to reach Berlin by several months. Only a year later I would travel to the Netherlands and see that bridge and take a photograph of it to take back to my Dad.

It might seem strange to you that this rather feminine "girly girl" would be as involved in this interest as I was with my father. Other than the fact that I share his love for history, I believe that it was the only real mutual interest that my father and I had, and for the most part the only real, quality time that I spent with him. I treasured those times with him and still do. My Dad and I have had and continue to have our share of sharp and even bitter disagreements. But one thing remains constant no matter what--if he were to call me up and ask if I'd like to watch a WWII flick or trek another Civil War battlefield with him, I'd be there. It's just something special between Dad and me.

Today's musical feature is Mozart's Lied for voice and piano, Das Traumbild, K. 530



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