Today is Memorial Day. Although it is a federal holiday and there are no classes today, the University does not close on Memorial Day. While thinking about what I should say about Memorial Day in today’s Monday Missive, a series of associations came to mind.
Memorial Day is intended to commemorate members of the military who lost their lives in the line of duty. I am fortunate in that no one in my immediate family died while in service, but I had a high school friend who died in the Vietnam War, and I always think about him on Memorial Day. Angie’s son, Josh Edwards, served in Afghanistan along with his best friend, whose name was also Josh. Angie’s son survived his tour in Afghanistan, but his best friend, Josh Blaney, was killed in action. Angie has a photograph of the two Joshes in her office, and every time I see that photograph, I am reminded of the high cost of war.
Memorial Day got its start shortly after the Civil War. Initially it was called Decoration Day because on this day people decorated the graves of soldiers who died during the Civil War. In a sense, Memorial Day is one of many reminders of the continuing impact of the Civil War on our culture. In reflecting on this aspect of American history, I am reminded that both Daniel Shealy and Paula Connolly have taken a scholarly interest in this topic. Daniel is currently working on a book about the pivotal role that the town of Concord, Massachusetts, played in the Civil War, and Paula has written extensively on the impact of the Civil War on American children’s literature, especially as it pertains to the issue of slavery.
Of course, Memorial Day is also associated with the beginning of summer. For many people Memorial Day means backyard cookouts, family gatherings, and NASCAR events. For me, the kick-off of summer has associations with planting tomatoes. My father always waited until the end of May before he put his tomato plants outside, which made sense for him, given that he was gardening in the mountains of Colorado where it often snowed in May. In Charlotte, we don’t get snow storms in May, but I still waited until yesterday to plant my tomatoes.
My last association with Memorial Day has to do with my birthday, which is tomorrow. Since Memorial Day and my birthday are always so close together, the two days blur together in my addled brain. However, I will always remember that on my second birthday I got a wonderful birthday present, although I did not recognize it at the time. My sister, Anna, was born on my second birthday. According to my parents, when they brought Anna home from the hospital, they told me that she was my birthday present, and I reportedly said, “But I wanted a truck.”
So those are my associations with Memorial Day. Whatever you are doing on this Memorial Day, I hope it’s a day to remember.
Kudos— As you know, I like to use my Monday Missives to share news about recent accomplishments by members of our department. Here is the latest news:
Balaka Basu received a 2014 Faculty Research Grant from the Children’s Literature Association for a project titled “Playing the Game: Reading Digitally with Children’s Literature.”
Ron Lunsford presented a paper titled “Manipulative Arguments in Political Speech” at EPICS VI: Sixth International Symposium on Intercultural. Cognitive and Social Pragmatics, which took place in Seville, Spain, from May 12-15, 2014.
Liz Miller recently learned that her co-edited volume titled Interdisciplinary Approaches to Theorizing and Analyzing Agency and Second Language Learning has been accepted for publication by Multilingual Matters. Her co-editors include Ping Deters, Xuesong Gao and Gergana Vitanova.
Upcoming Events and Deadlines— Here is a date to keep in mind:
May 27 — Aaron Gwyn will read from his new novel, Wynne’s War, at Park Road Books at 7:00 pm.
Quirky Quiz Question — The subject of Balaka Basu’s recent faculty research grant (see above) relates to her larger research project on the relationship between games and children’s literature. She is currently on a research trip related to this project. Where is the world is Balaka Basu?