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One Afternoon in America

 

This is a shorter column. It starts with Pink Floyd lyrics.

When I was a child,

I caught a fleeting glimpse

Out of the corner of my eye.

I turned to look but it was gone.

When I was a child, thanks to timing, geography, and demographic anomaly, I caught more than a glimpse. I was one of the last to live in the final semblance, beyond a false facade, of America as it was. I’m now grown and the Nation is gone. However, unlike some accursed Boomer, I am not comfortably numb.

Rather, I usually balance on the edge between crushing numbness of a kind most uncomfortable and blinding rage. So balanced, I can generally function somewhat intelligently. So it was last weekend.

One doesn’t expect to find signs of life at a funeral. I did. Call it Divine intervention or, perhaps, a tribute to the powerful, lingering nature of the deceased, but we had quite the cast of characters present. A presence.

This week, I was supposed to write something about scheduled the October 26th declassification of the CIA’s records concerning the murder of JFK. That won’t happen, even after nearly sixty years have passed. With so much left to hide from an insouciant public, they’ve already moved for an extension. They’ll get it. It really does not matter. 

When Kennedy was in Office, Heritage Americans were some 88% of the US population. Soon, we’ll be half that. As I’ve written before, it was America.

Saturday, I found myself home once again, if only for a few hours.

There were approximately 150 people in attendance. After the service, a smaller crowd, yours truly included, retreated to a farm for a private function. It was much more a celebration of a life worth celebrating than an inhumation. 

Of all those in attendance, I would conservatively estimate that 100% were White European Christians. Honestly, there could have been an Asian woman, though I cannot recall exactly. Regardless, it was a gathering of the Posterity stronger than that of JFK’s day.

The men were all strong, intelligent, civilized, and stoic. Manly gentlemen.

The women, all of similar character, were uniformly beautiful, feminine.

It was an intellectual population, in my estimation a full standard deviation or more above the average. 

The service was presided over by a Pastor best described as a Christian Fundamentalist. He meant what he said and believed the Power behind his proper, valiant words.

A grieving family mixed with familial extensions and friends. I say “grieving” though I don’t really think any of us have yet processed the loss. As I eulogized, impromptu, each of us is, as the subject character of Apollinaire’s poem, only beginning to realize that we stand on one side of a broken bridge.

In an age of psychotic breakdown, I think I only saw two masks. They were worn, for whatever reason, by two people who did not and would not dream of suggesting anyone else don similar attire. No one mentioned, possibly outside of a joke, the Great Hoax. There was no fear in this crowd.

There were writers and poets, editors, and publishers. There were educators of the literal kind. There were veterans. And farmers. And laborers. Crafters of many kinds. There were smart students of multiple ages. There was an actor. There were state and federal elected officials, all of whom naturally or deliberately left politics far away. There were more. We were one.

Most appropriately, while the pipes played inside the Chapel, outside in the hall, a line of George Meredith books stood guard – in the company of those by our departed friend and brother.

Owing to our composition, Lord Jesus Christ attended, giving strength and calm to all hearts and minds. His Father attuned the climate towards perfection. Cool breeze-borne air circulated under a bright blue fall sky. 

Symbolic of the future, of the mandate to stand and persevere, a little girl with bright blue eyes delighted in toddling barefoot through the grass. 

Memory upon memory and blessing upon blessing. Something more than a remembrance. For an afternoon, it was America.