Themes – a Very Special Military One by Debra H. Goldstein
Themes. Historical themes. Plotlines. These words are running through my head as I lie in my bed, laptop in hand, writing today’s blog (too much information?). My intent was to describe how, when an idea comes to me, I never know if what I write will turn out to be long or short. The piece only works if I follow the theme to its natural end. The blog I thought you would be reading won’t work because themes related to Veteran’s Day and visiting the John F. Kennedy Library keep intruding.
Tuesday was Veteran’s Day. Birmingham, Alabama is known for the large parade it has to honor the men who protect our right to be free. I exercise at Lakeshore, a gym and facility that offers Lima Foxtrot, a comprehensive sports, fitness and recreation program for members of our Armed Forces who were injured after 9/11. The program, which was begun in 2006, has served over 1,800 servicemen and women injured in the line of duty and their families. Alabama isn’t the home of most of these wounded warriors. So far, they have come from thirty-six states and territories to utilize the Lima Foxtrot programs that meld sports, recreation, and the way their lives will be forever changed post their injuries.
Themes of survival are apparent whenever I glance from the able-bodied machines that I am working out on to an individual next to me exercising at a far higher level of intensity on the same type of machine, albeit one that is adaptive. On Veteran’s Day, I joined in honoring and thanking the men and women of the Armed Services, but because happenstance brought me to work out at Lakeshore, with its integrated facilities, the theme of gratitude to members of the military is brought home to me daily.
Last Friday, when I was in Boston to attend the Crime Bake mystery conference, I had a few free hours so I went to the John F. Kennedy Library. Kennedy is the first president I personally remember. He was ruggedly handsome, his wife beautiful, and their children kids like me. Walking through the library brought back the memories that the public now refers to as our country’s days of Camelot. In many of the pictures and displays, the themes of youth and hope are juxtaposed against those of civil rights, possible nuclear war, and poverty. I don’t usually buy souvenirs, but after watching a tape of JFK’s inauguration speech, I bought a mug to remind me every morning of his famous “…ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country” charge to the American public.
I will save talking about how social issue themes form my writing until another day. I will hold off telling you how redemption and what happened during Hurricane Katrina was the theme behind the writing of Who Dat? Dat the Indian Chief! or how family dynamics is behind Thanksgiving in Moderation because the faces of each of the young veterans striving to move forward with their lives after doing all they can for our country are truly the themes and plotlines to be thought of on Veteran’s Day and everyday of the year.