28 May, 2007

Memorial Day


Last year at this time
I was overseas attending a Memorial Day service at the American Cemetery in Florence.

Memorial Day, and a mixture of thoughts borne to me by my readings and my memories are giving me pause.

My Mark Rothko book has arrived in the mail, and I have mixed feelings as I open it to read. Christopher Rothko, a psychologist and the late artist's son, has organized and published The Artist's Reality, Philosophies of Art from a long stored manuscript written by the late artist.

Imagine the labor that went into this book. Christopher was left an orphan by his father's sudden suicide in 1970, and his mother Mell's passing only 6 months later. Can there be any doubt as to the trauma felt by the six year-old boy after his father slit his own wrists? On top of the emotional loss came the endless and brutal legal battles over his father's estate.

The Jackson Pollock and Vincent van Gogh stories have also made sobering reading for me of late.

What's more, I also just finished watching Flags of Our Fathers. The kids and I were renting a Sponge Bob classic, and I spotted the Clint Eastwood flick. The idea of the movie came from the James Bradley book, which is a post-mortem research by the son of one of the famous servicemen who raised the US flag on Iwo Jima. I had trepidation seeing it, because of the historical redaction that is beginning to torture our historical memory of the great conflict of my father's generation. It turned out to be a faithful and, IMO, an honest story telling of the dramatic events surrounding the Iwo Jima saga. The same February of 1945 that this Pacific Theater battle was being fought, my own father was in combat in a far less publicized theater of the global conflict: Northern Italy.

A year ago this Memorial Day I was honoring my late father's service in the Second World War at the US Cemetery in Florence, Italy. My dad, Kenneth Klahn was in the famous Tenth Mountain Division, which was a super-elite organization that created a great legacy in battles known by the names of places: Riva Ridge, Mount Belvedere, and the Po River.

Maybe the memories of my own father has a little to do with my emotional connection to Christopher Rothko's story. He, too, is remembering his father's life.


Links:

Flags of Our Fathers-Movie
Florence American Cemetery
Flags of Our Fathers, James Bradley's book about his late father, John "Doc" Bradley.
Tenth Mountain Division

1 comment:

Katherine said...

That's a very reflective post Casey - especially the bit at the end where you talk about your father.

Those white crosses in the cemetaries really make you stop and think.

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