Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Memorial Day, Memories and recognition ...

Pink Peony - my mother's favourite
at the moment

We all like to be recognised, but none more deserve to be rewarded with gallantry medals than those serving and protecting our shores – whatever we may think of war, at least all members of the serving forces are or were trying to keep our lives free, letting us live in peace at home, giving us values we appreciate doing their best to keep tyrants and dictators at bay.

This is a meant to be a light piece, though with reminders that will bring back memories of our time, or our parents’ and grandparents’ eras ... not having children, nephews or nieces, my first-hand knowledge of service life is practically nil, however like many others we all have our fair share of troubles.

So it is wonderful to receive awards for an art form I had no idea I was capable of ...  I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone – apologies if so! - as I sincerely hope I can say thank you for all the awards I’ve recently received: a big and huge HUG!

So to Munir of “Focus Through a Lens” for the Kreativ Blogger Award and I’m directing you to her Zest for Life post on the A – Z challenge ... where it gives some background to her arrival in America from India via England and a link with Hyderabad that we both have.  

Munir also gave me her “Straight from the Heart” award – which I’m humbled to receive.

Thanks to Michelle for highlighting my ‘enjoyable’ blog along with 9 others ... that she’d come across during the A – Z Challenge ... it’s a pleasure and it’s great meeting new people and being directed to other bloggers – Michelle offers creative encouragement to fellow aspiring authors and readers.

Next – I know ... I have been very remiss in acknowledging these -  improvement needed ... Ros from “Ros is Writing in the Rain”, has recently lost her mother to which I can empathise with her journey.  She has written a poignant post – Sepia Memories.

Ros writes and gives us tours around Leicester, an area to the south I know reasonably well, while she and her husband visit London for hospital visits and go near where my mother was first hospitalised ... again an area I can envisage – let alone their central London musings.

Ros passed on the 7 Facts Sunflower Award ... I love asparagus (it’s that time of year), fresh strawberries and raspberries straight from the bush, cooking (when I get a chance), chatting to friends and exchanging ideas, interesting films and entertaining informative programmes, along with love for all family and friends.

Then there’s Madeleine of Scribble and Edit – who rambles about her trials and tribulations as an aspiring author – who lives down in Devon – the land of John Cleese and Fawlty Towers ... an area that may ring in a bell for the laughter stakes – awarded me the Fearless Follower award ... with Blogger having wobblies all the time ... personally I think we must all be Fearless Followers ...

Though all of these things pale into insignificance when we read, remember or live with the dangers of this world ....the loss of someone in a war, the love of someone still with us - who experienced so much of this life, or the life of a beloved, who was so nearly lost, but who through exceptional care remains with us – nursed and nurtured by their near and dear.

British troops evacuating Dunkirk's beaches.
Many stood shoulder deep in water for hours,
waiting to board the vessels.
The rewards we can garner from sheer patience, love, care and understanding, perseverance, courage and that driving force to steady our own boats shines through so many within this blogging community – at this time we must remember us too.

Let me tell you about a small piece of history (lest we forget) that occurred during the week of 26 May to 4 June 1940, when Churchill was sure we had lost the War .... as many British and French soldiers were trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk.

The “Little Ships of Dunkirk came to the rescue ... 700 ‘shallow draft’ boats ... fishing boats, pleasure boats, paddle steamers and launches ... were requisitioned, either with permission or without, ... and set sail for those shallow beaches of Dunkirk, which the Navy’s vessels could not breach for the recovery of the exhausted troops.

When they reached France, some of the boats acted as shuttles between the beaches and the British Destroyers marooned in deep water ferrying soldiers to the warships.  Other vessels made round trips carrying hundreds of the troops back to English ports, protected by the Royal Air Force.  

Sundowner, a motor yacht, one of the Little Ships;
formerly owned by Charles Lightroller, 2nd Officer of
RMS Titanic (100 years ago today, the Titanic (as the
ship's shell) rolled into the waters off Belfast Dockyard,
before its fateful journey 11 months later.)  Sundowner
is a museum ship at the Ramsgate Maritime Museum.
In 9 days more than 331,000 British and French soldiers were rescued by those 700 little ships and around 220 warships from the beaches ... the rescue operation that turned a military disaster into a story of heroism and saved invasion by Nazi Germany ... wouldn’t life be different if those little ships hadn’t come to the rescue so early in World War II.

Immortalised by Churchill in his speech We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender ...”

The phrase “Dunkirk spirit” is still used to describe courage and solidarity in adversity.

To The Independent newspaper where the truth hits home “Was my son’s death in Afghanistan a price worth paying?” is an article by the journalist Stuart Alexander ...  written two and half days after that fateful call ... it is an article worth reading – and I hope you take the time to click over: The Independent – 30 May 2011.

Mr Alexander has some very relevant and pertinent thoughts both as a grieving parent, who lost his son last Friday, but as a journalist ... and I would recommend his words very worthwhile considering.

I was going to end on a lighter note, but I’d encourage each of you to click over and gather a greater understanding of humanity and conflict.

Tributes and awards ... which is the greater and sadder ... we all know ... in Memorial week 2011.

Be at peace, be the best you can, let your soul sing for all on earth and beyond.

Dear Mr Postman – my mother hasn’t really come to sufficiently to make her draw for Judy’s prize (previous post) .. but she will do soon .. 30 entries so far .. all will be revealed on the next post.

Judy’s 6 week promotion campaign for her eBook "Dancing in the Shadows of Love."   Occurs every Friday until 1 July 2011, a variety of prizes will be up for offer in two different competition categories as described:  So click on over to enter.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


The Myasthenia Kid said...

well done on the awards you really do deserve them.

Thank you again for another thought provoking post.

Rach xx

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rachel - many thanks .. it was an interesting post to write and think about. With thoughts to you - Hilary

Rosalind Adam said...

Thank you for the link and I'm glad you enjoyed my Sepia Memories blog. How lovely that your mother is still able to appreciate beautiful things and that pink peony is certainly magnificent.

Your tribute to Memorial Week is truly moving and I pray that all who died so that we can live are now at peace.

baygirl32 said...

what a great piece, and congrats on the awards. you deserve them

Anonymous said...

Some great awards there Hilary - well done! The poignancy of your post was not lost on me. I clicked the link and read Stuart Alexander's words with sadness. He speaks for so many, some of whom who may be less eloquent but would echo his words if they could. My husband and my youngest son went across to Normandy a few years ago and walked among the war graves there. We visited the beaches where so many were slaughtered and I can honestly say I have never felt quite so moved nor understood so well how it really was, despite history lessons and 'poppy day', until I stood there among the simple graves. The thing I found most interesting was that the British graves were like tiny English gardens - as though their incumbents were at last home, whereas the American graves were plain, facing out to sea, white crosses lined up in perfect symmetry, like thousands of ships waiting to sail. My son (then fifteen) was so overcome that he went off by himself to wander around. Thank you for this reminder. I feel the desire to re-visit. A great post.

Anonymous said...

Your posts, Hilary, are, as I've said before, awesome. One needs to savor them.

Peonies were my mother's favorite, too! Always on decoration day, as we called memorial day, we would drive to the cemetery in the small Utah town where my mother was born and put flowers on the graves and then visit with all the relatives. It was like a family reunion. I miss those days!

I'm bookmarking this post to come back to later. I'm trying to get a story in shape for a contest, deadline today. There's just been so much going on...

Thank you, Hilary, for taking the time to write beautiful posts that brighten my life and others, I'm sure, too!!
Ann Best, Memoir Author

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ros .. your Sepia Memories brought tears to my eyes .. and I am lucky that my mother appreciates so much.

It is a time that suddenly comes to rest - as anno domino is around us - and especially as we find out more about our past.

@ BayGirl - many thanks appreciate the comment.

@ Deborah .. the awards always amaze me.

I'm glad you clicked through and read Stuart Alexander's words .. incredible to be able to write those words in the immediacy of losing a son.

I, like you, never really understood and still don't - and now you've described your visit - I feel perhaps I should go myself at some stage.

Interesting about the differences in the graves .. I think I'd prefer the cottage gardens - but can appreciate the starkness of those who have gone in your description of the American graves.

Many thanks for these wonderful words ...

@ Ann - I honestly appreciate you - thanks ...

I can imagine you would miss that camaraderie of family - and the time of remembrance for all the family members - as you say a family reunion. Unfortunately times change .. but memories remain and can be redrawn again ..

I am sure you'll get your story done and dusted for today's deadline - though what you're doing commenting here I have no idea: but I am delighted you stopped by!!

Thanks Ros, BayGirl, Deborah and Ann - really appreciate your thoughts - Hilary

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Our son served in Afghanistan, so did my nephew. I still choke up when I hear of another soldier's death. In no way can I help those parents, but...

On a lighter note, the awards are wonderful, so are you, Hilary and your blog. You do a terrific service. You always give me pause to think and ponder. thank you.

Southpaw said...

Nicely said and congrats on the awards.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Joylene .. I'm pleased your son and nephew are safely home .. and when these deaths are now reported, after reading Stuart Alexander's article - I'll definitely react differently.

Thank you - I'm just delighted you and so many enjoy coming here and commenting - it's always a pleasure to welcome everyone.

@ Holly - many thanks for both points ..

Thanks Joylene and Holly .. good to see you - Hilary

Ella said...

Congrats Hilary on all of your amazing awards! Thanks for shedding light on this amazing act of courage!
These acts are the foundation of what a hero does~! Great post!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Congratulations on all those awards! And an excellent Memorial Day tribute and recognition of those boatmen.

scribbleandedit.blogspot.co.uk said...

What an absolutely beautiful post. Congratulations on the awards, it is obvious they are all very well deserved. :O)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ella .. many thanks - when we understand a little more of what went on in WWII it's more incredible to learn about .. acts of courage = so right.

Stuart Alexander's son had been awarded the Military Cross recently - so he was a very brave son.

Heroes are found in war or in times of severe strife ..

@ Alex .. thanks for coming by - and for your comment re the tribute and those boatmen who rallied under extreme circumstances for their comrades in 1940.

@ Madeleine - many thanks appreciate the comment and hope you can start feeling back to normal soon ..

All the best Ella, Alex and Madeleine during this Memorial week ..Hilary

Golden Eagle said...

Congratulations on the awards! :)

Great tribute.

Wellington Artist said...

I wonderful post. Congratulations on all of your well deserved awards. It feels so good to get recognition doesn't it? Thanks also for your comments about my day at the beach. You are so right, it really is the simple pleasures in life that give us the most reward. As they say the best things in life are free (well almost).

Sara said...

Here's to you...wonderful wordsmith. Only you could combine a mini-history lesson with a thank you for awards. I loved it. Congratulations on the well deserved awards.

I just watched The King's Speech last night. I loved it. I hear there's been some controversy about it, but I'm a sucker for Colin Firth and I thought it was a great movie:~)

Happy day to you!

MTeacress said...

Congratulations Hilary! You deserve each and every one.

We took a trip to the cemetery last Sunday to put flowers on loved ones graves. It has become a family tradition - remembering with fondness those who have passed.

TALON said...

Congratulations on the awards, Hilary. Well deserved.

Yes, it's hard to find a word that properly emcompasses the thank yous necessary for those who have and those who are serving their countries.

Rosaria Williams said...

Congratulations on the wonderful awards! This post was most thoughtful and poignant. It is always a pleasure visiting with you.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Golden Eagle - many thanks.

@ Sandy - delighted you enjoyed it - and it sure does feel great to be recognised - and I love comments.

Love your tales of family life on the beach with good food always mixed in - makes my mouth water!

@ Sara .. so good to see you - and thank you so much! I just mix and match as you know.

I've still to watch The King's Speech .. one day I shall get there - it's good to tell the story for those with stammers. I haven't heard the controversy .. sort of out of the loop with Mum. Delighted you enjoyed it - it sounded a very evocative film and will be very interesting see historically.

@ Michelle - many thanks and your encouragement for writers is wonderful .. I went with my mother to her father's grave in St Ives - he died in 1922 .. and we found it, though it was 30 years ago now.

@ Talon - it's wonderful to receive the awards .. I've been lucky.

We, as humans, seem to forget so easily - if those lost are not family .. and forget the harrowing experiences others' go through to keep us free .. Stuart Alexander seemed to encapsulate those thoughts so well - especially in the immediate aftermath.

@ Rosaria ... thank you. It's a wonderful compliment that you found the post thoughtful and poignant .. and to read you enjoy coming here.

Many thanks everyone .. have good rest of the weeks .. Hilary

MorningAJ said...

Hi Hilary

Snafu tells me you're having trouble reaching me through the usual channels (There have been gremlins....) Try this for an alternative route!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi AJ - that didn't work either .. can you unembed your comment box and that seems to fix it. One or two blogs I'm completely unable to comment on .. email is name without the hyphen at gmail dot com .. thanks cheers Hilary

Karen Lange said...

Lovely post, Hilary. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is humbling and sobering to think of the sacrifices that have been made for our freedom.

Congrats on your awards! They are very well deserved.

Have a wonderful rest of the week,

Talli Roland said...

Congrats on the awards, Hilary - very well deserved! And a wonderful tribute to those who helped protect England's green and fertile land.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Karen - many thanks as you say .. sharing our thoughts can make us think about so many things .. especially the sacrifices that so many made in the two World Wars and after in other wars or conflicts.

I'm very grateful for the awards and really appreciate them .. you too have a good week .. Hilary

@ Talli .. many thanks - as you so rightly say we need to remember those who protected our shores - wherever they came from .. South Africa, Canada, America, Australia, New Zealand ..

Thanks Karen and Talli - have good rest of the weeks .. Hilary

Arlee Bird said...

Congratulations on the awards--they are well deserved.

It would be nice if we lived in a world where there were no war heroes to celebrate, but under the circumstances we need to be thankful to those who have helped to preserve our way of life.

Tossing It Out

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lee - many thanks .. you've had a tough time recently .. with loss from disease .. it would be wonderful to live in a world where harmony reigned supreme .. I hope one day.

The awards are a great honour to receive .. many thanks - with thoughts - Hilary

Empty Nest Insider said...

Hilary, this was an amazing Memorial Day tribute!

Congratulations on your awards, and I love how your were able to tie everything together so nicely! I was moved by your quote,"Be at peace, be the best you can, let your soul sing for all on earth and beyond!"

nutschell said...

congratulations on the well-deserved awards! what a lovely tribute. perfect for memorial day.

Amy @ Soul Dipper said...

Congratulations on your awards, Hilary - well deserved!

I'm choked by your story of the little boats at Dunkirk. I had not heard about that effort. I'm moved to silence as a matter of fact!

Love to you Hilary.

Unknown said...

Well, first of all, congrats on all those awards!

I just loved the story of the little ships. I didn't know about that act of heroism but it really brightened my day. Thank you!

Patricia said...

What a wonder post Hilary - you do do it up with amazing style and lots of heart and facts...Congratulations on the awards

I haven't jumped to all your links yet, need to go back to work now on my new endeavor and phone calls of my new work. I am very interested in reading your link to the journalist as one of my first clients are a couple getting married in August and I am doing pre marriage listening and writing their service...he is in Afghanistan and she is in Montana...I can feel the tension of the situation in all of their writing to me

It all comes home...it all comes home...
good memorial thank you very much..I have no big red poppies in bloom this year...or orange...just those free gift yellow ones?
hugs mate for a job well done

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Julie .. Thank you. The awards are special and everyone's support is so wonderful .. and I am so happy you enjoyed the mix and match.

All my own words - just came to me at the end of drafting the post .. how do I finish .. so am glad the words ring true for you.

@ Nutschell - thanks, really appreciate the visit and comment.

@ Amy - many thanks. I'd heard the story last year, but this year I thought I have to find out more - and that picture just encapsulated that horrendous week in history for those men .. standing waist deep in water and waiting to be rescued - so like you I was stilled at the thought. It will be something that I think about more often .. Love to you too ..

@ Clarissa - the awards are fantastic .. and the "Little Ships" - acts of heroism at their best especially at that time in our history.

@ Patricia - I hope the post helps you and your clients .. Stuart Alexander's link is very well worth reading - exceedingly poignant.

Really appreciate your words .. we do have poppies in the fields ... our free ones are the red and large pink .. but the orange are fiery coloured.

Many thanks Julie, Nutschell, Amy, Clarissa and Patricia .. a big hug to you all ... and enjoy the rest of the week .. Hilary

ain't for city gals said...

Hi ..I came over from Inger's...looking forward to reading your past and future posts...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sheryl .. I've just tried to comment - unfortunately blogger won't let me .. can you unembed your comment box? - things work better that way .. blogger did some changes! So the box is like this one?

I've tried all which ways .. but it won't let me comment - and I can't email you either ..

Cheers - looking forward to seeing you around here or there and at Ingers .. Hilary

Anonymous said...

Straight from the Heart award. That's you, Hilary!

Thank you so much for being so happy about my book. I just read your comment on my post. I treasures all of your comments. You cheer me up. Your blog cheers me up. You spend so much time on each post and I know all your followers appreciate it. Their comments say it all.

Postive. That's exactly what we need to be to get through these troubling times. Another tornado here in the US of A. But it's so heart-warming to see communities reach out to those in their midst who are suffering. Memorial Day is a time of reflection, a time to remember those who gave their lives for home and country. There's a lot of good in the world! A lot of great people like you! I'm so glad we're friends!!

Ann :)

Theresa Milstein said...

This is the time of year to think of soldiers who have fallen in battle. What a nice tribute.

Congratulations on all your awards! You deserve 'em.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ann .. yes - that was one Munir created .. thank you.

Ann - you deserve so much credit for having the strength to publish your book and let others know that things are surmountable - however difficult at the time they might have been.

Being positive - as you say is an essential part of life .. there's so much sadness. We probably don't reflect on others' lives enough - and remember the hardships they have gone through or are going through ..

There is so much good in the world - and I'm with you .. it's great being friends across the pond. One day perhaps we'll meet - til then .. enjoy the publication of Memoirs ..

Enjoy the weekend .. and a big hug to Jen ..

@ Theresa .. thanks Theresa really appreciate your visit right now - as I know you're busy helping others ..

Today is today for me .. so I'm off to post Lenny's poem .. and I know Lenny's other friends will be posting in their time frame .. ready for Friday's fest: 3 June ..

Lovely to see you both .. enjoy the weekend ahead .. cheers Hilary

MunirGhiasuddin said...

Hello Hilary,
Thanks for helping me through the comment window. It is working now.
You are very welcome, when it comes to awards, you more than deserve them. The thing is that awards can only show so much appreciation and praise. Some of the bloggers did not even accept some of the awards. I am sure they are very serious people all though their blogs tell me that they are very young. So Thank You for accepting them.
Memorial day pulls me down quite a bit so I apologize if I am not my usual self.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Munir .. glad it's helped ..

Many thanks for the awards .. I think there are too many floating around sometimes .. and 'the demands' are made that we should accept.

I think I must make a tab, acknowledge each as they come in and then put them across to the tab .. and look to see how everyone else deals with them.

Cheers - have a good weekend .. Memorial days - are the times to remember the good times .. despite our losses .. Hilary

Glynis Peters said...

How terribly sad for the journalist and his family. Thanks for sharing his story, Hilary.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Glynis .. it was a moving thing to hear and I just had to add it in to this particular post - seemed to make sense ..

As you say .. for anyone losing a child too early in life and so far from home .. devastating news to receive ..

Appreciate your thoughts - Hilary


I was in Washington on Memorial Day, the temperature wa 91 degrees. It was a lovely day celebrating and remembering at the Heart of America.Washington is my next port of call on my journey in poetry.

Takle care

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Yvonne .. I saw one or two people talking about the temperatures in the States, some bemoaning the cold and wet, others the heat .. 91 is quite hot!!

I imagine being in Washington on Memorial Day would be special .. and you must have some good memories to share with us .. cheers Hilary

Liara Covert said...

The son of a Canadian friend has just headed over to Afghanistan for a year mission. Every moment is something worth celebrating. Love the poppies. Whenever they arise, I sense a message my grandmother from the Other Side.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liara .. it brings war home to us, when friends' go out for a deployment ... and exactly as you say ... love and live for now.

The poppies always resonate for me when I see them in the fields ... reminders of periods of my mother's life - and certainly her thoughts are here and there ... she can sense. Interesting to read you connect with your grandmother - it's something I understand more of - since my mother's illness.

Good to see you .. Hilary