a sabbatical rest, day 153
kathmandu lockdown, day 32
It’s Memorial Day, and I miss the little Memorial Day parade in Spring Arbor. We don’t always go, but I think I would have this year. Being here in Kathmandu for a few months has made me conscious of the freedoms bought by the sacrifices of honorable men and women on my behalf.
Certainly, as a people, we have made many mistakes. In many cases, repentance and, in some cases, restitution is appropriate. But most people on the margins here want to go to the US, because of the freedom and opportunity we enjoy, much of it rooted in Judeo-Christian ideals, however poorly executed.
We have, as a people, been generous with our money. And, as today reminds us, we have been generous with our blood. If I were home, I would, as I always do, hang the American flag that covered by grandfathers’ casket on the front porch. Joel A Metts was a World War II veteran in the Pacific, a Navy Seabee, and although he did not shed any blood, he came home a broken alcoholic, and the whole family paid a price for his service.
We should not take these sacrifices lightly. And we should strive for the more just and generous ideals for which, ultimately, they were made. Sitting on our porch back in Michigan I would think about these things. And I’m thinking about them here, far away, sitting inside on a muggy day looking out over a city with far less opportunity, far more injustice, and much less freedom than that bought by my grandfather and others like him.
There is an American flag nearby, flying at half staff outside the ambassador’s home a block away. I passed it as Katie and I walked back from the market, which is only open from 7 to 9 AM. We have worked out a route around the police check points, since they are fining and even jailing people for violating “prohibitory orders.”
They might question us, but I doubt they would fine us or jail us, partly because of what is represented by that flag. I would post a picture of it, but the residence is guarded by Nepali soldiers who might take my camera away or make me delete the photo. I could be casing the place, for all they know. And they have rules to follow.
Lots of rules, rules everywhere about everything, restrictive one-size-fits all rules, not just about taking pictures of a guard post outside an embassy. Perhaps someday I will write about the way things work here. But not today. Today, I will relax and remember the privileges bought by the sacrifices.
It’s not a holiday here, obviously. But we are in lockdown, so there is nowhere to go. And while my friends in Spring Arbor enjoy a respite from Covid-19 restrictions, with picnics and parades, I’m going to have a bowl of grits remembering my grandfather.
Thanksgiving, however small, is a sacrifice of its own.