Ray Emory’s day, the old Facebook comforter, two by two — same sex marriage in Washington state, the birth and death map timewaster, and the giant sing-along at the State Fair.
One presumes it’s only a matter of time now before this date — December 7th — passes from the nation’s conscientiousness. It’s Pearl Harbor Day, the day 2,400 Americans died in the attack.
And today, Ray Emory gets his due for doing his part to keep people from forgetting. He’s 91 now but back then he was on the USS Honolulu. When he went to pay his respects to those buried in Punchbowl National Cemetery, he found the graves of the dead scattered. There were no dates or names. Many were marked “unknown.”
Those graves are marked now. There are names. There are dates. And it’s all because that’s how Ray Emory decided to spend the last years of his life.
“If I’d walked in there and they’d had a list of where these Pearl Harbor casualties were buried, I wouldn’t have got in to this big mess,” Emory told NPR in this 2005 interview. “It was when they couldn’t tell me that I said, ‘By God, I’m going to find ’em.’ ”
“He pushed, and sometimes badgered, the government into relabeling more than 300 gravestones with the ship names of the deceased. And he lobbied for forensic scientists to exhume the skeletons of those who might be identified,” the Associated Press reports.
Today, the National Parks Service will honor him for his service.
Related: Betty McIntosh was a newspaper reporter who witnessed the attack and wrote a story about it. But her editor wouldn’t allow it to be published because he didn’t think women could handle it (these would be the same women who would later flock to the nation’s factories to help win the war). Today, 71 years later, it was published. Be sure to watch the interview with her here.
Considering how many millions of people are on Facebook, it says something about Win Borden that he’s one of the very few to truly master its potential as a creative tool and a comforting agent. Borden, of Merrifield, MN., was described last month as a farmer-philosopher in a Star Tribune profile…
The social networking site has become Borden’s equivalent of a parson’s pulpit, a porch’s swing, a therapist’s couch. He has more than 4,500 online friends — people in politics, arts, media, business, religion, along with neighbors in his hometown of Merrifield, Minn., north of Brainerd, where he moved seven years ago after leaving prison.
Since that profile, Borden has started chemotherapy and is still writing. Last evening’s post was particularly poignant.
I arrive back at the farm after dark and a full day of chemo. This morning my youngest son drove up from the Twin Cities to join me in meeting with the oncologist. He asked a lot of questions–I like kids of any age with questions. Now as I enter the kitchen he is stocking the refrigerator with all kinds of calorie drenched food and drink to help me gain weight–lost too much this past week. As he fills the refrigerator, the old wood stove is heating a huge frozen chicken pot pie–a gift courtesy of my daughter, her husband, and my three grandsons on the east coast. I try to be useful and make a salad.
While we wait for the pie to cook, my son tosses a crumpled ball of holiday wrap to Marcus, our Siamese kitten. He retrieves it and drops it at the feet of my son. He throws it again and another retrieval. My son pulls out his cell phone and starts making a video of “Marcus, the kitten turned golden retriever.” I think of our first phone weighing 25 pounds which still hangs on the dining room wall–25 families on one line. Now the cell phone weighing a few ounces taking video pictures. So funny at least to me. We laugh.
Meanwhile, the wood stove announces that dinner is ready, and starts singing, “What would you think if I sang out of tune. Would you stand up and walk out on me. Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song, And I’ll try not to sing out of key. We get by with a little help from our family and friends, we get high with a little help from our family and friends…” We listen to the music as we share dinner.
My son has now left the farm for his long drive back to St. Paul but we enjoyed this day together so very much. Before I retire for the night I will wash the dishes and see if the wood stove can make up some more lyrics, and clobber another Beatles tune off key. If she can, and if Marcus the kitten can then continue as a golden retriever of holiday paper balls, it will be more than a good day indeed.
Simple pleasures with family and friends who have a sense of humor is great. Yes. It was a roller coaster day–as is life for each of us. But if you have the support of family and friends, can laugh and love today, you are among the richly blessed. And tonight, I hope you feel as richly bless as I do
Can words make a difference? A young woman responded on Borden’s page…
I was diagnosed with breast cancer about a month ago and I start chemotherapy on Tuesday. I am leaping into the great unknown. Thank you for sharing your daily feelings and experiences….it doesn’t feel so dark and shadowy now. I think I can say cancer aloud now, Winston. I can say cancer without it sounding like a death sentence.
Related: Finding peace through music.
At midnight last night, same-sex marriage became legal in Washington state, and partners headed to city halls to get a marriage license. In the recent same-sex marriage amendment question debate in Minnesota, gay people in love didn’t appear in TV ads. So here are what gay people in love look like, courtesy of Getty Images and the Associated Press.
Oregon Live provides an additional photo essay.
This will be sucking up more employee time today than cat videos as it races across the Internet. This person has used census data to put together a live simulation of births and deaths in the United States at a given period of time. A birth occurs every 10 seconds in the U.S. A death occurs every 13 seconds.
Now we know what all those microphones were doing at the State Fair. They were forcing people to connect with each other.
If you’re a 3M employee and want someone to notice you’re working late, isn’t this the month to do it?
Bonus III: So you’ve got a backyard hockey rink. Do you have a backyard Zamboni? (h/t: Derek Schille)
The historic Union Depot in St. Paul will reopen to the public this weekend, 41 years after the last train left the station. The $243 million makeover is seen as key to helping revitalize downtown St. Paul. Today’s Question: What would it take for you to see downtown St. Paul as a destination?
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: This week on the Friday Roundtable, panelists will discuss the changing demographics of the country.
Second hour: A BBC documentary. Discovery: Last Men on the Moon.
Third hour: National Geographic photographer James Balog and Minnesota polar explorer Will Steger.
MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): NPR’s 2012 edition of Hanukkah Lights by Susan Stamberg and Murray Horwitz. Saturday is the first night of Hanukkah.
Science Friday (1-2 p.m.) – A look at the evolution of our universal language — laughter.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Tom Cruise plays a six-foot-five character in his new movie, even though the actor falls quite short of that height. But Cruise is in good company. NPR movie critic Bob Mondello looks at the many leading men who’ve needed a boost on screen.