Saturday, November 10, 2007
Making memories at Burger King
Because my son and daughter-in-law had places to go and people to see, Nana and Grandpa (that's us) stayed with Elijah, age 11, and Noah, age 9, Thursday afternoon and evening. They finished their homework, and when mealtime rolled around, I took the boys to Burger King. We promised to bring something home to Nana. I don't know what you do when you go to Burger King, but we were sitting in our booth talking. I mentioned that their cousin Matthew had been chosen to sing in his county's honor chorus and the concert was next Thursday night.
"Really!" said Elijah.
"Yes," I said. "Would you guys like to go hear him sing if it's all right with your Mom and Dad on a school night?"
Elijah said, "I would," but Noah said, "No, not really."
Since we were on the subject of music, I suppose, Noah said, "Every morning we sing 'America the Beautiful' at school." He started singing, "O, beautiful for purple skies" and Elijah and I joined him at "For amber waves of grain." Our little trio wasn't loud and we weren't disturbing anyone else in the restaurant, as far as I could tell.
When we finished the first verse, I said, "That song has several more verses." Noah said, "It does?" and Elijah began singing, "O, beautiful for patriot dream" so I joined in again and made it a duet. Noah just listened.
When we finished that verse, I asked, "Do you say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning too?" They said they did. I asked them if they sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" and they said they didn't. I told them that some people think "America the Beautiful" ought to be our national anthem because it is prettier and easier to sing than "The Star-Spangled Banner."
"But I think 'The Star-Spangled Banner' is more patriotic," said Elijah.
"Well, it was written during a war," I said. Noah said, "It was?" and I said, "Yes, during the War of 1812, during a battle at night. The man who wrote the song could see that our flag was still there because of the light from the rockets' red glare and the bombs bursting in air."
"Oh," said Noah. We paused and reflected. As the Psalmist said, Selah.
Noah asked, "Grandpa, when was World War I?"
"From 1914 to 1918," I said. "During World War II my dad was in the Navy, but two of his older brothers were in World War I." As I thought of my Uncle Art and my uncle John, it suddenly occurred to me that next Monday is Veterans Day, so I told the boys that Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day to commemorate the cease-fire that ended World War I, and that it always used to occur on November 11 because on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, the soldiers stopped shooting at each other. Elijah said, "Really!"
I told them that when I was in school, whatever we were doing at the time, the principal would always come on the loudspeaker at eleven o'clock on November 11th every year and announce, "Let's have a moment of silence to honor the men who fought and died in World War I."
"Really!" said Elijah again.
The conversation turned to other things and we finished our food. We got something to take home to Nana and piled in the car to head back to the boys' house. The boys were subdued, their tummies full. About halfway home, Elijah said, "So at eleven o'clock on November 11th there was a moment of silence."
"Yes," I said.
"Grandpa, I love you," said Noah.
"I love you, too, baby," I said, but caught my faux pas and added quickly, "You're not a baby-- are you, Noah?" It was more a statement than a question.
"No," he said.
"Well, all my grandchildren are my babies and they will be even when they are all grown up," I said.
We pulled into the driveway and got out of the car and took Nana her sack of food. The streetlights had come on in the cul-de-sac so the boys went back outside for a game of kickball with some of the other kids in the neighborhood. Their version of kickball uses a beach ball and some of the mailboxes around the cul-de-sac serve as bases. One of the daddies was acting as umpire and one of the mommies was keeping track of the younger children.
I hope the boys remember our little trip to Burger King. I know I will.