Even in the Movies Written by Ellen M. DuBois
The other night, I watched movie "The Family Man" starring Nicholas Cage. I enjoyed it very much, although that's not intended to be my point.
The story takes place in two locations: New Jersey and New York. When Cage's character takes his wife to New York City for dinner, camera shows a shot of city's sky line.
Fiction quickly turned to non-fiction.
What a strange, ominous feeling. I was relaxing and suddenly I was reminded of what no longer was -- what was now a ghost. The Twin Towers.
I thought about how they looked so beautiful in evening sky line of New York City. I thought about shooting of this film and how back then no one ever would have dreamed that these buildings would be target for worst attack in history.
God, life is different now. Isn't it?
I was filled with sadness. I was drawn from movie and back into thinking about all lives lost. What I was looking at on screen was, in fact, no more. It was a ghost.
The ghost of past. The ghost of security and ghost of life in America as it was. All innocently captured on film by camera operators who had no thought that this may be last time they'd ever film these buildings.
Books As A Life SaverWritten by Ellen M. DuBois
I cannot take credit for writing this, for I am only sharing with you something I found today. It is a very old page, worn and yellowed, from "The New Republic" dated December 8, 1917. What struck me about this article are two things: 1. The letter from gentleman, and 2. The extreme importance of books to soldiers overseas. The article states that two most important things soldiers desired were "tobacco and BOOKS". It seems that then, just as now, reading helped folks get through most adverse, frightening and challenging situations by giving mind something other than their fear or pain to focus on. I cannot even imagine terror experienced in battle and how these soldiers kept their sanity about them. I do know that reading played a significant role in matter.
I will now share with you this newspaper story. It is a chunk of history; a piece of time captured on brittle paper that I was fortunate enough to find within pages of, yes, you guessed it, a very old book.
December 8, 1917 THE NEW REPUBLIC V
"Who Thought of It- a Soldier?"
A LETTER FROM A CIVIL WAR VETERAN
"...I should like to meet some of gentlemen in our company, to thank them personally for what they have done for my grandson who is in France. I cannot help thinking that it must have been a soldier, a man who has been through fighting mill as I have, who initiated idea of providing such good books, in so convenient a Veteran. I fought from '62 to '65. I remember well craving I used to have for something good to read, something to offset loneliness and homesickness which was harder to bear than all our physical hardships. It was so keen that we used to pounce on scraps of newspaper we found. I tell you there is nothing that will so well keep up morale of fighting men as good reading matter. They need it to keep their minds off themselves. I know what our boys will go through; mental agonies are worse than anything else. Yet when my grandson at opening of war enlisted in Canadian Army, I was glorified- that is word!- to have him go. I sent with him blessing of God. I knew it was not love of adventure that urged him on, but something of same spirit with which we boys were filled long ago. It is a spirit as old as Christianity, spirit of Crusades. He longed to add his boy's strength to might of world to teach an everlasting lesson to those damned Potsdam animals, who were willing to drench world in blood without mercy, to further such a thing as sordid commercial ambitions. He has fought at Ypres and Vimy. He has been wounded twice. I have seen him again, and he is not same boy. He has seen, this child, more than I ever saw. War is hell to him, as it was to us; he hates it with all his soul, as I do. But he hates Kaiser and his crew more, and he will be there to end. This, gentlemen, is not what I wished to write to you. As you may appreciate, I feel this business keenly, and my feelings carries me away oftentimes. When I saw my grandson he asked me to write to you. Some time after he went away I sent him as many of your little books as I could buy. Before he received them, he and men with him many a time crouched for hours under heavy shelling- sometimes for days and nights, without relief- waiting, waiting for attacks. They had nothing to think of except what was going to happen to them. I believe only a soldier can appreciate mental condition of men under such circumstances! The books I sent were a godsend to him and his comrades. They constituted a sort of company library, each man carrying several of volumes in his pockets, and he told me there was hardly a man in company who had not read every one of books....I think it will be interesting, and heartening, for you to know how greatly you are helping to keep up morale of men who are enduring at front mental suffering that is beyond, truly beyond, imagination of us who stay at home."