An excursion Friday evening to Chelsea for dinner at the Common Grill (outstanding!) and to see Our Town at the Purple Rose (equally outstanding!!) helped launch the Memorial Day weekend. Saturday morning meant heading down Edward Hines Drive in morning splendor (also outstanding!) to The Henry Ford for Civil War Remembrance (more outstanding!). Soon, we'll get to drive up I-75 and attend the Detroit Regional Chamber conference on Mackinac Island (so outstanding! -- the island and environs, that is). In the space of one week, three of one's Top Ten List of Things To Do in Michigan are crossed off.
Perhaps we'll get to the other seven some day here...
With Memorial Day weekend nearly upon us, it's time to remember that The Henry Ford in Dearborn will once again feature Civil War Remembrance Days from Friday to Sunday. Info is here: THF
Vividly described so:
|A time to reflect. A time to celebrate.|
|Greenfield Village’s most treasured signature event. Memorial Day weekend is filled with high emotions and vivid experiences as we honor veterans who fought and died to preserve our nation’s freedom. More than 450 military reenactors create an authentic Civil War encampment for an observance filled with parades, artillery demonstrations and heartfelt 19th-century music.|
That's the tagline of the NHL's theme in its commercial messages for this year's Stanley Cup playoffs. I had intended simply to mention it in a post to demonstrate the power of history in our everyday lives, how we too often neglect to appreciate the vital, central place of our history, and how our society seems disinclined to invest in it while at the same time relying on it everywhere you look for meaning and depth for life.
But, tonite, the tagline takes on a different meaning. One history has come to an end, and another has begun. Steve Yzerman, lifelong Red Wing, captain and leader, iconic representative of a franchise he helped bring back from the dead, is leaving Detroit to become general manager in Tampa of the NHL franchise there. Some commentators try to be clever in suggesting he's taking the same career route as other Michiganders, heading south for better weather and more opportunity. On the other hand, the prevailing wisdome can be found in Mitch Albom's column, which takes a wistful view (Freep), likening his leaving to that of a faithful and dutiful son who painstakingly made the rounds of his office family, telling them how much he appreciate all they had done for him, taking their blessing with him as he accepts a new challenge that he wouldn't/couldn't wait for in Detroit.
Reading some posts online confirms the same kind of message; they express a poignant regret that we are losing "The Captain" but also a hope that, after training down south, he'll eventually be back in Hockeytown to become a key leader again for the Wings. Wishful thinking? Perhaps, but it only goes to show how beloved Stevie Y has been and, four years after his playing days ended, still is. And probably ever will be.
No Wing fan will ever forget how he came back from an awful knee injury early in his career, how he later changed his game in order to win the big prize and converted from a pure scorer to a shot-blocker and defender, how he labored painfully on one good knee to help win the Cup in '02, how he came back after a terrible eye injury to try one more time. Who can forget how he stepped to the podium after the limo accident in '97 in a way that expressed what everyone felt. There's a videotape in the basement of the nite his jersey was retired; it sure won't be taped over.
Too much fuss for just an athlete? Nah. In this case, the man was much more than the game. He was an embodiment of greatness not just on the scoresheet but in how he wore a "C" on his uniform and never hung it up.
Mitch says it well near the end of his piece: "Go. Do well. Make everyone proud." That kind of sentiment tells you everything about how great people here can be.
Go, make us proud. Except ... he's already done that. Steve Yzerman came as a kid, grew up before our eyes, and made Detroit, Michigan, his home. He enriched it by his class and his character. We have been so blessed to be witnesses and fans.
On a day when another public figure drew much of the limelight in disgrace and shame, it is only fitting and proper that we concentrate here on a true leader, one who proved that self-sacrifice is the greatest example of all. So, if it is our lot to sacrifice and see him move on for the opportunity to try achieving his next goals, well, it's simply the right thing to do.
If you've read yesterday's post, you noticed that the Governor referred to the past a lot in it. In fact, a main attribute of the proclamation has to do with history and heritage and remembrance.
The proc launches by referring to Michigan's achievement of statehood 173 years ago. The second paragraph hilites the State's natural beauty, but heritage returns in paragraph 3 with reference to an iconic feature -- lighthouses -- and includes mention of "museums", referring to the maritime subset but hinting that there might be others. Para 4 drives this home big-time:
"Michigan has an abundance of cultural assets, from museums, historic sites and art festivals to theaters and libraries that make our communities distinct, diverse and appealing."
Wow! An abundance, is that right?! Sounds like those assets are pretty important to Michigan's identity and its future, n'est-ce pas?
Skipping para 5 since no mention there, we move on to para 6 with reference to the fact that Michigan Week itself is historic, having been created and celebrated every year since 1954 (almost as old as this blog's author -- pretty old!).
Finally, the Governor concludes and urges Michiganders "to celebrate the rich heritage" that makes Michigan special.
Apparently, without Michigan's "rich heritage" being so integral to the "unique features that make Michigan special", it really wouldn't be necessary to celebrate a Michigan Week at all.
Whereas, The majestic state of Michigan is adorned with the riches of unspoiled nature: the world's longest freshwater coastline, bountiful lakes, shimmering beaches, miles and miles of cherry orchards, glorious sunrises and sunsets, daytime skies of the deepest blue, and nighttime skies that are scattered with stars; and,
Whereas, Home to more than 100 public beaches and lighthouses, some of the highest freshwater sand dunes in the world, stunning multi-colored sandstone cliffs, and numerous maritime museums, the state of Michigan offers plenty of engaging sights and activities for everyone; and,
Whereas, Michigan has an abundance of cultural assets, from museums, historic sites and art festivals to theaters and libraries that make our communities distinct, diverse and appealing; and,
Whereas, Michigan embraces the nation's most skilled, innovated and resilient residents who have earned this state a place of respect and distinction on both the national and global scale, making it the best place in the world to live, work, and raise a family; and,
Whereas, Each year since 1954, Michigan Week has inspired citizens to reflect on, explore and celebrate the history, resources and opportunities that set our state apart and to focus on the time-honored traditions and shared heritage that connect and define Michiganians;
Now, Therefore, be it Resolved, That I, Jennifer M. Granholm, governor of the state of Michigan, do hereby proclaim the week of May 15, 2010, Michigan Week in Michigan to promote state pride among citizens and to celebrate the rich heritage and unique features that make Michigan special. I encourage citizens from every community in our great state to support and celebrate all that Michigan has to offer and to keep the spirit of Michigan Week alive all year long.
It can be instructive to check out how other States commemorate their role in the Civil War. A recent trip to Iowa afforded a quick investigation, revealing some interesting aspects of the Hawkeye State's participation.
The Iowa capitol is located on a prominent location east of Des Moines, and to the south of the building is a magnificent column surrounded by statues and inscriptions referred to as the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Other memorials are nearby, several GAR-related, a statue of Lincoln and Tad, a "dictator" style mortar with other artillery pieces, and, most impressively, a mural at the top of the dome simply containing "1861-1865" with the GAR emblem. All in all, one cannot pay a visit and come away without understanding that Iowa played a role -- one that Iowans considered highly important -- and that the Civil War generation wanted future ones to know about it.
That being said, there are a lot of commemorative items there. As the school kids make their way through on their tours, do they grasp all of the significance that is portrayed? There's an enormous model of the U.S.S. Iowa, the WW2 battleship, that surely impresses the impressionable. This is a key question for those working in the Sesquicentennial: how reach the Millenials and the generation still in grade school for whom a 150-year old story might seem too old to be relevant?