Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Remembering the Times We Gathered to Remember

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Remembering the Times We Gathered to Remember

Article excerpt

Armistice Day.

When I was a child, our family joined a dozen or so other

families for a picnic every Armistice Day. We caravaned to a Boy

Scout camp in the far east part of the county. A river ran

through it. A swift, cold, narrow, tannin-brown river with high,

white bluffs for banks, schools of big, ominouslooking gar fish

hanging in the current, just above the bottom.

We called them sawfish because they had long, serrated snouts.

There were prehistoric-looking alligator snapping turtles along

that river, too -- take your finger off in a single chomp, we

were warned.

Every year on Armistice Day, called, now, Veterans Day and

expanded to recall all the veterans of all the wars that have

come and gone since the Great War of 1914-1918, I think not of

armies, but of that picnic.

Mireille Marokvia, who was a a girl in France at the time of

World War I, thinks of the mournful commemorations that,

throughout her childhood, marked that terrible, costly conflict.

"They took place under a sad sky and cold drizzle. Always. In

separate groups, schoolboys and schoolgirls and their teachers

walked in procession to the unknown soldier's monument and

gathered in back of it. Erected at the graveyard's upper corner,

near the tall cross, it consisted of a white stele bearing a

bronze plaque on which the names of the village's fallen

soldiers were engraved in gold . . . For me, the unknown

soldier was Odette's father."

Marokvia, who was born in 1908 and now lives in New Mexico, has

written a remarkable memoir of her childhood in France. It is

Immortelles: Memoir of a Will-of-the-Wisp (McMurray & Beck,

$17.50), and it is about the ghosts of her life, the ghosts of

ancestors, friends, of Odette's father and of Odette.

She recalls the night that she was awakened by chest pains, got

up, read the Merck Manual chapter on myocardial infarction, took

two slugs of Old Granddad and decided to call the doctor in the

morning. …

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