The Eleventh Hour

The Eleventh HourHistorically, Veterans Day began in America as Armistice Day, when, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the Allied Nations and Germany declared a cessation of hostilities of WWI. But in 1954, after WWII, it was changed to Veterans Day to include all U.S. veterans. It was temporarily moved to a Monday in the early 1970s, before solidly moving to November 11 regardless of what day of the week the 11th fell upon, in 1975.

Today, 11-11, we honor all those who, in patriotism and courage, offer their very lives to fight for our way of life. While politics and agendas can make our country like one big family that doesn’t always get along, we are, at the end of the day, a family, one that enjoys life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is a very good life.

Tremendous Thanks and Gratitude to:

My Father

My Grandfathers

Uncles

Cousins

Friends

and all of our Veterans

for their service and protection of our way of life

Jody Brown’s first book, of Upside Down Kingdom, is on Amazon.

A Barrier and a Path

I sat up late last night, reading, as I usually do when the house is quiet and I can turn on one light to push the darkness back just a bit, enough to sustain my eyes and make me focus. I liken the feeling to stepping onto the yoga mat, where all I’m concerned about is the entirety of the mat’s space. Nothing more, and not one thing less.

Last night, I read about the Miracle at Dunkirk. I’m sure I read this in school, but it never resonated the way it does now, and all because of three words.

Picture: In early 1940, the British and their Allies, some 350,000 troops, fought Nazi Germany across lowland Europe, and the Germans pushed them back to the small town of Dunkirk in northern France, six miles from Belgium, where they were surrounded on three sides by the Germans, with their backs to the English Channel. For some reason, which is still disputed, a halt order was given by Hitler.

The world waited with bated breath for the onslaught. Meanwhile, the besieged army sent a telegraphed message out that simply read, “But if not.”

But if not. These three words are a reference to the Biblical book of Daniel, where Daniel’s three friends chose death rather than to bow down to the King’s golden idol. The king told them they would be thrown into the furnace for not bowing and they replied, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18). Barrier and Path post

“But if not” sent a clear message that, even in what looked like defeat, the besieged troops were victorious. They would not give in. These three words resonated with the British people, and they felt impelled to act. A British friend of mine, and a veteran of WWII, tells me that the people of her country look at water differently, that what looks like a wet barrier to others is a path for the British. After “But if not,” Operation Dynamo was announced to the British public to rescue the Allied soldiers. Civilians banded together in a dockyard, launched their own small boats, and headed into the treacherous English Channel. Reportedly, more than 700 boats were launched by anybody who had one, and they rescued more than 338,000 troops in what historians call the Miracle of Dunkirk.

Three words, and a miracle.

What are your three words today?

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing

The Challenges to Expanding Personal Convictions

convictions post When I traveled to Israel, immigration officials asked if I wanted a landing card stamped instead of a stamp in my passport, as the passport stamp might have made it more difficult to travel in other countries.

A German friend of mine said that, even in growing up after WWII, her experience was that the rest of Europe looked down on her country. Like countless others from the town of Dachau, when she was born, her parents drove to nearby Munich to make sure her birth records showed nothing of Dachau or its Concentration Camp that could follow her in life.

Last month in the U.S., basic civil rights were again called into question when a man was shot and killed, because he and his shooter had different skin colors.

In the U.S. currently, 29 states allow a gay person to be legally fired from employment just for being gay.

Yesterday marks the 75th anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Poland that sparked WWII.

In our ability to conceive and defend human rights, we’ve come a long way. But how much do we really understand?

We’re a world of communicators, and yet we don’t listen—least of all to anything that we don’t want to hear. Not every problem will be easily solved just by listening. But we don’t typically start a difficult conversation that we already don’t know, from inception, how to finish.

With applied understanding to blot out the petty squabbles, it’s conceivable that we could stand, brother to brother, against the bigger challenges.

The will to build comes from the same internal place as the will to destroy. We all have convictions, which aren’t just guilt sentences handed out, but are beliefs firmly held.

There is so much more to learn, especially from each other. When you break down ice bucket challenges and daily gratitude challenges, what you get is one person’s effort to do something good. Today’s your day.

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing

The Doorkeeper

I just finished dinner with a great friend. And throughout the evening’s myriad list of discussion topics, we reminisced on our time at Yad Vashem in Israel.DSC00947

I was thinking about this earlier today on a smaller level, that when life gets overwhelming and even when it seems a bit pointless, the best thing to do is to surround oneself with art to rejuvenate the soul and begin to believe again.

Emerging artists, in particular, have a dichotomy, a contradiction between the near-hopeless, “Will I make it?” as an artist and the “My art saves me,” hope of every day life that truly keeps us striving.

This is what I was thinking about as I headed to dinner, and, without my saying a word about it, one of the things my friend reminded me about tonight was of our time at the holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, “the place of names and remembrance” where we saw level upon level of heartbreak.

“But remember the art,” he said, the art that became the reason for existence; the smuggled sketch, the wood carving, the poetry, the diary entries. These things were a matter of life, of life! They captured life stories, they chronicled and described day-to-day struggles, they were grasps at beauty and the comfort of memories in a dark world.

Art is the finding of beauty in the every day, and it serves as the doorkeeper to belief: in oneself, in a higher cause, in everything that’s better than the circumstances taken alone. When in times of trial and in times of darkness, look to art. Go to a museum, read poetry, Google paintings if you must, but find art and immerse yourself in it.

It will recharge a battery within that has been lacking. And life will look better when you emerge again, of that I’m sure.

~
My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon.

 

A Cordial Invitation

WOLFor the past two years, I have been meeting and recording my interviews with a WWII veteran, who is now 91 years old. Tonight, for the first time, I’m excited showcase some of these transcripts*: Words to live by, inspirational messages, the ugliness and poignancy of war, and the resolution to strive for better, all from a perspective that’s seen 91 years and multiple continents.

Hers is a story steeped in history, yet what she can teach us is universally timely. Despite all that she’s seen and experienced, including her time spent at the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, she has compassion and hope for mankind. Through these interviews I sought to find out why, and I think I found the answer. And it’s something that can inspire everyone regardless of heritage, race, religion, background, ability level, or financial standing.

I plan to write this story this fall, pending further grant approval as my current grant has reached its end. But, fear not, I believe in this story and I’ll find a way to do the writing, even if the grant doesn’t come through and I continue to work multiple jobs. You can keep up with my work at JodyBrown.com and here on the blog.

If you’re in Rochester today, please stop by the Creative Salon on 1st Avenue SW. I’ll be there from 6-10 p.m. with my work, along with photographer Ana Gotmer. There’ll be music from Thomas & the Rain, some snack provisions, and of course, wine. It’s an open reception, so stop in for as long as you like. Consider yourselves, now and always, cordially invited in to my work.

-J

~
My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon. I’ll sign it for you

*This activity is made possible by the generosity of the McKnight Foundation through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council.