Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Foreign Language Lesson

I got Chinese food Sunday from this great new place in town. I made some small talk about the weekend while the cashier, a totally sweet tiny old Chinese guy, was ringing me up. He asked me if I was ready to go back to work Monday, and I just said that I had the day off. (Which is true, Mondays are my day off, national holiday or no.) He responded very sincerely with, "Ah, right. Holiday? Memorial? You will remember and cry? For the soldiers?" I almost responded with a pithy reply about being at a barbecue, but just in time I caught myself. Memorial Day. In remembrance of the soldiers who have died. I didn't have the heart to tell him most people would be spending the day tipping back beers at a barbecue. That the only crying I could forsee was any drunken domestic argument the poor cops on duty would have to deal with. That most of the country would spend the day in happiness that they did not have to work, rather than in reflection of the lives that were given so that they could have a choice in where they worked. Instead, I assured the man that I would remember the soldiers, quietly took my food, and left. Isn't it amazing how someone who is just learning a language can remind us of what our own words mean?


otter said...

Thank you.

Kathleen C. said...

Though I never knew the Great Uncle that was lost in WWII, I missed several years of having my Dad in my life during Vietnam (thankfully he returned), and my Nephew is sending us reports every week or so from Sadr City as we wait for him to return.
I remembered.
And I cried a little too.