Could there be anything better to stoke the flames of passion than to celebrate 40 years of marriage by taking in a week-long excursion to romantic Charleston, South Carolina, in the middle of February? That being said, we could have used a fireplace in the Airbnb we rented as temperatures there were in the 30s and it poured down rain the better part of our stay.
Over the years, my wife and I have appreciated our cherished next door neighbors, married for more than 75 years, who regularly hop into their car every Friday night for a dinner date out. With our schedules, and particularly this time of year and my penchant for Friday night hoops, we are forced to opt for less frequent yet somewhat larger chunks of time together.
These alluring getaways provide ample opportunity to preempt any potentially marital disharmony. On the other hand, should there be some discord between us, battle grounds, or contention, what better place to resolve those differences. Both of us would agree that four decades is plenty of time to unearth our respective quirks, foibles and divisive idiosyncrasies, and trust me, we’re both still digging and discovering.
Speaking of Charleston, the possibility exists I may have dozed off a period or two while taking American History in high school, because I never remembered that Fort Sumter, located in Charleston Bay, was the precise location where the first shots were fired initiating our nation’s bloody Civil War. Rise and shine, camper!
The truth is, though I grew up during the bulk of the Vietnam War Era, I was selfishly centered in my own miniature “universe” and paid it little mind. Sadly, I was so oblivious of the courageous and sacrificial efforts of American soldiers there, when my 18th birthday rolled around I hadn’t any idea I needed to register for the draft with the Selective Service System. Oops! In short order I dutifully did and thankfully wasn’t remanded into custody!
For almost the past half-century, I have been making a concerted effort to catch up given my ignorance and neglect with respect to fully respecting the more than one million who fought and died for freedom’s causes.
You should know, these days my only form of exercise is bicycle riding with some modest weightlifting thrown in for good measure. During the winter months I ride a stationary bike in our basement and during workouts watch a movie from our collection of a few hundred DVDs. Though an eclectic assemblage, many have historical roots and are based on true stories ranging from “American Sniper” to “Zero Dark Thirty,” from “12 Strong” to “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” and from “Black Hawk Down” to “The Hunt for Red October.”
The week prior to our departure, and knowing little about our coastal itinerary, I “rode” with “Enemy at the Gates,” a story of a heroic sharpshooter from the Soviet Union during World War II’s battle of Stalingrad and Valkyrie, a compelling tale of an attempt by German army officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
Upon arriving and while nestled in our quaint Carolina accommodations, we tired of staring out the window to pouring rains and near-freezing temperatures, and decided to bust out the iPad and snuggled on the couch under a warm blanket with a movie and snacks. The first feature was that of “Midway,” the pivotal recounting of the courageous response to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the fierce battle that ensued in the Pacific seas as U.S. pilots were dive-bombing Japanese carriers.
The following day rain continued and having checked our temperature, feared cabin fever might be setting in, so we went took in a local cinema and took advantage of the senior discount. Reclining in overly comfortable theater chairs, we watched the most unsettling story of two young British soldiers in a race against time, assigned the daunting task to deliver a message whereby saving 1,600 fellow comrades in the World War I epic film, “1917.”
Finally, given a bit of a moderate break in the weather — or, at least, the rains quit — we ventured out to nearby Patriot’s Point to explore the destroyer, USS Laffey, the submarine, USS Clamagore, walk through the Vietnam Experience, complete with a Quonset Hut, and finally, climbed aboard the massive air craft carrier, USS Yorktown. Eventually we managed to get atop the enormous flight deck, checked out the countless aircraft on display, and you might say, froze our “cockpits” off as chilly high-velocity winds whipped across the runway.
Did I mention that the primary book I brought to read for the trip was Ron Chernow’s massive biographical volume, “Grant”? For much of our week I was thoroughly engaged in his chronicling of the crucial battle at Vicksburg led by Ulysses and company.
As our week was drawing to a close, love was in the air, and we capped if off by curling up with our iPad again and watched Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist,” a Holocaust memoir of the extremely gifted Polish-Jewish pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman, who amazingly survived the horrors of World War II by hiding out in a Warsaw ghetto.
Battles behind us, our union is more intact as ever as we made it home safely, and in time to celebrate my birthday this past week. In case you’re wondering, it was on the day of the Boston Massacre. Go figure!
Ken Pollitz moved to Ottawa in 1991 as mission-developer/pastor of New Creation Lutheran Church. His biweekly column provides insights and viewpoints from Putnam County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org