|Jack Kerouac's grave in Lowell, MA, October 2011|
(c) Rick Dale 2011
But back to Jack Kerouac. Don't be confused - I hadn't mentioned him yet. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. In Douglas Brinkley's Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954, there are two entries on Memorial Day: May 31, 1948 and May 30, 1949. I only know those dates were Memorial Days courtesy of Google and being able to pull up calendars from 1948 and 1949 (with only a couple of clicks!).
Because, you see, Jack doesn't mention Memorial Day in either entry. Neither does he mention any activity that could reasonably be attributed to Memorial Day festivities. In 1948 he is in N.Y. and talks of typing 4,000 words and "the fear of virtue." In 1949 he is in Colorado and talks of being scheduled to ride in a rodeo at Table-Top (perhaps a Memorial Day activity?) but missed it because he was too sore from riding the previous day.
My copy of Memory Babe is with Crystal at camp, so I can't reference it to see if there is more about Jack and Memorial Day. A Google search yielded nothing of note, but we can say with certainty that Jack was alive on 47 Memorial Days from 1922-1969. That isn't much, but it's something. I can imagine little Jack watching the annual parade in Lowell, MA, attending the accompanying festivities and scampering around with his friends, enjoying the freedom of having the day off from school and thinking about the meal Memere would have waiting for him back at the house.
As someone recently wrote, "it's not National Barbecue Day," so take a moment and remember the dead. Jack would approve. You don't have to write an entire book about it like he did (e.g., Visions of Gerard), but you could at least pause for a moment and contemplate loved ones lost and all those who died in service to our country. It's okay to do the latter even if you're a rabid anti-war type - I give you permission.
We remember you, Jack, with or without all the hoopla of THE MOVIE.
And I remember Billy, Hugh, James, Elizabeth, and many others who took on the void in years past.