by Mike Tully
The choir assembled when Hell stormed the Lord’s Day on December 7th, 1941. It reconvenes every annual remembrance of that first gathering. Every year the choir grows. Those who join these days are gray, bent, proud and too frequently forgotten. But their voices, when mingled with those more ancient, reach the stars. We raise our glasses to the ones who didn’t make it through on this day, and they silently return our toast. Silently, that is, but for the echoes of an anthem of the Greatest Generation.
From the tables down at Mory’s, to the place where Louie dwells,
To the dear old Temple bar we love so well.
I hear it on this day, that strange echoing Kipling parody that Dad would break into three Cuba Libres after sunset. The song had the same resonance as his war stories, his matter of fact admission that caves were sealed on his orders, trapping Japanese combatants in a grave of dwindling oxygen. Dad said he never pointed a weapon and killed during the war. He merely gave orders and men died. The only weapon he brought home was a sword taken from the battlefield that hangs in our library. He never brought firearms home. My Dad, who hunted with weapons for sustenance in his childhood and carried weapons in the Pacific Theater, would not have them in the house.
Sang the whiffenpoofs assembled with their glasses raised on high
And the magic of their singing casts its spell.