North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

By Katie Bourg
Senior Daze 

Don't forget to see the 'big picture'


It is too easy to forget the world we have lived in. We go about our business day after day thinking of what we will be doing the next day. We grow up worrying about grades and career choices. We meet someone special and plunge into adulthood and wedding bells. Children follow, and other choices come and go.

We watch the news, but we get busy with our activities and our own workplaces. We rarely absorb much. It takes a fair sized shock to get our attention.

Wars come and go. Even big ones like in the ‘40s. Words stay in your memory bank, but you find small corners to plant them in, quietly. The Bulge. Anzio. Porkchop Hill. Later battles add up, and you don’t really forget, you just file. Every battle is the big one to the fellow in the middle of it. New ones crop up with increasing speed, it seems. You can’t keep track, and memories fade with time, though not entirely.

I’ve been reading Churchill’s “The Gathering Storm,” about the build-up of the German war machine leading to WWII. It is scaring the living daylights out of me. We appear to be ‘there’ again. But we are too busy worrying about other things. Churchill saw it coming, as treaty agreements were being broken. The rest of England and France chose not to notice. ‘People,’ real flesh and blood, were being ploughed under. Whole families damaged and some eliminated.

We were far away across a big ocean, and not interested. We had a hungry workforce and kids to feed. We were interested in Babe Ruth and baseball. Lots of things were on our minds. And minds can hold only so much, before they seem to go into a sort of walking sleep mode. The collective hearing aid turns off.

In the middle of all this napping there were real people getting hurt. Sometimes you get to look back and see what happened to one here and there. It’s scary, but sometimes it can make you feel better. I watched a program the other night that did that for me.

Audrey Hepburn, beautiful girl, wonderful actress, and in her later years a gentle humanitarian, was a little girl in Holland. I’ve read about her, now and then. Knew all that. Did not know the bitter experience that molded her. She was so pretty. So delicate. And in the end so strong. The village she lived in was forced to evacuate by the Germans. They were cold, without food or anything else that separates us from other animals. That she survived is sheer luck. So many did not.

When it was over she picked herself up and went to London to study ballet. The harsh shortages of necessary nutrients left her unable to follow that original dream, and she turned to acting. Someone saw those beautiful eyes and put her to work. She ended up in Hollywood and became a star. But she was a star with a memory. She left Hollywood to work her heart out for UNICEF, pushing everyone she knew or didn’t know to help feed hungry kids all over the world. That’s how she spent the rest of her life.

You will never know how many responsible citizens of the world you can save. She remembered and did her best. Not a bad way to spend our time on this earth, if we remember.


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