Tuesday, May 7, 2013

More birds and important anniversaries

In our last newsletter we captioned each of the pictures.  Because of the number of photos (37) we thought it would make it easier for you to understand each one.  We do not expect to do this very often, as it turned out to be technically far more difficult than expected, and thus rather time-consuming.  So we will save that for special occasions and go back to our normal format, which is to title the photos and refer to them in the text.
For those who have been enjoying our bird watching reports, we have some good news as well as a few more birds to share with you.  The good news – we are very pleased to note that the sea-eagles are still in the cove where we first observed them.  This gives us hope that they will have a more successful family-raising experience next time.
The photo of the Philippine serpent-eagle was taken as it soared over the house early one morning – quite a challenge for Marcia to track its flight path with the telephoto, but well worth the results.  The white band you can see through wings and tail make it easy to identify.  Serpent-eagles are not as large as sea-eagles, being about 20 inches/50 centimeters in length compared to 30 inches/75 centimeters.
Mangrove blue flycatchers have appeared in the blog once already, having had two pairs fly into the glass front door of the house several years ago.  Marcia was excited to capture a photo of one in the wild this time, especially one that was willing to pose for about 10 minutes before flying off into the jungle.  They remind us of the bluebirds in the Midwestern US.
The Lowland white-eye is a cute little high-activity bird, somewhat difficult to photograph because it seems to be in constant motion while feeding on fruit and insects in the trees.  It tends to travel in a small flock, chattering away as the group leap-frogs from branch to branch and tree to tree.  This one was so well camouflaged in the leaves that we were not even sure it would appear in the photo.  It stopped in a tree just behind the house while we were having lunch one day.  Marcia just watched for the center of activity amidst the leaves, and snapped pictures one after another, hoping to get something that we could see later on the laptop.  You can see that her strategy worked, although the cropping gives a soft-focus effect.  Without cropping, the picture would be like the “Where’s Waldo?” fad that was recently popular.
May 6 marked the 71st anniversary of the Fall of Corregidor.  It was Steve’s seventh time to attend the memorial ceremony, and Marcia’s sixth.  In fact, it was ten years to the day that Marcia first set foot on Corregidor, having not come with Steve on his first visit in 2002.
Unlike last year’s ceremony, which was attended by President Aquino and a much larger audience, this year’s was once again small but powerful.  Before we began, Steve noticed an older gentleman resting on one of the tranvias, and asked him where he was from.  When he said Colorado, Steve told him about the significance of May 6 and asked him if he would like to join us.  His daughter Diane said that her father, Tom Cummins, was a veteran who had served in the Tacloban area on Leyte right after the war ended.  So Steve invited Tom to be one of the wreath presenters.
Since the majority of the attendees were Filipinos, Steve asked if there were people present whose fathers or grandfathers had fought in World War II, and several raised their hands.  Three volunteered to offer the second wreath.  After an introduction by Lt. Col. Art Matibag, the Executive Director of the Corregidor Foundation, Inc., the wreaths – one provided by CFI and the other by F.A.M.E. (Filipino-American Memorial Endowment) – were offered, followed by a moment of silence.  Steve then gave a short talk about the importance of May 6, and his father’s role at Battery Way during that final morning before the surrender.
Of even more personal significance to us, May 8 of this year marks the 25th anniversary of Walter’s passing.  We had seen him less than two months before, and although he had suffered a minor stroke the previous year, his sudden death from a heart attack came as a shock to all of us.  Mary Anne had been away at a national bowling tournament and Walter had spent the week with their two daughters (Steve’s two sisters) Della and Paula, in the Minneapolis area.  When Mary Anne returned on Saturday, they stayed at Paula’s house.  Walter seemed to have known his time was short, but managed to stay alive long enough to see Mary Anne one more time.  He passed away the following morning, Mother’s Day.  Twenty-five years, and we all still miss him, especially every Mother’s and Father’s Day.
We’ve included a photo of Walter taken in late 1945 in front of his house on top of the hill in Duluth, Minnesota, USA.  It’s hard to believe that it was taken less than four months after his release from 40 months of starvation, torture, disease, and humiliation suffered in prison camps at the hands of the Japanese.  One of the final two photos is from Walter’s funeral in 1988 at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the other was taken last year at his gravesite which overlooks the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Steve’s book, “Honor, Courage, Faith: A Corregidor Story” which goes into much more detail about Walter, has been submitted by Anvil Publishing Company in the Lit-Biography Category of the 32nd National Book Awards, which will be announced in November.  Also, more good news, we were recently informed that the book is going into a second printing.

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