Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 107 - Four Royal Weddings and a Funeral

The kiss
The Royal Wedding between William and Catherine was a wedding from which all fairy tales are told.  I remember getting up thirty years ago at 4:30 AM and watching Princess Diana taking the same path that Catherine (or Kate) has now taken to marry Diana's son.  I thought of how sad it is at the same time joyous.  The occasion is joyous for obvious reasons.  It is sad however also that Princess Diana can't be here to be a part of it.  It's sad that Prince William's mother isn't here for him and sad for us that we can't see her radiant beauty anymore.  She had such a beautiful smile.  But as I watched the new Royal Highness Duke of Cambridge come out on the balcony to kiss his bride, I saw it.  I saw Diana's smile. She lives in him and through him. I still see Diana when he smiles.

Westminster Abbey
What a bevy of emotions he must be experiencing.  The history, the tradition, the fanfare, the church.  To be married in the same church as one's mother is in itself a  rare event let alone to be married in the great Westminster Abbey.  Everyone wanted to be a part of it.  Even if it is just watching it on a jumbo tron or  the television.  I understand the world's longing to be a part of history. To be a part of something that is bigger than you.  Not only is it a reward in and of itself but also we get to tell  others about it.  We were there!  Tourist Trap stores know this so they sell as many commemorative tokens as we will buy.

Sometimes just popping off the cork of a bottle of wine and writing the date and the name of the event on it with a marker is the right thing to do.  Who needs a commemorative tea cup to show others.  you were there and  you know it. I think the best commemorative piece of history was a chunk of the rock from the Berlin Wall to commemorate it being torn down.  Many people took pieces of that wall.  When you visit the Capitol, in the rotunda there is a statue of Ronald Reagan.  In this statue is a piece of rock from that Berlin Wall.

In Daytona Beach we have a historical piece of basketball history.  Vince Carter, the now famous NBA player grew up and played at the local high school called Mainland.  I was able to be a small part of his history.  I was assigned to officiate the very last game on the Mainland High School wooden gym floor.  The same floor that Vince Carter had sweat on before he played for the Toronto Raptors and the Orlando Magic. The night was not only special for this reason, it was special for my partner who had also officiated the first basketball game on that floor over forty years prior! His emotions were high as he shared with me that this would be his last game.

He remembered it proudly as he did our pregame as the Crew chief.  "BJ, it was Ribault High School vs Mainland High School.  It was a Saturday morning as the games back then had to be played in the morning.  At that time the gym didn't have any lights or air conditioning."  How cool was that?  I was told we were both to receive a piece of this Mainland gym's hardwood floor afterward to commemorate our part in this big historical event.  They were going to cut the floor up into pieces and give one to Vince Carter and others who had donated to the new gym that was being built.  Vince had donated over $1,000,000 of his own money.  The rest of the pieces would be auctioned off to help raise more money for the state-of-the-art gym.

Vince and Duke William have two things in common.  They both picked schools built on tradition.  North Carolina and Cambridge.  And they both had great mothers.  Vince's mother was there that night as Vince couldn't be there due to his NBA schedule.  She accepted the award with Vince's Uncle on his behalf.  She had been there every night watching her son play basketball.  She has helped him remember where he came from and given back to the community of Daytona Beach by building a restaurant, a rehabilitation center for drug and alcohol addicts and continued to support other philanthropic ventures to help local children. I pray that William and Kate will continue to do the same.

Vince's mother was proud that night.  I was proud too.  Proud to be a part of history.  Unfortunately Mainland lost that night and I never did receive the commemorative piece of the hardwood floor.  (I had a sneaky feeling when the AD never returned to the locker room to ask our addresses to send it to us.)  That's OK as I'm not the only one that has participated in a small part of history that nobody notices.  Chief Inspector Morley is one of the men today that rode on the horse as a police escort to the royal family.  His first day on the job he escorted Princess Diana.  Today, thirty years later, he will retire after working his last day on the job.  Four weddings and a funeral.  I don't think they will send him a piece of the carriage or the cuttings of the horses mane or any other commemorative piece of history and tradition.  But he can take pride that he has his memory. He can drink a bottle of wine to celebrate his retirement and save the cork.  As for me, I may not have the piece of wooden floor as promised, but I have the cork from the bottle of wine that I had a toast from when I got home.  A referee, a cork and her memory.  That's as good as it gets.

To live in hearts we leave behind is to not die.  ~Thomas Campbell

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