3 July 2003 – Ian turned the big 3-0 today. Our original plans from weeks ago had been to spend the day at Enchanted Kingdom. Well, after Rebecca being diagnosed with strep on Monday, Nicholas being diagnosed on Wednesday and me feeling all around awful (but no strep, just ear ache, sore throat, on and off fever which has turned into a sore and swollen neck, sore eyes and now laryngitis with coughing), we decided to bag that plan. Carrying around several medications that had to be kept cold, and just the idea of walking for hours around rides I knew we wouldn’t be riding, just didn’t seem like a wise idea. The park isn’t going anywhere so we’ll plan it for another day.
I had informed the Camp Critters leader about the kids being sick in case any other kids started being weird, and she invited us to go with them to Pizza Hut where the kids would go through the kitchen and make their own pizzas. We decided to take her up on it, but took our own car and kept the sick ones at our table to minimize contact. Yeah, it probably wasn’t the best plan, but we wanted to do something today. Ian tried to get an introductory flight scheduled and that would have organized our day and given him something truly memorable as he starts his private pilot’s license course, but there were no available slots. I guess with the clouds and storms that were rumbling throughout the day, it was probably a good thing.
Side note, pizza here isn’t like at home. They use a sweet tomato sauce rather than a mildly spicy one, and the cheese doesn’t melt and stretch like mozzarella should. They call it mozzarella, but it’s a very soft cheese that melts and turns kinda gooey. It’s an acquired taste, but so far neither Ian nor I have acquired it.
OK, so after some pizza lunch we completed the field trip by going to… the Manila American Cemetery. Now, while this was a great trip for our family (our kids enjoy cemeteries, reading the headstones, wandering the fields, etc.) I wasn’t sure that there was a purpose for the other kids. With us present, we could later talk to our kids about who was buried, the difference between cross and Star of David headstones, and what the memorial was for, but as far as we could tell, the leaders didn’t give the rest of the group any information at all. Why go, to a cemetery of all places, unless you want to impart information and give the kids a frame of reference? There’s a photo page up of our visit, so you can click on that when you’re ready.
The cemetery is officially called the World War II Manila American Memorial Cemetery. There is an open circle memorial on a small hill in the center of the park. The memorial is open to the elements and can be strolled through a middle corridor with perpendicular walls on either side etched with the names of the American armed forces missing in action. Here, this largely means “lost at sea”. Those who had been awarded the Medal of Honor were filled in with gold. Walking along, we crossed over the seals of all the States and at the ends of each section are rooms that have mosaics depicting plans for specific battles, along with battle plans for specific fleets. The memorial is far from “impressive” in size and style if you’ve been to downtown Washington lately, but on the whole it’s a wonderful landmark for battles few people have ever heard about.
And then cake and presents! Yesterday I’d taken the kids to a bakery where we created a mix-n-match of cheesecakes, chocolate cakes and tiramisu cake. OK, it looked a little funny, but everyone chose a kind they preferred and all were happy. Presents began with Rebecca handing daddy a bag of cash including a $1000 bill and plenty of gold coins. She’d made them all herself and was happy that daddy could now go out and buy fun stuff. Katherine had created a cardboard house. I don’t know why she picked that specific project but she worked long and hard on it and was pleased with the outcome. That’s all that counts in my book. From Jonathon, Ian received a white undershirt. He was understandably confused by this as he never wears undershirts, but then Nicholas handed over the final gift, a barong. A barong is the local men’s shirt, worn at the office. It is usually white or off-white, has a collar and a series of buttons part-way down the front and an embroidered design (often floral) in a rectangular pattern. There are formal barongs made of pineapple fibers but I didn’t think that the expense of one would be worth it.
The day ended with dinner at Outback.