The Thought for the Day – MacKinlay Kantor

…taking in a sight he might never see again… MacKinlay Kantor, Andersonville


MacKinlay Kantor was an American writer and Andersonville was a novel that earned him the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1956. Andersonville was the name of a Confederate prison camp in the Civil War. Located in Georgia, it became infamous for the squalid, miserable conditions its prisoners were obliged to endure. Andersonville was not only our introduction to what has turned out to be one of our favorite genres, the historical novel, but it also produced the very first quotes in our personal quotebook, started in 1988. As we recall, today’s Thought concerns someone leaving Andersonville for the final time, though it may well have been some seeing Andersonville for the first time.

This quote came to mind while we were watching Monday’s eclipse. Where we lived in northwest Colorado was going to get about 90 percent totality, but a remote part of Wyoming about three hours away offered one minute and 18 seconds of totality. We had never seen a total eclipse before, so we went. A few minutes before totality it started getting darker and cooler and right on schedule the moon was completely blocking out the sun.

There was nothing to do but watch and enjoy a moment long waited for. The technologies of the second decade of the 21st century were set aside because they would only distract. There are times that are best preserved by your mind’s eye because no memory is sweeter than that captured by your complete and undivided attention.

It doesn’t matter what that memory is, either. Whether it’s an eclipse, the view from the summit of a long-desired achievement or leaving the nursing home after seeing your father for the last time, sights you will never see again are rare and we don’t always get advance notice of them. They should be savored, poignant, perhaps, in the moment, but splendid in the memory.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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