Veterans Day is a tough holiday to celebrate for those of us who haven't served. What do you do with a day off that you personally did nothing to earn? Is buying a round of drinks over cards at the VFW Hall acceptable? Can you get away with sleeping in late and whiling away the afternoon in an epic game of Medal of Honor while listening to Slayer?
As genius as those suggestions are, there is one more way you could spend your Veterans Day without involving liquor, cards or ferocious heavy metal: The Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599) presents the free edu-tainment program "Let Freedom Swing" at 1 p.m. on Thursday, November 11. This fashion show and concert explores the effects of war-time rationing on average citizens, so you can learn about Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation" in an effort to better understand what actually made them so great (our own generation is currently rated at "middling to so-so," owing mostly to our preoccupation with liquor, cards and Slayer).
Through the jumpin' and jivin' big-band and swing music of the Blue Knights and the retro fashions of Catwalk: A Fashion Entertainment Group, the cold facts of rationing come to life. The War Production Department limited the amount of fabric that could be used to manufacture garments, so American fashion changed virtually overnight. Straight lines, short skirts and short jackets became the norm for women who were now reporting to work, and evening wear transformed from the overwrought gowns of the '30s (visualize any frumpy woman in a Three Stooges short for reference) to the clingy, simple sheaths that still get pulses racing today.
So whether you remember the '40s like it was yesterday or just harbor a (not-so) secret love for swing dancing and short skirts, you're bound to find something about the Greatest Generation to love. Besides, if you don't honor the past you're doomed to repeat it, and we just don't have the legs for those skirts.