It is late.
This country is pretty much put to bed; its celebration weekend is over. The revelers, aka drunks, like the ones laughing, talking too loud, chugging them down at the nineteenth hole this afternoon, have worn down, gone to bed worthless after celebrating in a sad, sad way for folks who died for them.
The patriotic made their speeches, placed the flowers and inappropriate mini-flags by the gravestones of the fallen warriors, who may or may not have given their lives for our country, but just died after serving, but they died and served nevertheless; so i guess it’s okay.
i sit in the dark thinking about friends i know who died for us.
i think about how it happened and how we get all discombobulated with the hype
surrounding what should be quiet reflection and thanks to those who bought the farm, a term i don’t think many who were not there then now understand what it meant when the warriors created such a term.
i am not a hero; i served just shy of a quarter of a century pretty much driving ships.
i remember ’69 at the Red Mule in Norfolk with Doc, the hippie’s contribution to Navy officers when he said, “Gonna volunteer to go to ‘Nam.”
And i said stunned, “What the hell are you talking about, Doc?
“You are a hippie, a peacenik, against the war.”
And Doc said, “Well, i’ve been thinking about it, and our parents had World War II. It was their war, and whether we like it or not, this one is our war, and i want to be a part of our war.”
“Makes sense to me,” i replied, which, of course, made no sense whatever, but the next day i called my detailer to tell him i wanted to go to war, to Vietnam, and just to prove what an idiot i was, i told him “i want to be a “GLO.”
“GLO” is the Navy acronym for “Gunline Liaison Officer” who, with no sense at all, goes forward of the forward lines, spots enemy targets, and calls in the gunfire or attack aircraft.
My detailer is excited. You see they didn’t get a hell of a lot of guys volunteering to get their ass shot off. And then he says,” “You’ll have to extend your active duty for two months.”
i say “What the hell?”
And he explains there is two months of training to be a GLO, and that would give me only ten months in country, and they (that magic unknown “they”) require you to be in country for a year, so you would have to extend your active duty obligation for two months to get that year in.”
And i say, “Bullshit. You want me to extend for two months to get my ass shot off? i don’t think so.
“What else is there?”
And i go on to what else there was, which was riding a ship, watching over the Koreans we carried to Vietnam and back.
That was a long time ago. Yesterday, i thought about it. After all, yesterday was Memorial Day, when old sailors think about things like that, and had i gone, there’s a damn good chance we would have been honoring my dead ass had not that two-month thing stuck in my craw.
So you see, those folks we honored yesterday, who gave it their all, were just like us. Some were super patriotic and felt it their duty to put it on the line. Some were born to take life to the bone edge, risking it all, not for glory necessarily, but certainly inclined to get the adrenaline rush. And back then, some went because it was before they rolled numbers, and if you weren’t in college or a reverend or banged up in some way, chances are you were going and you went.
And some died.
That’s war, no matter what we call it. Some die. Sadly with the evil in this world, some have to die. For us.
So we take a moment and honor them for dying for us. Or at least, i hope most of us took that moment away from all the frills of a holiday. i hope most of us put our political bullshit aside, and had a quiet moment of respect for those who gave us their all, regardless of how they got to their end.
And perhaps, just perhaps, it wasn’t their end, because they died for us so they live with us.