Sunday, September 28, 2008

Lengthy diatribe, but somewhat cathartic

For many years, my email inbox seemed to be filled with a lot of junk.

Since I have been with Hotmail, and Google, I have not been aware of receiving very much spam.

Well, tonight, I am going through my inbox, and attempting to purge a lot of the stuff I don't think I need anymore.

I am seriously having a difficult time with some of the emails...

"My Heart on the Line By Frank Schaeffer The Washington Post

Before my son became a Marine, I never thought much about who was defending me. Now when I read of the war on terrorism or the coming conflict in Iraq , it cuts to my heart. When I see a picture of a member of our military who has been killed, I read his or her name very carefully. Sometimes I cry.

In 1999, when the barrel-chested Marine recruiter showed up in dress blues and bedazzled my son John, I did not stand in the way. John was headstrong, and he seemed to understand these stern, clean men with straight backs and flawless uniforms. I did not. I live in the Volvo-driving, higher education- worshiping North Shore of Boston. I write novels for a living. I have never served in the military.

It had been hard enough sending my two older children off to Georgetown and New York University . John's enlisting was unexpected, so deeply unsettling. I did not relish the prospect of answering the question, "So where is John going to college?" from the parents who were itching to tell me all about how their son or daughter was going to Harvard. At the private high school John attended, no other students were going into the military.

"But aren't the Marines terribly Southern?" asked one perplexed mother while standing next to me at the brunch following graduation. "What a waste, he was such a good student," said another parent. One parent (a professor at a nearby and rather famous university) spoke up at a school meeting and suggested that the school should "carefully evaluate what went wrong."

When John graduated from three months of boot camp on Parris Island, 3,000 parents and friends were on the parade deck stands. We parents and our Marines not only were of many races but also were representative of many economic classes. Many were poor. Some arrived crammed in the backs of pickups, others by bus. John told me that a lot of parents could not afford the trip.

We in the audience were white and Native American. We were Hispanic, Arab and African American and Asian. We were former Marines wearing the scars of battle, or at least baseball caps emblazoned with battles' names. We were Southern whites from Nashville and skinheads from New Jersey, black kids from Cleveland wearing ghetto rags and white ex-cons with ham-hock forearms defaced by jailhouse tattoos. We would not have been mistaken for the educated and well-heeled parents gathered on the lawns of John's private school a half-year before.

After graduation one new Marine told John, "Before I was a Marine, if I had ever seen you on my block I would've probably killed you just because you were standing there." This was a serious statement from one of John's good friends, an African American ex-gang member from Detroit who, as John said, "would die for me now, just like I'd die for him."

My son has connected me to my country in a way that I was too selfish and insular to experience before. I feel closer to the waitress at our local diner than to some of my oldest friends. She has two sons in the Corps. They are facing the same dangers as my boy. When the guy who fixes my car asks me how John is doing, I know he means it. His younger brother is in the Navy.

Why were I and the other parents at my son's private school so surprised by his choice? During World War II, the sons and daughters of the most powerful and educated families did their bit. If the idea of the immorality of the Vietnam War was the only reason those lucky enough to go to college dodged the draft, why did we not encourage our children to volunteer for military service once that war was done?

Have we wealthy and educated Americans all become pacifists? Is the world a safe place? Or have we just gotten used to having somebody else defend us? What is the future of our democracy when the sons and daughters of the janitors at our elite universities are far more likely to be put in harm's way than are any of the students whose dorms their parents clean?

I feel shame because it took my son's joining the Marine Corps to make me take notice of who is defending me. I feel hope because perhaps my son is part of a future "greatest generation." As the storm clouds of war gather, at least I know that I can look the men and women in uniform in the eye. My son is one of them. He is the best I have to offer. He is my heart."

Interesting article, if it is true, what does it say about the "elite" of this country who are proud of their snobbery toward our military?

Back in the 60s, I hated hearing that the country's best and brightest were not going to Vietnam because they were enrolled in college.

And today, these "best and brightest" make up a large percentage of what is sitting in the halls of academia and gummint.

My former sister-in-law sent me:

"Veterans Vs Civilian Friends

When a good Veteran leaves the “job” and retires to a better life, many are jealous, some are pleased and yet others, who may have already retired, wonder.

We wonder if he knows what they are leaving behind, because we already know. We know, for example, that after a lifetime of camaraderie that few experience, it will remain as a longing for those past times. We know in the Military life there is a fellowship which lasts long after the uniforms are hung up in the back of the closet. We know even if he throws them away, they will be on him with every step and breath that remains in his life. We also know how the very bearing of the man speaks of what he was and in his heart still is.

These are the burdens of the job. You will still look at people suspiciously, still see what others do not see or choose to ignore, and always will look at the rest of the Military world with a respect for what they do. . . only grown in a lifetime of knowing.

Never think for one moment you are escaping from that life. You are only escaping the “job” and merely being allowed to leave “active” duty.

So what I wish for you is that whenever you ease into retirement, in your heart you never forget for one moment that “Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called children of God,” and you are still a member of the greatest fraternity the world has ever known.

Civilian Friends VS. Veteran Friends

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Get upset if you’re too busy to talk to them for a week.

VETERAN FRIENDS: Are glad to see you after years, and will happily carry on the same conversation you were having the last time you met.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Have never seen you cry.

VETERAN FRIENDS: Have cried with you.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Borrow your stuff for a few days then give it back.

VETERAN FRIENDS: Keep your stuff so long they forget it’s yours.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Know a few things about you.

VETERAN FRIENDS: Could write a book with direct quotes from you.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will leave you behind if that’s what the crowd is doing.

VETERAN FRIENDS: Will kick the crowds’ ass that left you behind.

(Most) CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Are for a while.

VETERAN FRIENDS: Are for life.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Have shared a few experiences.

VETERAN FRIENDS: Have shared a lifetime of experiences no citizen could ever dream of.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will take your drink away when they think you’ve had enough.

VETERAN FRIENDS: Will look at you stumbling all over the place and say, “You better drink the rest of that before you spill it!!” Then carry you home safely and put you to bed.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will talk crap to the person who talks crap about you.

VETERAN FRIENDS: Will knock them the hell out OF THEM..... for using your name in vain.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will ignore this.

VETERAN FRIENDS: Will forward this.

A veteran - Whether Active Duty, Retired, or National Guard or Reserve - is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America,” for an amount of “up to and including my life.” It is an honor to be a Veteran!"

I was a Marine on active duty when we met: she became a very close friend, and was very instrumental in bringing me to Jesus Christ, and getting me sober.

Perhaps I am getting old and senile...I spent about half of my life on active duty in the armed forces of this great country, because I believe in this country.

I believe in what she stood for when she was founded; I believe in individual freedom; I believe in individual's owning private property; I believe the majority of the people in this country still hold to the ideals that formed this country.

I also believe that there are people who disdain individual freedom, and wish to lord it over everybody else.

I have spent time in many countries of this world...Philippines, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Australia, Guatemala, Ecuador, Panama, Guam, Singapore, Guyana, and though there was much beauty there, they still were not the country I volunteered my life to protect.

How truly sad, that we are willing to allow ourselves to be cast aside for the betterment of a class of elites.

Our ancestors left Europe (My dad's mother's parents were from Sweden. My dad's predecessor from England. My mother's dad, often told me he was French German extraction) to get away from gummint overeaching into individual's lives, from oppressive taxation, from Marxist-Lenninist governing.

And now, three, four or more generations later, we are in the throes of returning this great country to the mess they all escaped from.

I would demand Scotty beam me up, but I know it ain't gonna do no good!

A good part of what has brought us to this point in history has been the misfits that inhabit the halls of con-gress; and now all the candidates for the office of the President are members of that despicable gaggle of misfits.

1 comment:

Katherine Aucoin said...

Wonderful post Gunny. My father served in the Navy as a medic in WWII and was called back for the Korean conflict. My older brother served in the Army and my younger brother and his wife were Marines. I have the utmost respect for anyone who has served our country.