Sunday, November 11, 2007

Forty Years and counting

40 years ago I was living in SE Asia. I was in the Air Force, and there was a war going on. I didn't know her at the time, but Lady Linda was in Madison, Wisconsin protesting the war. Mean while, I and my comrades were gritting our teeth over how the fiasco was being mismanaged and getting us killed (that is fact, not a political statement. I don't do politics...I just digress a lot). Every now and then, on the Discovery Military Channel, I see footage of some the guys with whom I flew. It is actually combat ootage of our F-105s, and it makes me feel numb to see it. I usually don't watch it any more. It seems like another life time.

Fast forward to today. I live in Wisconsin, I am a civilian, and there are still wars going on. In fact, there are always wars going on and, as was said on M*A*S*H, wars are where old men send young men to die. Well, I know something about those young men, and women, I have been one of them.

Each generation says that the younger folks don't have what it takes and that there will never be brave men and women willing to serve in the military. Certainly not like our generation. That's what they all say...and they are all and always wrong. Some how each generation produces young people willing to put on a uniform and go to the ends of the earth and serve in the military. Some how, despite how you or I may feel about a war, each generation produces its heroes, those individuals willing to put in on the line for another soldier, air man, sailor or marine. Right now, as I adjust the thermostat in my house, there our young Americans serving in all corners of the globe and under all sorts of unpleasant circumstances. I pray that they all return safe and intact.

During each generation these same men and women come home, take off the uniform and become civilians and are honored with the title veteran. Unless you ask, you may never know that you are talking to or working next to a vet. Unless you hear their stories you will never be able to imagine what they may have been through. Hell, you won't be able to imagine it even after you hear their stories. You just had to be there, and they were. So, if you bump into one of these folks, it wouldn't take but a few minutes to shake their hand and thank them for their service...regardless of your personal politics. Then pray that our sons and daughters and grand children will not have a war to fight....and know, damn well, that they will.

Paddle safe...



DaveO said...

No2 son, 2nd Lt Ian, is in Ft Gordon as we speak, learning to be an artillery signal officer. This after a tour as a SSGT Humvee gunner out of Baghdad Int'l airport. I'm the only male in the lineage who had not served and I don't know if I'm happy/relieved or a bit disappointed. I was very happy being lottery #248 at the time but I really respect the militry volunteers that do their jobs to the best of their abilities, political leadership aside. Superb post.

Silbs said...

Thanks, Daveo. To be clear, I am delighted you didn't have to go. At the same time, I am grateful for your son's service. You are both doing what you were meant to do.