Veteran and Proud Of It
I’m an old veteran with no hair, high blood pressure and military memories going back to the early 1970’s when Jane Fonda was a swear word and my cousin somehow got into the National Guard and I didn’t.
Had I waited another six months before enlisting, the new draft lottery which placed my birthday at the 350+ level would have meant that I, like Mr. Dick Cheney, could have pursued my “other priorities.”
Somewhere downstairs I’ve got an old hard-cardboard Schlitz beer-box with enough military records in it to prove I went and to prove I did. There’s a bunch of ribbons there that I didn’t toss over any walls in protest but are in a glass jar where sometime I’ll go down and look at them. There’s an air-medal (and maybe a cluster) that are still in their containers. There’s little sterling silver wings that my commander told me I could wear even when not on flying status after completing ten combat missions. They’re all down there and prove that I went and I did. When I was studying Russian at Syracuse University,
Woodstock happened less than 100 miles away. I wasn’t about to drive over and see that. I was too mad at Jane Fonda – mad about her movie Barbarella which had offended my youthful moral view of the world. And I was incensed by her Hanoi affair. Funny how time changes perspectives. My yuppie kids are outraged that in 1969 I willfully refused to go to Woodstock. I agree with them.
What was I thinking?
Was my patriotism so shallow that rain, mud, outlandish music, naked women and pot smoke could rock my foundation as a true American?
I’m embarrassed about what I thought was important when I was 22 and what I did and didn’t do about it. Yet, here I am today, a Senior-citizen repository of all my experience which is the only source of wisdom I have to offer my kids and grand kids. I sure as heck am not going to teach my kids that military veterans are long on judgment and condemnation and short on wisdom.
No, I’m not retired from the military. I got out after 6 years and later served 2 more in the reserve. 30 years later, I’m still aware of a sense of difference between the civilian and military world where you have got to trust somebody before you follow them.
In 1968 I was so mad at LBJ, I voted for Nixon so I guess that made me a Republican.
In 72 I thought McGovern was a peacenik and I was a war-nik so I gave RMN another vote.
In 76 I was genuinely offended at Nixon – and Ford for pardoning him – so I voted for Carter.
In 1980 when Reagan asked “Are you better off now….” he got my vote.
In 1984 he looked tougher than Mondale so I voted for RR again.
By 1988 though, I didn’t trust Bush the First so I went into my vote-for-the-outsider mode and voted for Dukakis.
1992 and I’m mad at Bush Sr. who seemed to think looking like Patton would fix the economy and voted for Bill with the following little sentence in sotto voce:
“Ok you SOB, you’d better not blow it.”
By 1996 I began to suspect I was more of a liberal than a conservative and just couldn’t bring myself to vote for Dole.
So there I am, trying to vote the man instead of the party, flip-flopping and waffling with the best of them.
By 2000 I realized that my veteran’s instincts were alive and well and I saw only form without substance in Dubya. Besides, an old NBA fan like me thought Bill Bradley was the smartest guy for president and I was disappointed that he didn’t get nominated.
I voted for Gore, the veteran who really served and served well, unlike Howdy Doodie.
So let’s get real out there!
Being so offended at Mr. Obama that you voted for the other guy more out of spite than wisdom is not a prideful attribute and I sure as hell wouldn’t be proud of voting for the other guy for such a silly reason.
If you think there is more international wisdom and military craftsmanship from a gang that truly cannot talk or shoot straight, has not shot straight and literally did not serve
– has not been there nor done that –
then by all means betray what you think you stand for.
Speak out and reveal your belief that splashing around in shallow water is better than learning to swim and navigate in something deeper where there’s much more substance to everything.
Go ahead and pretend that partisan political fools are statesmanlike graduates of the Fox TV Academy (chicken hawk heaven) and pay attention when a pretend patriot asks you to believe he’s really been there and done that … ain’t been anywhere and ain’t done nothin where he wasn’t.
Fox News is a place where political power theories look like they came out of a perusal of Cliff Notes and where – like in RISK – military troops are nothing more than little colored blocks of wood that are casually swept off the board with each roll of the dice.
That’s the alternative to using your own common sense.
If you’re a Veteran act like it!
Don’t leave the stage to the Howdy Doodie cast!