Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lines

The Somme Battlefield Today
Near Beaumont-Hamel, France
There’s a before and after line to killing someone else, even someone anonymous. Just like there’s a before and after line to losing a friend, or a wingman. It changes you, and you can rationalize all you want, but you're someone different than you were the day before.
- Lex, 13 April 2004
 
As I get older, I tend to spend a lot of time thinking. Much more so than when I was young. Perhaps it's the realization that one's time on this Earth is limited. We all have to die sometime, someday. As I count the years I've seen, it hits me, what's left is less than what I've got behind me. It's not that I have a sense of my impending doom, but if life has taught me one thing, it's that it could all end suddenly and abruptly. Ya never know.

In the journey from birth to death, there are lines we all must cross. Once having crossed that line, nothing is ever the same.

In that opening picture is the battlefield of the Somme, in France, from World War I. One million, (yes, one million) men were killed or wounded in that battle fought from 1 July to 18 November in 1916. The British Army alone suffered over 60,000 casualties on the very first day of the offensive. 60 thousand men, killed, wounded, maimed. In one day.

World War I was called the "War to End All Wars" but it was anything but. World War I destroyed a generation of young men. The scars on the souls of those who were impacted by the so-called "Great War" are fading, as those who fought that war have mostly passed on. And the loved ones they left behind are also very old and soon will be no more.


Every generation seems to have some watershed event which marks them. For my parents' generation it was Pearl Harbor. Followed by the Second World War. An event even more monstrous than the First World War.

Of the nations impacted by WWII, on the first of September 1939, these nations comprised some 2 billion people. Military deaths in WWII are estimated at 22 to 30 million. Yes, that's dead, doesn't count the wounded. Civilian deaths are estimated at 38 to 55 million. Again that's people who were killed. Doesn't count the wounded, the maimed, the displaced, the tortured and persecuted. (Full details here.)

An event like that must have crippled the souls of those directly touched by the conflict. Especially in Europe. First there was WWI, then there was WWII. It is no wonder to me that Europeans tend to be somewhat, shall we say, pacifistic? They are witnesses to the most hellish conflicts ever to disturb the history of humanity.



My generation has had it's watershed events, two immediately spring to mind which had a huge impact on my early years.

Dallas, 22 November 1963

Reaching Out
Larry Burrows, 1966

I was born in 1953, for the next ten years I remember my childhood as being idyllic. No worries, while we weren't rich, we were comfortable. (I remember my Dad having to work extra hours to make sure we had the things we needed.) Life, as I remember it, was excellent.

The assassination of JFK in 1963 shattered a number of my illusions. It seemed to me that the world had gone somewhat insane. Why would someone want to kill the President? After that, Vietnam began making the news. A lot.

From junior high school up until my freshman year in college there was some question in my generation's collective mind if we were going to have a chance to grow up. Vietnam was splashed all over the news, it was a specter which haunted me every day. Would I have to go?

Combat veterans of my acquaintance (including close relatives) said that this was a "bad war". It wasn't like "their war" (which had been WWII of course). These were confusing times for a young lad.

Looking back on things, I now realize that the MSM sold us all a bill of goods. I have friends and acquaintances who are Vietnam vets. Don't tell them that theirs was a "bad war". I have Vietnamese friends, don't tell them it was a "bad war". The ending was bad. For that we can thank the media and traitors like our current Secretary of State (whose name I cannot mention without spitting).

I joined the military in the aftermath of Vietnam. It was in many respects, a mess. Drug use was pretty rampant, pot mostly, and race relations were not all that great. Things were improving, then the peanut farmer came along, up until now the worst President in living memory.


But that passed, eventually.

But all of these things were lines which were crossed. And once crossed, things were different.


Then there came the year my oldest child received his commission in the United States Navy. The year when my kids' generation had their first watershed event.


I don't think I need to say anything about that particular image. We are still in the shadow of that event. Again the media doesn't get it. The traitors on the left again, don't get it.

Each of these events I've mentioned changed the world. These events impacted millions.

But looking back over the years, there are smaller events which go unnoticed by one's neighbors and perhaps even by one's friends. These are events which have impacted me in very significant ways. And again make me ponder my own mortality.

In January 2010, due to a lack of work, I had to travel to another of my company's facilities. One that is a hundred miles from home. But God bless them they kept me around, they kept me on the payroll. There were many, including some dear friends, who couldn't say that, who lost their jobs at that time. So yes, that was traumatic.

Then in February of that year, my Dad died. It was like I'd slipped my anchor and was now adrift in this vast and sometimes confusing world. My most trusted advisor was gone. The guy I could always turn to, no matter what, was gone.

Okay, you pick yourself up, you dust yourself off and you drive on. Life doesn't stop. You lick your wounds and you press on. It's all you can do really.

But there is one more life changing event I must share with you. It's the reason you are reading these words of mine, it's the reason I'm sharing these words with you.

While away from home I discovered the world of blogs. Fascinating stuff, people sharing their lives, thoughts and observations on line. Great stuff. I got hooked. It was also a source of opinion, and yes even news, untainted by the powers that be. Untainted by the MSM, whom I still view largely as traitors and destroyers of our way of life.

One guy in particular stuck out. One guy in particular became a must read. First thing in the morning, every day, I read his blog. I tell you what, the man could write.

Then one day, another watershed in my existence. He was gone. Lost in the crash of his fighter in a driving snowstorm in Nevada. Leaving a wife and three kids behind. Leaving many friends and avid followers behind.



To Absent Friends
He's why I started this blog. But he's only part of the reason I will continue it as long as I feel I have something to share.

Writing this is cathartic. I also enjoy it beyond belief. And having you folks, my readers, stop by and read and sometimes comment, gives me pleasure beyond measure.

But I also do it so that someday my grandkids can sit down and peruse the archives and maybe say -
"Grampa was an interesting guy. Bit of a goofball sometimes, but an interesting guy."
Thanks for reading...

21 comments:

  1. As usual, you have touched on things and themes that resonate with all of us (as did he who inspired you and many more). I cannot stress enough my appreciation for your writing, but also your service and the service of your loved ones. Those of us who don't agree with the current media cant are often left feeling as voices in the wilderness. So be it - we few, we happy few.

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    1. We band of brothers...

      (Yes, and sisters too!)

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  2. I'm at something resembling a loss o' words. It's said that every generation has its "Where were you when..." moments. I believe my generation has three: the JFK assassination (I was a student in BED at Keesler Airplane Patch), the Challenger explosion (a journeyman IT guy in Dee-troit), and 9/11 (an IT guy in SFO). That's prolly two too many, but it is what it is. And then you add Lex's untimely demise and you have four. I don't know what else to say, other than we (my... our... generation) have had more than our share of heartbreak.

    Oh, well. We keep on keepin' on, don't we?

    Lex was my blogfaddah, too, btw. I just got a lil of a jump on ya.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Should be "a lil BIT of a jump..."

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    2. As always Buck, you lead the way.

      Challenger, just came home from class. I was in college on Uncle Sam's dime. There's a story I'll tell one of these days.

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  3. "I also do it so that someday my grandkids can sit down and peruse the archives and maybe say -

    'Grampa was an interesting guy. Bit of a goofball sometimes, but an interesting guy."

    That's why I do it too.

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  4. I agree entirely with your classification of 9/11. It remains, to this day, the most impactful event of my life. (Ditto on the great CAPT too. . .)

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    1. This past week I've been Up North. As is my wont, I watch re-runs of The Sopranos on HBO. They're showing the first season, which aired in 1999. In the intro, there are the twin towers. It's a punch to the gut every single time I see those buildings. For every time, I remember that day.

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  5. To Absent Friends... Nothing more need said...

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  6. If I thought I had something profound, I'd offer.
    Instead, thanks.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Just having you stop by works for me Skip.

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  7. As soon as I read "One guy in particular stuck out," the room got all dusty and some of it got in my eyes.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. It was tough finishing this post. The optical sensors kept getting wet.

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  8. There is a photo of the Twin Towers that will stay forever burned in my mind. It is taken from a perspective that is a little further away showing the burning Twin Towers and a responding fire engine crossing the bridge from NJ in the foreground.

    Ever single soul on that engine perished when the towers collapsed and the engine was obliterated never to be found.

    Little did they know ...or perhaps they did

    Premonition and foreboding are funny things...

    But they went anyway, didn't they?

    Hate to say it but the Marines say it best: "Simper Fi"

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    1. Thanks for sharing that VX.

      They did their duty as they saw fit.

      They were indeed faithful to their calling.

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  9. What an awesome, awesome post...

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  10. Your comment about the MSM lying re: Vietnam War struck home for me. I often wonder (sometimes out loud) is it just my age or did all the lies I swallowed over the years make me cynical. I scoff at most everything I read about our government. Ex: headline in newspaper last week " Senate incensed over Egypt", first thought how does that that collection of double-talking back stabbers have the right to be incensed over another gov't? When I read this post, my first thought was, I'm not alone. Thanks

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    1. That gave me a clue as to what those clowns are like.

      The Executive Branch is raping the Nation while the Congress and Senate do nothing. (Except perhaps cheer the rapists on.)

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)