Saturday, November 8, 2014

Musings Upon a Saturday

View to the Southeast, Aquidneck Island, November 2014
Another weekend, this one sans pluie. Now if the ground dries out by tomorrow, I will be bringing Mr Mower and his buddy Mister Weedwhacker out of the shed for one last grand tour of the grounds before winter lays its heavy hand on the landscape.

Speaking of which...

Yes, snow in the air, last Saturday, the 1st of November.
Snow? Feels too early, but in reality it's on time.

Last weekend it precipitated all weekend. The snow on Saturday, though it didn't stick in my town, was constant and lasted all day. Heavy wet stuff it was, at one point the flakes looked as big as dinner plates.

To the south of us, on the Island as the locals are wont to say, the snow was almost not noticeable. As a buddy of mine said, you could see something hitting the windshield which looked "too thick to be rain." To the north of us, not that far north, the snow actually stuck to the ground. Pockets were visible even a couple of days later on Monday.

Yes, winter is coming. I don't sweat it, it is what it is. I am a New Englander born and bred. Though I spent 24 years out in the world, I returned to my native soil upon retirement from the Air Force. I expect I will die here, some day. Hopefully not right away, I still have things I'd like to do. But whatever the Good Lord has in store for me, I'm good with that.

He has been more than generous to me. For that I am thankful.

While at the deli counter in Stop & Shop this morning I met a nice young lady and her two very young children. She noticed my Air Force hat. She mentioned that her husband was in the Air Force, currently working as a recruiter in Providence. The following conversation ensued...

Me: "So how long have you and your husband been in the Air Force?"

She: "He's been in seven years now."

Me: "You understand I meant you and your husband intentionally. Do you think he could take care of these two beautiful kids, maintain a household and do his Air Force job without you?"

She: "Well, no. I don't suppose he could. Yes, we've been in the Air Force for seven years."


Beyond the Air Force we discovered another connection, their son had been born on Okinawa. A place I spent time a long, long time ago.

We parted ways. It was nice to talk to someone in a military family. But it made me think of something I mentioned in my retirement speech (yes, I got to make one, and it was good, damned good) and which I got all semi-pissy about not too long ago on Facebook.

For a long time on active duty I had an attitude concerning civilians. I felt, somehow, that I was better than them. While I never voiced that opinion, it was there.

As I grew older (and somewhat wiser) I realized that this great nation of ours (and she still is great, don't believe the crap you hear on the news) is made up of many different types of people. All more or less good at something. We all have our roles and responsibilities.

Not everyone can be in the military. That's not something we should want anyway.

There is as much honor (perhaps more) in raising children to become good citizens.

There is honor in going to work every day, doing your job to the best of your ability.

That guy riding the train into the city to do his job, he's one of the reasons this country works.

The lady waiting in line with you at Dunkin' Donuts, you can tell she's a nurse, she's wearing scrubs and has the long-suffering, you won't believe the things I've seen look of a nurse. Do you think her job is not important? Do you think her job has less honor than the job of a soldier, sailor, Marine or airman? She's another reason this country works.

We of the military are simply a shield protecting the real America. The America that goes to work, pays their taxes, votes, raises children to carry on long after the rest of us are gone. The America that still provides a beacon of hope to other areas of the planet where things don't work as well as they do here.

We of the military need to "get over ourselves" just a little. Sometimes we get a little too full of ourselves.

Sure our job is important. Yes, our job sucks sometimes. We probably don't get paid as much as we should. Sometimes we die in the pursuit of our mission. Remember though, we volunteered for that. Never lose sight of the mission.

And what is that mission?

It's to protect the homeland and the good citizens living here who just want to go to work, watch a ballgame, play with their kids and someday retire to play with their grandchildren.

That's why we do it. At least that's why I did it.

Those civilians that some wearing the uniform (not many but there are some) may look down upon are the reason for our existence. Without them, we have no mission. We have no purpose.

Well, I went down a different road than I had originally intended. Oh well, that happens sometimes and sometimes that's a good thing.

Every time someone says to me, "Thank you for your service." I like to respond with -

"Thank you for giving me the equipment I needed. Food, clothing and a warm place to sleep at night. Thank you for paying me for 24 years and putting me and my children through college. Thank you for voting and keeping the country running smoothly while I was overseas. Thank you Mister or Madam Citizen for doing your job."


I'm getting sentimental in my old age.

What a beautiful way to start the weekend!

November Sunset, after the snow last Saturday.

If you were wondering, for the moment I'm done tinkering with the appearance of the blog. It is what it is and je suis content avec de l'aspect de celui-ci. Là!

24 comments:

  1. Well said. Bravo Zulu. I may plagiarize a few of those words next week when thanked for my service on Veteran's Day.

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  2. Yep, couldn't agree more. The military is a service job, just like police, fire, utility and a host of others. It's no more important than any other job. It's the people - good and bad - that make a difference no matter what line of work they're in.

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  3. Bravo! Well said indeed.

    I weaned calves today on what will probably be (if the wx guessers are correct) the next-to-the-last best day of the season. Hard, physical, dirty job but couldn't have been a more glorious day. At present I'm bruised, aching, weary, covered with s#!t, and smiling.

    As that one famous New Englander dude said: “Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.”

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  4. Agree with most of your blog, but being the contrary cuss I am, not all. I was towards the last group that faced the draft. I never doubted I would serve so three years out of high school, joined the Army. Put in three years active, separated honorable, and got on with my life. Some people, myself included, are not career military material. Now for civilians. The ones I cannot respect, nor will ever respect, were those that evaded, by whatever means, the draft. Worse, they brag about it. All the others, God bless them.

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    1. While I am not a fan of the draft (smacks of old time European absolutism) I am also no fan of people who shirk their responsibilities. And brag about it.

      I think you've given me an idea for a post. Thanks.

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  5. I think it is an absolut shame that much of New England is essentially without any military presence. It is a good thing for the citizens to be reminded that there are those who man the ramparts around the clock. Too many seem to forget that we are their military. We don't get to pick and choose the wars, we don't get to set the policies, and the work that we do is done in their name. Having people in uniform that they see in the grocery, or at church, or at their children's school, is a reminder that we, too, are a part of society and not some foreign entity. Today it is fashionable to "Support the troops" and that is a good thing. But I wish it resulted in a more tangible expression of budgetary support to adequately fund the military and to reduce the manpower crunch that faces all the services.

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    1. I hear you Dave.

      I live in a town with a lot of military veterans. There's a Navy base not far away. So we get to see the "kids" in uniform from time to time. (I call them the "kids" because most of them are the age of my kids.) But yeah, that's rare.

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  6. I really do like your sentimental musings. It makes me reflective and I remember my own stories down deep in the recesses of my brain, ones that might deserve a place on here by a semi-occasional blogger. As for thinking that because of my service that I'm better than others? Definitely! Those of us fortunate enough to serve in the Navy are better than those in the USAF, USMC, and US Army! By the way, I'll say hello for you, in about 30 minutes, to a nice Hobbit lady who spent 25+ years in the Navy.

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    1. Thanks Tuna, definitely give my regards to the Hobbit.

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  7. If the length of service comes up during conversations with others fortunate enough to have served, I mention that time is not the crucial factor but the Honorable Discharge at the terminus. My (humble) opinion is that the honorable service, whatever it was, bought and paid for their individual citizenship and that of several other of our fellow, non-serving citizens. And, FWIW, if "thanked" for my service, my reply is always "it was a privilege to serve our country." Just sayin'. regards, Alemaster

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  8. You're one of the good ones, Sarge (of which there are many - more than there are bad ones, in this country - but that doesn't negate your standing in any way.) Thanks.

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  9. The America that goes to work, pays their taxes, votes, raises children to carry on long after the rest of us are gone.

    So, we were in the bid'niz of supporting/defending about a third of the population? I'm pretty sure you get my drift here. You can write this particular comment off to me bein' in a particularly bad mood this morning. If ya wanna.

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    1. It's that third I would gladly defend. The others? The free ride won't last forever.

      I'm hoping the nation is starting to wake up.

      (I never write your comments off Buck. You usually make a good point!)

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  10. Dave, one thing to consider about civilians not seeing much of the military or thinking much about them. That means that we are doing what we are there to do. Protect them so well that they are unaware of us. Although I only spent four years in the Air Force forty years ago, I still have that deep feeling that if needed, that promissary note I gave the USA hasn't been fully cashed yet. I would be proud to stand next to my younger brothers and sisters today to continue that duty if it came down to it.
    Tuna, tell the Hobbit that the sailor had a lot of friends and that we miss him.

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