Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day Musings.

Mixed musings from me today, and it’s not even Tuesday!  I suppose I could blame it on my lack of posting recently, causing a backlog of bloviating on my part, but really it’s just that several things seem to be on my mind this Sunday afternoon.  Besides being Memorial Day weekend, I see a few situations that I've ranted about in the past that I’m possibly detecting a sea-change in.

Sea-change.  Now there’s an interesting phrase.  When I first wrote it in an earlier draft of this post, it gave me pause.  I had never used it before, in conversation or in writing, and so I wasn't sure I was using it correctly.   Of course it has a nautical ring to it which works for use in the writings of a retired Navy guy, but that’s not a reason to use it incorrectly.  As so many famous idioms have, it comes from Shakespeare, specifically his play The Tempest.  It means a broad transformation or radical change.  So yep, that’s what I’m hopefully seeing. 

Maybe one day I’ll write about all the idioms derived from Shakespeare, but I digress.  

With regards to Memorial Day, something I put on Facebook the other day seemed to get a lot of interest-
“Please don't thank me for my military service this weekend. I can wait until November and Veterans' Day. Monday is Memorial Day for those who have died in service to our country.”
I’m not the first person to notice it, but I think people are starting to figure out what Memorial Day is all about.  Through no fault of anyone, our great country having righted the wrongs from Viet Nam when our Veterans were treated badly after they returned, has bent so far over backwards in thanking our Vets from the War on Terror, that it had either mixed up the holidays, or just put that thanks when and where it doesn't quite belong.  That’s not to say there’s an inappropriate time to thank a Vet, but on this weekend, of all weekends, remembering those who have fallen in defense of our great nation should be paramount.

My friend the Skipper wrote about that as well.

"The word is out. Thanks to a widespread campaign that has at times bordered on militancy, the public is surely grasping that Veterans Day is for those who’ve served, and Memorial Day is for those who’ve served and made the ultimate sacrifice. Those you honor on Memorial Day should also be honored on Veteran’s Day."

There’s no reason for militancy of course, just a kind-hearted correction or redirect of that thanks toward those who should be thanked and remembered this weekend.  When a friend commented on my Facebook post that we should be thanked every day, I replied that my post wasn’t meant as me being ungrateful for their appreciation of my service, but more as a public service announcement.   

Due to CVW-5 in Japan was such a tight-knit Air Wing, I knew of Bones and Chowda that Skipper discussed in his recent post, having seen them around the boat, but I didn't really know them.  I have mentioned LT Graham Higgins here before.  He was the RIO in a Tomcat that crashed into an apartment complex in Tennessee.  Graham was in flight school with me during NFO training.  He was one of the few married guys in the class, and I think the only one able to hang with us single guys in the bars of Pensacola, his lovely wife usually leading the charge.  I don't remember her name unfortunately, and I feel bad about that.  

There were also the two Naval Air Crewmen that died in an SH-60F helo that crashed off the starboard side of the boat one night.  I don't remember their names either, and I should.  I was in a conference last year and during a break I started playing "don't we know each other?" with another attendee.  It turns out he was the pilot of that ill-fated helo.  He said he thinks about them every single day.

Then there's my neighbor whom I never met, Capt. Matt Bancroft, USMC who died when his KC-130 crashed in Afghanistan in 2002.  He was never truly my neighbor, since his widow didn't move their family into the house across the street until 2007, when our daughters became friends.  I think about him often, even though we never met, usually when I see his now teen-aged daughter who never really met him either.

So in addition to the entire populace of those who died wearing a military uniform, I'm thinking about those brave men specifically.

It's not just people's understanding of the difference between Veteran's Day and Memorial Day that I hope I'm seeing.  This next one is a bit more political in nature, and one that might take a little faith on your part if you were to agree with it.  

While not mixing up those two holidays could be called giving credit where credit is due, I want to say we're beginning to place blame where it belongs and maybe even accepting responsibility for our own actions.  Unless you've been a hermit, you can't help but notice recently that police action against black people, especially when a black person is killed by a white cop, tends to cause a lot of commotion.  And by commotion, I mean rushes to judgment, looting and rioting, prominent public officials of all colors speaking out of turn, Federal administrators intervening in issues at the state or local level, etc.  It started last summer in Ferguson Missouri, and continued this year in Baltimore Maryland.   What changed after Baltimore was something I thought I'd never see or hear- the President not playing the same old card, or at least not playing it exactly as he has in the past.  During the Ferguson riots he called for the rioters to "Stay the Course", whatever that means, but after Baltimore, he called on black men to step up and be fathers, that the looters were criminals and not justified in any way due to the way they've been treated or for the economic disparities they face.
He emphasized that the problem went far beyond the police, who he said are too often deployed to “do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise” in broken urban communities where fathers are absent, drugs dominate and education, jobs and opportunities are nonexistent.                                                            NY Times 4/28/15
Conservative Tribune

The rioters and looters were destroying neighborhoods of other black people, stealing from businesses owned by black people, all policed by black officers who work for a black Mayor.  This finally wasn't allowed to be attributed to the death of a black man.  After the rioters quieted down, the mainstream media could be heard to also state much of the same- that many problems blacks face are the fault of blacks themselves, and that race and the wrongs of slave owners 150 years ago can't be blamed for societal ills today.

It's not just race.  Ever since Clinton was elected, and no matter which party controls Congress or the White House, the rhetoric has risen to a level that's almost deafening.  I'm not immune to tuning into it, nor of helping add to the noise level, as I'm fairly vocal in my criticism of politicians, both here at The Chant and on Facebook, especially during election season.  What I believe I'm seeing though is a certain level of moderation in those views.  Not that anyone is necessarily changing their viewpoint, but that we're turning down the volume, and maybe gaining a bit of tolerance towards other opinions in the process.  I still hold our President's views and policies with disdain, but I think his side of the aisle is starting to realize that just because he's of the same party, he's not always right.  And criticism of him has allowed to seep out from his own politicians, and the media as well.  With that criticism has come a slightly reduced level of finger pointing at the GOP.  Not that they don't still blame Bush and Republicans for anything and everything, but when your fellow Democrat is obviously making mistakes, not to understate the gravity of those mistakes, one can't help but give pause to their own beliefs and policies.  

Now I admit that some of that comes from a media industry and politicians needing to distance themselves from an unpopular president, but it's a start.  I know I'm tired of the gridlock, the inability to listen to each other, and the lack of political will to find common ground between the different positions.  Compromise isn't always a dirty word.  If my Facebook feed is any indication, with an obvious reduction in the number and flavor of political posts, I don't think I'm alone.

I think there's a growing trend towards a more educated voter this next election cycle.  With so much press about Benghazi, the secret email server used by Hillary Clinton, and videos of people unable to name any significant accomplishment from her service as SecState, I would hope that voters are at least willing to pause a half second before voting like an automaton.  And it's looking like much of the funding behind Clinton's war chest was probably partially funded by people not exactly on board with the red white and blue, making her seem no different from the politicians people hate on the other side of the aisle.  

Whatever happens over the next 17 months will be interesting.  And the political discourse will continue in some fashion, if not always kindly.  But on this Memorial Day weekend, we honor and remember those servicemen and women who died defending our nation and the freedom to raise the rhetoric to whatever volume and topic we choose.

Well, it's time to barbecue and get Summer started.  That's what the day is about isn't it?

"Happy" Memorial Day, and thanks to those at Arlington, Ardennes, Belleau Wood, Normandy, Fort Rosecrans, and so many more.


  1. Great post Tuna.

    The real sea change I see is that a few, a veerryyy few, seem to be breaking out of their programmed apathy and thinking for themselves.We get back up to around the six percent fully conscious level and we be arright.

  2. A great post and I hope you are correct about a sea change. Today I went to our local War Memorial as tomorrow will be crowded. The names of locals who served, from the Spanish American War to the present are behind glass. As usual, I walked away seething. All that sacrifice, from Korea onward, for what? Tomorrow I'll be there to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Today I can only contemplate the waste. In saying that, I mean no disrespect to anyone who served. Rather, the damned sunshine patriots and sideline cheerers who sent them off to war have my neverending disdain.

    1. "But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate - we cannot consecrate - we cannot hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have cosecrated it far beyond our poor power to add or detract."

    2. True. Thank you for the reminder.

  3. WIthout their sacrifice, we wouldn't be able to enjoy the freedoms we have today...

  4. Very good post Sir! If we can pull off another 2014 we still have a chance, though we have to get new Leadership in the Senate & House. Young Turks are needed.


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