As I enjoy a perfectly glorious day here in South Dakota, weather-wise, and having listened to President Obama address the Vietnam Vets at the Memorial Wall in Washington, I'm left with a mixed bag of Thoughts, Memories, and Feelings regarding what this day represents.
Like most of us here, I understand that War is part of the game we come here to play -- never mind whether we understand why we made such choices in the first place. We don't remember, quite deliberately, so we can fully believe in the reality of this Earth experience.
But we did, and we do.
It was fifty years ago that American troops were first committed to "the 'Nam". I was eight years old. I grew up with that war. I remembered my father's tales of Korea -- of which there were understandably only a few, and not very detailed. Over time, I came to realize he died there -- but it took him another twenty years to actually leave the planet. And I saw this same thing over and over again, in soldiers who managed to make it out of that jungle and return home.
Every thought you think, and every experience you have, literally re-wires the neural net in your physical brain, and changes your entire physiology as you adapt. Very soon, you are not the same person you were a little while ago. People thrust into horrifically violent circumstances like War change dramatically, and sometimes permanently. For some, there's no re-adaptation to a civilian environment when they leave the combat zone.
Sometimes it saddens me, but then I remind myself that, for whatever reasons, they chose these experiences. And I find myself thinking, if only they understood this -- if only EVERYONE understood this -- then a deliberate re-wiring to facilitate a satisfactory re-adaptaion would be much easier for them, and for everyone around them. They'd know it's just part of an interactive, 4-dimensional Time-Space Virtual Reality holographic "movie" we've all chosen, each with our own costumes and roles to play, and stories to express. And that when it's all over, we simply drop our costumes in the Recycle Bin ( read, "drop our bodies in a hole the ground" ) walk off the stage and go home.
So today, I honor these brave ones. My own sense of things is that I've already killed and been killed every which way there is, so this version of Me is sitting out the war games, even though I feel a strong attachment to those who participate. In my current reality, I wouldn't want to go through any of that again -- I've had enough.
But I empathize and resonate with those who do.
I'd like to share a verse with you that I wrote many years ago, which speaks to this. Some of my outlook has changed since then, of course -- but part of me still feels this way:
I remember Sixty-Four, didn't even know we were back at war, I was only ten.
Lost my dad the year before, though he'd still come knockin' on the door every now and then.
He tried his very best to explain, to dry my tears and ease my pain, but I was overwhelmed.
We heard Momma say "It's your own fault Wayne" as he and I stood in the pouring rain, and he looked like hell.
It was a mid-summer storm, and the raindrops were warm, but inside us both it was December.
Oh, yeah . . . I remember.
He told me of his combat days, tried to justify his drinkin' ways, and I tried to understand.
The war within himself he waged -- Fear and Horror, Pain and Rage -- he was a tortured man.
He knew his job was not yet done, knew my race was not yet run, I was in for a long fight,
And he feared for me, his only son, the war in Asia just begun, with no end in sight.
It was a mid-summer storm, and the tear-drops were warm, but inside was hail and wind and thunder.
Yeah, Daddy . . . I remember.
I remember Sixty-Nine, and one small step for Human-kind, but it stayed out there.
It was a terrible, turbulent time, seemed half the world had lost its mind, and the rest were too stoned to care.
The Johnson-Nixon war machine rolled across my TV screen -- y'know it made me sick!
How could something so obscene be justified by any means? Only in politics.
I sat and watched it all, knowing the mighty must soon fall, and I heard the sound of crashing timber.
Absent, fallen friends . . . thee I remember!
Daddy died in Seventy-Three, Mom re-married and forgot about me, so I just went away.
Hit the coast and went to sea -- seemed like the very best place for me, to live out where the Dolphins play.
I recalled a girl, and a child she bore . . . heard the Raven quoth "Nevermore" but she's mine, I feel it's true;
Now life has another job in store, but one day I'll go back through that door. Li'l darlin', I'm comin' for you!
I drift among my dreams, knowing nothing's as it seems, but inside, a hopeful, glowing ember.
Yeah, baby . . . I remember!
Like Thanksgiving, this day is only significant to Americans. Yet I would offer the idea that, whoever you are and wherever you live, it's a good day to honor the memory of anyone and everyone who has ever meant anything to you and/or your loved ones, for whatever reasons.
Happy Memorial Day!
LOVE that pic, Steve! Thanks for posting it.
Funny how so often, so little can say so much :-)
Excellent post, Pat. Thank you for it and your poem.
To all of my fellow veterans; past, present and future. I wish you Deep Peace. =)
Thanks, Ross. I'd forgotten that you were a vet.
I salute you and thank you for your service! Have a great day, today and every day :-)
One more drink as I think, another nod as I ponder;
one more tear in my beer as I look over yonder;
I'm learning, I'm yearning, yet stay here for a reason;
'Cause it's light, and feels right, and it's just one more season.
If I miss you in the night, that's okay -- just take your flight.
If you miss me, feeling slight, that's okay -- we'll be all right!
After all, dreams DO come true . . .
After all . . . there's just Me . . . and You!
You are just so awesome, Rascal. I salute YOU!
Awww, THANK you Cheryl! Right back atcha :-)