Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day thoughts from an anti-war guy

Ever since I was a kid, I suppose the biggest thing about Memorial Day was the Indianapolis 500.  Midwest event.  All-day radio coverage.  Usually accompanied by a family picnic.  Big stuff.

But the purpose of Memorial Day, of course, is to celebrate our nation’s military veterans.  The closest military guy in my life was my dad.  He never told many World War II stories, but there were a few.  Like after basic training in 1942, while waiting for a bus that would take him to bombardier training -- a dangerous and short-lived gig back then -- he was snagged out of line when asked who had any experience butchering.  Dad spent many summers as a youth on family farms in Mercer county, Ohio, so, the good volunteer that he was, off he went to the kitchen.  And there he stayed for the duration of the war.  

Then there was the story of his arrival in Scotland aboard the RMS Aquatania, a Cunard line ship pressed into service as a troop carrier.  With German U boats roaming the north Atlantic, Allied aircraft kept a lookout for enemy ships.  One sortie of lookouts reported flotsam on the ocean and powers-that-be believed the Aquatania and all on board had been lost.  They found no life boats anywhere.  Were they ever surprised when the Aquatania, sister ship of the long-lost Lusitania, steamed into the Firth of Clyde safe and sound.  Dad never did tell us who the ocean flotsam belonged to.  I have since wondered how many potential Baby Boomer dads were lost in whatever ship that never made it to Europe.

When it came time for me to serve in the military, Vietnam was raging.  College sounded like the better option for me, and I took it, all the while thinking of myself a war protestor.  I’m sure my reluctance to fight hurt my dad.  He made it clear, too, that if one of my high school buddies who became a navy corpsman-- and who had escaped to Canada to avoid deployment in southeast Asia -- ever showed up at our house, he would call the authorities immediately.  And he meant it, I have no doubt. 

And now the US is mired in another unpopular war in Iraq, plus military operations in Afghanistan.  Now, not unlike my college days, I am personally offended when war supporters imply that those of us who stand against the war are also against the troops.  It just isn’t so.  I think the best thing for troops is to be deployed at home where they can tuck their kids into bed each night.  Still, I know the world can be a bad place and for all the good wishes we can muster as a nation, our troops -- men and women, moms and dads, brothers and sisters -- will find themselves in harm’s way in a dangerous world.  I deeply regret that reality.

So for today’s blog, I’d like to salute all those generations of Americans who have committed to this country being a safer place by putting themselves on the line.  They put their personal affairs on hold and agree to put themselves in mighty dangerous places.  My heart goes out to you folks.  Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough. 

Elder idea:  Be careful who you make the enemy.  Be thankful for the sacrifices of others.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What the heck is important in life, anyway?  Organic food?  Good problem solving skills?  The ability to listen well?   A good digital music collection?  Sitting out under the canopy on a summer evening, always listening for the barred owl, wondering about what’s important in life? 

‘The back porch’ blog hopes to find ground in topics ranging from grandkids to nature to music to politics to relationships -- to who knows what?  I guess that’s the point, isn’t it?  

I want you to be able to expect to find something new and engaging here when you visit.  There’s lot to talk about.  Expect a  new post every Sunday evening/Monday sometime from now through the end of the year.  I figure we’ll know by then if this relationship is worth pursuing.  

From my favorite chair  here at my place, I’m going to talk to you about the stuff I find intriguing.   And I’m in the frame of mind to be a storyteller and community elder in the process.  

So you damn well better be ready to listen.   ;-)

See you next week.  And talk to me!

Tom / protom23