Saturday, January 05, 2008

In Loving Memory

I went out for a drive yesterday. A trivial errand actually, I needed to put some air in the mysterious slow leak tire and it was a good excuse to take my old dog for a ride. I had to pass enough places who, for what ever reason, have a need to remind me what country I happen to be cruising through by displaying a large flag on a pole. I don't want to get into the flag thing just now other than to say, I used to really love that symbol before it was co-opted by the decal folks and passed out to right thinking citizens to use as a secret merit badge or something. At any rate, a flag on a pole has quite a few uses besides plain Jane jingoism. For one tell you which way the wind is blowing and for two how hard and in this case, for three, it can signal that someone important has died. How important? Well that would depend. I flipped on the radio and NPR was talking about politics and they seemed alive and well. A quick scan of the band turned up the usual suspects not being suspicious so I was at a loss. I know there are rules for this flag thing, but ever since the flag went decal, you never know when some city or just a group within it may decide to lower the flag to honor the death of a local big shot. Well Texino on the trail is a hard train to derail, so I hit the local paper's website where you can read the obits and even sign a guest book about the dead person for free or for $ if you want to pimp it up with pictures and stuff. Well before too long, I had it. The flags were down for a local fellow, 32 year old father of two and a Sgt. in the 82nd Air Borne Division who had got killed over in (I believe) Iraq on Christmas Day. Well that sucks. And what sucks even more is this. I knew this guy back when he was a little kid on the block. I knew his mom. I knew his dad. That was a long time ago, however, and his father died young and his mom had divorced prior to that and she's remarried. So when I put those people together in context as a family, what my mind's eye sees is Tom and Sylvia playing music, they had a song on the radio you know, and Bryan is a little kid. I can't relate to the picture of the grown up soldier the paper ran and what's more if you had tapped me on the shoulder back in '79 and said "Oh, btw, that little kid over there, he's gonna get killed in a war even dumber than the one you were in." I would have said you were fucking crazy. Anyway, I wanted to say something in the on line guest book, but all I could think about was my "Loving Memory" of the young family whole and happy and while that is a perfectly acceptable way in which to keep a person alive in your heart, I just did not think it would fit in with all the other entries about pride and sacrifice and the man's wife and children and things I have no idea about. Oh yeah, the flag thing. Well according to, the paper the Governor said it was OK. That old flag. Like I said, it can tell you a lot, you just have to look at the whole picture. It does mean something.

3 comments:

Ms. Moon said...

Fucking war.
Fucking...
I better stop there.
Thank you for putting that story into words so well.
It is a good thing that we don't have the power of seeing into the future or we would only dwell in despair.

miguel said...

"At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume I, "Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum,of Springfield, Illinois (January 27, 1838), p. 109.


"I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom." The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume VIII, "Letter to Mrs. Lydia Bixby" (November 21, 1864), pp. 116-117.


Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
Isaiah 6:8


THE AIRBORNE CREED

I am an Airborne trooper! A PARATROOPER!

I jump by parachute from any plane in flight. I volunteered to do it, knowing well the hazards of my choice.

I serve in a mighty Airborne Force--famed for deeds in war--renowned for readiness in peace. It is my pledge to uphold its honor and prestige in all I am--in all I do.

I am an elite trooper--a sky trooper--a shock trooper--a spearhead trooper. I blaze the way to far-flung goals--behind, before, above the foe's front line.

I know that I may have to fight without support for days on end. Therefore, I keep mind and body always fit to do my part in any Airborne task. I am self-reliant and unafraid. I shoot true, and march fast and far. I fight hard and excel in every art and artifice of war.

I never fail a fellow trooper. I cherish as a sacred trust the lives of men with whom I serve. Leaders have my fullest loyalty, and those I lead never find me lacking.

I have pride in the Airborne! I never let it down!

Thank you SGT Bryan Tutten -
"All The Way"

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