Another July 4th is right here; lots of red, white and blue, some parades, several somber ceremonies at national cemeteries. This day is for many, however, marked only as another day off. Industries welcome the opportunity to sell just about anything. It’s a party, and any semblance of remembrance or gratitude for young men serving, fighting and dying so others could have another day of fun and frolic just doesn’t appear in many place throughout America. Truth be told, political enemies of our amazing Constitution, seem to go out of their way more and more to minimize the values that such a day should represent to all citizens of this great land. Will the attack on our flag be next?
As generations move farther from any major event, historical evidence supports the diminishing respect and adherence to the significance of the event itself. This fact obtains whether it be of patriotism, religion, or family values. Grandparents, who today remember World War II, find themselves less encouraged to rehearse memories about Iwo or Bataan, Normandy or D Day. Those of us newcomers to conflicts of national interests such as Nam and Iraq find meeting and listening to such patriots inspiring and affirming of our own commitments and actions.
In June, 1963, the photo you see in this blog was taken near my hometown in Maine. I was almost 21, and in my second year of Air Force training. During the previous nine months, I had been enrolled in a very special course of instruction at Syracuse University in upstate New York. A select group of young airmen had received very intensive training, five days a week eight hours a day for nine very difficult months, just russian. We were separated both by distance and housing from all the other “regular” students at Syracuse. Our professors were all native Russian teachers many of whom loved “mother Russia, but who all hated communism, and most had horrible personal stories to illustrate. With graduation behind me, I was on leave, soon heading to San Angelo, Texas, for specific “security” training and then somewhere overseas, turned out Japan. I expect my enthusiasm and excitement reflected that of thousands of service men and women, eager to make a difference, willing to serve my country. For me, however, this was the middle of the Vietnam War, still I don’t recall ever feeling much fear. The thought that I might not come home after two or three years, never entered my young mind. In a few months, that thought would change!
Goodfellow Air Force Base was even hotter and more windy than San Antonio. I had quite easily adjusted to the harsh winds, snow and ice at Syracuse. Hey, I was raised in the backwoods of Maine, seen fifty-five below zero and a whole week where the warmest it got was thirty below. Heat was another story, and San Angelo in the summer had a ton! My orders came and I flew from Maine to San Francisco; it was October, 1963. Walking through the huge terminal, I was mesmerized by a little booth off to one side where stood two of the most gorgeous girls I had ever seen. Dressed in Japanese kimonos, they smiled at me in a way I had never imagined. I was going to an entire country of these girls!! But then, “BAM,” the Lord slammed me to the ground, my hat went flying along with my duffle bag, and my nose was bleeding a little. The worst part was seeing the smiles and laughter of those cute girls. Ok, as I was staring at the girls, I had walked into a huge plate glass door leading out to the other terminal and my plane. My pride suffered most of all.
The thirteen hour flight seemed so much longer. As I checked in at Tachikawa Air Base just outside of Tokyo, I was told my ride to the next island and my new home would leave late the next day. I met up with about four other guys all headed to Wakkanai, and we left our gear in our room, went to chow, visited some and sacked out with plans to leave early the next morning for a tour of Tokyo. My first train ride ever was the closest thing to suicide I could remember! The train was small, nobody sat down, people bounced and swayed, pushed and shoved, but all the locals smiled and nodded a lot; they also looked at us and talked funny, and then smiled and laughed a lot more! From that moment, I was determined to learn Japanese. Tokyo was just another very large, crowded city, with the exception that the funny looking folks spoke funny. Back at the base, I knew I would speak the language soon.
That year, three events, served to forever remind me where I was, and what some people in the world would do to control others. Next week, I will continue this narrative. For now, Americans, content with and determined to preserve our free and noble heritage, should take heart! The course of ruthless people always has an end. Every empire raised up hurting, restricting, even killing their own citizens has, after a while, been defeated and destroyed. We still are a nation of good, honorable citizens, and guess what, WE STILL ARE THE MAJORITY!! Well, let’s act like it; WEAR YOUR RED, WHITE AND BLUE; say GOD BLESS YOU AT WALMART AND CVS!! OUR ENEMIES ARE ONLY LOUD, THEY ARE NEITHER SUPERIOR IN CHARACTER NOR PHILOSOPHY!! OUR CREATOR STILL RUNS THIS SHOW, AND HIS WILL CANNOT BE FOREVER VOTED OUT!! GOD BLESS YOU ALL, DEAR READERS, and please, DEAR GOD, GIVE US COURAGE TO PRESERVE OUR FREEDOMS FOR OUR KIDS AND GRANDKIDS!
“from my heart to yours”… See ya next time!