About Me

My photo
Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, United States

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

On Not Being a Veteran

My son, the lawyer sent me a salute for Veterans' Day, enclosing
Kipling's famous poem about Tommy Atkins, the British regular.
Herewith, my reply:

"For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;"

That is a refrain that I memorized a long time ago.  Funny, I don't consider
myself a real veteran.  I was never in combat, serving on border duty in
Germany during the Korean War.  Twenty-nine of my classmates died in
Korea.  And one who was a BG had a mortar round fall on him in Viet Nam.
Four others died in the air in that war.

Otherwise, the rest of us had our harrowing experiences in training.  Quite
a few hot pilots were lost in training accidents, including our top scholar.  I
survived a jeep rollover, which I never told your mother about.  Once
a rolling artillery barrage fell short.  I shouted, "Hit the deck!" only to see
that I was the only one still standing.

An incident that I will never forget is when I had to pull a tank out of a
stream with my tank retriever. I had everyone button up while we slowly
winched the tank up the bank.  I stood outside guiding the operation.  If
the cable had snapped, which sometimes happens, I wouldn't be here.
Thereafter, I was afraid of nothing, and scaled mountains hand over hand
with reckless abandon!  If your number is up; it's up.  If not, carry on.

Every now and then, I find myself treated with respect, which I don't
deserve.  "Thank you for your service," I have heard.  Still, I salute when
Taps is played, indoors or out.  And at ball games, I leave my cap on and
salute during the national anthem.  No one says a word.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ode to Joy

Gloom pervades the nation.
The health care plan is failing.
NSA is reading our email.
Congress faces another impasse.

Lack of employment continues.
Cities and states go broke.
Roads and bridges collapse.
Innocent people are gunned down.

Is there no end to this madness?
Are we doomed to a dour destiny?
Shall calumny and ignominy
Be the country's zeitgeist?

Ah, but somewhere in
This besieged nation,
Joy reigns supreme.
Citizens are happy!

For on the sainted sod
Of Fenway Park, the Red Sox
Became champions again for
The third time in this dismal century.

People came to work today
With goofy grins on their faces,
Wishing, "Have a nice day!"
And really meaning it.

A million New Englanders
Crowded Boston streets
To photograph their heroes,
While they took pictures of us.

We celebrate the fact that
Our ballplayers act like
Working people, not
Whiny, sullen, prima donnas.

There was no "I" on the Boston team,
Just a bunch from everywhere
Who wanted to win for us.
They did; we can too.

Like them, we can solve our problems,
Manage successfully, get the job done,
Be a credit to ourselves and our country,
And never give up!