It’s been a hell of week here in the heart of the south. Aside from the menopausal mother nature, I’ve dealt with family issues as well as an old friend coming in from out of town for a short visit. Now, don’t get me wrong, my buddy visiting is not a hardship in anyway, all it means is that I’m going to be spending some time which I normally dedicate to other things, as far as the family issues, they are unwanted, unneeded and undesired and I wish they had never reared their ugly hydra like head.
So where does that leave me? Simple, in a corner between responsibility to family and a rock full of friends. Good thing my family understands, because I rarely have friends visit here let alone want my company as a brief respite from their daily lives. (Yes, I am that breed of asshole.)
On the other hand my buddy is interested in what I do, and has no problem hanging out with me during the day or night for that matter. The problem comes from the fact that he is a Vet of the first order. He served in Iraq and the other country, teaches younger folks how to blow shit up and is one of the most upstanding guys I know. I would entrust my life to him. But… and this is a big but… he has issues most people don’t and while he is trying to work on those problems, I am trying to sow seeds of hope. All in the unlikely hope that in the future, one day, not far from today he will realize that not all is lost and what he has is something to hold on to.
But in the meantime, I enjoy his company, his stories, of which there are many and of course the camaraderie of feeling a loss for those that came before us. For you see, while he is the epitome of a hard drinking, hard smoking, hard case hard ass, he also has insight that most of us in America don’t understand or appreciate.
He is alone in his mind, body and souls. No matter how hard he tries to fill it with Jamesons, nicotine, hate and temporary company, he will be alone. That is until he shares what is going through his mind and what he has been through.
I’m honored to be one of the few recipients of his adventures, am I shocked, disturbed or even amazed? No. I am not. I knew what was coming, simply because I’ve had some experience in what he is dealing with. But does that mean what he says is not important? Nope. It makes what he is doing, going through and been through all the more relevant. For you see, while I can’t say I know what he has been through, I can say that I understand what he is going through.
Most of us 80’s sailors have the same story… we can’t or won’t talk about what was going on in the Reagan era. We’ve signed papers, made promises and even in some cases, taken blood oaths. So to say what my younger armed service brother is going through is not relevant to what I’ve experienced would be a lie.
I hold no grudges against any of the armed services, we all hold a special place in the stability of democracy, but to see one person so affected that their life is almost at an impasse as to what they can do and what they can’t do all the while knowing that on this continent it does not really amount to a hill of used coffee grinds is painful.
But knowing this, and other information, does that mean we can’t be friends? Can’t be brothers in arms? Can’t have similar interests? No. As a matter of fact it does not. All it means is that we, as a collective service to the community, feel more alienated by the life and liberties of those around us. Sure, we dive head long into the pool of freedom and liberty once we are back on familiar soil but we never forget what has been sacrificed not just by ourselves but by those that came before us over two hundred years ago.
I guess what I’m saying is, that while I am a Jeffersonian at heart and try to live by our third president’s principles, I also believe that without our military and those who have served and giving more than just their lives, we would never be in the place we are now.
Thank you to all the past, present and future vets. We are a brotherhood that knows what the price is even if we don’t want to pay the bill.