Veterans, Remembrance, and Armistice Day 2009
Soldiers are Unbowed, Unbroken
David Ignatius says the US Military is “Standing tall in harm’s way“:
In the aftermath of the Fort Hood shootings, some commentaries have examined the damage to the U.S. Army from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A few have spoken about the alleged shooter, Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, as an extreme version of what can happen with an overstressed force…
In truth, the U.S. military may be the most resilient part of American society right now. The soldiers are clearly in better shape than the political class that sent them to war and the economic leadership that has mismanaged the economy. (I’d give the same high marks to young civilians who are serving and sacrificing in hard places — the Peace Corps and medical volunteers I’ve met abroad and the teachers in tough inner-city schools.)
Through all its difficulties, the military has kept its stride. That sense of balance comes partly from the fact that soldiers are anchored to the American bedrock. This includes the stereotypical small towns in the South and Midwest that have military service in their DNA. But it also counts plenty of hardworking, upwardly mobile Hispanic and African American families in urban America that produce some of the best soldiers I know…
The Old Man…
As I came out of the supermarket that sunny day, pushing my cart of groceries towards my car, I saw an old man with the hood of his car up and a lady sitting inside the car, with the door open.
The old man was looking at the engine. I put my groceries away in my car and continued to watch the old gentleman from about twenty five feet away.
I saw a young man in his early twenties with a grocery bag in his arm, walking towards the old man. The old gentleman saw him coming too and took a few steps towards him.
I saw the old gentleman point to his open hood and say something. The young man put his grocery bag into what looked like a brand new Cadillac Escalade and then turn back to the old man and I heard him yell at the old gentleman saying,
‘You shouldn’t even be allowed to drive a car at your age.’ And then with a wave of his hand, he got in his car and peeled rubber out of the parking lot.
I saw the old gentleman pull out his handkerchief and mop his brow as he went back to his car and again looked at the engine.
He then went to his wife and spoke with her and appeared to tell her it would be okay. I had seen enough and I approached the old man. He saw me coming and stood straight and as I got near him I said, ‘Looks like you’re having a problem.’
He smiled sheepishly and quietly nodded his head. I looked under the hood myself and knew that whatever the problem was, it was beyond me. Looking around I saw a gas station up the road and told the old man that I would be right back… I drove to the station
and went inside and saw three attendants working on cars. I approached one of them and related the problem the old man had with his car and offered to pay them if they could follow me back down and help him.
The old man had pushed the heavy car under the shade of a tree and appeared to be comforting his wife. When he saw us he straightened up and thanked me for my help. As the mechanics diagnosed the problem (overheated engine) I spoke with the old
When I shook hands with him earlier, he had noticed my Marine Corps ring and had commented about it, telling me that he had been a Marine too. I nodded and asked the usual question, ‘What outfit did you serve with?’
He had mentioned that he served with the first Marine Division at Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal .
He had hit all the big ones and retired from the Corps after the war was over. As we talked we heard the car engine come on and saw the mechanics lower the hood. They came over to us as the old man reached for his wallet, but was stopped by me and I told him I Would just put the bill on my AAA card.
He still reached for the wallet and handed me a card that I assumed had his name and address on it and I stuck it in my pocket.. We all shook hands all around again and I said my goodbye’s to his wife.
I then told the two mechanics that I would follow them back up to the station. Once at the station I told them that they had interrupted their own jobs to come along with me and help the old man. I said I wanted to pay for the help, but they refused to charge me.
One of them pulled out a card from his pocket looking exactly like the card the old man had given to me. Both of the men told me then,that they were Marine Corps Reserves. Once again we shook hands all around and as I was leaving, one of them told me I should look at the card the old man had given to me. I said I would and drove off.
For some reason I had gone about two blocks when I pulled over and took the card out of my pocket and looked at it for a long, long time. The name of the old gentleman was on the card in golden leaf and under his name…….
‘Congressional Medal of Honor Society.’
I sat there motionless looking at the card and reading it over and over. I looked up from the card and smiled to no one but myself and marveled that on this day, four Marines had all come together, because one of us needed help. He was an old man all right, but it felt Good to have stood next to greatness and courage and an honor to have been in his presence. Remember, OLD men like him gave you FREEDOM for America .
Thanks to those who served…& those who supported them.
America is not at war. The U.S. Military is at war.. America is at the Mall. If you don’t stand behind our troops, PLEASE feel free to stand in front of them!
Remember, Freedom isn’t Free, thousands have paid the price so you can enjoy what you have today.
The Music Stopped—
For those who are not aware: At all military base theaters, the National Anthem is played before the movie begins.
This is written from a Chaplain in Iraq :
I recently attended a showing of ‘Superman 3’ here at LSA Anaconda. We have a large auditorium we use for movies, as well as memorial services and other large gatherings. As is the custom at all military bases, we stood to attention when the National Anthem began before the main feature. All was going well until three-quarters of the way through The National Anthem, the music stopped.
Now, what would happen if this occurred with 1,000 18-22 year-olds back in the States? I imagine there would be hoots, catcalls, laughter, a few rude comments, and everyone would sit down and yell for the movie to begin. Of course, that is, if they had stood for the National Anthem in the first place.
Here in Iraq , 1,000 Soldiers continued to stand at attention, eyes fixed forward. The music started again and the Soldiers continued to quietly stand at attention. But again, at the same point, the music stopped. What would you expect 1000 Soldiers standing at attention to do ?? Frankly, I expected some laughter, and everyone would eventually sit down and wait for the movie to start.
But No!!… You could have heard a pin drop, while every Soldier continued to stand at attention. Suddenly, there was a lone voice from the front of the auditorium, then a dozen voices, and soon the room was filled with the voices of a thousand soldiers, finishing where the recording left off:
“And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. Oh, say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”
It was the most inspiring moment I have had in Iraq and I wanted you to know what kind of Soldiers are serving you. Remember them as they fight for us!