We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I find it difficult to remember fallen soldiers in the abstract, so I am going to focus on gratitude for Maj. Zembiec today (h/t, Michelle), along with a guy I knew - a gentle soul in my high school writing class and later briefly a classmate in college until he enlisted - who didn't come back from his first tour in Vietnam.
We waited in the pizza parlor. Us wives, and girl friends, and those who did not go. We waited for that year:first, one year, then 18 months, then two years, and on and on. I remember when the first ones started straggling home. We would put up a big sign and have cake and balloons. Then, then something strange started to happen. Those who were returning were different. Their eyes were empty, their minds seemed disconnected in some strange ways. I will never forget one young man--oh how we had all loved him. Sweet, funny, good natured, kind. We had heard he would be home soon, not sure of the day. We were sitting in the pizza parlor laughing, and playing with the babies. Suddenly, the place went quiet. Billy had come home, but it wasn't quite Billy. He walked up to the bar, ordered a beer and did not even acknowledge the large table of friends. There never really was a Billy again. We did not know what to call it in those days. Our little village had never had drugs before Nam, but toward the end our guys were coming home with serious addictions, and pot was on the streets in our home town. At first, we thought it was pot, or something much worse-cocaine. It was not for many years later that the doctors were able to seperate drug addiction from PTSD. I will never forget the look in Billy's bright blue eyes.
Yes, he was. But, what was very strange was the philosophy the Army used with regard to this group of guys: the theory was to re-introduce them to civilian life asap. So, some like Billy went from carrying their dead buddies back to the camp, to having a beer in the hometown pizza parlor in a 4 day time span. Of course, the other nagging question I have is this: if the medical community knew about "shell shock" before Nam, why did it take them so long to acknowledge it as a legitimate condition for the troops from Nam? Please, don't tell me it was a budget issue that would have stretched the national budget to a breaking point.