My Rule for Life

I would rather live my life as if there is a God, and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't, and die to find out there is.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

An Old Man's Thoughts

Today was a beautiful day in the Midwest.  The sun shone and the sky was that gorgeous blue with only a very few high clouds.  The temperature was expected to reach 68.  Not a record high for this time of year but good enough for the call of the highway and the Harley was ready.  Most of the morning was spent with a friend who had recently lost his father.  Nothing heavy just drinking coffee on the patio and listening.  I may have missed my calling maybe I should have been a Priest or bartender.  I am not sure what, if anything was accomplished but he left and I thought maybe I had done some good.  Only time will tell.

The Vietnam traveling wall is here in town and with the weather, the call of the Harley and the road it sounded like a good idea.  I have never been to Washington DC and seen the real wall so this seemed like a good thing to do.  I considered taking Jacob but decided it might be best for me to see it by myself.  One never knows what might happen and I might have a moment.  If I did, I did NOT want any witnesses. That's just the way I am so please don't try to psychoanalyze me.

After waiting in line about an hour I got to the beginning of the wall.  Physically it is not an imposing object.  Black with white letters it starts of short about a foot or so in height and ramps up to about five and a half feet in the middle of the wall then back tapering down on the other end to about a foot or so.  A high school band was playing patriotic songs and a choir, high school I suppose was singing also.  Some people were listening.  Some people were standing in small groups of 3 or 4 just talking.  The rest of us,  just standing in line. A single man about my age was in front of me and the same behind me.  We looked at each other occasionally but not a word was spoken.   Almost no  one talking, maybe a small child to his/her parent but even that was at a whisper.  A very quiet line.

As I reached the beginning of the wall I stopped, thought for a moment, said a brief prayer for those who's names were on the wall and began my walk.  I lost some friends in Vietnam but never looked for their names.  Mike Spangler's name is on the wall.  Mike and I played football together in high school.  He was a year older than I was and graduated a year before me.  We doubled dated with two of the prettiest girls in our high school.  At least we thought they were.  Before I graduated the next year Mike was KIA.  Like I said his name is on the wall.  Where, I don't know.  It won't bring him back for his brothers Jerry or Chuck. We won't be double dating any more.  Finding his name seemed a non issue.  I knew it was there and he was gone.

I read names on each of the panels.  Smith, Brown, Gidlow, Pena, Gonzales, some I couldn't pronounce or spell.  I understand there are over 50,000 names on the wall.  I made it a point to read several names on each panel.  As I walked slowly in silence it began to come to me.  With each name is a family of Jerry's and Chuck's just a different last name.  There are girlfriends without boyfriends and parents without sons.  Sisters who no longer have a brother such as my family friend Francine.  Her brother was KIA in 1967.  He like, Mike was 18 and just out of high school.  One time when Francine and I were talking about Jacob she just started crying. She was 12 when her brother died and she remembers it to this day when the family was notified.  She has lost her big brother.  Fifty thousand  names, fifty thousand families, fifty thousand stories

As I finished my walk,  I thought.  I saw English names, German names, Mexican names, Polish names and names I didn't really know what country of origin they may have come from.  I know for a fact black men died in Vietnam.  I know for a fact white men died in Vietnam,  I am willing to bet red and yellow men died in Vietnam, for the cause. I know one more thing.  Regardless of skin color or the country of their heritage  they were one thing......First and foremost they were Americans and they give it all for their county. 

God bless these men and God Bless America on this Veterans Day

7 comments:

Subvet said...

Amen.

ABNPOPPA said...

Enough said.

Pops

Most Rev. Gregori said...

Pops, that was a very moving post. My time in Vietnam (not with the military, but rather with my monastic group)left me with plenty of memories of seeing some of our soldiers shot or blown up. I also saw the same thing happen to many innocent non-combatants, men, women and children.

The part of your post where you said that you "Spent most of the morning with a friend who recently lost his father, drinking coffee and listening, reminded me of something I read a couple of years ago. It was about an old man who had recently lost his wife of many years. It seems that the old man spent most of his days alone sitting on his front porch.

One day, little Johnny,a five year old boy who lived down the street had been gone for several hours and when he finally returned home, his mother asked him where he had been all day. Johnny said, "I was down the street visiting the old man on his porch. Johnny's mother then asked,"What did you talk about?" Johnny answered, "Nothing, I just helped him cry."

You know, Priest or Bartender, sometimes that is the best and only thing we can do for those who are suffering a lose, because often words are not enough, so we can only help them cry.

ABNPOPPA said...

MRG,

I am trying to master the art of just listening but like you say sometimes we can only just help them cry.

Pops

Jeff-for-progress said...

Nice inclusive post.

MightyMom said...

amen

ABNPOPPA said...

Thanks to you all for commenting. Special thanks to Jeff, FP and MM also

Lutheran Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Destruction of the embryo in the mother's womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder.

Read more about this famous Lutheran Pastor at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietrich_Bonhoeffer