Memorial Day 2017

Today is Memorial Day, 2017. It has been a day of mixed emotions for me. Sadness, at all the lives lost in wars. Anger at a nation complacent enough to allow its government to wage perpetual war. Sadness at a populace with far too many citizens ignorant of the meaning of the day. Disgust at the poorly educated college students and graduates who are far too eager to discard the freedom and safety for which more than 1 million Americans gave their lives in favor of socialism. Contempt for a Congress that ignores the clear wishes of the people. All that combined with the desire to choke the living (expletive deleted) out of the company who sent me “Happy Memorial Day” greetings in a sales flier. With that in mind, please understand if I write about something other than Unicorns and puppies today.

I remember my first cousin, Don Minton, drafted into the Marine Corps, and sent to Vietnam as a rifleman. Despite being forced to serve, like most good old Texas boys of the day, he accepted his lot and served well enough to make Corporal in a highly respected fighting force. He was wounded in a fire fight on a hill top, and killed by a napalm strike which saved most of his buddies. This account differs a bit from the official version, but I heard it before the historians sanitized it. This in no way is meant to diminish Don’s courage and love of country, or his sacrifice. I tell it to foster understanding of how I, with 28 years of military service, have come to detest the so-called leaders of our country who are only too willing to send teenagers, fresh out of high school, to their deaths in foreign lands which pose no threat to the safety and security of the United States. Years later, I learned that Lyndon Johnson was deeply involved with Brown and Root, and Halliburton, and made millions from the war.

My most vivid memory of that time, though, were the heart-broken sobs and wails of anguish of his mother, my Aunt Lessie, at his funeral. Her grief marked a turning point in my life, and I withdrew my application for a second tour in Vietnam shortly after the funeral. I couldn’t bear the though of causing such grief to my mother.

Today, however, was not all doom and gloom. My cousin, Kenneth, posted a picture of his father, Judge Murphy Smith, who island hopped the South Pacific with the Marines in WW2. For some reason that triggered a story of my two grand fathers, Henry “Acie” Smith and Benjamin Bridges, men in their 40s when the war broke out. They spent an enjoyable afternoon in a Beaumont bar, and in a fit of alcohol induced patriotism, went together to the recruiting office and volunteered to join up and go kill the enemy. Fortunately, the recruiters were apparently sober and sent them home. Too young for WW1 and too old for WW2, they missed the chance to go to war

Lastly, I pray that someday, there will be no place on Earth where Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, or Marines are dying to enrich the evil bastards who keep the US in perpetual war.

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