I just came home from Cypress Hill Cemetary where my dad is finally resting from his long journey.
Even though he was only on the planet for three score rotations around the sun, he had traveled to the ends of the planet and back again. He was hardbody and he had logged in a lot of mileage. I can remember him telling me how tired he was one evening as we sat on the deck in the back of his house. He was tired of the heavy lifting and the emotional baggage was dragging him down. In all of my life I had never heard my father sound so vulnerable. He was clairvoyant also because the following morning his heart failed him as he was leaving for work.
If there are any U.S. servicemen overseas that can read my blog in their downtime I salute you men and women for your sacrifices. The ideal of America that you put your lives down for should represent you better than it has. Part of the problem is that we citizens don’t demand courage or compassion from our elected leaders. Instead we have rewarded complicit duplicitous cowardice. We are to blame for the senseless deaths of U.S. lives abroad as much as the greedy war mongering power brokers. As long as our lives are relatively easy and filled with leisure we will never demand justice for all of the people of this planet..
After my father’s passing I discovered some of his old paperwork and keepsakes from his time in the U.S. Marines Corps. One of the most startling items was my dad’s draft induction letter. There was an NYC subway token taped to the top of the letter. The scotch tape was that industrial type from the 1960’s that could rip the hair off your arm. The imprint of the token was embedded in the tape’s glue, which was long dried solid. It startled me that the Armed Forces was so dead serious about draftees making this induction physical so much so that they were mailing you the carfare if you didn’t have the means. My dad was always bitter about being drafted since he was in college at the time and there were plenty of people standing on the street corners or hiding behind their parents’ wealth that could have used the discipline that the Army provided.
My dad actually did two tours of duty in Vietnam. When he returned home after his first tour in 1968 he found out that America was deadlier on a Black man than Vietnam was. MARTIN LUTHER KING Jr. had been assassinated earlier that year and the subsequent civil unrest that followed removed much of the opportunity that he had seen as being progressive for Blacks in America. He returned to Vietnam where the color of your skin meant little or nothing to all of the grunts that were over there just trying to survive another day.
An interesting sidenote is that one of the men in these pics with my dad would be one of our neighbors in Queens where I was raised. He and my dad never shared more than a word with one another. I have no idea what those two men experienced and my father never volunteered any stories to me about his time spent in the Marines. My dad did take me to see ‘Apocalypse Now’ during the opening weekend in 1979 and he told me that it was an actual account of what Vietnam was like. Suffice to say, I never completed my Selective Service registration. I sit here relieved of my duty because so many brave men and women have volunteered their freedom. Veterans and active servicemen deserve our unfailing support even if their captains and commanders are men with only the conviction for money and ill gained trappings. Without their sacrifice this blog would never have been possible.