Yes, I did get today off. It used to be called "Decoration Day" because folks went to decorate the graves of the fallen heroes of the foreign wars. Fortunately, I don't know any. My dad served on the battleship Iowa but it wasn't war time. I remember my mom getting the folded Stars and Stripes that draped his casket. All our boys just missed the mandatory draft and chose not to serve, thank God. I'm sure it must be one of the hardest things to have to do: to bury your son or daughter who was in"harm's way". I'm afraid I'd have a hard time supporting their going to Iraq and even supporting the war over there; especially now that no WMD's were found. Our trying to impose our kind of freedom and democracy on that kind of culture/religion is also hard to accept at times.
I once had a teacher who said, "All the world's ills, on the national level down to the personal level, can be attributed to: 'Man's inhumanity to Man.'" I see it at every level continuing. We will never learn.
I usually remember, on this day, my stint in the military and how it affected my life at the time. I remember getting the draft notice after completing college and choosing to enlist in the Naval Air rather than have to go to the Army and be trained to fight/kill hand-to-hand or with a rifle. As it was, we had one day of training on the rifle range, with handguns too. I wasn't all that good at it. Didn't want to be. I had volunteer for airplane maintenance since it sounded interesting and my dad and I used to make model airplanes and fly them. It was a group called "Sky Pilots" and it was at our church. It's main purpose was to learn Bible verses while building models at the fellowship hall. I won the memorizing contest and my dad and I got a 1/2 hr. free ride over L.A. in a piper cub. What a thrill to fly over my little house. Anyway, I remember my mom in tears when I was taken to Los Alamitos Air Station to fly out with the other new recruit/reservists to Memphis, Tenn. It was a 14 hr. flight with a bag lunch and several got sick in the plane that didn't seem to have proper pressurizing. We were taken from the plane and loaded into a "cattlecar" trailer/truck to our new barracks. We were given our new uniforms, shoes etc. that didn't really fit and I was lucky to get a top bunk. I was appointed squad leader, maybe my height or college degree, and given the honor of leading my 12 guys to make the latreen spotless for daily inspection. We were given all the cleaning materials, including toothbrushes. A dozen toilets lined up without privacy booths to clean during that six weeks. Then there was the marching and jogging everywhere, even to meals. Hurry up and then wait in line for chow...good chow though...best fed Navy in the world. It wasn't long after night, fire-guard duty etc. that I got the "attitude"..."bring it on! Whatever you want, I will do it and not complain" I saw several others who fought it and got washed out. They had to repeat the six weeks of hell. When that was done I was assigned to a training squad to learn metal craft and hydraulics of airplanes, my classification. I learned alot. It was getting cold, we had started in August in the heat. One of my buddies got pneumonia, went to the base hospital and died. That shook us up. I noticed that the "performance squads of "flying rifles and the Navy Chorus" didn't have to do the 4-hr. duty out on the cold line, guarding the planes. I could sing bass. I had toured the country in college, east and west coast. So I auditioned and made it. We had practice every other day and just had to do barracks fire watch inside.
When I came back to do my reserve 8 years, after the 6 mos. in Memphis, I just had to go to Los Alamitos one weekend a month and just two-weeks in the summer. This allowed me to get a job teaching and start a family. I had several interesting 2-wk. "cruises to Hawaii, Wash. D.C., Seattle and San Diego. I qualified for my crew wings in Hawaii, flying in a P2v and loading sono-bouys. I strained my back and flew a typewriter in personnel from then on with a medical release. My C.O. called it, "Hen House". I didn't care. I was happy to be serving my Country and doing my duty in this small, non-combative way.
In my years teaching I have taught patriotism and taught the songs, but not the wars in elementary history class. "I will study war no more." Bob