9 Jan 12

“I never joke about old soldiers who go to reunions to talk over the War. To talk of old times, with old friends, is the greatest thing in the world.”

Will Rogers, 1930

These poignant comments from a friend and fellow veteran from my generation:

“Had a visit with a friend yesterday. I’ve known him and his wife for many years, going back to our college days. But, unlike you and me, he never served, never wore his Country’s uniform.

When the Call went out, you and I knew there was a War going on, and we knew we had to be there! We were young and naive. Not everyone was so oriented. Either way, it’s all ancient history now eh?

In any event, we talked and laughed about the old days, and I regrettably waxed too comfortable and fell into stories about my military memories. The discussion quickly went sour, with expressions of shock and horror about even the slightest references to the way we lived and what we experienced during heavy fighting that characterized the War. I did my best to jettison the subject, but too late. Both guests were clearly uncomfortable, and subtly indicated that we probably wouldn’t be getting together again.

I used to think such people were naif and willfully delusional about real world history. But, maybe it is just you and me? We are dinosaurs, and have old wounds, and occasional bad dreams, to show for it. The world has moved on, and old soldiers, along with old wars, are quickly forgotten. It’s probably always been that way!

Like you, scarcely a day goes by that I don’t think about all my wonderful friends and comrades whom I left over there. So many of our best didn’t lived through it. You and I represent only an ageing minority. We can’t put our boots on and march back into time. But, like you, I find it curious that, when I returned, even then so few of my countrymen noticed, much less said “Thank You.”

Many decades later, they don’t even want to hear about it!”

My comment:

“We were not many, – we who stood
Before the iron sleet that day;
Yet many a gallant spirit would
Give half his years, if but he could
To have been with us at Monterey.

We are not many, – we who pressedBeside the brave who fell that day;
But who of us has not confessed
He’d rather share their warrior rest
Than not have been at Monterey?”

From “Monterey” (another long-forgotten War), by Charles Hoffman