This poignant video was sent to me by a friend. It is not new, nor is it new to this blog. But the message is timeless. As we approach Veterans Day and the Marine Corps birthday, allow yourself the time to watch it and contemplate the sacrifices so many people have made to make this country so great. Troops and their families share sadness, anxiety, and sometimes bottomless grief when loved ones deploy to far off lands. Yet they continue to lace up their boots and go because they believe it is their duty to do so. God bless them all.
Inspections are a way of life in the Navy. In addition to the daily berthing, personnel, uniform and maintenance inspections, each ship undergoes a near constant invasion by official investigators. They check for discrepancies in everything from turbines to galleys (kitchens) to readiness to paint. The old joke was that Sailors enjoyed getting underway so much because the inspectors would leave them alone for a while (this isn’t true – they follow the ships to sea too).
It is no wonder Captains and Executive Officers get to be so surly, because it is often their necks on the line if something goes wrong. In the military, the buck actually stops somewhere, generally coming to rest on the Commanding Officer’s desk.
For sure, life would be easier without the “Honor” in Honor, Courage and Commitment, but that’s not the way we roll. Instead, we bow our heads to the fury of the observers and accept our fates with dignity and submission.
In the debriefs we take our knocks, learn from our mistakes, listen politely to critical observations from people who may or may not know more than we do about our jobs, and move on.
And on those glorious days when things go well, we celebrate.
But not until the inspection party is on the pier.
Thirty-one years ago the United States woke up to the horrible news that hundreds of U.S. Marines had been killed on the other side of the world while engaged, ironically, in peace keeping operations.
Most of them died where they lived, in a four story building located near the Beirut airport. A truck bomb destroyed the building, killing 241 U.S. service personnel, 220 of whom were Marines. Most of the others were Sailors, many of whom were Fleet Marine Force (FMF) Corpsmen.
It was an early indication of what the world would see for the next three decades, and counting. U.S. servicemen and women, stationed thousands of miles from home to protect the lives of innocents, were attacked simply because of what they stood for, and for just being there.
Survivors continue to meet and mourn their lost comrades. They have become close, as only those who have experienced combat can do. For them, today is one day of the year to honor the sacrifice of their brothers-in-arms, but not the only day. Because for many of them the memories never go away.
[Read "The Impact of the Beirut Bombing" for an eyewitness account.]
Somewhere on the timeline of life, everyone makes the transition from “growing up” to “growing older.” It is hard to pinpoint when that happens, but like terrorism, porn, or plain old creepiness, even if you can’t describe it, you will know it when you see it.
I see it.
But I’m an optimistic guy. I won’t let it get me down. I mean, for every bad thing about aging, there has to be a counterbalancing good thing, right?
Con: Your body deteriorates.
Pro: If your body wakes up in the morning, you are ahead of the game.
Con: You eventually end up on a fixed income.
Pro: Two words: compound interest.
Con: No one takes you seriously.
Pro: You don’t care.
Con: People get tired of hearing you talk about the way things used to be.
Pro: You don’t care.
Con: You get set in your ways.
Pro: What used to be image problems become character traits through the filter of time.
Con: Your legs don’t look so good in shorts any more.
Pro: You can wear calf-high socks with shorts and kind of like it.
Con: You lose your hair.
Pro: Barbershop fees = zero.
You get the point. Besides, it isn’t so bad maturing along with all of your buddies who, for the most part, are getting older at about the same rate. Still, it sure would be nice to run the bases again, or bend down to pick up a quarter, or eat an ice cream cone without wondering whether that will be the one to make you diabetic.
I guess the best thing to do is to just enjoy the ride and see what life brings you. That’s a pretty good philosophy no matter what age you are. Maybe I am just over-thinking this whole thing.
I must be getting old.