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.
This is a good video of the incredible Blue Angels. Pump up the volume. If you’re at work, plug in the headphones and THEN pump up the volume.
There is no other Navy like ours anywhere in the world, and there never has been, ever. There is no place an enemy can hide that it cannot reach. It deals death and destruction to those who deserve it, while offering protection and salvation to those who need it. It is Gary Cooper in High Noon, standing unafraid and sometimes alone to take on evil forces.
And it wins. Every time.
Its Sailors launch multimillion dollar jets off of heaving decks at night, and they do it over and over again. Its pilots fly combat sorties, then come back again and land on thousand foot runways without being able to even see the cables they must grab, with tailhooks they can’t see either. They even like it.
Its submarines are as close to being invulnerable weapons as weapons can be. They are so good it is almost unfair. They are the Green Bay Packers playing against junior high school football teams. Even WE can’t find them, and they are on our team.
No one wants to see – or get anywhere near – our SEAL teams, except maybe our friends, and even they aren’t so sure.
Our ships refuel at sea while moving, steaming in tandem just a few feet away from each other. And if they wanted to, they could launch missiles that travel for hundreds of miles before hitting their targets at exactly the right time and exactly the right place, all while hooked up to a tanker.
Our logistics experts can deliver a specific part to a specific ship in a specific location in the world in a couple of days, even when bullets are flying. Not even FEDEX do that.
Its Sailors are tough, and smart, and ready to kick the tail of anyone who has a problem with this little experiment we call freedom. They sail away from their families for months on end. They don’t want to, but they do it because someone has to, and they figure, “It might as well be me.” When dark forces threaten and the world anguishes for a hero, they say, “I’ll do it.”
That’s right, world. It is the best ever. And for those of you who want to do its citizens harm, here is something about the American Navy that will keep you up at night.
It is getting even better.
Happy Birthday, Navy.