Thursday, January 15, 2015

So I wasn’t Even in a War

There was a time when I was young and had wanted to be an entertainer.

That was going to have been how, I Had hoped, that I would earn my living.

To that end I had gotten together with two people who had real talent – my talent probably was more in management – and had formed a singing trio.

And we were pretty good.

Who knows what might have happened if we had been able to pursue our musical frolic.

But we weren’t able to do that.

There was Vietnam.

And Vietnam meant that young American men had to make some sort of choice – desert to Canada, enlist in the army (and probably get killed) or …

I chose or …

I became and Air Force Officer.

And I had a great time in Saigon in ‘67.

So I did get to be in a war.

Or I had thought at the time it had been a war: the generals – I briefed one daily, so I had reason to think this – all said we were.

Lyndon said we were.

Robert kept saying we were.

But who knows.

Who really cares any more?


And that is all prologue to what I really want to talk about here.

In the early years of this millennium I was still in the work force, and my part in that workforce required that I travel on airplanes quite frequently.

So I was in airports quite a lot of my waking hours.

And I was interested by what I was seeing: for the first time in decades the airports were filled with young military people, just as I had been in the mid ‘60s.

But, unlike me, they all were wearing fatigues.

In the Vietnam era, all of us who traveled on government tickets were required to wear class A uniforms – the equivalent of a business suit. .

It really irritated me to see my later day descendants wearing fatigues.

People running around in clothes that look suspiciously like weird splotch patterned pajamas didn’t seem to me to represent our country in a manner that I found to be proper, or in a manner that I and millions of others had previously done.

Finally one day I decided I needed to find out why this was happening.

I walked up to a group of five or six young men, all in desert fatigues, and asked why they weren’t wearing class A uniforms.

They looked at me as if I were stupid, uninformed, and – probably – not a red blooded ‘Merican, and in unison answered me:

“Because we are at war”

“Oh” I said.

And I slunk off to the bar.

I wish Vietnam had been a war.

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