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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Marina

 


  I’ll call her Marina. She has cut my family’s hair for quite some time now. She is an energetic ball of Polish energy. Her accent is heavy and she talks non-stop. Her commentary is humane and can be incisive, witty and often illuminating.

  As she worked and we talked, the recent election came up. I discovered she had voted for Trump. I was a bit surprised. She is somewhat political and an immigrant. She said that she understood he was “a little crazy” but that when he said something, whether good, bad or indifferent,

 “I believe him. The other one … not so much.”

 If Marina is anything, she is inherently kind. She is a doting mother, devoted wife, hard working, well read, exercises and paints powerful abstracts as an avocation.

  She shared with me that a while back when she worked at a large salon her co workers had gotten wind of the fact that she was “probably going to vote for Trump.”

  “They joked and teased. At first it was funny in a way but before long, it wasn’t funny anymore.”

 In broken English, her eyes misty, she described how the “joking” became mean spirited. I will not belabor the point here. What this dear soul described to me was nothing less than shaming.

  “I come from a country where people are afraid to speak up.” She said.  “When I came here to America I thought that was over but with this I realized that I was concerned and somewhat afraid. It wasn’t so much what they said, though it was bad … it was how they began to say it.”

 As this election has brewed, I have discussed it and shared with others. I have been, I think, overall evenhanded, calm, issue oriented. If I am honest I must say that I did discount Donald Trump as “unqualified and unfit” to be President of the United States. Now though, I think that I also disqualified the feelings and ideas of those who shared that they were going to vote for him.

  I recall one day when a friend said he was voting for Trump that I teased and joked. I will be making an amends.

  According to the laws of our country this man has been elected President. My task from here forward is to be a voice of reason and consensus at every opportunity. It’s like a fighter who loses a fight he was expected to win. I have a new respect for my opponent and I know that I underestimated him. More importantly I underestimated the dissatisfaction a large body of folks have with the status quo. This now will be my motivation. This will be my cause. Before, I would have said that I was “progressive” and inclusive. Now, I will work harder to treat ALL people’s views with respect and deference and I will listen with more care. 

  I believe in more than just America as a nation. I believe in the CITIZENS of America and I know that the day a kind, loving, intelligent even patriotic and legal immigrant CITIZEN of this country is afraid and shamed because of her political leanings and judgment that WE have much work to do.

  I’m a combat veteran. I wasn’t gung ho or anything. I was just there and I did my job. One thing weaved among the fabric of all the sailors I knew. We were there because folks were being denied the right to live  as they wanted to, speak their peace, have a choice of who was to govern them . We understood that all the endless nights and blistering days … all the labor and fear and sweat and blood was for them and so that those at home could be free to do the same.

I offer a sort of prayer if you will.

I beseech thee … citizens … to believe not in party ideals or personalities but in America. I call upon each and every person to buckle down and do the work of nation … community … God, Allah … whatever Higher Power is your guide.

I beseech thee Brother and Sisters of freedom to raise your mighty sword in the name of righteousness and the dignity of ALL mankind.

And I pray that no matter our leanings … no matter win or lose … the most important thing in our lives is to protect and defend the principals and process of our great nation.

Do it for your loved ones, yes … but also do it for those you might despise because as Jesus said to his disciples, 

"whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers … that you do unto me"

Amen

Friday, November 11, 2016

We Remember

 
  I have thought of you often over the years. When I was a child we scurried through the woods with our muskets made of sticks imagining tri-cornered hats and knee britches. We pretended to be like you: valiant and brave, resisting the redcoats from behind rock and tree.

  Later we played with our blue and gray plastic soldiers, each the size of a bullet. We organized field battles. Cannon were lined up aimed at ranks of men as they moved forward into the maw.

  One day the Indians surrounded you as you stood back to back … holding out. I saw the Indian warrior too. It was just as good to be an Indian sometimes.

  Years passed as I watched you fighting in the movies. I devoured each scene as from every branch of military service you offered your lives in the name of God and country. Honor and dignity would swell in my bony chest. I wanted to be like you.

  I saw you on television crouching through the jungle. The helicopters brought you in with guns blazing. Then they came and carried you away … sometimes prostrate … bleeding.

  I went on a ship far away. No, I did not stare death in the face as you did. I saw its wake. I tasted its devastation. I sensed its presence but I did not have to smell its breath as you did.

   I saw the look in a young marine’s eyes as he readied to go “in country” on a night recon. I still see him there in the top rack like a small child in a man’s body looking over the bunk bed rail when he thinks the “boogey man” is in the closet.

  I saw you when the high school hero strode into the VA office.  For a moment he knew me … then he saw something in the air … he was remembering. He forgot what he came for then turned and walked away … head down … mumbling to himself.

  I saw you in your wheelchair at the local pub. We drank too much as you tried to forget the moment you became broken.

  Today I see you in the deserts, mountains and cities; fighting, protecting, healing, building.

   I see you at the stoplight, in the park, in the pew at church.

  You are revered and held high in our minds and hearts. Regardless of politics or history, right or wrong, you have sacrificed for the benefit of your fellows.


   When I was a child, I pretended to be like you … valiant and brave. Wherever you are …  please know this … we remember. We see you with our hearts. We are eternally grateful.