Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Good Day

This is mainly for Adam Kokesh, but I think it is something all my friends should see as well.

I went to the Veterans for Ron Paul March on the White House on February 20th. It was my hope to march with the formation. For those who don't know my history, I was in the United States Air Force during the winding down of the war in Vietnam. I was never in combat or anywhere near it. The furtherest away I ever went was vacation--er, ah, temporary duty assignment--in what was then called West Germany. I spent most of my time after training in Jacksonville, Arkansas at Little Rock Air Force Base. Oddly enough, I came very close to being killed in the line of duty there, but that is not that important. I was an Avionics Specialist on the C-130H*. The work was challenging for a clever young man passing from his teens to young adulthood and my colleagues were quite the collection of interesting, unique characters. All told it was a good experience for me.

I go into all this detail because many people do not realize, that for every rifleman on the front line the are hundreds if not thousands of others in the rear with the gear, as they say. They are not heroes in the conventional sense. Their lives are never at risk---well, except for the occasional spark-chaser climbing into a supposed empty wing-tank lugging test equipment running on 115 volts with a defective connector--and they live in comparative luxury compared to the grunts. But the grunts know, even if most others don't realize that they would be marching into certain death without them behind doing the unglamorous things. We all know it to.

So I went to march. I had seen some mention before the event that to be in the formation one had to produce solid evidence of service such an active or reserve ID card or discharge papers. At one point I was told even a photo of oneself in uniform in a military setting. Sadly I had nothing. Its been nearly 40 years and my life has been a series of sharp transitions and sometimes cataclysmic change. Most of my past is moldering in landfills all across the country. I have only my memories of that time.

I had the opportunity to approach Adam at the rally on the Mall before the march. I told him my plight. He explained that it was for the integrity of the formation and as a precaution against agents provocateurs. It was Adam who said even if I could pull up a picture of some kind on my smart-phone it would be enough. I understood completely and I know Adam did not like any more than I did.

Why I say this is mostly for him is because I want him to know that I have no ill feelings about it. I want him to know that it was one of the most memorable and meaningful experiences of my life. If I were ever to have grandchildren they would grow bored of me reminding them every Presidents Day what I did on 20 FEB 2012.

I got my march.

I crossed the street ahead of the formation and watched them march by from the sidewalk. They were glorious. Heel-to-toe, every head high and eyes front. The had what I guess would be a six-by for disabled vets pulling rear guard. As it drove by I found myself standing at attention presenting arms like I was standing on the parade ground in basic. When they passed I fell in behind and kept time as best my chair-sitting old legs could and followed them as the rest of the supporters shouted and roared as they trailed along behind in the echoing confines of the stubby one hundred ten foot concrete and glass wall along 15th street toward the White House. We drew a crowd to say the least. The Metropolitan police ran interference for us as we temporarily blocked east-west traffic on the way.

At the White House they performed a left flank and stood files facing the the building. Adam called dress right, dress. I stood off to west side and lined up as best I could. When the lines were sharp Adam called about-face and we all turned our backs. As we stood at attention a color guard marched in a flag and then folded it with grave solemnity. They handed it to Adam and spoke out “For every service member who has committed suicide while Barack Obama has been Commander-in-Chief, present arms!”

We saluted one second for each of them. We held the salute for eight minutes. Then he called parade rest and we doffed our covers and bowed our heads.

One second for every service member who has been killed while Barack Obama has been Commander-in-Chief. We stood for twenty minutes. Throughout the entire ceremony the crowd around was silent except for the clicking of cameras and the quite rustling of videographers hauling their gear around for the good shots.

Adam finally called us to attention and then left face. The formation began their march back to the Mall via 17th street. I stood to let them pass and fell in behind and the wonderful Ron Paulian cacophony rose again. “End the Fed!” makes great cadence.

As the formation reached the Mall a spontaneous uphill charge toward the Obelisk ensued. If everything else about the event did not put the fear of God in the DC police I'm sure that display gave a few of them pause. Armed or not, I would not want that crowd rushing toward me.

I don't know about total numbers, but there were several hundred, if not a thousand, in the formation and at least that many supporters as well. At that point the crowd milled around for a while then began to disperse as some headed home and other made their way to the after party.

I was elated but exhausted. I shuffled my way to the Smithsonian Metro station and headed home.

So, Adam, there was nothing bad about that day. It was in fact the a very good day; the best, actually. Thank you, brother, for your part in this. Thanks to all my comrades for helping me to remember a different time. Thanks to all the supporters who joined us in the ceremony and celebration.

And thanks to Ron Paul for sharing the ideas and vision of a free society.

May we all live to see it.

*The C-130 is an aircraft that does what it was designed to do with incredible reliability under the most horrendous conditions. In my mind, for its intended purpose, it is the closest thing to a perfect airplane ever made, with the possible exception of the C-47.

No comments: