WHAT I'LL BE DOING FOR MEMORIAL DAY
Memorial Day is a rough day for me. Itís a day of remembering.
Remembering can be curse when youíve spent years trying to forget. Itís even worse when you get mad at yourself for not being able to remember. Itís strange that you forget so many things you want to remember and remember so much that you really want to forget.
I spent 11 months, 28 days in sunny Southeast Asia. I came back physically whole. "No members missing" tag on this Marine. By the Grace of God, good training, and just plain pure dumb luck, I suffered no more than a slight hearing loss, a concussion or two, and 25 years of mixed-blessing memories.
Memorial Day is not a day for self-evaluation or selfish thoughts. So I turn my remembrances to other people, places, and things.
I remember heat. Heat that kept you from getting a full breath for weeks. Heat that sapped your strength so that you were beyond exhaustion after a minor exertion. Heat that made you tired and kept you from sleeping. Heat that made you sweat buckets. Heat that made you freezing cold at 70 degrees.
I remember rice paddies. They could get you killed or save your life. Dikes stop bullets but can leave you exposed if youíre dumb enough to walk on them. The water smelled of feces but was better than not drinking at all.
I remember rain. Rain that broke the intolerable heat then never stopped. Rain that was as gentle as silk or as stinging as a nest of bees. Rain that let you get a good clean shower and rotted your feet ítil they bled.
I remember the sun. The sun that created the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets Iíve ever seen in my life. The sun that you couldnít look at...if you ever wanted to see again. The sun that you could feel without touching it.
But above all this, I remember people. Faces, personalities, and human events still crowd my days and nights with pleasure and pain. I can remember entire conversations and events in explicit detail. I cannot remember the names of more than a few, and I donít know why. Shouldnít this be the other way around?
I remember the parting face of the Huey jock, who took an RPG in the nose 100 yards after he lifted off from leaving me in a clearing. I remember every detail of the guy who hung himself 2 weeks before he was going back to the world. I remember the guitar songs taught to me by the kid from Boston, who drove a jeep over a 105 shell buried on a dirt road and tripped the trap. Of the hundreds I knew, I kick myself f...
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