Veteran and Proud Of It!

I'm an old veteran with no hair, high blood pressure and military memories going back to the early 1970's when Jane Fonda was a swear word, my cousin somehow got into the National Guard and I didn't. Had I waited another six months before enlisting, the new draft lottery - which placed my birthday at the 350+ level - would have meant that I, like Mr. Dick Cheney, could have pursued my "other priorities."

Somewhere downstairs I've got an old hard-cardboard Schlitz beer-box with enough military records in it to prove I went and to prove I did. There's a bunch of ribbons there that I didn't toss over any walls in protest but are in a glass jar where sometime I'll go down and look at them. There's an air-medal (and maybe a cluster) that are still in their containers. There's little sterling silver wings that my commander told me I could wear even when not on flying status after completing ten combat missions. They're all down there and prove that  I went and I did.

I was mucho conservative back in 1969. When I was studying Russian at Syracuse University, Woodstock happened less than 100 miles away. I wasn't about to drive over and see that. I was too mad at Jane Fonda - mad about her movie Barbarella which had offended my youthful moral view of the world. And I was incensed by her Hanoi affair.

Funny how time changes perspectives. My all-grown-up kids are outraged that in 1969 I willfully refused to go to Woodstock. I agree with them. What was I thinking? Was my patriotism so shallow that rain, mud, outlandish music, naked women and pot smoke could rock my foundation as a true American? I'm embarrassed about what I thought was important when I was 22 and what I did and didn't do about it.

Yet, here I am today, a Senior-citizen repository of all my experience which is the only source of wisdom I have to offer my kids and grand kids. I sure as heck am not going to teach my kids that military veterans are long on judgment and condemnation and short on wisdom. No, I'm not retired from the military. I got out after 6 years and later served 2 more in the reserve. 30 years later, I'm still aware of a sense of difference between the civilian and military world where you have got to trust somebody before you follow them.

In 1968 and voting for the first time, I was so mad at LBJ, I voted for Nixon so I guess that made me a Republican.

In 1972 I thought McGovern was a peacenik and I was a war-nik so I gave RMN another vote.

In 76 I was genuinely offended at Nixon - and Ford for pardoning him - so I voted for Carter.

In 1980 when Reagan asked "Are you better off now...." he got my vote.

In 1984 he looked tougher than Mondale so I voted for RR again.

By 1988 though, I didn't trust Bush the First so I went into my vote-for-the-outsider mode and voted for Dukakis.

1992 and I'm mad at Bush Sr. who seemed to think looking like Patton would fix the economy and voted for Bill with the following little sentence in sotto voce:

"Ok you SOB, you'd better not blow it."

By 1996 I began to suspect I was more of a liberal than a conservative and just couldn't bring myself to vote for Dole.

So there I am, trying to vote the man instead of the party, flip-flopping and waffling with the best of them. By 2000 I realized that my veteran's instincts were alive and well and I saw only form without substance in Dubya. Besides, an old NBA fan like me thought Bill Bradley was the smartest guy for president and I was disappointed that he didn't get nominated. I voted for Gore, the veteran who really served and served well, unlike Howdy Doodie.

In 2004, convinced that Dubya was the dumbest president ever, I voted for the Democrat, thinking any Democrat could beat Howdie Doodie. Boy was I wrong. Boy did I not appreciate the on-going dumbing down of America with slogans and slick entertainment topping civic interest in the best man for the job; not to mention the gullibility of all them politically woke-up social conservative Christians who were led like sheep to the polls in the name of righteousness. 

In 2008, fed up with Republicans acting like they thought I was part of the dumbed-down crown and tired of them splashing around the shallow end of the civic-minded pool, I only wanted competence and any candidate who looked competent as compared to Howdie Doodie would get my vote. I knew back then that Clinton was the most qualified and that Obama the most idealistic ... and both looked far more competent than my fellow veteran McCain who thought Palin was competent sufficient to taking his place. That was a no-brainer.

In 2012, Obama had established his competence. Fellow Mormon Mitt Romney, in the theoretical estimate of my culture a good trustworthy Mormon man, compromised himself from the get-go by lowering his integrity in order to talk that bigoted and shallow talk that dominated the Republican party. 

I still believe in looking for competence above rhetoric and in looking stuff up on that vast internet rather than blink like sheep cause broadcaster powers like Faux News tell me what to think and how to vote.

So let's get real out there! Being so offended at Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton that you would vote for the other guy more out of spite than wisdom is not a prideful attribute. I sure as hell wouldn't be proud of voting for the other guy for such a silly reason.

If you think there is more international wisdom and military craftsmanship from a gang that truly cannot talk or shoot straight, has not shot straight and literally did not serve - has not been there nor done that - then by all means betray what you think you stand for. Speak out and reveal your belief that splashing around in shallow water is better than learning to swim and navigate in something deeper where there's much more substance to everything.

Go ahead and pretend that partisan political fools are statesmanlike graduates of the  Fox TV Academy (chicken hawk heaven) and pay attention  when a pretend patriot asks you to believe he's really been there and done that ... who in truth ain't been anywhere and ain't done nothin where he wasn't.

Fox News is a place where political power theories look like they came out of a perusal of Cliff Notes and where - like in RISK - military troops are nothing more than little colored blocks of wood that are casually swept off the board with each roll of the dice.

That's the alternative to using your own common sense.

If you're a Veteran act like it! Don't leave the stage to the newest Howdy Doodie cast!

Published by Arthur Ruger