I come from a military family. It is a heritage that we honor and respect. My father, my brother, grandfather, great grandfather and so on, date back to the Army. And it was considered one of the greatest legacies a man could have! No one questioned, backs straightened, eyes became more focused when you said you were of the military. And then it changed.
I remember my brother telling of being pummeled by tomatoes and fruits when he landed in the US after serving in Vietnam. The humiliation and confusion must have been intense. And then he talked about Kent State and bra-less women, and The Beatles, and a changed value system and society that had sprung up and morphed into something alien or foreign while he was gone. This new society was what greeted him when he had spent his days in war, in battle, in a fruitless mask of deception and death. You Have To Believe! Or you have nothing left. Foreign. Hostile. And entitled, they breathed fire!
When my dad served, I remember it was – different. We were living in East Berlin. There were parties galore. Most of the parties were considered ‘Spook Parties’ in that they drafted people from the UK, Australia, France, New Zealand, Russia, Germany, Austria, there was no country exempt. And they had a party. Everyone pretended they didn’t know that the other person was a ‘spook’ and yet they all knew. Because ‘everyone’ was. It was really an excuse for a party – and it was an era where parties were routine – biweekly, quadweekly… We would perch ourselves on the stairway when they had their parties. The loud and raucous laughter was energetic and fun, it was filled with gaeity and I was mesmerized. It was like watching grand balls from the Sound of Music, except that these were much more raucous parties in the sixties.
We had a train at our beck and call. When my father needed to be somewhere and we were for some reason required to attend, a train would be called to transport us to our destination. We were the only occupants. And we were kids, subject to the craziness of mental deficiencies attributable to goofy youth. The train easily became a house of horrors as my brothers would lock me in the bunkbed, abandon me in a remote area, lock me in a closet, all in fun of course. Ha-ha. NOT. But the train was pretty neat nonetheless.
Germany from the eyes of a child was magical. I remember the Ice Capades where I was allowed to drink wine and I danced on my fathers feet before the wood floor rolled away to reveal the ice rink. I remember skiing with him in the Zugspitze and being absolutely terrified. I remember my first and last party that was crashed by every delinquent this side of the Mississippi. And I remember my first best friend in which my father was instrumental in the introduction. My riding lessons. My finishing school in Paris.
He retired the rank of Major General – two star. And should have gone further except it was when the military succumbed to politics. And everything changed. Poof.
My dad had a humorous streak in him so he would attend these soires dressed in his finest tux, replete with top-hat, cape, and walking stick. It was the mask. The play. And I guess he rather enjoyed it. The walking stick was actually his crop from when he was in the Cavalry. Which he also used as a pointer when giving lectures. So you see it had three purposes, a frugal society where we recycle without even understanding that is what we are doing.
The honor our society feels towards its military has shifted tremendously. It’s not a good thing. In fact, it is that very pride and embrace that we lack, that might be – our ultimate downfall.
For without pride, we have hatred.
I look at the military today and the pride and truth doesn’t seem to exist. There is so much condescension, so much shrugging shoulders, whatever, they are just like every other corrupt organization, they have no honor – and it is NOT the fault of the men who serve – it is the fault of the men who RULE. They have failed us as human souls. And they have failed as Leaders.
MY father may have been a General, but he ruled like a Chinese warrior, with quiet and tact and a plot for success. And it worked. The corruption hit before he retired. But when it hit, you could see it in his demeanor. He lost respect. He lost desire. He lost loyalty. Still, he retired and immersed himself in the private sector hoping and believing that in this focus – he could make a difference, he could win. The military had died for him. The loyalty had been sold. And that was probably the largest division one could make in the “Brotherhood”.
But his faith and patriotism lived high and large! Because it wasn’t about the individual faults and fault lines, it was about the fundamental ideals – and those were and are the fall back that makes this country Great!
Bottom line? It isn’t about our faulty leaders, it is about the ideals and fundamentals that comprise the human experience in the US and define what and who we are. It is about a belief in something bigger and more cohesive, something of value and honor, that we aspire toward each and every day.
This teaches us that having a strong sense of morality and ethic, of compassion and leadership can be the cornerstone of a perfect society. If we let it. But what is it that rules our decisions? Is it ethic? Or is it self demonic?
The question has no answer. It has millions of answers. It is non-answerable. And thus, allows us to persevere, to hope, to attain that which we truly believe is perfection. For without that – we really have – nothing.
And it all goes – poof…