Bird Droppings May 21, 2020
At what point do we exist
“We exist in multiple places simultaneously. We are where we are physically but also in the hearts of our loved ones and friends where they are.” Frank Bird
A year ago, was an ordinary day other than being my daughter in laws Piedmont College Nursing School, pinning ceremony. Most folks outside of a nursing family would not even think twice. Shortly after all the smoked cleared my daughter in law posted two images, a few years back my sons pinning ceremony with the family and then last night’s image. She has entered a select group of people. My wife has been a nurse for over forty years along with several other family members, so for nurses this is a big deal. A great memory for our family.
Our pool guy is coming next week to take the cover off our pool and grandkids are already begging to jump in asking if they could come over as soon as cover is off. Sadly, once cover is off there is a day or two chemistry process then swim. I too can’t wait it was last July after coming home from vacation I hurt my left leg and was unable to swim for the rest of the year. I am blaming my leg injury for my own lack of exercise but tomorrow I go for a heart catherization to check on some blockage issues in my heart. Thinking back to the program a year ago one of their nursing class is currently deployed in the Middle East. The class had an open chair as the honored his service and students, and family members who have passed away during their program in school.
Over the years thinking back to high school, I did not know very many who had died in the military other than listening to my father and his stories of World War II, to us as children they were stories only. As we got closer to graduation from high school several brothers of friends had been killed in Viet Nam and significantly more meaning came to having friends in the service. I was getting ready to head to a tenth high school reunion when a list of those who died was published. Guys I was hoping to sit down with and joke again were dead.
When I graduated from high school and went to college on a student deferment from the draft I was very aware of the draft in that I did not want to get drafted and go to Viet Nam. The news kept us up to date well almost, as often Viet Nam breaking news would be several days or even weeks old when we heard it. I honestly do not think Viet Nam would have lasted in today’s instantaneous news. After my freshmen year and being asked not to return to college since my grades were not that great, I was drafted in the first draft lottery along with many of my fellow class mates who did not go to class perhaps enough times to satisfy professors and somehow in college passing and attendance is important. It was at this point in my life it hit me.
I failed my draft physical which allowed me to continue searching for a school that would let me in. I moved to Texas for school a small college in Plano Texas the University of Plano which was at that time the only school that would take me. Across several states and colleges, I eventually landed in Macon Georgia. I finally finished my undergraduate education and graduated from Mercer University in 1974. Along the way I lost touch on the most part of my former classmates in high school and without the internet and cell phones I infrequently had word from my hometown on events and people. Over the year’s piece by piece word got to me of the death of this friend or that friend in Viet Nam and when all of the numbers were tallied nearly ten fellows from our graduating class or classes around us died in Viet Nam. Memorial Day became very significant now.
It was at this point in my life that remembering and honoring our veterans, on special days such Memorial Day or a graduation ceremony at nursing school hit home. It was several years till I was able to visit Washington DC and go to the Viet Nam memorial. I walked down so unsure of why and where I was at the time. Yes, I was in Washington DC on a High School Band trip with my son but here I was looking at a wall that seemed to stretch endlessly along the pathway. I went to the registry book and found the names I recalled and the locations on the panels and wrote these on my hand with a marker. After several minutes I composed myself and walked along finding names amidst the tens of thousands on the wall.
I watched sisters, brothers, fathers and mothers touching names, dropping flowers, and standing with tears streaming down their cheeks staring at the cold black stone slab winding along a pathway. I often speak of sacred being a spot where many come to honor, pray, ponder or worship and here in Washington DC this was a sacred place. It was nearly a half an hour later my son was calling to me and I found myself sitting on a bench looking down on the wall. Our bus was ready to leave and they could not find me. I do not believe in war and have not for most of my life, this is a personal belief that for me is not about fearing death or dying for a cause but that it is not what is to be.
However, I honor those who in their efforts and belief and have given their lives for me so I can believe in what I do and for those who have provided the opportunity for others worldwide. Yesterday was not about political or religious ideology but about people who believed in what they were doing and, in that effort, died for that belief. As we honor now young men and women who have died in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan it is bringing home this idea of Memorial Day to recent graduates of high schools across the nation. I wish one day the concept of war would be out dated but until that time please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)