Every generation of Americans has experienced those life changing events when they vividly recall exactly where they were when one of these life altering events occurred. What that event was depends upon one’s age, and age also determines how many of those events one has experienced. For my generation, there is no question that the first of those events was, ” Where were you when JFK was assassinated”? Prior to this event, I remember the Cuban missile crisis and bomb drills. I might not have been the brightest light in the constellation, but I did know that hiding under my little wooden desk was hardly going to protect me from a nuclear weapon.
The day of President Kennedy’s assassination is clearly etched in my mind. I’m fairly certain that I was sitting in my 8th grade home room class when the announcement came over the PA system in our school. I can still see Mrs. Fleming laying her head upon her desk and beginning to sob. Now to a country kid who knew absolutely nothing about the world at that time, I thought that it was the weirdest thing in the world for my teacher to cry over the death of some Yankee that she had never met. I was much more interested in trying to peak down the blouse of the pretty girl sitting next to me.
For my adult children, that special event may have been the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. I don’t know to ask them if this is the first real one for them because they are all out of pocket today. However, there is no question in my mind that the biggest “where were you question” for most of us was 911 when the Twin Towers came down, the Pentagon was bombed, and a bunch of heroes managed to crash one plane and abort its mission.
On that day, I was out at the oak wood pile with all of the employees who were busting up firewood for the coming hunting season. Martha and I were scheduled to fly out later that morning on a private plane to visit our friend , Charlie Shelton’s vineyards in North Carolina. Martha managed to get up with me, and told me to come home right away. We sat and watched this carnage on television and sobbed like babies. I had two immediate thoughts since I was uncertain as to whether our entire country was under attack. I knew where my two youngest children were, and felt that they were safe. My eldest was clerking for a federal judge at the federal building in Atlanta. I called her to tell her to get out of there now, avoid the CDC building, and head home. She replied that her judge was not in the building , and that they had not been given permission to leave. I informed her that my authority as a parent outweighed any federal judge. When I called back an hour later to make certain that Holly had complied with my directive, a young lady answered Holly’s line informing me that my daughter had left the building an hour ago, and that they had all just received the order to evacuate. She also felt compelled to tell me that I must be Holly’s pushy daddy, and she had been told to expect this call.
My next call was to the Sheltons to tell them that we would not be flying to North Carolina that day. As it turned out, that was a moot point as all aircraft were grounded over the US by then. I guess that this was the first day that I faced up to the fact that evil truly exists in our world. I have always known it, but somehow I did not think that it would ever reach out and touch me. Had I been younger, I know that I would have re-enlisted to go after these evil people.
I’m also reminded of the words to an old country music song that goes, ” Oh, I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then”! I wonder if my grandchildren will get nearly the year’s of innocence I enjoyed before being confronted with the face of evil. I pray that will be the case, but I fear that it will not be. So, in closing this blog that has absolutely nothing to do with hunting or Riverview, let’s honor and respect our young men and women who are still laying it all on the line everyday to protect us. And, as far as I’m concerned, they are getting a very raw deal from our VA. We have a bunch of folks in Washington who seemed to be more concerned about bathroom issues than in giving these young patriots the VERY best care available.
Stand up America ! I could care less which party you support, but we should all support our veterans , and demand that they receive first class and prompt care. OK, I’m climbing off of my soapbox, and going back to check on the sweet corn fields now.