Tomorrow is the Fourth of July!
(July 3, 2009)
|Tomorrow is the Fourth of July and I sit here in my home office and wonder why our nation has changed so much since the days of World War Two. Some sixty plus years ago I remember the islands of the Pacific teaming with the ravages of war, from bones of the dead to rusted hulks of ships which have succumbed to the salty Pacific Sea, from gallant planes of our country as well as skeletons of aircraft which once flew from the airfields of our enemy, from barges which met their fate from some enemy warship, from debris of war strewn helter-skelter over so many islands sick with the sounds and smells of a world gone mad.|
I remember a lone anti-aircraft gun on Kwajalein's shore crusted with the rust of too many days in the sun when drenched in the waves of a sea-sick ocean. How many planes did this gun bring down? How many American lives were lost when their planes dived head-long into the salty brine? What were the names of the brave men who perished in the sea? Perhaps there were Don's and Doug's, Bills' and Bob's, Charlie's and Chester's, Sylvester's and Paul's, Joe's and Buster's and a thousand other names once called by mothers and wives, children, brothers and sisters, friends, sweethearts and lovers, football coaches, soccer moms, basketball and base ball fans. No longer shall they find their place at the family table for their feasting days are done as the remains of their bodies wash back and forth in an angry sea. Their skeletons have long dissipated, their war-clothing has rotted, but their names have not been forgotten and even today their very names are called by those who still suffer from the void of their presence.
Sad it is to see a mighty ship slip beneath the waves with Old Glory still waving in the breeze! Never again will she sail the mighty seas with her precious cargo of souls of American boys and men. Who will keep muster when she lands a mile deep beneath the surface of a troubled sea?
Who will wish them well in their fight for Freedom? Who will miss them when they have gone?
Who will cry sleepless nights wondering how they died? The "kit bags" of loved ones are not big enough to hold all their sorrows, or all of their dreams of the tomorrows which never came, and which will never come. Such sorrow stems from one lone anti-aircraft gun on some blasted island in the Pacific Sea! There are myriad's of islands and of such guns strewn all across the Pacific.
I remember the end of the war when joy filled the cities of America, though many of us were still not home yet. Thousands upon thousands of American women did the jobs of men in making tanks and planes and ships, freeing men to go to war. Many women piloted the planes of war to bomber and fighter bases all over our country and also overseas. Not a few lost their lives is so serving our country in time of war. There was a spirit of union, a spirit of united efforts to do the things which ordinarily could not be done. Let's call it the Spirit of Patriotism.
Now, let me go back to the beginning; the words are "TOMORROW IS THE FOURTH OF JULY"! Where is that Spirit of Patriotism? Where is it? Do you see it? How many flags are flying just on your block? On your Street? In your town? What has happened in America?
I live in Albuquerque and the only American flag I see flies from a prominent perch at my address. The message says, here is the home of a 100% service-connected disabled veteran of WWII. This octogenarian wants the world to know that Freedom is such a precious commodity that failing to fly the flag gives a warrant of death to that Freedom for which so many Americans died. Those Americans who were the Don's, Doug's, Bill's, Charlie's, Chester's, Sylvester's, Paul's, Joe's, and Buster's of yesterday died for Freedom. Were they alive, American flags would be flying at their address – don't think that wouldn't be so. If they could see the apathy of so many Americans, would not their ghosts rise to condemn such apathy?
Simply put; I still love my country, in spite of her sins, and the flag which so long has stood for Freedom. Just now I stood before the flag, waving in the New Mexico breeze, and saluted and started the "Pledge of Allegiance" and got as far as "Under God" when the glory of that moment caused me to forget the rest of the Pledge!
Today at the VA Hospital, Albuquerque, when the nurse unwrapped both legs they were still bleeding. She tenderly washed both legs and placed each in what is known as "Unna's Boot", and then finished with an Ace Bandage. This veteran hasn't had a shower since May 14 due to two legs which seem not to heal. I am happy with the legs I have, for some veterans gave both their legs for FREEDOM!
Tomorrow is the Fourth of July!
By C. Douglas Caffey
C. Douglas Caffey is a disabled veteran of WWII. He served (1944-1946) in the 509th Composite Bomb Group, 58th Wing, Air Photo Unit, 20th Air Force, United States Army Air Force. It was the 509th who dropped the atomic bombs on Japan and did the atom bomb tests at Bikini in the Pacific. A chronic sufferer of PTSD since WWII, Doug is a former college dean. He started writing poetry several years ago and though he doesn't claim to be a poet, he does claim to write from the heart.
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