Nov 04 2014
Greetings from Frankfurt airport! I am at the beginning of my every 5 year pilgrimage, wherein I return to the sacred soil in Charleston South Carolina. There to contemplate the journey that life took me on since departing Lesesne Gate for the last time as a cadet. To savor the joys of seeing friends again and to feel the sting of all the dreams you had that were later denied you. In their faces, those dreams appear and taunt you. It is at one and the same time a joyous few days and among the most bittersweet of my existence.
Reunions are a time of mixed emotions for me. For one thing, over time, my ardor for my alma mater has faded what it once was. I can no longer answer "yes" to the question, would I have done it again, knowing what I know now, if could go back and do it again? Probably, but then again, possibly not. In the long view of hindsight, and the path that I know, a different background life might have taken me to. Then again, one can say that about pretty much any experience in life, and my time at the Citadel prepared me well for the travails and joys that followed me through the curving path that has brought me to this airport lounge today.
I have a resolve to remain more quiet than outspoken this reunion, how well I stick to it, is something that remains to be seen. For one thing, it will be hard enough seeing some of the classmates, who by now are clearly what society terms " successful". 8 of my classmates became generals, (none of us became Admirals, although we do have one or two SES's, folks who connived that after leaving active duty), many who run their own companies, a successful newscaster on a major broadcast network and even two successful authors. And then there is me. Well traveled to be sure, literate and well informed beyond compare, but hardly what any would call, "successful" whatever the f*ck that means.
It is also through the lens of hindsight, that I have come to realize that many of the "facts" I was taught, but not the ideals, were just plain wrong when examined in the real world. My view of these has changed dramatically and I count for loss many of the things I used to believe were bedrock truth. I like to think it is the ideals that were instilled by the institution in me, but even that too may be a flawed interpretation of the situation. I just know its been a long journey and I am thankful I am where I am now, politically, philosophically, and mentally. To think were I could have been on my trajectory out of that gate makes me shudder.
So it seems, to be the (sort of) quiet observer is the way to go through the weekend. Wishing all well, remembering well those who will never make another reunion and giving thanks for the blessings that have been bestowed upon me. Things could be a hell of a lot worse, and I would be well to remember that.
If you are in the whining states of America today, be sure to vote. It is your right, hard earned, even if some of you will squander it on fools.
10 years ago this week, I was again traveling to a reunion-having turned in miles to fly first class on ANA, NRT to IAD. First Class on ANA does not suck, but it was hardly the flat bed seat world we see now. Still it got me to DC all right where I had decided to break my journey thinking it would be cool to see an election from the standpoint of being in the nation's capital. It was made all the more edgy in my humble opinion because it was one of the first times I had voted against the GOP candidate, this vote being driven by my then and still current revulsion at the disaster that man had unleashed with his egregiously stupid invasion of Iraq. I ended the evening in a bar in Alexandria, awaiting them to call the results of Ohio-which would determine the election. Ohio goes Democratic, Kerry wins. If it goes Republican, the grey hair wins and we get four more years of war.
Well, you all know how that turned out, and the present gloomy world rose up to plague us all. The crowd in the bar was pretty evenly split so it was some interesting people watching, but the tea party had not been developed yet and the GOP had not yet descended into its current insanity, so the conversation over beer was reasonably civil.
I expect I will have reason to drink heavily tonight because the wrong side will win-but at least I will do it in my favorite world. That of the traveling man. Have a great day….AND VOTE!