My Mother's brother, Claude, was one of many young Newfoundlanders who enlisted & fought in WWII...
45 years ago, my sister met a young man at the U.S. Airforce base in Goose Bay, Labrador; they've been married for 44 years, and he has retired from the military. Two of their three sons have served, with the oldest just retiring himself a couple weeks ago. This excerpt from his retirement speech gives some insight into his career...
"But why did I stay? After all, what attraction did the Air Force hold for a liberal hippy with authority issues? It wasn’t for the money, as you all know. It wasn’t because the Air Force always chooses the most efficient and cost effective way of doing things. It certainly wasn’t because of the warm embrace of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I stayed because of what I found in the Air Force.
What I found was people committed to an idea larger than themselves. I found Americans from all walks of life eager to make a difference in the world. I found a culture where it is understood that, as Lt Col Jarry is fond of saying, 100% is the standard.
I’ve been to dozens of countries. I’ve participated in countless humanitarian missions bringing food and medicine to people who were starving to death and dying of things to death before we landed. I’ve taken part in missions that ended some of the worst atrocities in the last 20 years. I’ve helped bring freedom – or at least give freedom a chance – to millions. These were definitely NOT on my list of job responsibilities as the Dunkin’ Donuts night manager and baker! I’ve been a part of some of the major news headlines in the past 23 years.
There are two pictures of the US military that stand out as my personal favorites. One is more than 20 years old. It’s of a crowd of hundreds of starving, weapon-wielding Haitians encircling another man accused of stealing food from a USAid distribution area. They want him dead. The man is terrified, but the crowd is kept at bay by two – equally terrified, but determined – US Marines.
The other photo is of three US Army Soldiers protecting an Afghan man and his son on a hillside. It’s made its way around the Internet in the form of a ‘motivational poster.’ The caption reads: “Honor. The difference between the bad guys and the good guys is whether they use human shields or make themselves human shields.’
Make no mistake about it; that’s what we do. The best of the US military can be summed up in those two photographs. They embody the spirit of a great quote attributed to Edmund Burke, the 18th century parliamentarian, which reads, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.” Whether you’re the Marine or Soldier standing between the devil and the deep blue sea, or the fighter pilot called in to provide close air support, or the Crew Chief who spends all night getting the jet ready (only to have the pilot discover new and interesting ways to break it), or the comptroller who funds the whole operation, or whatever job you do in the service of our country, you have stood up to be counted with the good guys; to serve a cause larger than yourselves, and to make a difference in the world. For 23 years, 8 months and 21 days, it has been an honor to be counted among you."
Thank you to those who have served. We remember.
"Walters brook trout. Roots steelhead. Thalwegs tarpon. Loblaws cutthroats.
The list continues to grow..."