Never Throw in the Towel
You know, a while back I very nearly threw in the towel as far as Bedrock Dreams was concerned. Hell, I even shut the whole thing down for a few months. But here I am. If you wonder why, please read the following.
A Steep Price
Perhaps because it's Veterans Day I've been deep in thought today. I'll admit I still have residual anger (better yet, rage) over the inconsistencies and lack of will on the part of the politicians who sent us to fight (and often die) in that hellhole known as Vietnam. I continue to have total disdain for those Baby Boomers of my generation who used every means possible to dodge the bullets, shells, rockets, mortars, and booby traps that maimed and killed my friends. What was worse was their hypocritical judgment of those of us who did serve. Like many other Vietnam Vets, upon my return home I was greeted with, at best, indifference and at worst with shouted epithets and on one occasion, I had a nearly full can of beer hurled at me while I stood on a street corner in full dress uniform waiting for my sister to pick me up after I finally made it home from my second and final Vietnam combat tour. I don't want to sound like a victim here, but many parts of that entire experience have stuck with me the past 47 years and I've paid a steep price for some of those memories. A price that only those close to me know.
Many of you have commented over the years about my no-BS approach to Bedrock Dreams and my penchant for telling it like it is. That too is a vestige of my service. You see, in Vietnam the non-hackers, bullshitters, ticket punchers, and power-hungry assholes could get you or your buddies killed. Any of you out there who have served in combat know what I'm talking about here. It was bad enough to be there, let alone be "led" by strutting incompetents or to learn that those who sought the easy way out didn't have your back when the shit came down. This made a very difficult situation all the tougher to contend with. But there's good news as well. Over the course of time I've come full circle. I finally regained a measure of spiritual faith and trust, and learned to be grateful to have been given a full life when so many others never got that chance. Upon my return I vowed to NEVER throw away this gift of life and to make it all worthwhile by becoming the best person I could be (despite my many faults) and to make my life count for something good. To the best of my ability, I have done that. Yes, I nearly self destructed for a time when I started digging my own deep, dark hole of hopelessness with alcohol and drugs. But I pulled myself up and out of that hole and I remain in recovery to this very day with nearly 21 years of sobriety behind me. You see, I've always felt I owed something to those who went MIA in Vietnam or came home in aluminum caskets. It's my small way of honoring their memory.
You Deserve It
At the beginning of this post I mentioned throwing in the towel. Well, in places like Vietnam if you threw in the towel you were dead meat on the hoof. That's the long and the short of it. Those who gave up either lost their minds, hearts, or souls, or ended up on a slab in graves registration being cleaned up for shipment home in one of those aluminum caskets I already mentioned. No matter how bad things were, how exhausted, fearful, or homesick you were, when the time came you hit the decks running, grabbed your gear and saddled up, and did the very best you could for yourself and your buddies. Mom, apple pie, and the flag? Meaningless in that sort of situation. You don't fight for politicians, honor, the American Dream, or anything else you were programmed to believe growing up. Your fought simply to survive and to protect your friends, those stand-up dudes who DID have your back. If this sounds cynical, so be it. It's the truth, nonetheless.
No, you won't find me throwing in the towel. Sure, I might falter a step or two like I did here in Bedrock Dreams a while back. But I'm not a quitter. And one thing I've learned from you, my readers, is that you are not quitters either. You're stand-up men and women with generous hearts and spirits who do your best, despite the slings and arrows life hurls your way. You've been very good to me and I'll always return the favor as long as I am physically and mentally able to do so. You are people who deserve the best and I have no qualms whatsoever about stating that whatever sacrifices I made as a young man were done willingly for people like yourselves. The others? Well, I wouldn't give them time of day, let alone anything else. Respect or gratitude? They don't deserve it. But you do...
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2015
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