..no, check that, there is NOTHING in my life that I am prouder of than my all-to-brief service in our country's military. My time and duties were inconsequential and of little weight compared to others who saw action in SEA, the conflict du jour when I served. My pride derives not greatly from what I have done, but rather that I was allowed to serve with those that did do much -- both in the hot war in Viet Nam and the Cold War in the war rooms, cockpits, barracks, hangars, and on the ships at sea.
One of my most favorite passages, from Shakespeare's Henry V. That speech, the St Crispin's day speech given by Henry himself, absolutely captures the spirit of camaraderie that suffuse brothers in arms. Consider the poignancy, the verve, and the bravado of those words:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,So, like the late Shifty Powers said of his service, "I was not a hero, but I served in a company of heroes."
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
To all veterans, past, present, and future: may God bless you and may God bless the United States of America.