Wars come and go but people don't change very much.
Each Veteran's Day I say this same prayer.
Thank you, Lord, for deflecting the bullets that missed me by miles. In school, I was inept at dodge-ball. I was even worse at sidestepping bullets.
Thank you for leaving me stateside no matter how many times I volunteered for something exciting. Excitement appealed to my youth but my stateside assignments helped me live a lot longer.
Thank you, God, for my ironclad stomach. It helped me eat everything the mess-hall crew sloshed on my aluminum plate. Being accustomed to a diet of potatoes and gravy, the chow hall's offering of mustard greens, hog jowls and grits gave most of my buddies a gut wrenching challenge.
Thank you for the ineptness of the cooks in the mess hall. They were expertly trained to ruin good food. However, they compensated by giving me twenty-one cases of the trotting GIs. Thanks to them, I escaped at least two dozen formations.
Thank you for those boring days where there was nothing to do except work on the calculus lessons I took on a whim. I learned a lot from those books, my guard duty sessions, and my tours on KP. After the war, that experience and bookwork earned me credits for a full year of college.
Thank you for all those long marches that we took during Basic. They gave me the type of endurance that enabled me to walk the girls home from dances that we attended in town. Walking saved me a bundle on taxies. It also helped me evaluate the fitness of all of my dates. If they were unable or unwilling to walk a few miles, I quickly lost interest. Downtown taxis were mighty expensive and my $18 per month income didn't go very far.
Thank you for giving me a career path in tropical weather. I loved forecasting in Panama where I just couldn't miss. Rain yesterday. Rain today. Rain tomorrow and so forth. The only hazard we faced was missing the timing on a rain forecast when the General was scheduling a fancy parade. If it rained when we said that it wouldn't, the General got wet and soaked generals are seldom forgiving. If it failed to rain at parade time, when we said that it would, the General chewed our posteriors for making him forgo his favorite hobby -- watching us march.
Thank you for helping me get a cosmopolitan education. I learned to say Que pasa in Spanish, Salvadorian, Panamanian, and Puerto Rican. I also learned to say "Quieres usted a bailar?" instead of "Quieres usted a dansar." when asking for a dance. Dansar refers to some sort of professional dancing.
Thank you for making me so timid that I wouldn't even dance with the girls without wearing fresh gloves. Being bashful, I never did come down with anything more serious than a light case of flu. My hesitancy stemmed from my mandatory attendance at the X-rated movies our officers insisted that we attend before getting a 12-hour pass. Some of my buddies didn't fare quite as well. The doctors put them on a diet of sulfa and the Top Sergeants put them on guard duty whenever it rained. If a sergeant came down with a case, he got the same treatment. He also got demoted to Private.
And finally, Lord, thank you for all the brave men and women now taking my place. They are all heroes, whether they know it or not.
(C) 2004 Henry L. Lefevre