Thursday, November 12, 2015

20/20 Hindsight on Veterans Day

This is a blast from my past. 
I always forget how true the saying is, 'no one man steps into the same river twice because both he and the river have changed.' Considering how often I walk around in damp swimming trunks, you'd think I'd have caught on by now. And yet, here we are in a moisture-challenged environment. Seems like old times.

I will concede this item is more than appropriate as we bathe in the afterglow of the Veterans Day "Holiday" (that particular concept I suspect brought to us by the thousands of Army-Navy stores across the country with over- priced, cheaply made knock-offs of clunky cumbersome stuff you had when in the service but had forgotten you hated having to produce during locker inspections and duffle bag showdowns).

"Steadfast Jazz"-sounds like one of those music programming services Frank Magid and Associates might have come up with back in the day. And the reference to The Cold War is softly nostalgic without the warmth of reminiscence. Of course, recent history causes me to wonder how can we miss the Cold War when it never went away. Yes, Vlad, I'm looking at you. Often through a rifle sight.

For just about half a century, the armies of ignorance stood armed and ready all across Europe alert to the first sign of trouble so that the really big war could start and amazingly, despite frailties and fallacies on both sides, we managed to NOT blow everything up.

I assume the Warsaw Pact had names for their readiness exercises though I always understood us to have an entire department that created the names NATO used. While I was there we had Constant Guardian Roman Numeral Who Knows What which many of us tended to call Constant Turmoil.

(By the way, who, aside from the NFL's Super Bowl, still uses Roman numerals and how come they don't use them on the scoreboard during The Really Big Game, so that on screens all around the world people could read: Denver: XXVII, Seattle, XLIV, end of the IIIrd Quarter? Vatican City would eat that stuff up with a spoon and probably sponsor a novena for a field goal.)

 Yeah, those were the days. During the war games, excuse me readiness exercises, we were always the Blue forces and the bad guys were Orange (I think because making them Red would have caused an irony overload) and we knew all about them and they all about us. The term du jour was Mutually Assured Destruction, MAD, always said without a trace of a smile or a sense of irony.

We kept our eyes peeled around the Frankfurt PX for SMLM vehicles (Soviet Military Liaison Mission) whose troops were allowed to shop in the Exchange and we'd all watch them warily from a distance as they bought up 'blue jeans' (always more bitten off than actually enunciated) by the shopping cart full and ship them back to Mother Russia where they sold them at such a markup they could probably afford a stylish dacha on the Black Sea.

And then, peace broke out and the world as we knew it shifted and then shifted again. We now live in an asynchronous wartime environment, often fighting phantoms and apparitions, confronted by soulless savages with literally nothing to live for making them martyrs with something to die for, and wanting us to die for it, too.

A world without war, really a shared goal of anyone and everyone who has ever worn a uniform of any military anywhere in the world continues to remain an elusive  dream as we struggle against the omnipresent nightmare.
-bill kenny

No comments: