This year we will miss much of what makes the Midwest such a wonderful place to live... leaves changing color in Autumn. We're already in Destin, and with a few trips home to check on the house, retrieve mail, and touch base with family and friends, will be here until mid-March.
Our reasons for coming down this early are twofold:
-I intend to run to the County Clerk's office and declare myself a Florida resident so my vote is no longer an act of futility, tilting at the imagined windmills on the far Northern Horizon in "BigTown", where Food Stamps and Social Security Disability checks keep folks smiling and satisfied to be unemployed. Living here more than half the year makes that an honest endeavor.
(Bein' HONEST. Now THERE'S a weird concept!)
-Secondly, we have, over the last year, befriended a young couple here.
She's nearly 24, blonde, and pretty as that "speckled pup" we're always hearing about.
He's a little older than she chronologically; quite a bit older emotionally.
A West Point Grad, he wears a Green Beret at work, and in less than two weeks he'll be boarding the flying silver tube for another tour of duty where folks are shooting real bullets and blowing themselves up with huge cars-full of explosives.
This time he's going to Afghanistan.
They were married in July. They're just beginning to realize we have "adopted" them. We want to help him as much as possible as he prepares to once again go and support and defend the Constitution. When he's only available to her via email or SKYPE, we want to be around to try to put a smile on her face.
She and Sara Jean get along great. That's wonderful for me, 'cause you surely can imagine how much I HATE having two beautiful blondes listening to my line of crap.
My special ops friend and I have lately had several discussions about how being a warrior has changed over the years.
Obviously, MUCH has changed.
But some things haven't changed at all.
Lawyers are still endangering our troops with their foolishness-
"R.O.E.", Rules of Engagement still handcuff our brave men, just as they did when we were conducting "police actions" in Viet Nam (and I suspect, maybe to a lesser degree, Korea.)
They're a necessary evil, but I think we hurt ourselves and endanger our men unnecessarily, and our enemy soon takes advantage of our honor.
Collateral damage is to be avoided at nearly ALL costs, even if those being damaged are most likely aiding and abetting the enemy.
The situation is worse now than it was during the VN era-
Drones and satellites are ALWAYS watching. Every radio frequency known to man is being monitored. If you make a mistake, it's only a matter of time 'til everyone in the chain of command above you knows it.
One of the bright spots of the day in VN was checking the mailbox, finding a letter with that certain handwriting, lightly scented with a fragrance that helped you remember why you were there risking your life in the first place.
Now and again there would be a note to come pick up your "care package"...
Cookies, canned meats, cheese and cracker assortments, candy...
The sorts of things that were sometimes difficult to come by. This is how I learned to love smoked oysters on crackers.
I think I'll try to remind our beautiful blonde friend to write a personal, scented note now and then.
And, WE will be sending a box full of non-perishable foodstuffs, (including smoked oysters and crackers) as often as we can afford postage.
Others did it for me forty years ago.
It's payback time.