Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Can you remember the Oscar winners for best actor in 1987? How about a television show that took the most Emmys in 1997? Can you remember the price of gas in 1988 for unleaded self-serve? Can you even remember where you were today twenty years ago today? Now the preceding question I can actually answer. The day was a Wednesday and it was a cold Alabama day (before global warming and El Nino). I had already signed up for the U.S. Navy and was eager to see the world at Uncle Sam’s expense. I was a bored high school senior sitting in my first period class wishing that the year would fly by so I could graduate and head to sunny California for boot camp.

In May of 1987, a man named Saddam Hussein would accidentally kill 37 of our U.S. sailors on the USS Stark by missile attack. In 1990 I would be deployed to Saudi Arabia with the 2nd Marines as a combat medic assisting in kicking Saddam’s army out of Kuwait by February of 1991. Combat and the memory of burning oil fields would change my life forever.

Ten years later in 1997 I was a husband, a father, a homeowner, and a taxpayer. One fateful day in 97’ I looked back over the last ten years and felt like I had done absolutely nothing with my life, or so it had seemed. What I know now, that I didn’t know then, was that I was not thankful. I wasn’t a movie star, or a doctor or an epidemiologist or an Army Captain. I didn’t belong to Kappa Alpha and I wasn’t a Shriner. I was just a tired husband and father who paid bills and tried to raise a family. Later in life I would learn there is beauty in mediocrity and consistency in being average.

On 30th August of 97’ Princess Dianna lost her life at the hands of a drunk driver, five days on September 5th Mother Teresa a Nobel Prize winner and the head of Missionaries of Charity died of natural causes (people lined up to kiss her feet at her funeral). Guess which one got the most press. As a Paramedic I had seen plenty of people killed in drunk driving accidents and didn’t understand why they praised a woman on a date but not a future Saint.

2007 hasn’t unfolded but I feel it will be different. I understand what my parents meant when they said, “One day you will wake up old” they did not lie. I have learned the lessons of the last twenty years of pain and achievements and I am finally thankful. I have learned, there is no reward without risk, money cannot buy everything, nobody remembers celebrity’s achievements, learning how to fall down is just as important as getting back up, and when it is your time to go there is no hospital on the planet that can stop you. Just imagine what I will know twenty years from now.



Sheila said...

You have got to keep at this. I love your perceptive writing. How very, very true what you say is. The cult of celebrity and near-celebrity is way out of hand. Raising your child, being a good daddy and and decent person does matter. The good things happening may not capture media attention, but they capture hearts.

Harold said...

I have written a book about the U.S. military in the Persian Gulf during the years 1987-1988. It includes all the events from Stark through Vincennes. I am billing it as the untold first chapter of continuing military involvement.