Friday, May 26, 2006

Someone to remember this weekend.

When I was a kid, my father taught us boys that military service was the price we paid for living in a free country. No one was asking us to make it a career, but we were expected to do our duty. It's not that my father didn't understand the realities of putting on a uniform. He was a WWII vet. His only brother was killed on Iwo Jima. But he expected his sons to put in their time and we did. Ironically, it was my sister who chose the Army as a career, retiring a few years ago as a Major.

When I enlisted in 1969, America was already turning against the war and young men were finding ways to avoid active duty. This meant college deferments, medical deferments, or if you couldn't find a friendly physician, you joined the Reserves or the National Guard.

Those of us who signed up or were drafted were those who had no pull, no contacts or who, like me, were raised with a sense of obligation. When I woke up and looked around, I saw that we were serving alone. We weren't America's fortunate sons. We were, as we called ourselves, "niggers, hicks and spics."

At best, these sentiments of service, sacrifice, honor, and duty are dangerous, and quaintly old-fashioned. At worst, they're the mark of a sucker. It depends on the day you catch me which way I lean. But either way, some young men went in place of those who ducked their obligation, and some of those young men didn't come home.

One of those men was Steve Bednar. Steve was a small kid, with pale skin, blond hair, and bones as thin as a bird's. He was a medic with the 101st and he died in Binh Dinh in 1971. He was 21 at the time, just old enough to vote. Steve was funny, kind, and smart.

This weekend, as you're enjoying the time off, take a moment and think about those who made this sacrifice for us. And if you have no one else to remember, take a moment to think of Steve. I would appreciate it.

Thanks.

15 comments:

Sandra Ruttan said...

You and I seem to have been on a similar wavelength this morning.

Although it is not my memorial day weekend, I will heed your words.

David Terrenoire said...

I saw that. I would have posted something at your place about women in combat, but the whole thing is just so depressing all I want to do is sleep.

This looks like it'll be a rough weekend coming up.

James Lincoln Warren said...

War is the constriction of the future, especially for those whose blood it costs.

God bless you, Steve Bednar.

Sandra Ruttan said...

That's okay David.

Although we did miss your input yesterday when the comment thread got out of hand. Seemed to be the perfect topic for you.

Sara said...

That's a very moving and sobering post David, and I will take a moment to think of him. Thanks for telling your story.

Sara

Daniel Hatadi said...

Will do.

Anonymous said...

I knew Steve well in High School. He was kind and funny and smiled right through you... I'll be thinking of him, my dad, and many others. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

PS - my husband just came back from his third deployment and I also served. There is a higher calling to all this - it just isn't always clear to those who are closest.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

I'll add him to my list, and keep him in my thoughts.

Elizabeth said...

This is a moving post, David. I was deeply inspired by your admonishment to remember Memorial Day on Barry Eisler's blog, and posted a story about my grandfather's service. Thank you for the gentle reminder.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for stopping by. You shouldn't wait another moment to write about your father-in-law. At the least, you'll want to do your research soon while both memories and people are still alive.

As the matter of fact, I live in Phoenix and therefore have no excuse not to go to Thrillerfest. I'll try to find you there.

Thanks again for the moving story.

Beneath the Carolina Moon said...

The lives of a few friends were taken by Nam and the sanity of a few more. The rest of our generation came away with only scars. Yes, the entire surviving generation. I will honor Steve Bednar on Monday, and Steve Camp, and all the others who never made it to their high school reunions.

Anonymous said...

and John Lopochonsky who died 2 days after hsi friend Steve, and Marty Lineman who lost his eye, and Chuck Reddick who has nightnares, and my dad who never quite came back.

David Terrenoire said...

Anonymous,

Please drop me an email. I knew Steve and John and would like to get to know you, too, if that's not being too forward.

You can reach me at davidterrenoire@hotmail.com

Thanks,

David

M. G. Tarquini said...

Thanks, David.