Average Military Man

Memorial Day is gone, but we should never forget the ones who made this great land of ours great.  As members of the Lions Club here in town, Scotty and I place American flags at the grave sites of  beloved veterans of many friends and family buried in Parker cemetery.  And, we pick them up after the holiday.

My Dad passed away on Dec. 29, 2007.  At 88 he had lived a very full and active life.  A football scholarship gave him a Wisconsin University education, but at graduation time when the Green Bay Packers were all set to pick him up, the Navy Air Force found out that he had learned to fly in college and wanted him.  Gone were his dreams of pro-ball with the big guys but America had another ‘fly-boy’.  Scotty and I took his ashes to the National Cemetery in Dallas/Ft Worth, and I am sure that he is smiling.

Daddy was 22 when he went into the Navy Air Force.  Do you ever wonder about the young faces on the soldiers that we see on our news-screens and in our magazines? 

The war abroad is not on our soil and we are fighting for the rights of others, but it still affects our daily lives and plays a major part of all we think, say or do.  2008 is an election year and the lives and well being of our fighting men are again in headlines.

During the Spanish American War the average age of the United States soldier was 27 and one-half years old, but by the time of the Civil War, the average age was down to 25 years old.  The Union Army had its problems.  The mandatory age for enlistment was 18, but over 100,000 soldiers lied and were under the age of 15 years old.  I have a wonderful anonymous piece about our military men and women today that I would like to share with you:                                                              

“The average age of the military man is 19 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy.

Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country. He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father’s; but he has never collected unemployment either. He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk.

He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark.
He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must.
     He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional. He can march until he is told to stop or stop until he is told to march.  He has stood atop mountains of dead bodies, and helped to create them. He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed.
     He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to ‘square-away’ those around him who haven’t bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking. In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful. Just as did his father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy.
     He is the American Fighting Man or Woman that has kept this country free for over 200 years.” 

In response to this essay on the Average Fighting Man, Ruth Martin, the wife of Pastor Clyde Martin, wrote the following: “They leave just kids and return as men. It seems every generation has it’s war to fight, it’s sacrifices, it’s tears. It never stops breaking our hearts nor making them swell with pride, I remember so clearly in “our” war, when so many of the boys we grew up with, went to church and school with, left in their brave new uniforms. 

When they returned, if they returned, weary of war, sick of battle, childhood had been left behind. It is the same in every conflict. What a terrible necessary price to pay for protecting freedom around the world. What a comfort to know that one glorious day there will be NO MORE WAR. The victory is already won, and in Christ, we already stand as MORE THAN CONQUERORS.”

To Daddy — Beloved Dad, Special Man… God bless you all.