Cheap Coffee Club Members were still a bit subdued from our national holiday honoring veterans as they sat down with their cups around the table. Memorial Days bring a wide range of thoughts to those worthy gentlemen. Most current members are overseas veterans of some level of combat. They understand that during wars, police actions and other interventions, those citizens serving for Uncle Sam did what they were assigned to do. They might not know exactly why they are in some forsaken place, but they remember their sense of duty to our nation brought them there. Bless 'em all.
The merchant allowed as to how it had been a nice remembrance, but he didn't go anywhere. "Holidays have mostly been unlucky for me, especially if I attempt to get somewhere on the highway. Maybe it started back in the service. Then you might have a holiday and wangle a three- or four-day pass from the first sergeant. You took advantage of every minute of available driving time. The plan was to get home so you might see your folks, friends and the dog. If your luck holds you might schedule a visit with a lady friend to see if she had forgotten you already. Traffic was terrible and you were in a hurry.
"Maybe it was just a relief from things military. You had wondered if home was still the same.
"But there were accidents holding things up. Or something mechanical malfunctioning; maybe a tire went flat. Cars from Ohio would see your license plates and uniform, and then stop to see if we needed help. Sometimes it seemed that some bad luck was just a part of the trip. But thank goodness our carload of homesick GIs never had an accident. Once I arrived at the old Ohio homestead, I was too worn-out tired to enjoy myself at home. Goodness knows, the thought of the return trip was a cloud of concern.
"In those days, pondering very long about what I had to look forward to back at my station altered warm thoughts about being home. It is curious how many details are in my mind from those times."
The historian had a comment. "Talking about serving far from Mom's apple pie reminded me of a newspaper comment concerning Japan and their notion that American GIs have been visiting on their territory long enough. Sixty-five years after the war we have about 50,000 over in The Land of the Rising Sun. That's Japan. I believe you may add forces on Okinawa. And we have about 30,000 more in The Land of the Morning Calm. That's Korea.
"In Korea effective help that U.S Forces stationed there would provide against aggression from North Korea might be professionally tough, but not enough to hold back forces of the north.
"I am not certain what the great minds of the military-industrial complex of the United States are thinking. In 1950 there were terrible losses among the 1st Cavalry Division which hurried from Japan with others who were hastily sent to South Korea's aid during early stages of that war ... which just warmed up again lately. Now maybe we could use them here at home to help seal the border or aid in Louisiana."
"Our president is receiving criticism from some for not becoming more emotional about the oil spill," noted Doberman.
The merchant was quick to respond. "I think back to my experience in very stressful situations on board ship. We were frequently working together to generate a quick appropriate response to a problem. If our leadership spent time emotionally bawling before our challenge was managed, we might find our inadequate, delayed response to be fatal. There is time for reflection and grief later after action.
The President of the United States has a terrible load right now."
Keep our service personnel, their families and leaders of our country in your thoughts and prayers.
Richard Armbrust of Norwalk is the unofficial scribe of the Cheap Coffee Club, a group of retirees who meet each morning for coffee and conversation at a local restaurant. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.