Sunday, May 6, 2012

In the Ranks For Dad at the Army Reserves: Thinking of My Choices In the Days Ahead ...

351st Civil Affairs Command ceremony, Moffett Field, California, May 6, 2012.

I stood in for Dad today. His old reserve unit, the 351st Civil Affairs Command, Mountain View, California, sent an invitation to my father and mother to attend a Relinquishment of Command Ceremony at Moffett Field.  Since the two of them are now reporting to a Higher Authority,  I asked if I could attend in their place. Brigadier General Gary A. Medvigy, said yes of course. And Hoo-Ah! (They really do say that in the Army these days.)

They gave me a seat in the front row, as befitted my father's rank of colonel. It was gorgeous out at Moffett and I sat watching the fluttering flags, thought of my dad, and pondered so much that has happened to my heart this week

Soldiers of the 351st Civil Affairs Command troop the colors as the command is changed.

Almost all soldiers in reserve units these days rotate through real war zones, something my father was lucky enough to avoid after his five years of harrowing service in World War II.  You can tell by the uniforms, where these citizen soldiers may be bound, and by the boots--designed for dusty deserts far away.

The unit saluted the outgoing general officer with a brace of vintage howitzers that had been used in the Pacific in World War II, guns that may have kept my father safe during the deadly Battle of Okinawa. Imagining a whole battlefield of this was, well, unimaginable, and I felt lucky others served so I could see them erupt on a peaceful day, beneath an azure sky.

Once the ceremony ended, I wandered over to Hangar One, to see how the deskinning process was going. And it is going very quickly on the historic landmark.

 Dirigible Hangar One at Moffett is now about three-quarters exposed.

It seemed to me old Hangar One and I had a lot in common this week. With the news of my former husband's death--that no one even bothered to tell me about as if I had been erased from his life like one of those disappeared leaders in a Cold War photo from the USSR--I felt as if my insides were on my outside and old wounds exposed all over again. 

My honorable father--whose unit motto was "Born of Freedom"--never failed to keep a promise in his life. Yet my life seems to have been filled with the opposite kind of people. So, in addition to feeling pain, and sorrow, and regret, and anger, and rejection, and remembrances of love all over again--I have had to look to my own dubious choices.

"Born of Freedom." That's me. And that freedom was handed down to me with responsibilities, as freedom always is. I'm responsible for my choices: so I have no one to blame for my mistakes but my very own self.

I clipped Dad's old unit pin to my purse as a reminder--with thanks for surviving the difficult times, with a full awareness of my many blessings, and hopes of many better weeks, and better choices, ahead.

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Janet Grunst said...

We all live with regrets, due to others choices as well as our own. It's often through those mistakes that we learn, and grow, to make wiser choices in the future. Hopefully our failures also teach us humility.

Robin Chapman said...

I can certainly attest to acquiring a great deal of humility since the morning that man called our house, looking for his wife, whom he (rightly it turned out) expected might be with my husband.

Janet Grunst said...


Robin Chapman said...

Yes, that was an oowie that hurt for a long, long time.