Okay, so I realize you guys haven’t heard from me in quite a while. Well, I have a valid excuse (not really). I have been busy doing blah, blah, blah……Yeah, I’ve been busy, but who hasn’t? I honestly have had quite a bit to talk about, but I wanted to make sure that my post had some kind of continuity in thought (and not sound like a laser-chasing cat wrote it). So, I apologize to all of the people that have wondered what happened to me. I’m still kicking!
I was watching the National Memorial Day Concert on public television today, and so many emotions were vibrating through me. My mind gently slipped into thoughts of those in my life whose service I am thankful for. One of my lasting memories of my now deceased grandfather was when we were all attending my sister’s graduation. They asked that all servicemen and women stand to be recognized. My grandfather, my father and my uncle stood with a pride and dignity that had to be witnessed to fully appreciate. I had forgotten about that “Moment in Brown History” until now. My grandfather was a “Buck Sargent” in the US Army, having served in WWII, stationed in Nuremberg, Germany. My father served two tours in Vietnam. My uncle also served in “Operation Desert Storm” in Saudi Arabia.
I have resisted the urge to enlist several times. What can I say? It’s in my blood. Upon graduating high school, I applied to attend The Citadel: The Military College of SC. Up until the last week that I left to attend South Carolina State University, I was still in conversations with The Citadel. I decided not to attend because there was no MUED program at the time. I had already been well-introduced into that way of life, considering my older brother was a cadet (and a 1994 graduate). I’m about 99.5% sure that if I had attended The Citadel, I would be serving in the military right now. That’s “water under the bridge” at this point.
I can remember a time when my father wouldn’t talk about his military service. I can tell you that he enlisted one week before he would’ve been drafted. Growing up, I just couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t talk about it. It is only now, in my adulthood that I somewhat understand. After being exposed to the carnage of war (through various forms of media), I can empathize. I have heard that war changes a man, and I wondered what my father was like before Vietnam. How horrible it must’ve been for him to have experienced war. He, like many other soldiers, were just boys (he was about 18 or 19 at the time). I’m sure he had forged new bonds with his fellow brothers-in-arms and some of these new comrades may not have returned alive. There are no words to describe that.
About a year and a half ago, I called my dad up, because I had questions. It went like this:
Me: “Hey, Pop.”
Dad: “Hey Boo.”
Me: “I have a question. How did it feel to fight for your country, only to be treated as a second-class citizen upon returning home?”
Dad: “Well, it was tough. I responded by making sure that nothing in my house represented my time in the military. That’s why you never saw anything resembling [such].”
Me: “I could only imagine how tough it was. I mean, here you are, having laid down your life for a country that doesn’t recognize you as a man. That sucks.”
In my own life, race relations has become something that I’m very passionate about. Maybe how my parents grew up has a lot to do with the way my heart is wired. I absolutely, positively, love everyone regardless of what shade they are. I am not ignorant of the disparity that seems to be marked by race, but that has nothing to do with my response. I just see those things, and do my best to change it: on my own terms. Just the other day, I was told by one of my friends that her cousin doesn’t date “people like me.” My friend tried to soften the blow by saying, “She only sees [black men] as friends only.” I really tried to see it from any other angle, instead of the one that was obviously screaming at me. LOL. My feelings were hurt, not because there was no chance between me and the young lady (who cares about that crap), but instead because I had hope in the human race. My hope is that people would love each other regardless of hues of skin. This hope has been in me for as far back as I could remember, and it’s here to stay.
Through these two episodes (and I have many more), I just have one question:
How far have we really come (regarding race relations)?
In closing, I am thankful, honored and excited that I have a strong lineage of military men. So, if you are reading this, and you have served, thank you. Since that previously stated conversation, my dad has talked about visiting the Vietnam Memorial here in DC. This shows tremendous growth and great strides for him.
Until next time,
Love & Peace.
-Herbie a.k.a “Boo”