Lonesome Onry and Mean

Lonesome Onry and Mean: Living With War

To paraphrase Gen. George S. "Ol' Blood and Guts" Patton, war dwarfs all other forms of human endeavor. In LOM's lifetime, it seems war has been almost a constant. I was born just as the Korean War began, entered the draft for the Vietnam War in 1969 but was never drafted.

I've lived through the Cuban missile crisis, President Johnson's invasion of the Dominican Republic and Ronald Reagan's invasions of Panama and Grenada and bombing of Libya. I've also watched the first truly televised conflict, the Gulf War, and now Afghanistan and Iraq.

Back during Vietnam, my cousin married her high school sweetheart, Roger Whirlow. In November 1970, Roger and my cousin met in Hawaii for his R&R leave and she became pregnant. Back in country, Roger was helicoptered to a post known as Firebase Mary Ann. A week later, it was over-run by North Vietnamese Army units and he never made it home. To say it scarred my cousin, her son, and her extended family is grossest understatement. Thirty-eight years later those scars still haven't fully healed.

And then my daughter joined up. She had a degree, but was bored with her job at a local steel fabrication plant. She came home one afternoon and asked me if I could take her Greenspoint Mall at 10 p.m. that night. When I asked why, she said, "I joined the Air Force today." I was stunned and horrified.

Since then she's been stationed in England, Afghanistan and Qatar. It was her time in Afghanistan that worried me most, but she came out OK and, after a few weeks of war detoxification with us, she seemed to return pretty much to her old self.

This last tour was for six months. The worst of it was leaving her daughter behind, but she had a job and she did it. And now she's home. After 14 years, she's had enough; she is getting out soon.

Steve Earle had a great comment at his recent Cactus Music in-store. Talking about the change in world opinion since Obama replaced Bush - "our stock is rising" - Earle noted that he voted for Obama, that he had high hopes for Obama, but that he and the rest of us needed to hold Obama to his promises.

Specifically, his promise to get our guys home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Earle told the audience he was going to give the President a chance, but that if he didn't see some positive movement soon to back up the campaign rhetoric, "I'm going to be out there in the street making a lot of racket." I'm with you, this Memorial Day, Steve. Bring our boys - and girls - home. We've had enough memorials.

My daughter is home from her war. I wish the rest were.

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William Michael Smith