When Gramp started to get old, she started to lose her short-term memory. We didn’t know exactly what it was at the time, but looking back, I suspect that it was Alzheimer’s disease or Organic Brain Syndrome. In either case, it resulted in her experiencing a loss of her short-term memory. She could remember stories and events from decades before like they happened yesterday, but, she couldn’t remember yesterday.
Late one evening, I returned home on leave from the military. It was my first trip home since joining the Air Force in July of 1979. I knocked on the door. The porch light winked on and Gramp’s familiar old face appeared at the door.
I said, “Hey Gramp!” to which she cheerfully replied, “Hey there!”
But, she didn’t let me in right away.
So I asked her, “Don’t you recognize me?” to which she responded,
“Of course!”, but she still didn’t let me in.
So I asked her if she knew who I was and she answered,
“Yes! You’re my nephew Jack Mitchell!”
“I said, No Gramp, I’m your grandson Ronnie.”
Suddenly her eyes brightened with recognition and she said joyfully,
“Oh yeah! You’re the one in the Army! Come on in boy!”
In those days and in this part of the world, every military serviceman or servicewoman was in the “Army”, no matter what branch they really served in.
The point of this little story is this; In spite of health issues which impaired her memory, with a little prompting, Gramp could remember that her grandson was a military serviceman, even if she did have the wrong branch of service. That’s more than I can say for the United States Government and the politicians who, MIS-manage, MIS-lead and MIS-informs its citizens.
These so-called leaders have conveniently forgotten or broken the promises made to the U.S. serviceman and servicewoman throughout the years; promises that were written on paper, in the hearts and minds of the citizenry as well as IN STONE; promises inscribed in stone because of its proven durability; promises inscribed in stone because of its hardness and toughness.
Stone monuments, like the pyramids have endured for thousands of years. God even wrote the Ten Commandments in stone. Things are inscribed in stone so that we might never forget them and so that we would have constant reminders for eternity.
We have constant reminders of the sacrifices made for these promises in the Gardens of Stone like Arlington National Cemetery, and Andersonville. A stone wall in the Lincoln Monument bears the following inscription from the Gettysburg Address; “BUT IN A LARGER SENSE, WE CANNOT DEDICATE-WE CANNOT CONSECRATE-WE CANNOT HALLOW-THIS GROUND. THE BRAVE MEN LIVING AND DEAD, WHO STRUGGLED HERE, HAVE CONSECRATED, FAR ABOVE OUR POOR POWER TO ADD OR DETRACT”.
It is important to note that President Lincoln did not forget the LIVING in his panegyric. The stone Tomb of the Unknowns bears the inscription, HERE RESTS, IN HONORED GLORY; AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN ONLY TO GOD.
The WWII memorial inscription, written in stone, says, OUR DEBT TO THE HEROIC MEN AND WOMEN IN THE SERVICE OF OUR COUNTRY CAN NEVER BE REPAID. THEY HAVE EARNED OUR UNDYING GRATITUDE. AMERICA WILL NEVER FORGET THEIR SACRIFICES. The words, DEBT, EARNED, GRATITUDE, NEVER FORGET and REPAID, stand out here.
The Viet Nam War Memorial is inscribed with the 58,286 names of the men and women who died or went missing in action to EARN our GRATITUDE. The stone wall of the Korean War Memorial simply states, FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.
We have memorialized the fallen servicemen and women in stone but some among us have forgotten the promises made to the living. Each year the once concrete promises made to our living, active duty servicemen, servicewomen, and vets is being chipped into dust. When I joined the Air Force, we were promised free medical care for life if we served twenty honorable, faithful and dedicated years. Well, now we have to pay for this service.
I’m not complaining…much; because the price I pay is meager in comparison to the civilian rates. But, it’s not free, as was promised. Retirement pay, which once was considered sacred, is becoming an option on the chopping block of the politicians. What about the recent VA debacle, which saw veterans die while waiting for the PROMISE of medical treatment, EARNED in battle? We have memorialized the fallen but our political leaders have forgotten the living.
The word NEPENTHE refers to a legendary potion purported to have existed in the olden times of Greece. This potion causes forgetfulness. It would seem that our political leaders have become drunk on the “NEPENTHE” of power; of riches; of fame and of vanity, for they have conveniently forgotten the promises made in STONE and replaced them with promises written on glass and with invisible ink; promises that disappear or are easily broken at the whim of privileged civilians, who have never served a day of military service in their lives, for political gain and hidden agendas.
I’ve made this forecast before but I’ll make it again. As long as the benefits of choosing a military career balance with or outweigh the risks, the ideal of an “all-volunteer force” is secure. But, once the risks begin to outweigh the benefits, people will be less inclined to volunteer for military service and so consequently, recruitment will go down. When recruitment goes down, military readiness will suffer; when military readiness suffers, these same leaders will begin to explore other options to increase military readiness.
These options will be the death of the “all volunteer force; mandatory service obligation (the draft) will be at the forefront of the solution to the manning problem; then EVERYONE can lace up their boots; Simple logic, simple math.
This forecast may NOT BE WRITTEN IN STONE but the WRITING IS ON THE WALL!