22 July, 2007

Passing the Torch

In comments on a post at Op-For, I found a story about generations of warriors:

I went to a bar not to long after my twenty first birthday earlier this year, and got involved in a conversation with a man in his early 80's. He had been coming to this bar for years, and he noted of how 'soft' the new people were that now filled it's stools. The bar was full of forty-something townies and such. He picked me out as a military type (ROTC, commissioning next year) right away and struck up a conversation. Maybe it was me being so much younger, maybe it was the shave and haircut; I'll never know. He had felt a dismay at leaving the military, retiring as a senior NCO in the Army. He feared that the country was at risk by the softness of the generation that followed him and felt as if he was abandoning his post to someone not able to guard it. He was of course generalizing, but felt strongly about it. After an hour of fascinating conversation about his time in France and later Korea, we parted ways.

I could tell he was upset by all the reflection going on, so on the way out, I asked him is he was good to go. He looked at me and asked "I don't know; should I be?"

I told him "You've helped to built the wall on which you stood for so long. Your blood, sweat, and essence courses through it's grout and stone. It's battered and bruised, especially in the last few years, but it stands. Sir, it's time for you to rest and stay warm in the blanket you've laid over the country; I've got your post. You're relieved... get some chow and rest."

I shook his hand and he started to tear up. he said, "You've got the post. I've been waiting for years to hear that, and until now, I didn't know if it was true. Thank you, I know we'll be safe if there's many more like you around, no matter how uppity you young folks can talk sometimes" with a wink, and walked off.

That's why I'm still here, and that's why this Generation will be strong.

We'll never be the greatest generation, but damn it, we'll do what needs to be done.

Or die trying.

Of course, some of the slightly younger guys (the sixty-year-olds) simply refuse to pass that torch: BT, stay safe. ;)