Nov. 10, 2018, the 243rd anniversary of Captain Samuel Nicholas appointing Robert Mullan chief Marine Recruiter at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia. Then Veterans Day, but Elvis and I were on the patch. He, having gotten a little too close to some schmuck's bullet and on the walking wounded list, assisting me since he isn’t able to run and dig and snort and bark and otherwise wreck havoc on the local wild critter population with the rest of the pack.
The Patch… no, none of those. We call this Yonder Mountain White, horseradish, fresh, straight out of the ground. Since it’s impossible to find anything but that sissified stuff in a jar locally we decided to grow our own, imported, the kind that will clear one’s sinuses for weeks just by taking a whiff, and probably a reason the Germanic and Slavic peoples talk funny.
So there we were, Elvis and me, preparing an expansion bed with horseradish on one end and garlic on the other while the girls, Priscilla and Nanners, lounged in the sun as girls are wont to do. The Sparkmeister and Chewbacca guarded walnuts laying on the ground so the squirrels wouldn’t get them. While dragging a load of grass clippings from the big field for mulch on The Patch and around the blueberry bushes, I’m cheap not green, a cigar held gently in my nicotine stained fingers because there wasn’t any chew, I ruminated, mentally not oro-gastronomically, about our society these past few years and an old song flashed across my little pea brain.
Silver wings shining in the sunlight
Roaring engines headed somewhere in flight
They're taking you away, leaving me lonely
Silver wings slowly fading out of sight.
The Hag penned these words back in 1968 or '69 about a lover leaving on one of those new fangled-ish passenger jet aeroplanes, about the time Madman Muntz' 4-track tape cartridges’ popularity was being overtaken by Bill Lear's, of Lear Jet Corporation fame, 8-track system. It was a different time. Our world was a different place, a place where anyone could walk all the way to the boarding area at any airport in this, the greatest nation ever to grace the face of Planet Terra… these United States of America. It wasn't unusual, back in the day, to see a young man in uniform taking off to who-knows-where, probably in defense of the rest of us and more likely than not accompanied by friends and loved ones lusting to spend a last few minutes together before an extended separation… perhaps not to come home whole… or at all… as another of Hag’s works, When Billy Overcame His Size.We celebrate our Veterans with Veterans' Day. Those who make the ultimate sacrifice we memorialize on their special day too. But we seem to forget some others who also sacrifice for the rest of us.
They have names like Melissa… and Jane… and Tori, Danielle, Dawn, Brenda, Annie, Sherry, Terri, Jenny, Thelma, Louise, and Debbie Jean Peggy Sue. We might see them at work wearing heels and a suit, welders' togs, a nurse's uniform, hazmat gear, or khakis and loafers packing a briefcase, a sample kit, shoving nitrogen bottles on a truck, or twirling a flyswatter to remind the men in the office who's really T-H-E Boss. They may be stay-at-home moms home-schooling their children, or the primary caretaker of a family member because, well, because it's their job, not one for an outsider.
They may have grown up in the big city, Atlanta or Boston or Seattle or Los Angeles or Houston, or Small Town America… little burgs with names like Haw River, Lizard Lick, Burgaw, The Ware Place, Fawnskin, Broken Bow, Toponas, Galena, Bald Knob, Rosebud, or Hell (a real town in Michigan). They tend the home fires while their mates are away and quietly answer the question asked by little Tommy or Suzzi, “Why does my daddy (or mommy these days) have to go away when the other kids' don't?” A casual observer would probably never be able to tell the difference between these unsung heroes and any other American family. But those other families have never stood on a pier or in an airport, sometimes a bus or train station, with a loved one, each trying to be strong for the other.
So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you'll wait for me
Hold me like you'll never let me go'
Cause I'm leavin' on a jet plane
Don't know when I'll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go.
But John Denver most certainly isn’t Mary Travers, nor could he ever do harmonies as “I dig Rock and Roll music… I could really get it on in that scene.”They aren't alone. They're joined by a myriad of others who get up and go to work every day, asking little but to be left alone to do what they do best, to live their lives the way they see fit, to enjoy the fruits of their labors. And the efforts of all the other men and women who refuse to allow themselves to succumb to the allure of a government check, choosing instead to stand on their own.
They’re the forgotten ones, aren't they.Forgotten ones… those who give the most ask the least, going about their daily business quietly, raising their families, only to have government bureaucrats come along and take what they’ve worked hard to earn, with the force of a government gun, to give it to those whose major claim to fame is breathing in good air to exhale carbon dioxide and other noxious gases that drive the greenies nuts… or themselves.The screamers who wouldn’t hit a lick in a pie factory, claiming a right to what others have earned… because they’re entitled, don’t you know. How often do we hear “if I only had a job,” yet when a job is presented, a job they’re qualified to perform, some don’t even make it through a pay period, sometimes not even an entire first day on the job, before going back home to those government checks, funding for which comes from the pockets of those who work and earn their own way. It’s easier to suckle from those cute little bottles, the udders dangled before them by some elected officials and appointed functionaries… udders filled with the milk of those who get up and go to work every day.
Lately we’ve heard a lot about the hordes of, properly designated, illegal aliens violating our nation’s borders and flaunting, at the very least, our immigration laws. Politicians, both Democrats and those my second favorite politician refers to as those Republican Weenies, and others with a vested interest in ever more illegal alien insurgents, attempt to direct our foci to their plight and away from the simple facts these illegal aliens begin their stay breaking our immigration laws, bring with them their diseases, illiteracy, poverty, and refusal to assimilate into our society.
It’s recently come to light these United States of America, the greatest nation ever to grace the face of Planet Terra, spent almost a Trillion dollars in 2017 ($685.957 Billion that’s admitted to, just for NATO) not only for our own defense, but the defense of nations and governments who hate us, including so-called allies who turn right around and violate joint resolutions to sanction governments that don’t play nice with others.
We support other nations who hate us. We support our own citizens who hate us too… our system of government, our nation in general, and most especially those citizens who pick up the tab for their hatred. They call us deplorable, the dregs of society, and any number of other despicable names they’ve weaponized in their attempts to shame us into submitting to their demands… these courageous individuals who cover their faces while attacking old men and women, women, children, those who cannot defend themselves, then blame the victims for their violence.
All the while those who’ve volunteered to be in positions supposedly to ensure the safety and civility of our society instead are more concerned with grabbing ever more power and resources from those they’re charged to defend… the forgotten ones, those who pay the freight for others’ fun times.And sheepdogs continue guarding their flocks, as is their charge. It’s in their DNA. There is no choice. Theirs is to search out, engage, and destroy the enemies of this, the greatest nation ever to grace the face of Planet Terra, these United States of America, wherever they may be. Some guard our borders. Some, as first responders, ensure our safety and protect our property here at home.When the time comes their loved ones will stand on the tarmac, pier, sometimes in a bus or train station, hoping for the best, fearing the worst, often not saying much so they won’t break down in tears, except for those like a young Marine’s little brother who was overheard asking “Are you scared going off to war?” to which the Marine replied “It’s my job, what I volunteered for and have been trained to do.”
It takes special people, a special class, to stand in the background, asking little but sacrificing greatly in their own right… often forgotten by the rest of us.But it’s Thanksgiving, with Christmas close behind. Perhaps those forgotten ones will be remembered this time of year.Because those silver wings… will always be... slowly fading out of sight.
Royce Burrage, Jr.