Sunday, January 08, 2006

I Am A Coward

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." --John Wayne

I have a confession to make.

I am a coward.

When I was old enough to serve in the Armed Forces, young men my age were being drafted to serve in Viet Nam. The government instituted the draft lottery, which was a system that was considered fair. The lowest numbers called were the first to be drafted. Depending on how high your lottery number was, you could conceivably not be drafted at all. That way neither rich nor poor could be favored one over the other. The first year of the draft lottery, my lottery number was 27, and I breathed a sigh of relief because that wasn't my year. My year was the next one.

That year my number came up 56. I would go possibly in the first couple of months.

And I was scared.

I didn't want to fight. The possibility of being in combat terrified me. I seriously considered escaping to Canada, but I didn't. I did the next best thing. I enlisted in the Air Force. I figured that was my safest bet. Air Force servicemen weren't as likely to be on the front lines.

I needn't have worried. My eyes were so bad, I was turned down for service and was re-classified 4F. My feet are flat, also. I always say, "I've got eyes like a bat and my feet are flat".

This is why I have so much respect for our American Servicemen. They have courage. Courage that I am sadly lacking. It boggles my mind that anyone would want to put his life on the line, even for freedom.


Yes, and still today I have trouble believing that young men who don't even know me are willing to travel into a strange land and face death and dismemberment so that I can sit here at my keyboard and try to put into words what I feel. But still, words are inadequate to express my admiration and undying thanks to the brave men who are fighting in Iraq and anywhere else where tyranny and terror abound.

And I don't understand why certain senators and congressmen and newsmen want them to cut and run.

It seems so simple to me. Our servicemen fight them over there so we cowards don't have to fight them over here.

God bless The American serviceman.

15 comments:

Mary said...

Mark,

Admitting to being afraid doesn't make you a coward. You didn't run to Canada. You were willing to serve.

Don't be so hard on yourself.

I, too, find words to be inadequate to express the gratitude that I feel for all those courageous individuals serving in our armed forces.

Their bravery and their willingness to put their lives at risk in the name of freedom and justice is inspiring.

God bless them.

TStockmann said...

I cannot imagine how much simpler it would be if I believed that all - or even most - of the actions America's leaders have ordered overseas historically or currently were legitimately defensive in nature, and taken in due consideration of the recirpocal rights of other countries and peoples.

The war you skipped? We lost. I have spent a lot of time on Huntington and Newport Beaches - not always alert, it's true, but I would hardly have missed an invading army.

TStockmann said...

But I neglected to commend you on the honesty of your entry regarding Vietnam - since you were judged ieligible for physical reasons, no-one wouldhave accused you. Imagine what a healing event it would be if the current President, Vice President, and many others from that era with weaker reasons made similar confessions and statements of gratitude.

KEvron said...

i'll bet had the cause been more clearly defined (and the threat to our nation, realistic), your resolution would have trumped your apprehension, flat feet or no.

KEvron

tugboatcapn said...

Excellent point, T.

And by the same token, wouldn't it be nice if our Senators and Congressmen who voted to send our troops into harm's way would refrain from undermining their efforts while they are there, stop accusing them of randomly torturing and terrorizing everyone they come in contact with, stop telling the American public that our Military is a rag-tag bunch of bedraggled losers who don't even know how to operate what little equipment they have, and stop trying to recreate the circumstances which led to our defeat in Viet-Nam.

That, as well, would be a healing event.

How about if the News Media, our Congressmen and Senators, and ALL of the bloggers started talking about the fact that the standard of living for the people of Iraq has improved by about a hundred years since we got there, and that schools and infrastructure are being rebuilt by Haliburton (which is limited to 2% profit on no bid Military contracts) and by our Military faster than they are being blown up, and that a successful fledgling democracy has been established there, and the Iraqi people are now a self-governing Free People, for the first time?

Think what a healing event that would be...

tugboatcapn said...

Mark, You are not a coward.

You tried to join the Military, and if you had been accepted, you would have carried out your duties.

It makes me angry when I hear people like Cindy Sheehan (Cindy who?) and Ted Kennedy refer to our soldiers as "children".

They are the most highly trained and well equiped fighting force in the world, (despite the drastic cuts of the Clinton years) and they are winning this war.

To constantly refer to them as if they were a bunch of toddlers playing in the sandbox demeans them and insults them.

They are Heroes. Each and every one of them.

Erudite Redneck said...

What I hope for is, if war is the natural state of man, and we are destined to be in them from time to time, that more of them than not in my lifetime involving the United States be waged with wisdom, honor and dignity for all.

tugboatcapn said...

Hear, Hear!!

ELAshley said...

Admitting to being afraid doesn't make you a coward. You didn't run to Canada. You were willing to serve.

Don't be so hard on yourself.


I second that, you are not a coward.

jgf said...

My nephew is one of those heros. He enlisted and is currently a linguist serving in Iraq.

It takes courage to admit when you are afraid.

Pamela Reece said...

Mark,

If you consider yourself a coward then you have the definition all wrong. Are you not raising a son on your own? Are you not holding down a job to provide for him? Are you not holding your own? Are you not seeking truth that you haven't before?

This is only to name a few. If you are a coward then I am the biggest looser on the face of the planet.

I know you didn't post this because you were looking for a pat on the back, but rather opening your heart. I recognize that feeling, as it all too familiar. If I beat myself up for taking the easy way out when I was young, I'd be dead. Remember these quotes, which are mine: "You are not what you were then." "You are not defined by what you did, but by what you want to do." "The fear that held me back once, can not hold me back again." "What I believed may change, but my beliefs do not. This does not make me a hippocrite, but a work in progress."

Blessings always!

Francis Lynn said...

Eyes like a bat lol. From a Chad Mitchell Trio song: The Draft Dodger Rag. If I recall the words correctly: I'm only 17, got a ruptured spleen & I always carry a purse. Got eyes like a bat, my feet are flat, my asthmas getting worse. Talk of my career, my sweetheart dear, my poor old invalid aunt. And I ain't no fool, I'm going to school & working in a defense plant.

3.1 seconds after receiving a draft notice, I was at the USAF recruiters office. Came home 4 yrs later.

Mark said...

Actually Francis, the song was written by Phil Ochs, famous protest singer. I had it in an album. lyrics were:

Oh, I'm just a typical American boy from a typical American town
I believe in God and Senator Dodd and a-keepin' old Castro down
And when it came my time to serve I knew "better dead than red"
But when I got to my old draft board, buddy, this is what I said:

CHORUS
Sarge, I'm only eighteen, I got a ruptured spleen
And I always carry a purse
I got eyes like a bat, and my feet are flat, and my asthma's getting worse
Yes, think of my career, my sweetheart dear, and my poor old invalid aunt
Besides, I ain't no fool, I'm a-goin' to school
And I'm working in a DEE-fense plant

I've got a dislocated disc and a wracked up back
I'm allergic to flowers and bugs
And when the bombshell hits, I get epileptic fits
And I'm addicted to a thousand drugs
I got the weakness woes, I can't touch my toes
I can hardly reach my knees
And if the enemy came close to me
I'd probably start to sneeze

I'm only eighteen, I got a ruptured spleen
And I always carry a purse
I got eyes like a bat, and my feet are flat, and my asthma's getting worse
Yes, think of my career, my sweetheart dear, and my poor old invalid aunt
Besides, I ain't no fool, I'm a-goin' to school
And I'm working in a DEE-fense plant

Ooh, I hate Chou En Lai, and I hope he dies,
Onething you gotta see
That someone's gotta go over there
And that someone isn't me
So I wish you well, Sarge, give 'em Hell!
Kill me a thousand or so
And if you ever get a war without blood and gore
I'll be the first to go

Yes, I'm only eighteen, I got a ruptured spleen
And I always carry a purse
I got eyes like a bat, and my feet are flat, and my asthma's getting worse
Yes, think of my career, my sweetheart dear, and my poor old invalid aunt
Besides, I ain't no fool, I'm a-goin' to school
And I'm working in a DEE-fense plant

The line about eyes like a bat applied to me so I adopted it as my own.

Little Miss Chatterbox said...

Love the John Wayne quote!!

I agree that you are not a coward and ditto to blessing The American servicemen!!

WhereEaglesSoarProvedTheApocolypseIsNigh said...

not standing up for your rights as American's ... that my friend is cowardice... not seeing ethical violations within the current republican party then your just not paying attention.