The American Soldier

You are America and I am your soldier. You called me and I answered “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” You called me to go, and I answered. You called me to Lexington, Concord, Bennington and Saratoga. And I answered. You called me to Tippecanoe And I answered. You called me to the fields of Gettysburg And I answered. You...

A Day To Remember

The heat from the Texas sun on the tarmac penetrated our combat boots as we left the bus for the waiting aircraft. As we approached the plane, we saw the airline’s name displayed on the fuselage. Modern Air was a military contractor and we decided that name didn’t instill a lot of confidence. As we began to gain altitude, I looked out from my window seat at the perfect grids of farmland that formed the landscape, glad to be leaving the Training Command station and heading back east. We soon discovered that our ride lacked the usual commercial amenities with only two stewardesses for about 180 GIs and the pilots flying straight through plenty of turbulence, making walking around...

The Question

During Christmas break, things began to move rather quickly. Classes for both of us became secondary as our days were filled with spending time together. I was working full time and Olga had begun working for Cluett-Peabody, a clothing manufacturer within walking distance of where she was living. The Draft was clipping at my heels as I was back to working full-time, abandoning classes altogether.  It was time to visit the local Air Force recruiter who would seal my fate for the next four years.  Sergeant Wheeler was finishing out his 20 years, hoping to retire soon.  His only purpose in those days was to see how many young men he could convince to enlist.  He gave me his pitch, showing...

A Season of Love

That sign hangs in our center-hall stairway, surrounded by years of family portraits, illustrating how our little family has grown. Our small series of stories begins in the mid-term of my first year in college. I firmly decided that I hated accounting, so I dropped out and went to work full-time as an automobile mechanic. The war in Vietnam was escalating and my draft status would soon become 1A, if I couldn’t maintain my student deferment. I signed up for a few night courses and planned to change my major to Automotive Technology in the fall, when my new draft status would take affect. There was no way to imagine how my life would change in the following year. September arrived...

The Times Of Your Life

Most of life is pretty mundane. Sometimes I find myself scouring my memory, searching for a story of some significant event. I dismiss some memories as being pretty ordinary. Many are not very interesting or comical, at least to the outsider. As the saying goes, sometimes you have to be there to appreciate it. I admire those who write fiction. I have a number of favorites but Louis L’Amore had a talent for spinning a good story. You can easily tell the good guys from the villains. And, his stories draw you into the characters’ lives, making you feel like you’re right there. Fiction is supposed to fire the imagination and stimulate your senses. That’s easy to see...

Thank You for Serving

Wolf Road in Albany has to be the busiest roadway in the entire Capital District. Stopping in the traffic and getting out of your car in that road is almost as dangerous as navigating the bread aisle at the Latham Hannaford the night before another Upstate New York snow storm. Yet, that’s what happened to us. We were threading our way through the traffic on our way to the Mall. Waiting for the light to change, sitting three lanes out in the middle of the road and preparing to turn left onto Sand Creek Road, was when I saw her in my rear-view mirror. The woman in the car behind us had exited her car, right on the double lines, and was walking toward us. I consider myself a fair...

Eh, Vhat You Can Do?

My father-in-law immigrated from Ukraine in 1948. He quickly learned enough English to get a job. He would retain the heavy accent for the rest of his life. He and his young wife would soon settle in Amsterdam, buy a house and raise a family. All with no government assistance whatsoever. For the generation of immigrants that came to America, fleeing the aftereffects of war-torn Eastern Europe and the oppressive Stalin regime, hard work was not a stumbling block but rather a friend to be embraced. The man had an enviable way about him when it came to stress. I believe the reason behind that was the attitude that you made your own success. Rather than worry about being unemployed, he would...

That Heavenly Choir

Howard was quite a guy. He attended our little church of about 150 people, faithfully. He didn’t have much in the way of formal schooling.  He didn’t learn to read until he was an adult, and then by reading his Bible.  He carried that old, tattered leather-bound KJV all the time and loved to read it at every opportunity.  As you might guess, he didn’t have a great job or make a lot of money.  His usual Sunday morning attire was a well-worn suit, necktie and a unmatched flannel shirt.  One thing he understood was what it meant to give to the Lord.  I don’t think he would approve, so I won’t share the details here.  This I can tell you, though, the man had a gift for giving...

A Shakespearean “Aside”

When we introduce ourselves to someone, it’s usually with a handshake and, simply, our name.  Depending on the occasion, we might use both our given and surname.  In business and professional settings, we may tell the person we are speaking to, what or who we represent.  Occasionally, conversations move beyond that and tiny points of our lives begin to emerge, creating genuine friendships. Why write these things? We are all products of our past. I don’t mean that in some pop-psychology sense of victimization.  We should not blame our past for the situation we may be in today.  Nor, should we blame those who have negatively influenced our lives for the bad decisions we have...

Time for a Restart

I had been assigned to Fort Lee, Virginia, an Army Post, for Technical School after basic military training. The old WWII barracks was well maintained, thanks to those of us living there.  We all spent many hours on our hands and knees, scrubbing the bay floors with GI brushes.  Wax was applied with soft cloths and then buffed with handfuls of cotton balls.  You could literally see your face in those 20 year old, dark brown floors. Every footlocker was perfectly aligned with the base of the bunks, no clothes laying around or anything else out of place.  This was not “college dorm” living but a showplace of military discipline. The bunks surrounded the perimeter of the bay...