Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

For those who have served

Warning: I'm sorry to disappoint those who live for the snark, but today's post isn't a snarky one. We will return to our regularly scheduled programming soon.

Most of us know the story: on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, The War To End All Wars was formally brought to a close with the German signing of the Armistice Treaty. That was in 1918, and, of course, what would later be designated as World War I did not mark the end of war at all, but merely the beginning of a whole new era of warfare. Nevertheless, November 11 became a day to honor veterans of that bloody war, and, later on, veterans of all wars. In the United States we know it as Veterans Day, and in other parts of the world it is Remembrance Day.

Veterans Day gives me cause to acknowledge and celebrate the veteran I live with, Ron Kaye. And I'll tell you right off that this post won't even begin to do him justice; these are just a few things off the top of my head.

The first thing that comes to my mind about Ron is that he is always doing what he can to help make things better for others – people and animals alike. Whether it's taking a day to go into Houston to tend to his aging "second parents," or spending hours helping our friends at a local goat dairy dig a trench to help fix a broken well pump, or helping the ranch hands save the life of a colicky horse, he's there. He has helped his children through some very rough spots over the years. He has always been there for them, and for me too, even when we didn't make it easy for him.

He's there for strangers too. A few months ago there was a grisly car crash on the relatively quiet country road that runs by our home. Some local teenagers had apparently had way too much to drink, and their car veered off the road, plunged through a fence and plowed into a tree. Since the road is about a half mile from our home – we have a long driveway – we weren't aware that anything was going on till the local law enforcement got to the scene and we saw the flashing lights. Without even hesitating, Ron ran up to the road, found out what was going on and asked what he could do to help, explaining that he had been a field medic in the military. Immediately he was handed a pair of disposable gloves and told, "There's one over there in the trees." Not knowing what he'd find, Ron raced over to where a young man who had been thrown from the car was lying bleeding. It was impossible for Ron to discern the extent of his injuries, but they were obviously pretty bad. All he could do was keep the young man immobilized and give what comfort he could till the EMTs got there. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say he helped save his life. I think what he did was heroic. Yet he shrugs it off, saying, "I just did what anyone would do."

Ron is the most kindhearted, loving, and even sentimental person I know, but he isn't afraid to go "toe-to-toe" with anyone, whether he's sticking up for someone he loves, advocating on behalf of a client, or calling someone out for their b.s. (I firmly believe it was his willingness to call things as he saw them that was instrumental in the breakdown of our "friendship" with a person who later became a well-known hustledork.)

He has also gotten into his fair share of conflicts while arguing his point of view about various matters such as spirituality, social issues, or, especially, politics. Although he is always respectful and never abusive, he is sometimes...well...adamant. Some people have trouble with that, if they happen to hold an opposing view. Some have hurled abuse at him for his so-called "liberal" views. Some, not knowing his background but basing their judgment solely on, say, the fact that he was opposed to the U.S.'s 2003 invasion of Iraq, have accused him of being a contemptible '60s-era hippie who sat in a custom-painted van, smoking dope and listening to Grateful Dead tapes, while laughingly avoiding the draft. Little do they know... Some folks simply cannot understand how a person can be both a "liberal" (or a holder of anti-war views) and a veteran who actually volunteered for a cause beyond himself.

In the years since he served, I think Ron has managed to make a good life. He has two fine kids (I can't take any credit for that, but I adore them). He does work he loves. And he has made me happy for sixteen years and counting. Most important of all, he has an uncanny ability to see into people's hearts. I sometimes wish more people could see into his.

So anyway. Here we are, on the 90th anniversary of the first official "Armistice Day" (it was first observed on November 11, 1919), which eventually morphed into Veterans Day. If I were you, I'd celebrate it by saying a big "Thank you" to the veteran(s) in your life. A big hug probably wouldn't hurt either. And if you're a veteran yourself, or currently serving, you have my thanks, and a big virtual hug as well.

PS ~ Here is a link to Ron's blog.

* * * * *

I've always liked this poem by the late French poet Louis Aragon, who was a part of the French Resistance during World War II. This translation is from the (out-of-print) 1976 book, Literature and Liberalism: An Anthology of Sixty Years of The New Republic, edited by Edward Zwick.

The Waltz of the Twenty-Year-Olds

Good for the wind, good for the night, good for the cold
Good for the march and the bullets and the mud
Good for legends, good for the stations of the cross
Good for absence and long evenings. Funny ball
At which I danced and, children, you will dance
To the same dehumanized orchestral score
Good for fear, good for machine guns, good for rats
Good as good bread and good as simple salad

But here is the rising of the conscript sun
The waltz of the twenty-year-olds sweeps over Paris
Good for a shot of brandy at dawn and the anguish before the attack
Good for the waiting, the storm and the patrols
Good for night silence under rocket flares
Good for youth passing and the rusting heart
Good for love and death, good to be forgotten
In the rain and shadow cloaking the battlefields
Child soldiers trundled in no other bed
But the ditch already tailored to their measure

The twenty-year-old waltz sweeps through the bistros
And breaks like a laugh at the entrance to the Métro

Army classes of yesterday, vanished dreams
Fourteen. Fifteen. Sixteen: listen. They hum
Like us the trite refrain, like us believe it
And like us in those days, may God forgive them
Value more than their lives at a single moment
Of drunkenness or folly or delight
What do they know of the world? Does living mean
Quite simply, Mother, to die very young?

* * * * *

OMT: Today is as good a day as any to mention the ongoing problem of U.S. veterans – of all wars – getting the short end of the stick when it comes to health care. Here's a story about it.

Here's a link to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs web site.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a man! Great post, thanks.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 6:17:00 PM  
Anonymous hhh said...

Pretty darned good, that Ron Kaye.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 7:15:00 PM  
Blogger Burned by Fire said...

Thanks for serving our country, Ron.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 9:09:00 PM  
Anonymous party said...

Nice post..i love your post..

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 11:44:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Really moving Connie. Thank you.

Thursday, November 12, 2009 12:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

It's not the easy road to serve others. In fact, real service to others doesn't come with much fanfare at all. That's why it's so important to say thank you.

Thank you, Ron, for serving our country. Also, thank you Connie for such a moving post.

Thursday, November 12, 2009 9:03:00 AM  
Blogger RevRon's Rants said...

Thank you, Connie. The check is in the mail. :-)

Thursday, November 12, 2009 11:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the few worth our respect, not taking from anyone else but giving what is possible. Awesome.

Thursday, November 12, 2009 6:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Gina said...

Wonderful post!

People like Ron help me remember the simple fact that our actions do speak louder than our words. Nice to know real men still walk the earth!

Much Aloha to you both.

Friday, November 13, 2009 3:39:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Everybody: Thank you so much for the comments...and Ron thanks you too. We really appreciate it.

Friday, November 13, 2009 9:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Lana said...

Beautiful tribute :-)

That we are blessed to enjoy the service of firemen/women, paramedics, sheriffs, and trained volunteers in our own backyard was brought home to us on November 2. My husband was in a rollover accident. Thankfully he "walked away without a scratch." (Sort of -- he's pretty sore and has whiplash, but you know what I mean.)

I can't tell you how much we appreciate the highly trained crews and volunteers who were at the scene.

The following Sunday we visited the fire station and gave the crew a couple dozen (gourmet!) donuts and a thank-you card. They seemed surprised when we showed up, and at first we thought, Uh oh. Maybe this was a dumb idea. But then we found out that such "appreciation" visits are rare! Wow.

Thank you, Ron, for lending a helping hand at the accident near your house.

Saturday, November 14, 2009 2:51:00 PM  
Anonymous disillusioned said...

Late but heartfelt, 'Chin up, Ron, you have a great champion in Connie.'

My favourite fragment of war poetry from a Canadian, Laurence Binyon:

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Saturday, November 14, 2009 4:19:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Lovely poem, Dis. Thank you!

Saturday, November 14, 2009 5:40:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Hi, Lana...Blogger was "glitching" again, and for some reason I got Disillusioned's comment in before yours, even though you sent yours first. What a frightening experience that must have been for your husband and you. I hope he's doing okay. And Goddess (or whoever) bless the responders at the scene. BTW, in my book, you can never go wrong with gourmet donuts!

I'll always have a special place in my heart for emergency personnel, to whom my brother owes his life after a horrible car wreck he was in many years ago.

And, needless to say, I was really touched by Ron's unflinching response to the accident so close to home. But as I said in my post, he just shrugged it off as something anyone would do. *Anyone*? I don't think so.

Sunday, November 15, 2009 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

My apologies to the rest of you for not answering responses individually when they came in, but after I published the post I got caught up in a flurry of work, etc. But I really do appreciate each and every comment.

(Well, except for that one snide Anonymous comment which I did NOT print, and you know who you are, Anon. Great display of courage there. Folks can can say whatever they want about me, and I'll publish it unless it is full of expletives and/or death threats. But when they mess with my man it's a different story altogether.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009 12:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Lana said...

My husband is doing okay -- very sore, but glad to be alive :-)

I agree. Not everyone is ready, willing or able to help in emergencies. The smiling, friendly face of the paramedic will always stay with us, too.

Monday, November 16, 2009 11:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couldn't let this one pass:


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Saturday, November 21, 2009 3:18:00 PM  
Blogger Francois Tremblay said...

Please do not post about politics on your blog. Not all of your readers think the military is a force for good. You may be well-intentioned, but you are repulsing a percentage of your readers.

Monday, November 23, 2009 3:39:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Lana, I'm glad your husband is doing better. And God (or Whatever) bless the paramedics, etc.

Monday, November 23, 2009 3:43:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon 3:18 PM: Thank you for sharing that poem. That's one that I like as well.

Monday, November 23, 2009 3:44:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Francois, I understand your point of view. I used to be "anti-military" too but have modified my views over the years. I harbor no delusions that the military is always a force for good -- quite the contrary is often true -- but neither do I think it is invariably a force for evil. I wish there were no need for a military, but, humans being what they are...

On my blog I write about the things that concern me, and I know I won't always be able to please even my fans all of the time. This was not meant to be a political post but a tribute to people who, for better or worse, have served their country. In particular it was intended to be a tribute to Ron.

Monday, November 23, 2009 3:49:00 PM  
Blogger RevRon's Rants said...

Francois - Those who claim that the military cannot be a "force for good" are obviously forgetting the lessons that history has taught. It was, after all, the allied military forces that stopped the seemingly inevitable victory of axis powers during two successive world wars. Sometimes, it takes evil actions to counter greater evils.

Secondly, to ascribe the ultimate responsibility for the horrors of war to the military is both myopic and disingenuous. The military is a tool, used by governments to impose the government's will. And contrary to your apparent assumptions, military personnel who find themselves in combat are acting not out of some obscure ideology, but out of the core desire to protect one's own. The structuring of the military into small units is not only a strategic necessity, it is a cynically manipulative behavior. Being a pert of a small contingent promotes bonding among the members, to a degree unfathomable to anyone who has never found themselves in such a situation. Combat becomes the protection of one's "family," first and foremost, too often supplemented by the desire to avenge harm suffered by family members. The "reasons" for entering into combat become vague and insignificant almost immediately.

If one is to raise objections to the actions of the military, it would seem only logical to focus those objections primarily upon the people and policies responsible for determining what actions are taken, rather than the people whom, for whatever reason, place themselves in the position of following the decision-makers' direction (typically, lacking any real awareness of the motivations or agendas of the decision-makers). Most service men & women enlist because they think it's the right thing to do. Unfortunately, wisdom often comes too late, and at a very high price.

Finally, do you not see the irony - indeed, the hypocrisy - in demanding that someone avoid addressing topics that are not to your liking on *their* blog? You are essentially stating that nobody should have the right to debate - even in their own forum - about topics that you don't approve. So much for encouraging reasoned thought and discussion.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 9:00:00 AM  

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