Memorial Day 2017

Mementos from wars fought by other men.

What a strange time to be honoring those Americans who’ve sacrificed everything — lives, fortunes, sacred honor — on the altar of freedom.

We’ve thanked them for their service by installing as commander-in-chief a creature who has sacrificed nothing. Not his life, which he still lives mostly as he pleases. Certainly not his fortune, about which we know next to nothing. And sacred honor? Puh-leeze. He has none.

Since he has no shame, we must bear it in his stead. Shame on us.

As a child I desperately wanted a uniform. It’s probably the only reason I submitted, briefly and without distinction, to a tour of duty with the Cub Scouts.

What I really craved was a uniform like my dad wore to work on Randolph AFB, that tan U.S. Air Force summer kit. But the old man gave me a stern talking-to about that, explaining that uniforms were something to be earned, not bought.

Harold Joseph O’Grady certainly earned his kit, beginning with flying Gooney Birds out of New Guinea during World War II. So did his brother, Charles Declan O’Grady, tail gunner in a B-29, also in the Pacific Theatre.

Mom’s dad served, too, in WWI, but of him we know next to nothing. Both grandfathers were long dead when we kids came around, and neither of our parents were inclined to discuss their respective early histories in any real detail. It was as though they had never existed apart from each other.

Children of war and depression, they ensured that their offspring would have an easier row to hoe. We didn’t get the best of everything, but lacked for nothing, especially when it came to education, from kindergarten to cap and gown. We didn’t get any little million-dollar loans, but neither I nor my sister had to sweat the college debt that cripples today’s youngsters trying to find their way in the world.

And a good thing it was, too, because neither of us has exactly killed it on the golden-toilet scale used to measure success and failure. Sis has spent her life helping people navigate the murky waters of our social-services system. I, as you know, was a minor cog in the fake-news machine before deciding to hang out my own shingle as an artisanal purveyor of free-range, non-GMO, sustainably sourced, gluten-free, 100 percent organic designer bullshit.

Neither of us followed in our father’s footsteps. But we’ve known men and women who served, from World War II through the apparently endless war in Afghanistan. And the least of these stands head and shoulders above the preening back-alley huckster who purports to command them between pep rallies, nest-feathering, and rounds of golf played from the cart. Stamina!

We owe these people a debt, and we keep reneging on it. In this, at least, we are well represented in the White House.

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24 Responses to “Memorial Day 2017”

  1. Steve O Says:

    Can you believe that, in 2017, we’d be reading the words, “two American soldiers killed week by nazis”?

    One 3 days from college graduation, recently commissioned, brand-new 2LT, Military Intelligence Corps. The other, retired after 23 years of service.

    And killed by thugs inspired by our commander-in-chief to spread the seeds of intolerance.

  2. Charley Auer Says:

    Well said, Patrick!

  3. Sharon Says:

    My greatest fear is that Trump has made a deal with the devil…to give up the old USSR countries, Europe and Middle East save Israel to Putin. That’s the grand bargain and he leaves us alone and we don’t have to pay any more money to help anyone. Please tell me this is really just a bad dream. Or as Elon Musk and his buddies think…one gigantic video game. Help us…I did see Macron seem to stick it to Putin though…that was sort of remarkable.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Putin’s got a pretty sweet deal going. Doesn’t have to waste a lot of time and money he doesn’t have on us, that’s for sure. The Chinese must be digging it too.

  4. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Well done Patrick. That was a thought provoking post for sure.

    I swore off news today to insure I didn’t see that pompous asshole anywhere near Arlington. After all, he wants a Purple Heart but doesn’t want to earn one. His words, along with the bullshit he spouted about McCain.

    Rode today, riding tomorrow, and again on Wednesday. Thursday off, then 69 clicks on Friday in honor of my 68 trips around the sun as Khal would say.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      No ride for me today, Pat. I’ve been playing IT guy this week, upgrading my MacBook Air and backup MacBook Pro to macOS Sierra and troubleshooting a slowdown afflicting Herself’s MacBook Pro (corrupt HDD and a FUBARed SuperDuper! backup).

      After effecting various repairs today I bestowed a new 480GB SSD and 8GB more memory upon the old beastie, maxing it out at 16GB. And lo and behold, it fairly leaps right along.

      I’m pretty tentative (read: slow) about these projects, which I don’t do very often, and so it took me a little more time than your average Genius Bar youngun. But so far, so good.

      Good on ye logging all these miles. You’re gonna have to get up early on Friday for the birthday biking, que no? It’s already what, 110 by breakfast time down your way?

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Sunny and 87 is the forecast for Friday. Even so, I will start early to avoid traffic, probably around 0600. Going out hwy 90 towards I-10. When I hit 21 miles, stop and take a quick break, and head back. Will ride the ES to make it easier, and then work up to longer rides on the Saga during the summer.

        I wouldn’t even know where to start on the Mac work. I added more memory to the old iMac. Other than that, I just use them until Apple makes them obsolete, then I give them my wallet and tell them take what you need.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Sunny and 87? That’s very springlike. We’ve had a few warm days, and now it looks like we might get a few damp ones. No complaints from me.

        This MacBook of Herself’s was a breeze to work on. I think it was the last one about which this could be said, which is one reason I wanted to have a go at it. We spent a couple hundy on the upgrades, and that’s a whole lot cheaper than a new one.

        The processor’s not very speedy, and there was a time where a guy with a screwdriver and Torx wrench could upgrade that sucker too, but that time has passed. Apple likes ’em disposable now, which is one reason I’m really gentle with my two Pros. The ’14 Pros are like the ’86 Toyota pickups — versatile and indestructible — and I want to keep ’em around a spell.

  5. David Rees Says:

    Great post Patrick. My father flew 35 missions over Germany in a B17 and somehow came home (physically) unscathed. Stayed in the USAF for 25 more years (B52 nuclear training with our allies in the UK) and SAC navigation training and sortie planning before he retired. He died three years ago at age 93. We didn’t talk a great deal of politics, but he was one of those unusual military men who came to hate the military mentality and what the services came to be (in his mind). Plus, he was a life-long Democrat.

    This asshole as Commander-in-Chief would have made the man sick. I wish my father was still with us, but I’m so glad he didn’t have to see this clown in charge. He cheapens and demeans all the years my father served. And as you said: shame on us.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      That B-17 gig over Germany was heavy lifting. Did he tell you much about his flying days? We got not much from the old man; what we did learn came from mom, and the older I get the more I’m convinced that she was a bit of an embellisher. One of these days I need to lay hands on the actual service records, if such a thing can still be done.

      Dad, alas, voted Donk only once that I’m aware of: for JFK, a fellow mackerel-snapper. He turned seriously Nixonian afterward, while I of course went the other way, to the Yippies, Marx and beyond.

      Poor sonofabitch fought one war in the Pacific to fight another in his living room. This is one of the reasons we don’t have children.

  6. mooremediaone Says:

    “Since he has no shame, we must bear it in his stead. Shame on us.”

    Beautifully said. You’ve put into words the sinking feeling I’ve had since last November: ashamed of what we have done as voting Americans.

    Have a peaceful Memorial Day.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Thanks, sir. When you see how other people struggle for a power we treat so cavalierly, the right to vote, it makes you think the Founding Fathers were misinformed. Look at how we fawn over the royals. Maybe what we secretly desire is a king.

  7. DownhillBill Says:

    Played twice today (different bands) at the state War Memorial. “Congressman” Dave Brat was working the crowd after the main service. Given the surroundings I avoided the urge to make a scene about the grandstanding bozo. I’m bailing on another gig tomorrow night because he’ll be speaking. Freedom Caucus, my ass. These guys have no conscience and no shame.

    I sure hope Sharon isn’t right, but I wouldn’t bet a penny against it.

    BTW, what do you think the reaction would be if a Democrat’s son-in-law was trying to set up an unscrutinized back channel to the Russians?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Ho, ho. That “what if Hillary/Obama did [your outrage here]” hypothetical is gonna get a workout until and unless we impeach or Amendment 25 Orange Julius Caesar.

      But the numbers are skewed against us, and given the indifference, venality and outright cowardice in the GOP, I am anything but confident of constitutional remedies. We’ve made a right bloody mess of things, and I fear we’ve not yet seen the worst this lot has to offer.

      Sorry, I should be more optimistic. I got macOS Sierra installed on two Macs, revived a third, and didn’t botch the SSD/memory install and OS X recovery. That should give me confidence, no?

      • psobrien Says:

        Oh, I think this bozo is going down sooner or later. I believe he is in hock up to his ass to the Russians. His son bragged to a journalist about not needing American banks since the Russians were willing to finance their projects. Kushner was chasing Chinese money, another phony baloney version of visas for sale. Every time bad press hits this family, Donald throws out another shiny ball to distract the faithful. That shit only works so long. A few reps with a shred of dignity left in Congress are working to defund the Afghanistan debacle. Yea, I finally looked at the news, and saw a picture of that prick on hallowed ground.

  8. Libby Says:

    Thank you. Eloquent.

  9. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    Shame on us indeed. Especially when these people come home from the seemingly endless wars and find their home foreclosed upon and end up at the food bank. The greasy orange turd was going to fix all that too – it’ll be so easy he says. Now we hear about how hard everything is – but of course none of it is HIS fault. Nothing ever is. This clown really is a POS in an ill-fitting suit. All I can say to my Italian friends is “Well, YOU had Berlusconi!” and their response is “Yes….but…” They are right of course – Silvio on his best day couldn’t f–k things up as much as Drumpf does pretty much every day.

  10. Dale Says:

    I never thought I’d think or say this after having been in the draft in 1969, but our military needs conscripts for two vital reasons.

    1. A Democracy cannot remain a Democracy with a professional standing army.

    2. Too few families have blood invested in the endless wars we wage.

    Military service has become a career rather than an obligation, and that troubles me.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      I also got drafted in 1969, and I agree with you. There are lots of innovative ways to do a draft, and lots of ways to reward, besides pay and benefits, those who serve . And lots of ways to reward non-military service. And deferments need to be virtually eliminated except for serious health or incapacity, independently checked by government doctors. No way to “buy” your way out of service like some people we were discussing earlier.

  11. ryansubike Says:

    Nicely said Sir, My father was also a USAF vet, serving during the Korean Conflict as a Staff Sgt. stationed in Morocco. You did however forget to mention that Ol’ tiny hands was also a draft dodger, exempted from service for “bone Spurs” that did nothing to preventing from playing sports in private school. One more shame in the ever growing pile for us to shoulder in his stead.

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