Justin: In the Feast of Being Able to. Amen.


I got a used military ACU top today. I’m not sure when I’ll ever wear it outside of the BATHROOM, but I hope now to look extra cool as I point my rifle at myself in the mirror. This top replaces my trusty BDU in woodland camo, which has served me well for over a decade of holding myself at gunpoint.

I have always believed the key to non-veterans wearing military camo is to wear only a piece at a time. Either that or to sew a Spongebob patch on each arm. Something to thwart the notion in others that you are a huge wannabe instead of just an average civilian wannabe. And lets face it, I wanna be.

So no, I don’t feel silly wearing a piece or two of used military gear. Most of it is great quality stuff, and since soldiers have to buy their uniforms, they often sell the old ones. Further, our tax dollars supply billions in equipment to the military each year. To recover a fragment of this expense, they liquidate used, obsolete and excess stock to surplus outlets. A great many hunters and outdoor enthusiasts find gear at these stores. We have one small one in Fort Smith, where I purchased my ACU top.

I see soldiers and I’m proud, and in many ways I wish I would have been one. When I chat with them I look for tasteful opportunities to brag on my own family’s soldier, LTC Tony. LTC – That’s a rank acronym for Licensed To Catch bass apparently. Sometimes I like to add that I also have a buddy, Chris – an Army medic – who just RETIRED AT AGE 40. (From the Guard, anyway.) I like saying that.

I love to see my friend Will return from Guard drill and come right to church in his uniform. Of course more than anything I like to see old veterans stand up in a crowd when asked, for recognition. I care little for movie stars, wouldn’t cross the road for more than five or ten musician autographs, and there’s pretty well no political figures left to admire. But an old soldier has an instant chance of being placed on my admiration list. I’ve been friends with many. Actually, I used to KEEP an autograph book just for WWII / Korea vets in my truck at all times.

Don’t misapprehend me. Some of the biggest jack-tards I’ve had the misfortune to share air with have been veterans, also. Like the two bit who wanted to date the girl I was dating, so at a small cookout party he decided he needed to ‘pee’ in my direction. Keep in mind, we are adults here, in our 30’s.

“That’s quite a cat,” I responded to a girl’s story about her cat. “My little brother taught his cat to hop in the pickup truck and go for a ride when he yells, “Load up!”. People laughed.

From the side of the room, a voice heretofore not a part of the group conversation uttered, in a mono tonal pitch best described as retardation, a response:


Confused and unwilling to believe what I’d heard… what we’d heard… everyone paused, then continued on with our little party.

What’s fun is that for the years since that happened, I randomly remind myself aloud while driving, while over-burdened with work, or perhaps while brushing my teeth vigorously. My dog… eat that cat, Justin.

Once I was at home in the middle of a heavy workout on the drums. I was ‘droppin’ it like it was hot’ when Floyd went running wildly through the room, back and forth. On his fourth pass, I was at an even break in my solo as he bounced off a wall, deflected from a bookshelf and landed on my keyboard right out in front of my drums. As he froze momentarily in a crouched position, about to continue his drum-inspired berzerking, I drew the solo to a dramatic pause, and just like an 80’s hairband drummer in makeup, spinning his stick, I bolted up from my drum throne, pointed a stick at Floyd and screamed

Then dropped down and continued my solo.

So versatile an admonition, no matter my state, I am again happy.

So you see? Even the lesser gifted ex-soldiers can be of value. But truthfully I just don’t meet a lot like that. Most of them are pretty cool guys. Two of my best buddies from youth became soldiers before continuing on to other careers. Granted, one dropped off the face of the earth, sucked into the abyss, I’m told, of New York or Jersey or Brunswick or Haven or Mexico (One of these things is not like the others, one of these things does not belong…). Man, I miss James.

Then there’s Moon. Moon is like, a legend. One of those personalities that’s huge and notable in my recollection of days gone by. Moon chose to be an Army medic. That’s just cool, in my book. My first WWII soldier interview was an Army Medic. Chad’s B’s grandpa. For over 50 years he had never spoken of the horrors he witnessed, not to his wife or children, not to anyone. The man couldn’t be in a room with a black and white John Wayne war movie.

I turned on a tape recorder, asked him his name, his last rank and serial number and then shut my mouth until both sides of two cassette tapes were full of things that make me know I’m thankful to God for American soldiers, and thankful for what I have never seen.

Nom Nom, Kitties.

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