A thought came into my mind today, something that the widow of one of my best friends told me. You see, I keep in touch with Cathy through occasional telephone calls, cards. When Jim was alive, they were great friends to Linda and I. When Jim died, Cathy was devastated and overwhelmed with grief. She could not even bear to tell anyone. I found out when I called for Thanksgiving. Linda and I had just visited them not to long before. Jim did looked bothered by his heart condition, but was still himself. But, he died of a massive heart attack after coming home from work one evening. As Cathy related to me, Jim's last words to her were; "Cathrine, I don't feel too good." As he collapsed on the floor of their den. That was at least ten years ago. I still call her, and when I am in town, we go to see her. Cathy still is a great friend.
I bring all of this to you because I am bothered by the fact of what she recently told me. Cathy said; " Don, you are the only Navy friend of Jim's that keeps in touch with me." That really bothers me. Our wives took care of us and our friends during our "Wild" days. We drank too much and they played nurse maid to us. They helped our families while we were deployed. Remember, there were no organized family support groups in those days. No Navy Family Services Centers full of professionals ready to hold your hand. Just that seasoned Navy wife, ready to come along side and educate the new Navy wife. They were tough, independent women who had to endure much longer than 6 month cruises, and many times had to put up with back to back deployments.
Yet, we forget the widows. Loose track of them, because the sailor that we "Ran the Streets with" is gone. I believe this is a travesty that must be fixed. As we age, our wives, the widows, and yes, us old shipmates, need each other even more! Civilians pay lip service to us by saying; "We appreciate your service." That's a cheap way of soothing their conscience because they did not serve. They hated us when we came home from Viet Nam. Now, they honor us!? I doubt it. But those of us who served, we have the bond of hardship, wife and sailor alike.
So, I challenge you to look up an old shipmate. If he has gone on to his reward, talk to his wife. Just the conversation will mean a lot to her. Send them a card, maybe an old picture. Maybe you can even get that old shipmate in the Navy Memorial log! Honor those who YOU served with. Call a shipmate or his widow, TODAY.
Monday, February 7, 2011
I have received a number of comments on my previous Captain Honors posting and I really appreciate ALL of your inputs. They have been interesting and I recommend that you go and read them at the end of that posting since I published every one! I had some replies from families of Enterprise crew members that supported what the then Executive Officer did and I received one from a Naval Officer, in a non-combat designator, that thought I was full of crap. I can assure you that I am not. I had half of my colon removed because of a tumor, 10 years ago. Since them, I have faithfully had three bowel movements a day! So, I am sure that I do not need to use colon cleanse. But, thanks for your concern.
There was a distinct difference between crew members and their families and the remarks of outsiders. Also, those who actually served at sea supported Captain Honor's intentions and actually showed understanding of his intentions. Those who have not done a 7 month cruise had a more negative approach, like the comments about my clogged colon. My bottom line is, I still support what Captain Honors did. Bart Simpson is more offensive than Captain Honors was, and most of you watch "Bart" every time he is on the television! Captain Honors had a reason for his "Humor". It was to educate sailors about the trials and problems of living on an OLD Navy war ship. He chose to do that in a manner that he knew would reach his intended audience. I applaud him for being intelligent enough to figure that out and plan an entertaining way to make some very important issues stick in the crew's collective memory.
Again, please keep those cards and letters coming. I publish them all, unless they are so filled with profanity that I dare not publicly display them. Some of you can actually make me blush. Well, maybe not! I appreciate you opinions and inputs, and I really appreciate the fact that you choose to read my blog!