Reblogged with permission
Chrystalia99 February 1, 2016 Conservative Tree House:
This may sound strange–but it feels like Viet Nam. 1972, Nixon/Mc Govern. My election memory is atypical. But it is the essence of my need to fight. So it is important, here.
All of us have reasons to fight, and this is mine.
Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and MLK and RFK were still open wounds, I was allowed to watch very little TV– only 2 hours a week of “fun” TV, other than that I could watch 2 documentaries or art events on PBS, and the news. Additional TV time could be rented–10 cents for an hour of educational stuff–or 1.00 an hour for “fun”. Needless to say, I stuck to reading.
My father often told WW2 stories, or watched war documentaries. And Walter Cronkite lived in our living room in the morning, Harry Reasoner at 6 p.m., David Brinkley at bedtime. And for several years, even after I went straight from kindergarten to 2nd grade, I genuinely didn’t realize that the war I saw on TV was REAL and not some documentary. I was reading Nancy drew books, and in second grade at 5 years old, and I really didn’t connect what I read in the paper and saw on the news with a WAR. How odd is that?
From the earliest age, my father and my grandmother always took me with them on 2 trips to do IMPORTANT THINGS. One to the IRS, where we stood in line for hours on April 14th, and my father paid with cash–and one on VOTING DAY.
i grew up from the time I could read being told that my uncle Ben had died at Casino, so I could vote–and that because I was a girl and might get foolish, I MUST ALWAYS CHOOSE WISELY. That was my grandmother, BTW, NOT my father.
And that in order for soldiers like my Uncle Ben, my uncle Bob, and my father to have uniforms, and guns, and bullets we had to pay our taxes, honestly. because every dollar a cheat stole from the IRS, stole 5 bullets from a soldier.
And when the election season came, the TV was on ALL the time, leading up to THE DAY. when election material arrived, my father discussed every single proposed law or bond. We read all the Boston news, and the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal–no doctor seuss once I got in school.
And my father would yell at the TV during debates, while I held the rabbit ears just right. He would swear at the paper, and all through the spring of 1972, he swore up down and sideways that that pusillanimous PISSANT, the pickle nosed PORKER, was killing good boys. And I still didn’t GET IT.
And he’d vote Mc Govern. That was it. He WOULD DO IT, HE’D VOTE MC GOVERN. And I still didn’t get it, until one warm early summer day. We were coming down the steps of Copley Library, and I saw a REAL SOLDIER.
He was in a wheel chair.
And he had no legs.
I was confused–how do you fight without legs? And there was a group of ‘FILTHY LONG HAIRED HIPPIE COMMIES” Waving signs.
And this really pretty girl, in such a pretty dress, walked up to that soldier, smiling–then she spit in his face.
She called him a baby killer. And he was my son’s age, now, probably 25, and he looked like an old man.
Well my father–who in that long ago year was 47 years old— decked that laughing girl, a full on right to the jaw. And when her friends tried to jump him, some other passers by got involved, then a mounted policeman showed up–and when he heard what had happened, he called the paddy wagon and held them at gunpoint until it arrived, with my father and other older men standing guard, and the wagon hauled the hippies off, screaming.
And I still remember my father kneeling in front of that sobbing kid, wiping his face and telling him to man up, that once we got Mc Govern in office, we could save what was left of America.
And when the whole thing was over, my father grabbed my hand, and he brought me to that soldier. And he asked if I could feel his stumps, and he said yes. My father took my hands, and placed them on those stumps–and he said that the country was dying around us, when any American would spit on a soldier who was just doing his DUTY.
He said THIS IS WHAT WAR MEANS. AND THIS IS WHY YOU VOTE, AND YOU VOTE THE FACTS, AND YOU NEVER EVER EVER SKIP A SINGLE VOTE. BECAUSE THIS BOY WENT TO SOME STINKING SHITHOLE AND LOST HIS LEGS SO YOU COULD VOTE, AND PAY TAXES, AND SERVE ON JURIES.
And when election day came, we were shivering in the cold, pre-dawn, before my father went to work, and for the first time in his life, he voted DEMOCRAT.
Because he believed Nixon was destroying our nation, was a crook, was unconstitutional, and was murdering good boys. That Nixon was running us into debt, and we’d never again be free. That Nixon was running congress around, and acting like a king….
He knew Mc Govern was not much better, if at all. He knew that the Democrats would walk away from their word to the Vietnamese, and he knew boys would keep dying in stinking shitholes.
But he told me, three years later when I watched those choppers rising off the embassy roof and cried, THAT WE STILL NEEDED TO VOTE. And never take our eyes off those damned kleptocrats (yes, that’s where I got the word) for one minute–because a day would come when we’d only have one chance left, and I had to train myself for that day–sharpen my mind, keep myself informed, learn every skill I could.
And when we had gotten home that day, the day my childhood essentially ended, he made me sit down and write what he had said to me in front of that soldier. 100 times.
He told me about how his father had taken him to the veterans home one day when he was about my age, and showed him his buddies from WW1–and my father had looked on those shattered men and had touched them and had learned the same thing he taught me–with one addition.
That His didn’t end with serving on juries–his ended with AND WHEN YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU, WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT, YOU WILL SERVE.
AND IF THERE IS NO WAR, YOU WILL STILL BE PREPARED TO SERVE.
BECAUSE YOU, AS A MAN, CARRY THE BURDEN OF OUR LIBERTY.
A MAN CARRIES THE BURDEN OF LIBERTY, TO PROTECT THE WOMEN, WHO CARRY HOPE, AND POSTERITY.
I still have a piece of paper in my memory box. It’s old, and yellowed, and the pencil marks are faded, but I don’t need it. Those words are etched on my mind, and in my heart.
The last time he voted was when he was here in Tucson, at the VA hospice, and election day, a “lousy second rate actor” was running–a goofy looking guy named REAGAN. And he weighed probably 90 pounds, the cancer had eaten right through him, but he threw a fit and said he wasn’t doing any mail in–he was going to the polls.
He was deeply suspicious of mail in, always said only soldiers overseas should get them. All summer running up to THE DAY, he was trying to stay awake, croaking at the TV, swearing he’d vote DEMOCRAT before he voted for that second rate actor.
And I took him to the polls one last time, to vote for the second rate actor 🙂. Because Reagan grew on him.
And every day the last 6 months of his life, I took my boys, 5 and 6, to the hospice, and he talked to them. Told them his stories, over and over. Assigned reading to them, told them it was every man’s duty to serve, and serve honorably. AND TO VOTE. VOTE AS IF EVERY ELECTION WAS THE LAST ONE.
Not long before he died, he took my sons around the hospice unit, and into the main hospital, and introduced them to the friends he had made. And he taught them what his father had taught him, and made them write it down 100 times. And he banished me to the patio for a half hour or so every day, so he could talk “between men” with my sons.
I don’t know to this day what he taught them–it was between men. Yes, that sounds horribly old fashioned–but I am. I grew up in a family of old fashioned men, and strong, intelligent, old fashioned women. But I do know this. Both of them always save at least 10% of their pay. Both of them studied hard, treat women with courtesy and respect. Both of them enlisted in the Army as soon as they were old enough–And both of them vote. In every election. And pay their taxes. And report for Jury duty.
So that is my election memory–my hands on those stumps, knowing that my view of the world would never be the same again. That there was a fundamental difference between me and other children, beyond my intellect.
Knowing that if I EVER compromised my vote, if I EVER skipped voting, if I EVER failed to educate myself on my choices of kleptocrat, it would be the same as spitting in that soldier’s face.
The same as not paying my taxes honestly, and maybe costing a boy like my son, in some stinking shithole, the bullet that would have saved his life.
If I EVER shirked Jury duty–I’m pretty sure the world would end. I’ve never had the guts to find out, even when it came at the worst possible time, even when I was sure it wasn’t worth it.
And now, the last chance is here–and I hope I’m ready. I hope we all are.