Author Archive

Stones of Gray

May 24, 2012
STONES OF GRAY
By Commander Edward L. Bookhardt, US Navy, Retired
I stand in solemn reverence, alone,  —   yet, not alone  —   gazing out over the rolling green fields marked with row upon row of carved and polished…   Stones of gray.The warm May breeze, softly brushes my face on its journey across the placid expanse of this hallowed place. Setting in motion the red, white and blue colors of the starry banners which have been placed with loving care beside the resting places of those we have come to honor.

All seems still, except for the muted sounds of fluttering flags, accompanied occasionally by the melodious solo of a mockingbird perched atop a nearby stone. The stillness brings a sudden chill, which shakes my very being. A feeling of helpless concern for my own mortality creeps over me. I sense a deep loneliness, yet I am not alone.

The familiar sounds of military commands and the rustling of ceremonial formations suddenly interrupt my somber thoughts. The bugler’s haunting strains of “Taps” brings me to rigid attention and I salute… each note echoing through my soul as a misty glaze fills my eyes. My once gleaming uniform, as the features of my aging face are now showing the inevitable wear of time…not unlike the weathered gray stones that surround me.

For a brief moment, beneath this beribboned breast beat a brave and proud young warrior’s heart. Filled with the magic memories of bygone times in far-off lands. I pull myself up, to stand just a bit taller as we who have assembled pay homage to our fallen kindred.

Many who came on this Memorial Day have now departed. Once again, I stand alone, but I am not alone, for my comrades remain in silent steadfast ranks. Each proudly mustering for their eternal watch. I turn to go, then pause, turn again and salute once more… the mockingbird as in some ceremonial “fly-by” spreads its feathery wings, then gently rises to float effortlessly on the warm May breeze across the emerald field of starry banners and Stones of Gray.

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THE DEMISE OF JACK TAR

March 24, 2012
(Author unknown)

 

The traditional male sailor was not defined by his looks. He was defined by his attitude.

His name was Jack Tar. He was a happy go lucky sort of bloke. He took the good times with the bad.

He didn’t cry victimisation, bastardisation, discrimination or for his mum when things didn’t go his way.

He took responsibility for his own sometimes, self-destructive actions.

He loved a laugh at anything or anybody. Rank, gender, race, creed or behaviour, it didn’t matter to Jack.

He would take the piss out of anyone, including himself. If someone took it out of him he didn’t get offended. It was a natural part of life. If he offended someone else, so be it.

Free from many of the rules of a polite society Jack’s manners were somewhat rough.

His ability to swear was legendary

Jack loved women. He loved to chase them to the ends of the earth and sometimes he even caught one (less often than he would have you believe though). His tales of the chase and its conclusion win or lose, is the stuff of legends.

Jack’s favourite drink was beer, and he could drink it like a fish. His actions when inebriated would, on occasion, land him in trouble. But, he took it on the chin, did his punishment and then went and did it all again.

Jack loved his job. He took an immense pride in what he did. His radar was always the best in the fleet. His engines always worked better than anyone else’s. His eyes could spot a contact before anyone else’s and shoot at it first.

It was a matter of personal pride. Jack was the consummate professional when he was at work and sober. He was a bit like a mischievous child. He had a gleam in his eye and a larger than life outlook.

He was as rough as guts. You had to be pig headed and thick skinned to survive. He worked hard and played hard. His masters tut-tutted at some of his more exuberant expressions of joie de vivre, and the occasional bout of number 9’s or stoppage let him know where his limits were.

The late 20th Century and on, has seen the demise of Jack. The workplace no longer echoes with ribald comment and bawdy tales. Someone is sure to take offence.

Whereas, those stories of daring do and ingenuity in the face of adversity, usually whilst pissed, lack the audacity of the past. A wicked sense of humor is now a liability, rather than a necessity. Jack has been socially engineered out of existence.

What was once normal is now offensive. Denting someone else’s over inflated opinion of their own self worth is now a crime

“AND SO A CULTURE DIES.”