Sunday, December 16, 2012


This morning was cold and rainy.  Fog covered everything before me and the rain fell relentlessly.  There would be no need to pull the boat to the lake this day for no one would be on the water.  I walked to the back of the truck and unhitched the boat, got in and unhurriedly pulled away.  This would be a day to check the boat ramps for those humans who relentlessly pursue the denisons of the lake.  The rain was falling very hard and I was on the road a half hour before the sun would arise.  As I drove along the lake I noticed how dismal the place looked.
Drained and muddy, brown and empty - a desolate place unfit for man or beast.  The scenes brought back flashes from the past.  The images weren't clear but none the less there was some vision trying to break through to the front of my mind from some hidden vault where it was locked away for eternity.
There was nothing of beauty here.  The views were all dismal and foreign like some others I've seen.  I thought, "what a dreary sight at Christmas time.  This damn mud hole!"  Then I got a handle on what was happening in my head.

The radio show, "The Veteran Next Door" came on and I turned it up.  The story line revolved around Christmas music that was popular during the wars of the various periods in our nations history.  I was amazed to find that the popular old Christmas songs I grew up with were in play during the French and Indian War, the Revolution, Civil War, and World War I.   Please click the link below and hear the most marvelous, moving song that is a story of Christmas for men serving their countries in a most desolate, forlorn place not unlike the hell that resides in our most vivid imaginations.

Tears formed in my eyes as I listened to the story unfold through the music. World War I was a most horrible war where man's most creative means of destruction were unleashed upon those poor, brave souls who faced the torture and annihilation of the day.  Men on both sides climbed out of the trenches to surge forward toward one and other across a bare piece of ground known as no mans land in order to clash in mortal combat to decide a victor and win the day.  So many of the youngest boys on both sides destroyed in the beginning of their lives by bullet, shell and poison gas, never able to have the opportunity to say goodbye to loved ones, or even to put pencil to paper the night before battle or to jot down thoughts that might fall under some loved one's eyes.  The unfortunate ones laid mortally wounded in the mud of the battle field entertaining thoughts of home and loved ones, knowing all the while that their life's blood flowed upon the muddy field in this unknown place - this hell on earth.  The rages of that war shredded the bodies of countless thousands who answered the call and did the bidding of their countries.  The song I referred to above beautifully pays tribute to them and indicates they were not there of their own desire but answered the call of their government, right or wrong.  They found it possible to throw away their differences and come together to share the joy of Christmas together regardless of political motivations.  Politics - a filthy word to me.  It is a reinforcement for evil and greed and serves those who dispense it's views first - and the people as a whole last.
That tune will haunt me forever, as do memories of a time past that are too vivid and become loosened from their tethers in my mind all too often in my later years.  The browns and mud I see today are reminiscent of another desolate river I spent some time  walking along.  Monsoon season is a miserable time when it swells waterways and floods the land.  Men on foot overcome the resistance of the two foot deep water as they step forward through it.  The mud sucks at their feet as they walk forward.  Every step is a struggle - and the rain pours unending, soaking them through and through and chilling them to the bone even though the temperature is a hundred degrees.  A wet, musty stench arises from the mud - a reminder of the rotting flesh lying just beneath.  Another time and place but no more friendly than those horrid fields the boys crossed in WWI.   Christmas cookies shared by one and all.  Packages torn open as if they contained gold.  The note attached to the wrapping with scotch tape. The faces with smiles the night before, lost somewhere during the next day never to be seen again - never to be spoken of for fear of unmanly tears being shed at their thought.  
Yep - good ole Douglas Lake.  She's a cheery looking hole at Christmas.  One final thought:

Don't thank a soldier for his or her service.  Walk up to em and throw your arms around them and hug em.  Pull back and look em in the eye and tell them, "thank God you were and are there for us."

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OF YOU.    Appreciate all we have in this country and cling to our heritage as tightly as you can.  Struggle to hold on to it.  Freedom has exacted a horrible price on those who battle evil to protect our freedom - from abroad and soon from within.