I don’t make it a habit to post much from Twitter or Facebook here, but I couldn’t resist sharing this one. Our dog, Angel, paws her tennis balls while holding a rope or another ball in her mouth, but she’s nowhere near as animated as this bad boy.
Tag Archives: beach
In an interview with Piers Morgan that aired on June 4, two days before the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, in France, Donald Trump was asked if he wished he had served in Vietnam. His response: “Well, I was never a fan of that war, I’ll be honest with you. I thought it was a terrible war. I thought it was very far away. At that time, nobody had ever heard of the country.”
I wasn’t a big fan of the war in Vietnam either, but I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in the Spring of ’66, just as things were beginning to heat up again. I failed my physical, as I was born with club feet, which required surgery to correct my left foot when I was five years old. The doctors saw the four large incision scars on my foot, ankle and shin, and nixed my service.
I argued that sailors don’t do a lot of marching and I should be able to make it. They let me in. When I arrived at the United States Naval Training Center in San Diego, I immediately suspected I had made a mistake. As the bus I was on drove into the camp, I could see numerous company’s of men marching on the largest blacktop (we called it a grinder) I’d ever seen. As it turned out, marching was one of the things we did a lot of . . . and it was hell on my arthritic ankle and my shortened Achilles tendon.
There was on thing, one punishment that was meted out to us that sealed my participation and my eventual discharge. During graduation ceremonies, we would be required to bend our left leg at the knee so we could rest our rifles against the inside of our thighs (so the rifles wouldn’t clatter to the ground) while we screwed our white hats onto our heads in preparation for demonstrating some physical exercises with those rifles.
When our Company Commander thought we needed some admonishment or straightening out, he would make us stand in that position for up to a half hour. It required me to bend my left ankle in a way it just wasn’t capable of doing, as I have a shortened Achilles tendon. Needless to say, it was becoming quite painful after a while. All the marching wasn’t exactly helping either.
I decided to go to sick bay, where they x-rayed my left ankle and, after reading the film and seeing I had arthritis in my ankle, I was offered an honorable discharge. I declined. When I went back to my company, to a man they all told me I was an idiot and that I should take the discharge. Two days later, I decided they were correct and by early July I was a civilian, with a DD214 that said I served 1 month and 23 days. It also said I had been awarded the National Defense Service Medal.
I don’t think of myself as a veteran. I have never attempted to get veteran’s benefits, making a conscious choice after my discharge to not use benefits that others needed far more than I did. I know I wasn’t officially in long enough to quality, but I believe I could have made the case they should never have let me in and the hours and hours of marching and painful standing at “five-and-dive” exacerbated my medical issues . . . but I chose not to try.
After I was discharged, I became more and more opposed to the war and, by 1968 I was involved in the anti-war movement. I also joined a group of leftists, including a bunch of lawyers from an organization called Bar Sinister, in a Hapkido class. I could do most everything, but kicks that involved using the heel of my left foot were problematic and I almost broke it sparring one time.
We eventually morphed into a security team, doing everything from protecting demonstrators to armed security work for people like Jane Fonda, Roger McAfee, Hortensi Bussi Allende, and Vietnamese students in the U.S., among many others. I believed then, and I believe now, I was serving my country by opposing a cruel, illegal, and unjust war; a war that was killing my friends, one of whom it was my solemn duty to serve as a pall bearer for not too long after graduating High School.
I’m proud of what I did, though I frequently have wished I had tried a little harder to stay in the Navy. I do believe my work in the anti-war movement was important and valuable. Nobody paid us, and hardly anybody ever thanked us, but we prevented a lot of bad shit from happening . . . and helped, in many small ways, to end the war in Vietnam.
Back in late July of 2010 (actually, Picasa – and my camera – tell me it was on Saturday, July 24, 2010, at 2:45 PM) we were enjoying the Summer weather at Sycamore Cove State Beach here in Malibu, Caifornia. We had camped out in an adjacent site in Point Mugu State Park, which requires a short walk to a sand carpeted tunnel that takes you under the Pacific Coast Highway; very kid safe! I can’t recall if it was with the Indian Guides or the Girl Scouts, but we were there with a bunch other families and a bumptious horde of little girls.
Despite my having recently undergone surgery to remove a Melanoma and a couple of lymph nodes (just to be sure it hadn’t spread, which it hadn’t), I was determined to spend some time on the beach. My wife had purchased both a long-sleeve, UV-resistant shirt and a large umbrella designed to corkscrew deep into the sand. I was able to sit in the shade pretty comfortably and enjoy my children and their friends – and a beer or three – frolic in the surf and sand.
We had been there a couple of hours when this young man and two women came walking by. He was holding a sign that said “Free Hugs”. Most people were ignoring him but, being the old hippie that I am, I just couldn’t resist availing myself of his offer. Frankly, I think those who didn’t (and that was most everyone on the beach) were being disrespectful. Here was a fellow human being who, despite all the fear in this world, was offering to hug perfect strangers.
To tell you the truth, for all I know he could have been pledging a fraternity (though the timing wasn’t right) or working on some sort of thesis or paper (the timing wasn’t terribly propitious for that either). I really didn’t care. It just struck me as the right and decent thing to do. Besides, there is something magical about connecting with strangers in a very human way. Hugging is something we all do. Hell, even male professional golfers hug their caddies nowadays . . . at least after a victory!
It’s now well over a year and a half later and I’m still healthy, so I guess he wasn’t carrying any communicable diseases. Don’t think it didn’t cross my mind. Regardless, I think we all can use a hug from a stranger now and again and after surviving my cancer scare I suppose this was just one way of my affirming I’m alive and kicking. Next time you see someone with a sign like this, go ahead a stick your damn neck out. I doubt you’ll be sorry you did.
PS – Just in case you were thinking, “That Rick’s a lying SOB. He just took a picture with the guy for fun”, here’s the pic Linda took shortly after we posed for the one above.