Other essays on this theme

Essay: "Presidential Elections"

by Michael Collier
Presidential Election

One of my first memories is of a pair of spit-shined Corcoran jump boots with my dad's big feet landing on the parade ground at Fort Bragg North Carolina in a display of style, skill and elan of our Airborne and Special Forces. My daddy, who saw action in Korea, Cuba, and Vietnam, was a "tough man." God, do I remember all of his medals and ribbons and that look that could turn (and many times did) a man to Jell-O. His medals were something but his scars were evil. He followed his dad, my grandfather, who was one of the first paratroopers to land on the D-Day invasion with his brother Tince. They fought through France to Germany showing the Nazi pigs what kind of hell a pair of East Texas rodeo cowboys and cotton pickers could raise. When Korea came along my dad took his cue and enlisted. Flash forward to the first time we were in Afghanistan when Reagan was in office. A select group of Special Forces and Airborne and Rangers were sent to observe and train indigenous groups. A cousin came home whole and happy his blood red beret and gold jump wings standing out against his green uniform with his pant legs bloused into his spit-shined jumpboots. A hard rigid salute to my father, my "older brother," the one we don't talk about came home too. In a flag-draped coffin! I can still hear the 21 gun salute and see the scattering of red and green berets at the funeral as the men of Airborne and Special Forces lay my brother to rest. As the flag was tucked and handed to my mother and the casket was lowered the guns fired and taps blown. My father the Sarge' threw a salute so high and hard, crisp and clean that God himself would have returned it. My grandfather and his brother Tince, my uncle who followed my father to Vietnam and found love in the midst of a warzone and came home with a beautiful wife, my aunt Toc. Her son, my cousin, his brother, and my Dad's sister's son, the other paratroopers and Green Berets, all following suit as my father, rigid as a flagpole, gave my brother his greatest respects. He lowered his salute and did an about face and marched with perfect precision away, leading us all to follow. Grenada was next and then it was Desert Storm and Shield, Somalia, and one of us in Bosnia. From Bush Sr., to Clinton, to September 11th the men of my family followed my grandfather and father, my brother and cousins... and the beat goes on. Dear bro, well I did it I'm going to be an airplane-jumping badass snake-eating Green Beret. You should have seen old Sarge' when he found out his youngest son was a real badass and not a pussy like he thought. You get out of that prison soon man. Mama ain't taking it good, me going to war and all... Some months back a cousin was killed in Iraq and two more were wounded; all were serving with the 101st Airborne. My brother, the nicest kid you would ever want to meet, a modern day Beaver Cleaver couldn't take it so he enlisted. That 21 gun salute and flag-draped coffin were calling. On the lower half of the front page of a local paper I saw an article that said no W.M.D's found in Iraq, it was all smoke and mirrors. A few pages after that was an overview of the presidential candidates. Bush and Kerry show that they stand about the same on war. Dear bro, I got to blow up some stuff today out on Smokebomb Hill, in a few more weeks I'll be a full-fledged Green Beret... Bush or Kerry, does it matter? Elections come and go and the beat goes on.