Monday, October 10, 2011

Scene from Fleet Week in the military's new day

It's the annual Fleet Week in San Francisco. That means for the last few days the Navy air show team, the Blue Angels, have been flying over the city. They are enjoyed by hundreds of thousands for their daring and cursed by the minority who hate being loudly, dangerously, and expensively buzzed by this advertisement for military power.

Fleet Week also means the sailors are in town.

Every Sunday in the fall I watch football on TV with a rowdy bunch of gay guys who as very young men were draftees in Vietnam. It's an understatement to say they didn't like being involuntary soldiers in a war they hated and were simply glad to survive. They have dutifully marched against their country's subsequent wars.

But yesterday one of them, I'll call him "Bob," wanted to report a scene that made his heart glad. He'd dropped by a gay bar the day before and there they were: three serving Marines in full uniform, having a high old time. These men didn't have to hide their sexual orientation any longer. He was stunned, a little confused in his feelings, but happy: "They were so cute! ..."

Others couldn't let this go by. Bob was yelled at: "Stop it .. they are murderers!"

These folks have been friends through life and death for almost 50 years, so they quickly dropped the subject and went back to appreciating the 49ers pounding on the Tampa Bay Bucs.

I don't really have anymore to say about this little scene except that, for the people who find themselves sent to fight, their wars are never entirely over.


Darlene said...

You are so right.

sfmike said...

I never had a problem separating the soldier from the horror of what they were being told to do. Some of them were/are murderers and sadists, but the vast majority that I've met over the years were people of a lower economic class who were just trying to get out of their hometown and away from their family, and maybe travel and have some adventures along the way.

I never thought them as all that cute, though, with the exception of Frank, a Navy guy originally from Hoover City, Nevada who was stationed down at Moffett Field during the Vietnam War. I met him as a teenage hitchhiker, and though he was a straight guy, I fell in love as only a 16-year-old can.

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