C. Douglas Caffey
SAYING GOODBYE TO AMERICA: Part 1
Today’s date is May 8, 2008, which is also the anniversary of VE-Day, 1945. The writer is almost 82 years old, having PTSD since WWII. The time has come to say farewell to a nation that is loved, and therefore, to address that nation which gave this veteran birth and also gave to him the ideals of Freedom, and has succored him for these eight decades.
America has been seen from many points of view, most of which have been loved. America, your arms have been wide enough to embrace both young and old, the lovers of yesterday and lovers of today, husbands and wives, both children and sage as your own. This veteran knows not when his time will be up, but one thing he does know and that he has less time now than he had yesterday, and if tomorrow comes he will have even less time.
Before he goes, he wishes to say goodbye to the America which he has loved, and for whom he has fought and for whom he has given of his health in preserving Freedom and Sweet Liberty. This veteran has seen the Stars and Stripes flying from Battle Ships, from Air craft carriers, from a hospital ship, from government buildings, and from simple homes of the many who love America as he does. He has flown the Stars and Stripes from his own home, but must confess in this present age that walking to the back yard to attach Old Glory to its flag pole is so painful that there are days when the Flag must fly in the imagination of an old man’s mind!
So, he sees the Flag of the United States of America flying in the New Mexico breeze where all who pass by will know that there is a veteran who loves the Flag as he loves the Land of Freedom from which she flies.
The sounds and sights of America inhabit the memories from the time this veteran was just a bare-foot boy playing in the sun with his dog, until that fateful day on a cold December morn of 1941, when hundreds of planes from an enemy swarmed from the Rising Sun to wreck havoc on a place in the Pacific Sea, known as Pearl Harbor!
Thousands gave their lives for the cause of Freedom on that day long ago. Some still sleep in those cold waters; who never again will walk those decks where the Flag of America once flew, in America’s grand hour. Those of us who played in the sun with our dogs, and our toys, when we were boys, learned to shorten our time of play and to don a uniform of blue or brown to become soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen to answer the call of America for the preservation of Sweet Freedom.
To the ends of the Earth we went, sailing warships and merchant ships, submarines, and flying machines of all shapes and size, to dot the horizon of the skies, to avenge the Freedoms which we loved. We saluted the Flag with heart-felt meaning, as did those brave Marines one war-torn day on the island of Iwo Jima, who raised the Flag on Mount Suribachi. It was at on Iwo Jima that seven thousand marines bled to death on those black sands, their red American blood mixing with those black sands as a token of the supreme sacrifice which can be offered only once. We dare not forget their patriotism – or the patriotism of four-hundred thousand others who die for American Freedom.
Yet, on Iwo Jima there were thirteen thousand other Marines who bled in those black sands but won the battle over death. Have you though what it is like to die all alone in some fox-hole with no one to hear one’s dying wishes to loved ones, and no one to hold the hand of a dying Marine, or to give him comfort in that sacred hour. Surely there were thoughts of sweethearts, or wives with babies the dying Marine had never seen. But one’s dying farewell had to be etched with a keen sense of the commodity known as Freedom.
Would you die for Freedom? Looking back on those days of some sixty years ago, it would have been easier to die for Freedom and Sweet Liberty, than to have survived to fight the battles every night, over and over again, when the “Mares of the Night” know and visit your address. The good aspect of death is, ‘it doesn’t take long to die!’
©Copyright May 8, 2008 by C. Douglas Caffey
Author’s Note: Dear Reader, have you noticed that certain words are so sacred to this veteran, that they are always capitalized. Freedom is one of those words which are so loved. It is one way of paying homage to the Freedom which all Americans should love.
For this writer, when the word Marine is penned, it is always with a capital “M.” The writer was not a Marine; just an airman of the famous 509th Composite Bomb Group, which dropped the two atomic bombs on Japan in August of 1945, compliments of the Old Army Air Corps! However, the Marines took the Island of Iwo Jima at great cost to have a place where crippled B-29’s returning from bombing raids on Japan, could have a place to land, thus saving the lives of thousands of airmen, and hundreds of B-29’s which could be repaired and to fly other missions on the enemy, thus keeping, perhaps, millions of deaths from happening if Japan was to be invaded on the ground.
Those B-29’s returned to Saipan and to Tinian, and flew again, and again, to soften the will of the enemy.
Parenthetical: This veteran is glad that the enemy is now a friend. We can mix our tears in the same bottle!
By C. Douglas Caffey, a disabled WWII veteran, having served in the 509th Composite Bomb Group 58th Wing. Air Photo Unit, 20th AF: Army Air Corps, WWII