With appreciation to all who have sent me birthday wishes, I’ve taken the time to answer at least some who have asked, “If you could have anything for your birthday…what would it be?”
I turn 67 years old today, February 26, 2019.
And I thank each and all of you who have taken the time to send me regards – to send me some laughs about our respective relationships that I dare not share – and to just let me appreciate that another year of verticality is worth more than all the cake in the world. And no, I don’t want cake with a George Dickel chaser, as one suggested.
Aging is tough, and I don’t have to remind anyone who’s doing it.
Stuff hurts that didn’t used to. My hands, for instance. It doesn’t take a wizard to understand that I type more than the next five hundred people you’d meet, put together. Only, those years of baseball, and foul tips, and wear and tear…and now arthritis…has reduced me from an accurate 80 words a minute to about half that. This to all of you who wonder why the columns aren’t up by 11 pm some nights.
My perspective on life has changed, and I really can’t say if it’s for the better, or not. Family and the kids say that I’m kind of ‘frumpy’, demanding, unbending on things. I’ve always been apolitical and I’ve never thought much of political correctness, as you might have guessed. You know that question that people sometimes ask, about if you could talk with anyone in the world for ten minutes…who would it be? Well, a lot of people answer by saying Jesus Christ. And I can appreciate that for what He represents…and for the sake of answers we’d all like to have.
But truthfully, if I could have ten minutes to do over I’d like to ask Franklin Roosevelt…”What the hell were you thinking when you opened the government bank vault after the War, and started us down that road of government paying for everything?” Because look where it brought us in modern day terms.
I can tell you this. As I age each year I develop an even great appreciation for the cost paid for all of us to be Americans – to be free, to be rich (if we want to be), and to be poor (if we choose to be). What it amounts to is the blessing of free choice. Try doing that in Iraq. I was in Texas last week and the photo above shows the aircraft carrier Lexington that had 350 naval men killed on it in the South Pacific during WWII. But the flip side was…the Lexington was also responsible for 348 enemy planes being destroyed by the men who served on that ship.
I value the service of those who fought in all the wars, in fact. And as strange as this may sound to some of you…I’m often asked what I’d really like for my birthday if I could have anything in the world. My answer is this.
If it were possible, I’d want to be on the field at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, and witness the climax to the Battle of Gettysburg – Pickett’s charge, Hancock’s rebuke of that charge, and to view first-hand the defense of Little Round Top by Joshua Chamberlain and the men of the 20th Maine. I had three ancestors who served during that war and I’ve always been a little jealous of their service, their experience, and the kind of appreciation that they must have had for the privilege of being an American, afterwards. I’m sure they took that to their graves.
We talk now in lip service of what it’ll take to make America great again…and that if we just gave everyone in the country $1,000 a month to make them feel a part of things what a great start that would be. Well let me ask you this. Which do you think spawns the greater appreciation for being an American. The blood and sacrifice of a million men and women who paid a real price? Or a $1,000 a month of your hard-earned tax dollars? Because think of what you’d do with a free $1,000 that you didn’t earn.
The older I get the more I appreciate how life works. I appreciate the simple pleasures of accomplishment.
I’m thankful for the success of this website, and the enjoyment that it brings so many of our readers.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to provide at least some supplemental support for those who help make it happen each day – and for the friendships of people like Hal McCoy, Greg Hoard, Mark Znidar, Greg Billing, Ben Robinson, Joe Neves, Tim Boeckman, Jim Raterman, Julie Wright, and others.
That said, my heart breaks this year for the loss of friends unspeakable – Stan Wilker, Jim Morris, and Jay Roman.
And again to the question of what I’d really like to have (that I could actually have)…I think of my dad so often now and how he looked forward each year to something as cool as just having peaches in the orchard. “If we can just get through the spring frosts,” he’d say. I say “ditto”, Pops. Now I know what you mean.
I think about all this now, and the price necessary for me to live the rest of my life as I want. I hope I get that opportunity. I hope all of you do. I’d hate to have come this far for nothing.
More, I’d hate to come this far and have nothing left of the old American values to sustain my kids, their kids…your kids, and their kids.
And yes, my golden years are shaping up to be a lot different than some.
But why would you want it any other way?