B52, Censorship, Military Service, Minot AFB, North Dakota, Peace, Strategic Air Command, Veterans Day
“Not many people understood why we turned introspective and blissful at the mere mention of camp. Either they believed the lampooned versions in movies or thought of it as a one-week excursion into cheerleading, band, scouting, or sports. Perhaps those bands of brothers who had experienced combat together could understand it best, though the military men in my life resented the comparison. I had suggested it once at an Officer’s Club in Minot, North Dakota, being a newly married transplant aching for my summer friends. I had been informed ours was a country club existence made possible by the service of those brave soldiers. How could I argue this? Ever since, I had taken my memories underground.” Memory Lake, p.356
Yes, camp is not the same as military service. I wholeheartedly admit this. I am overflowing with gratitude to be living at this time in history, in this country, where I have become all my heart desires. I thank the soldiers who have devoted their lives to protecting my freedom, so I can have these wondeful memories.
Thank you to my husband, John, now retired, for his 22 years of service to the taxpayers. He always tried to put them first.
He thinks it’s no big deal, and will probably never see this blog post. But, he was a Cold War Warrior, featured in this TIME magazine article. I’m proud of him, though he says he was, “Just doing his job.” http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,922438,00.html
*(Google censored this photo of the SAC emblem, a B52 model, and military medals, taken from my phone. Gmail would not allow me to download, or copy it, because of its ‘sensitive’ content. I had to use a different email account. This is not freedom.)
I was thinking about this post, where you wrote about summer camp resulting in a “band of sisters” ethos with your camp friends, and about how the young bomber crews denied this parallel. And yet, I think there is one. I say this with the greatest admiration of the various bands of brothers who have served in combat or in the service. ((Parenthetically, I think it a shame that those who fought the Cold War don’t have a memorial or more recognition than they’ve had. They were involved in action and sacrificed as surely as anyone involved in a hot-fire incident…and there were even a few of those. I am glad you recognized them in your post.)
They faced death and shared experiences which made them closer than blood kin, and yet, didn’t you and your sister campers face peril that, while not as overt or extreme or noted, was just as perilous in its own way? Adolescence is a period in which the individual faces situations and experiences that are as real and dangerous in a psychic sense as those faced by warriors–who should I be friends with? What choices should I make? Who am I? Where is my life headed? The answers to these questions can result in a healthy growth toward wholeness or a downward spiral into disease or death.
And adolescence is not the only shared experience which has these characteristics–getting married, having children, dealing with teenagers, dealing with the empty nest, dealing with aging parents, being a part of community and church and work groups–all have their peer groups we grow to feel close to. And so we move through various bands of brothers and sisters, finding either comfort or despair, depending.
Just as combat veterans talk about a buddy saving their lives, so the “other” Nancy at camp saved yours, just as surely as anyone who dragged a buddy to safety under fire. I am sure you have thought about how your life would have turned out had you not gone to camp. I also thought about all the “bands of sisters” in our history–the sewing circles, the quilting groups, the women’s church groups, the suffragettes, the Rosie the Riveters, the post-war suburban gatherings, the PTA’s, the political and women’s organizations, the book clubs. They were a life line for the women involved in them, and they still are.
I know you know all this already and have written about it with great wisdom in ML. It just seems to me that your observation about campers becoming a band over the course of five summers is so very true and so very beautiful. Thank you.
Hey Huck, I appreciate your analysis. Readers like you make it all worthwhile. Yes, there is a lot going on beneath the surface. Thank you for ‘getting it’.