Yesterday marked the fourth anniversary of The Decider's attack on Iraq and the beginning of the subsequent distraction from catchin' Osama Been Hidin'. Hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, more than 3,000 American GIs killed, and scores of wounded later, still NO MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
Last night I found myself watching this story
about a young Marine named Ty Ziegler and his new wife, Renee. You get the feeling you're looking
at "Jack and Diane" except, well, Ty's unit was hit by a suicide bomb attack and he was nearly killed. Ty lost a lower arm, part of his skull, digits on his remaining hand and his feet, and he was severely burned. The tale of how his life came back together and how he and his fiance Renee pushed on through his recovery really caught me off guard, and I thought about how many times over this same story is likely played across America today.
My boss is currently recovering from knee surgery that sends him to rehabilitative therapy twice a week. He never fails to remark on how many young GIs, mostly men, are being cared for as the VA facilities overfloweth with the injured. This is a remarkable time, and this war is the most remarkably unjust thing in our lifetime since Viet Nam. Servicemen like Ty are no doubt grateful for the love that stayed behind, and remained true.
Tonight I danced off to the library to poke around the cd selection and pick up a movie. (Yes, I did. I borrowed a movie. Stay tuned as, who knows, I might even watch it!) While browsing the music I recalled how my son has been interested in music from another American soldier, Glenn Miller. My dad, a U.S. Airforce flight engineer, claims to have met Miller in the service. I don't know whether that's true; those closest to me know my folks made up some pretty good stories. But in all truth that probably wasn't one of them. I can recall my folks playing the music of Miller's band and the Tommy Dorsey band and others for hours while friends or family visited.
The recording I selected features that wartime favorite, "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree." I got to thinking, there must be a bluegrass version out there.
I didn't find what I was looking for, but I did find an acoustic medley on Carol Ponder's
with John Knowles, Going Across the Mountain: Songs of War and Separation,
an interesting collection of tunes spanning the last couple of centuries. Carol hails from the Carolina Appalachians and her other recordings are a treasure trove of wonderful ballads. I will be learning more about her.
I was moved by Ty and Renee's story because I so often forget how quickly life can change, with what immediacy priorities and plans are shifted. And to think I sometimes find myself wishing my life were easier! I realize we all have our challenges, and everything is relative, but I might have to slug the next person who whines about the price of gas or what a drag the weather is -- even if it's me!
Meanwhile, if you know of a good bluegrass version of this song, let me know. Even though we think of this tune as representing a certain time of the last century, the sentiments it expresses, of a young soldier missing his sweetheart, are timeless. We may not agree with the war, and some may not even feel they can love the warriors if they hate the war. But please try.