The third cup 10/19

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Hi neighbors. Pour your coffee and let's sit and "ponder" a bit today. Anyone who has lived in Vernon County, or anywhere else in the USA for long, has to know how many on-going discussions there are about the Civil War. I think one reason the Civil War is such an interesting topic is no one now living was there to fight in it. It's a safe war to talk about because it is now just history, not living memory. When you talk about wars that people can remember, or at least remember their grandfather's tales about, the attitude of the discussions changes. When the talk advances into the 20th Century, the enthusiasm slows down. People discuss the first world war with a dismissive attitude. The second world war is usually talked about in hindsight. Anyone who was actually there talks about the times afterward, or the time before. No one says much about the combat itself. The Korean War issue is skirted. Vietnam is discussed in paranoid whispers and stilted, three word sentences. Most who were involved in Desert Storm are now back in Iraq or Afghanistan. I guess the topic of war, like that of revenge, is best served cold. Wars are best fought as drive through, not delivered. The attack on the Twin Towers made us realized again that war isn't always somewhere else. That sometimes horror can be first hand, not just a newscast on television. Sometimes, between wars, we forget.In the last "Bushwhacker Musings" the quarterly newsletter of the Vernon County Historical Society, there was a photo on the front showing a highway sign saying "war speed 35." No one seemed to know what that was all about. But it made me think of a half forgotten incident that occurred when driving through the country with my mother. We were going down an old dirt road that Mom had frequented when she and Dad were first married. I listened to the oft told complaints of horse drawn wagon travel and how her favorite dresser got broken when the wagon wheel hit a deep rut and the dresser jumped out of the wagon. That prompted my usual reply of the roads being better now. Mom continued to advice slow speed and added a comment about people had to slow down during the war. With Mom, "the war" always meant World War II. She added that during World War II citizens were asked to drive slowly and watch for small aircraft and/or actual invading troops out in rural areas. She also said rural road signs that gave indications of where you were -- like how many miles to the next town, what county or state you were in, etc., were all ordered removed so invading troops would be confused about locations. It used to be hard for me to imagine how real and immediate the fear of invasion was then. But I got the message after the Sept. 11 attack. Now Homeland Security promises we are as safe as they can keep us. Of course, that's always followed with some comment like citizens need to be diligent. Where does diligence stop and paranoia begin? What would we do if there was an actual invasion in America? Makes my stomach churn. I have never imagined myself as a great warrior. When I see movies of soldiers rushing into battle I think of myself as remaining in the fox hole, or behind a wall, curled into a fetal position and too scared to move. What would we do if there was no place to hide? Scary thoughts, but I'm pretty certain we've all had them. Did we declare an end to the Cold War just to have a real one take its place? With most of our National Guard and Reserve units overseas, it may be something to think twice about. Being a coward myself, I'm glad to know there are military veterans around who would know what to do and how to do it if that dreaded occasion ever actually happened. I'm not ready to start tearing my towels and sheets into bandages yet. Still, I do tend to drive slower in the country now and I watch the tree line and ditches a little closer these days. It is now and has always been, a scary world. Is there really "something" out there plotting our demise? Until the next time friends remember; we all get afraid of the dark, but eventually you have to uncover your head, climb out of the hide-away and actually look for the monster under the bed.