Funny how several things will happen in a short period of time, that all seem to be connected. Last week my wife asked me to accompany her to the nearest military base to have her ID renewed. Unlike mine, which has an indefinite expiration date, hers is only good for four years, at least until she turns 75, when she can get an indefinite expiration date. Since we have been married for fifty years, I saw no reason not to renew.
My indefinite date occasionally causes me trouble. I use the ID as my government form of identification and on occasion TRA personnel will note that I have an expiration date on it that has passed. I then have to explain that that is when I became eligible for Medicare and dropped off the DEERS list, which made me eligible for care at military bases.
The day after we renewed the ID, we read an article in the Orange County Register by a feature writer, Jenny Sokol: http://jennysokol.com/ . She is a Naval Academy graduate, married to a deployed Marine officer. The subject of that week’s column dealt with her daughter recently turned ten, who now qualified for her own ID. The column is witty and provides insight into the rite of passage that is so meaningful to a group that has been captured so well in the book and movie “Brats” http://www.bratsourjourneyhome.com/ . I especially liked the phrase her daughter used when she learned that after her daddy retired, he would be probably get a regular job. The newly card-carrying ten year-old said, “I don’t want him to be regular, and I don’t want to be regular either.”
Ms. Sokol correctly states that at age ten, the military ID has limited utilitarian value. Mary, my wife uses her's to get a base decal for her car, to get preferential security screening at the Orange County airport, and on a weekly basis, to shop at the commissary. The card is her's and even after my death she maintains essentially the same privileges. As my dependent she also depends on the military for community and for some advantages, sort of qualifying for military dependence.
My parents are buried in Arlington Cemetery, my mother’s ashes on top of my father’s casket. The single grave marker has their names and dates on opposite sides. My hope is that Mary and I will also be buried in Arlington. My younger son, a middle school teacher in a local parochial school, has been chaperoning the eighth-grade students to the Washington, DC area for the last several year and ends their tour of the cemetery by saying a prayer over his grandparent’s grave. I’d like to think of him doing the same for us.
With Memorial Day just around the corner, I find myself reflecting on my father’s service during the Second World War and as a reserve officer after that. I find myself remembering my own service, my two carrier assignments, my time with the SeaBees and the Marines, and my first military ID card, which had a number other than my SSN. I remember that, if I were captured by an enemy, I was to tell them nothing that was not on that card: my name, rank, and serial number. Today, as a civilian, I have to tell more than that to buy an airline ticket or check into a hotel. But the card is a good place to start.
And then, one of my favorite bloggers, Sonia: www.gutsywriter.com , writes a blog about her son, a student in a New Mexico military academy, finally realizing a dream to join the National Guard, and how she feels about that. As I say, it's funny how all those things fit together.
Tuesday’s blog will feature one of my favorite female vocal artists, who has just cut a new CD. I’ll tell you what makes her one of my faves.