Whatever floats your boat...
We went to see the movie Battleship. It has several actors I enjoy, it's science fiction, it has sailors and aliens. What's not to enjoy? I liked Cowboys and Aliens too. Sue me.
For those of you who have been following my blog for a moment, you know that my dad, my hero and my buddy, was lost to me on February 15th, 2012. I have written several blogs that I have not been able to share with you yet, but as promised, when enough time has passed, I will.
Back to the movie. I won't spoil it for anyone that wants to see it but the previews show a bunch of sailors doing sailor-y things. They show destroyers aircraft carriers, jets and helicoptors. You see aerial views of the ships, and views from the bridge. I love Navy movies. I love seeing sailors doing sailor-y things. Even if the sailor-y things are the trouble they get into during shore leave or the mundane things they do during drills. My dad used to tell me stories. Like the one where a guy not where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be there ended up getting sucked into the engine of a jet on the flight deck. I was pretty young when he told me that story. "How did he get out of the engine?" He just hugged me and promised that he would "...always be where I'm supposed to be when I'm supposed to be there..." He made me lots of promises like that. I always believed him and he always kept his promises.
He spent many years on aircraft carriers. He loved ship life. He said once that if he didn't have a family at home, he would volunteer to stay on the ship all the time." I always hoped that none of us would ever do anything to make him want to stay on the ship and we never did.
On more than one occasion, we got to tour his ships and we'd eat in the Chief's mess hall onboard. Dad always went on about how much better the food in the Chief's mess hall was. Even better than the Officer's. I didn't disagree although I never ate anywhere else on the ship and had nothing else to compare.
In the movie, they honor a dozen or so retired military personnel. They were old men, with a drag in their steps, and crackels in their voices. You could see time in their faces. They looked like old men until they put on their uniforms. Their steps quickened, backs straightened. And you could see the pride in their faces. It was just a movie, but pride and strength and resolve comes with the uniform.
At one point in the move, the group of retirees were walking together on the deck of their ship. I could almost see the American flag waving behind them and their families waving from the docks. I got a lump in my throat and my eyes began that burning that I have become acustomed to at the most inappropriate times. I saw my dad standing there in his uniform. Proud, strong and resolved. Never doubting for a moment the honor it was to serve his homeland; to protect his family. His military career lasted 22 years but it defined him till the day he died. His family came first, his country came second.
I asked him once what he would have done if he hadn't become a sailor. The thought was almost absurd. I don't remember what he told me but I suspect he would have found a way to serve his family and his country one way or another. He would have lived and died with honor, and the respect and love of everyone who knew him.
And he still would have been my hero and my buddy.