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I taught (as a sub) yesterday at a high school with a Marine Junior ROTC. My whole special ed class was in the “Junior Corps”. Draw no conclusions. But it gave me a chance to attend the unit’s field dress ceremony at the flag pole out front. Parents (too few) and teachers and administrators (too few) gathered.
And me. Thinking, remembering.
A retired Marine Corps Master Sergeant Harkin, in full dress blues, of course, gave the cadre a speech. Wow! Lean, trim, loud, he bellowed without a mic, “Your future is not up to the Corps, your parents, or your teachers…it’s up to YOU”. Their series of life choices, etc., etc. The regular rah, rah stuff. I felt like re-enlisting. Too old, hair’s too long.
But it made me think of legacy. And dads.
Harkin had a fascinating career, including embassies and battles here and there. He wrapped it up in a ten-minute package. He was my age, the end of the Vet (or Traditional or Silent) Generation. He spanned four generations, Traditionals to “Me Gen,” in ten awesome minutes. He was a living legacy, Semper Fi. My undereducated, under-achieving class was hearing something that could change their lives.
In those moments Harkin paused for effect, that marvelous divinely designed mind kicked in. It took me to distant landscapes and thoughts fermenting in my head’s far recesses. I pictured those who served America’s freedom cause that I knew, that I longed to see again. Like my son and my brother. Then there was Chuck who never made it back to the carrier. Dan, the former Blue Angel, who was my wingman when one of the three Vietnamese pilots didn’t return home, and we did. But he “bought the farm” a couple of years later. So did squadron mate Tom who left a fiery hole in the ocean filled with aircraft parts and steam for but a few minutes.
Family trees are priceless for those of who are beginning to grasp how legacy is, in fact, central to life itself. It’s the same way history is suppose to guide our nation’s future, but seldom gets applied. Take note, dads. Do you know who up in your tree is one of those who knowingly offered his life’s blood that history would be different. That’s legacy lost if not remembered, memorialized. If that doesn’t work out so well, does his sacrifice in the Civil War, WW I or II, or even back at Bannockburn (my Cameron clan) touch your family at all? It should.
Somewhere in your tree is most likely a hero worth memorializing. This should include those injured or even who serve with honor and did return to take up life again, and give you life. Even so, what we’ve now labeled PTSD existed unrecognized yet still scarred those who saw and could not repeat the unspeakable.
Let us remember and give thanks.
And pass it on. Else, what’s a legacy if it’s lost.

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