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Col. Jon Stories

THE PERILS OF OUR YOUTH

My family is very small and includes two sisters and three first cousins. We all gathered for the funeral of Aunt Peg, the last of her generation in our family. That means the six of us are now the oldest generation in the family. This was the fourth gathering of what we call the cousins yearly reunion.

My cousin Joanie (who is a delight to be around) brought her only child, Ashlie, a recent graduate of Penn University. Thus started my continued "enlightenment" into Ivy League graduates, as my sister's daughter, Sarah (an FBI agent) married a Dartmouth graduate who is a Secret Service agent and provides protection for foreign diplomats. This big guy (6'5") played football for Dartmouth, so we talked a lot of football and not too much about politics. As usual, my wife Mary Ann stayed very close to me so I wouldn't pursue areas of endeavor that weren't politically correct and embarrass her. Most of my life was spent with old red necks (that weren't racists) that called black people "colored folks" when I was young, and than Negroes when I played basketball with them in college and found out they were quite a lot better than I was. We graduated to "black people" in my middle-age years and then finally "African American" when I got older.

Back home in Wausa, Nebraska Bill Kirby, one of two Catholic families in town, owned the hatchery. It was an unwritten law that you couldn't date Catholic girls and unheard of to marry one. If you were suspected of violating these unwritten laws, you would be the subject of much passed along gossip by the ladies that gathered in cars on main street on Saturday night.

One of life's greatest pleasures was to gather in Kirby's Hatchery and watch the Oriental "chicken sexers" grab little yellow chicks, tip them over, squeeze them; flipping roosters to the left and females to the right. They did it so fast their hands were a blur and the chicks were a mass of rolling, yellow fur balls.

Bill Kirby made the rules. You had to be at least 10 years old, you couldn't stare at the Orientals and no talking. Oh what fun! We did do a little whispering and we were thrilled to see our first Orientals in person. They, in turn, would catch us staring at them and would really get a kick out of it. You see, political correctness wasn't in the vogue yet and everybody laughed quite a bit. Bill Kirby and I were friends for life!

My point of all this, is that you would never say "Orientals" in the politically correct atmosphere because "Asians" is the accepted descriptive terminology used in today's world. I sometimes forget being politically correct and use a term from my youth, "China-man" and immediately get kicked in the shin under the table by the "boss", I'm not referring to George Steinbrenner, I'm speaking of my wife Mary Ann. So I must confess that my cousins and I did make a few slips of the tongue and my black and blue shin is proof of it.

In the meantime, our young Ivy League graduate, Ashlie, viewed us all as her red-neck, bigoted relatives that lived out in the bush. We all chuckled and really had a great weekend of story telling and catching up on family history. But later, I had some philosophical wondering about that weekend.

I remembered one incident in particular. Joanie had found a lot of history from Aunt Peg's side of the family and traced the Magee family tree back to the American Revolution. I than told her that my side (Pfeil family) was also traced back to having fought in the American Revolution and that she could join the Daughters of the American Revolution, something that should be considered a great honor for anyone. My suggestion wasn't received with very much enthusiasm, nor did the same idea get received enthusiastically by my two sisters a couple of years ago. Their reaction was that it was controlled by conservatives (they being liberals) and they'd never join a right-leaning organization.

Having not been aware of the political leanings of the Daughters of Revolution, I was quite shocked. The idea that tracing one's roots back to George Washington and his troops freezing at Valley Forge and then saving the Republic could be seen as politically incorrect was astounding. But then I remembered that Supreme Court nominee Kagan barred military recruiters at the Harvard Law School. The list goes on and on, through the Ivy League and out to the west coast and basically at a majority of our Nation's institutions of higher learning.

Intellectual tolerance is encouraged as long as it leans left. Prayer at schools, the Pledge of Allegiance, Christianity (Evangicals), and the military are generally frowned upon and dismissed at many institutions. Anything you believe in is okay, if is "feels" good. All this stuff us old-timers were never exposed to! If only our colleges would discuss both sides and be open to normal debate. That's what I think happens at South Dakota State where I've never detected any agenda from the students or faculty. They actually laugh at my political incorrectness at SDSU. What a breath of fresh air SDSU is.

The rest of this story is about Donovan, the 25 year old Texan who married our granddaughter, Ashley. My first look at him came in February in their home near Fort Hood, Texas. He looked like a fire hydrant on steroids and had that big grin on his face. He was just happy to be home after serving two tours in Iraq for the Army. His first tour was spent doing ground duty, "kicking doors in and killing the enemy," as he said. The last tour of duty he was a 50 caliber gunner in an armored car. He was right in the middle of the action all the time and told me all about what he did... hair-raising stories told by this politically incorrect patriot practicing his trade in 120 degree heat, not knowing who the enemy was or where the next bullet was coming from.

In one incident, Donovan and his comrades were pinned down by three snipers and couldn't move. They radioed a sniper pal of Donovan's, a 120 pound country boy from Tennessee who honed his shooting talent on squirrels. He quickly killed two of the enemy snipers and wounded the third sniper. Donovan was assigned the task of following the blood trail that took him to the edge of a canal. He waded across the canal with water up to his neck, a flashlight in one hand and revolver in the other hand. The enemy combatant was sitting on the edge of the canal and dropped a grenade in the water as Donovan dove for the bottom. He, luckily, was not hit and the enemy soldier was killed. Most of his stories were much bloodier and gruesome, so I'll just pass on them.

Donovan's training didn't take place in the hallowed halls of Ivy. He came off the prairie of Amarillo, Texas, raised by two parents that were in and out of trouble because of drug use. He was lucky because he spent a lot of time with the Grandpa hunting, fishing and learning how to play poker from his Grandpa's pal, "Amarillo Slim." He started at fullback and linebacker for a big high school in Amarillo and finished third in the Texas high school state championship wrestling competition as an unusually short (5'7") light heavy weight participant.

Donovan was ready when his Country needed him... rough and tough and eager for action while his Ivy League counter-parts were protesting against military recruiters and ROTC, not knowing or caring that the one thing that allowed them to protest was the military. The military created our democracy in the Revolutionary War, freed the slaves in the Civil War (700,000 soldiers died), saved the country from the Nazi's and the Japanese empire (400,000 U.S. soldiers died) in WW II.

So, as these young protesters and their tutors make noise, politically incorrect warriors will be fighting and dying for their freedom to protest against the military, the churches, the old guard, patriotism, and most folks in general.

Long live a strong military in this FREE COUNTRY!


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