Monday, May 29, 2006

Frisbee-golf on Memorial Day

This afternoon, nine guys showed up to play a round of Frisbee-golf. So we played a game of skins with three teams of three men competing. During the play and afterwards over a beer, the conversation was somewhat different than it is on any given weekend. That was mostly because it’s Memorial Day.

In today’s group, which ranged in age from 45 to 60, three are veterans. I was in the Navy, the two others were in the Army. All three of us served during the Vietnam War era, only one saw combat in Vietnam. He was in the infantry and saw plenty, the other guy in the Army went to Germany, instead .. luck of the draw.

Ordinarily, the political points of view in our Frisbee-golf group -- there are about 25 players in all -- range from left to right to apathy. Yet today it was easy to set aside our usual grumblings about what’s happening in Iraq, or justifications for it. Today there was talk about being in the service so long ago, and of the guys we knew who died in the war. Guys no different than us, but who didn’t get the chance to come home to learn how to play Frisbee-golf and grow old. They weren’t lucky.

Today, I can put aside the bitter anti-war feeling that dominated my thinking after I got out of the Navy. Tomorrow I’ll get back to giving the Bush administration what-for about war. For one day, this day, I want to put my politics to do with war on hold.

A commentator on NPR just got in my ear using a Memorial Day theme to bolster his argument against the war in Iraq. I'll listen to that tomorrow. Today I shut off the radio.

Today I am remembering my friend David Lipscomb. He lived a block from me when we were in grade school. As part of a group of neighborhood boys we played sports and explored the woods on many a pretty day, just like today was. He had a little brother the same age as mine. David was a funny guy and a clever coconspirator, when it came to plotting a prank.

When I was 12 my family moved, so we went to different schools and we saw one another only occasionally after that. In the spring of 1968 a local newspaper report informed me David Lipscomb had died in Vietnam. Today I still remember him as a little kid, not as he was, when he died.

The feeling I had when I saw that newspaper article has never left me. Now I’m going to a neighborhood bar and drink a cold beer to David, then a second one to all the other guys just like him. Guys who ran out of luck.
Photo: M. B. Perlstein (1984)

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