As you get older you get somewhat hardened by life. You deal with disappointments, betrayal, the “system”. You learn that you don’t always get what you think you deserve, and that what is “right and good” isn’t always what happens.
So as you age you tend to take on a more cynical view of life. You develop a thicker skin; you learn to deal with disappointment. You expect bad things in the world around you, and from people in general.
You have little choice. The reality is that the world is full of stupid people – and of those who don’t give a damn about doing the right thing. Reality rubs your nose in those facts.
Then something happens that reminds you that there are still some left who “get it” – who embody class, respect, and doing the right thing. That there are still some proverbial “good guys” left.
Some time ago, I was forwarded two photos. They speak for themselves.
The first is a photo taken at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial – the Wall.
I’ve been there once. From photos and descriptions, as a young man I thought the design was foolish and inappropriate.
Damn – was I naive.
A few years ago, I visited the Wall. In person, the somber, quiet dignity of that monument hits harder and makes more of an impact than I can describe. But that’s another story altogether.
Back on topic: the first photo shows one panel of the Wall. Reflected in it are the images of the photographer and two of his friends or family members. The names are fairly clear, but in the softcopy of the photo I have not all of them are readable.
At first glance, there’s nothing special going on here.
Then you notice, at the bottom of the segment, three small 3×5 notecards resting against the black stone of the Wall. The second photo is a closeup of one of these notecards.
If the name at the bottom seems familiar – it should. The card was signed by General Peter Pace, USMC (Ret), former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The note was written the day he retired.
Military leaders don’t make it very far without the support and effort of their subordinates. Some forget that fact along the way, as well as where they came from.
Looks like General Pace never forgot.