Writing a blog like this, you’re expected we'd have something seasonal to say most holidays.
But what’s to be said about Christmas that hasn’t been said before?
Those of us raised in the Christian faith often harken back to cherished memories of church choir programs of Christmas music and visiting relatives and eating home cooked meals and Santa Clause and gifts under that brightly decorated tree.
These were a time of special Christmas stories of the baby Jesus, born in a manger, visited by wise men, who goes on to be our savior… told time and again in a hundred different ways in sunday shools and portrayed with manger scenes in front of churches across the country.
Remembering those childhood times connects us to the purity of our more innocent youth….
The Christmas season is enormously commercial now… pure religious celebration only seen occasionally… though a common theme in selfless service to others and to country.
My seasonal tiding this year is along those lines. It’s excerpted from a book written by a master story teller on US men of brave purpose at war.
THE BRIDGES AT TOKO-RI
James a Michener
“How was Brubaker hit in the first place?”
“He was working over the dumps.”
The admiral pounced on this. “What was he doing at the dumps?”
Patiently Cag explained. “Before we took off we agreed. If we get the bridges, we expend our ammo on the dumps.”
Icily from the empty bitterness of his bosom, the old man asked, “Was that wise?”
Cag had had enough. He’d stood this angry old tyrant long enough and there was no promotion in the navy that would make him take any more. “Admiral,” he said grimly,” this was a good mission. We did everything just right. I put Brubaker in charge of the third division because I could trust him to fly low and bore in with his bombs. He did just that.”
Cag, trembling with anger, rushed on, “Admiral, everybody in the air group knows that you selected Brubaker as your special charge. You do that on every command and we know why you do it. Some kid your own boy’s age. So today I led your boy to death. But it was a good mission. We did everything just right. And it was your boy who helped destroy the bridges. Admiral, if my eyes are red it’s for that kid. Because he was mine too. And I lost him.”
The old man stood there, staring stonily at the shaking commander with the bullet head while Cag shot the works. “I don’t care any longer what kind of fitness report you turn in on me because this was a good mission. It was a good mission.” Without saluting he stormed from flag country, his fiery steps echoing as he stamped away.
For many hours the admiral remained alone. Then toward morning he heard the anti-submarine patrol go out and as the engines roared he asked, “Why is America lucky enough to have such men? They leave this tiny ship and fly against the enemy. Then they must seek the ship, lost somewhere on the sea. And when they find it, they have to land upon its pitching deck. Where did we get such men?”
He went out to watch the launching of the dawn strike. As streaks of light appeared in the east, pilots came on deck…..Majestically, the task force turned into the wind, the bull horn jangled and a voice in the gloom cried, “Launch jets.”
Admiral Tarrant watched them go, two by two from the lashing catapult, planes of immortal beauty whipping into the air with flame and fury upon them. They did not waste fuel orbiting but screamed to the west, seeking new bridges in Korea.