Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Wow. And Gig 'em.

This is from a columnist in Georgia...

Darrell Huckaby - Encounter with young family puts things in perspective
Darrell HuckabyColumnist

So there I was, with my wife and two of my three children - the ones who are 22 and 16 - enjoying a nice day at the beach. Actually, it was day on the island, but give me a little leeway here, please.
It was a Saturday morning - a warm Saturday morning. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and I really and truly shouldn't have had a care in the world, but I have a tendency to create cares where none exist. I'm an old curmudgeon, in other words. A mulligruber. I don't recall what my worries were on this glorious Saturday morning, but I'm sure there was something that didn't suit me.
Perhaps my coffee had not been hot enough at breakfast. Perhaps our entourage had taken too long to get ready for our bike ride - which happened to be the only thing on our agenda for that day. Perhaps I wasn't satisfied with the way the golf tournament was going in Augusta. The point is, I am sure I wasn't enjoying the day as much as I should have, because that's just the way I am lately.
I had stopped at the Sweet Shoppe in the Jekyll Island village. Not the one the millionaires built. The one regular folks can shop in, if they have enough money. I wanted a praline, and my oldest child wanted a turtle. The two of us walked out of the store with our treats and were greeted by the sight of a young family who seemed to be enjoying their day more than I was enjoying mine.
I couldn't help but smile as I watched the young man in the Texas A&M baseball cap wipe melted chocolate ice cream off the face of his own daughter. The fresh-faced young father looked like he couldn't possibly have been a day older than my daughter, the one standing beside me enjoying her turtle. The child with the ice cream on her face might have been 3 1/2.
I took the beautiful brunette - the one with the 18-month-old in her arms - to be the young man's wife and I felt like a voyeur as I stood for a minute or two and just watched them interact with one another and with their children. I could tell by the way they looked at one another that they were very much in love - with one another and with life itself.I could no more have resisted speaking to them than I could have resisted eating the last bit of my fresh confectionery.
"Are you an Aggie?" I asked the young man, in reference to the baseball cap that covered his closely cropped blonde hair.
"I am," he said proudly. Class of 2003."
Really?" I asked, surprised that he was so long out of college."What are y'all doing so far from College Station? Are you out here on vacation?"
"I'm stationed at Ft. Stewart," he told me, "and we just drove over to enjoy the day."
And then he added, "I just got back and we needed to spend some time together."
"I just got back," the Aggie told me.
I didn't have to ask from where, so I asked, "How was it over there?"
"About the same as the first time I was there," he answered.
The first time.
A young man who looked to be no older than my daughter had already served two tours of duty in Iraq.
"Really?" I asked. "There is no change?"
And then he amended his response. "Oh, no. there is. Things are lots better from the Iraqi stand point. They are beginning to take over and things are a lot calmer and everything will be OK soon, if we stay the course."
If we stay the course. His words. Not mine. Not George Bush's. Not John McCain's.
And then he said, "It just wasn't any easier to be away from them," nodding at his young family. "That's what I meant when I said things were about the same."
"Are you home for good?" I asked.
He smiled and said, "Yeah. Or until next time."
I didn't learn the name of the young hero in the Texas A&M baseball cap and I didn't want to steal any more of his time. I simply said, "Well God bless you all. Thank you for your service," and started on my way.
His young wife, however, reached out and touched my arm."We knew what we signed on for," she told me, "and as hard as it is, it's worth it. It has to be done."
I smiled and turned away because I hate for beautiful young brunettes to see tears forming in my eyes.
On April 19, 1775, the first American soldiers answered their country's call to arms and for 233 years now brave men - and more lately, women - have been leaving their families to serve on our behalf.
I don't know what kind of mood you are in today or what you have on your plate, but I know that each and every one of us can breathe free because there are about a million-and-a-half men and women in uniform scattered across our country and around the globe, making sure that we are as safe as we can be in a world gone crazy.
God bless them one and all.
Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at http://us.mc563.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=dHuck08@bellsouth.net.

Darrell Huckaby - Aggies come out in force for school and country
Darrell HuckabyColumnist
I tell you what. Those Aggies are really something!
I related a simple little story in this space last week about a young family I encountered at Jekyll Island. The husband/father - a Texas A&M graduate, was just back from a 15-month deployment in Iraq, you might recall, and was enjoying a day on Jekyll with his wife and two young daughters and I wrote about the sacrifice that family - and untold thousands of others - have made on behalf of our country.
Now this is where the magic of the Internet takes over.
A friend of mine from high school - one Jimbo Allen, high school quarterback extraordinaire - who now lives, I believe, in Houston, Texas - saw the column online. It seems that Jimbo - who probably goes by James now - has a daughter who matriculated at Texas A&M and he has become a follower of all things Aggie. He decided to link my column to an A&M message board - and that's when things got interesting.
Now let me say this. I didn't know an awful lot about the school in College Station before last weekend. I knew that a friend of mine who is now a retired Baptist preacher was dumb enough, when he was a college student at Baylor University, to let his then girlfriend, Doris, attend an A&M homecoming game with an Aggie student. I learned from him that the Texas A&M cadets kiss their dates every time the team scores and that the day Doris went to a game in College Station A&M won 70-0, or something like that. That's a lot of kissing. It turned out OK. My friend and Doris have been married for about a gazillion years.
I knew that Bear Bryant coached at Texas A&M before coming home to Alabama and that he took his first Aggie team to a quasi-death camp in a place called Junction and ran off most of the team before turning those who were left into champions. And I knew that the student body still stands en masse throughout their football games - creating a rather intimidating "Twelfth Man" effect.
That was about as far as my knowledge went.
Well, I know a whole lot more now, believe you me.
It seems that Jim Allen's post coincided with a special occasion at A&M - "Muster Day" - which occurs on April 21 every year. April 21 is Texas Independence Day and marks the anniversary of Sam Houston's victory over Mexican dictator Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto.Muster Day is a big deal at Texas A&M - marked with games and activities and a solemn evening ceremony at which speeches are given and the names of Texas A&M alumni who have died since the last muster are read. Those who knew the departed answer the roll call on their behalf.
But it doesn't end there. Musters are also held all over the world - and I mean that literally. Wherever two or more Aggies are gathered, a ceremony is held and fallen heroes are remembered. This year, the names of five people were called who died defending freedom since the last muster.
And make no mistake about it. Texas A&M takes Muster seriously - and she takes the sacrifices of her sons and daughters seriously, too.
I received hundreds of responses to my column. Hundreds. Every time I turned on my computer, dozens of new e-mails popped up on my screen. Some were short and to the point. "Thank you." "Well done." "We appreciate the kind words."
But others! Others were long epistles in which men and women poured out their hearts and bared their souls in an effort to explain how much they love and appreciate their school - and their country.
I heard from mothers and fathers who had lost sons in Iraq and Vietnam and other places around the globe. I heard from Aggies who had landed on beaches with names like Utah and Omaha - and Aggies who had served on Iwo Jima and Okinawa and, well - you get the picture. I heard from men who are stationed in Baghdad right this minute; men who drove 20 miles through potentially deadly streets to be at Muster with their fellow Aggies. I heard from wives whose husbands are deployed, thanking me for putting their husband's service and their own sacrifice in perspective.
Wives of deployed soldiers were thanking me. That is so backward!
All week, the e-mails came in from proud Aggies, each and every one full of heart-felt thanks for mentioning their Alma Mater. Hearing from all those wonderful folks made me want to get in my car and head for Texas and the A&M campus - one of the few places in this great land that I have never visited. Makes me wonder what a fellow has to do to become an honorary Aggie.
Well, I don't know about that, but I know this. If the entire nation was as full of patriotism and pride and esprit de corps as the Texas A&M family, well - all of our country's problems wouldn't be solved - but we'd be a hell of a lot closer to solving them.
God bless America - and God bless Aggies everywhere.
Gig 'em!
Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net

1 comment:

TexPatriate said...

Dagnabbit, D'Lyn !

You made my mascara run. Again.

(Not an Aggie, but damn proud of those who serve our country willingly and selflessly, nonetheless.)