February 11, 2007

I read Dick Feagler's new book entitled, IS IT JUST ME? last night. It is a compilation of his columns that appeared in the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER. Mr. Feagler also has his own talk show in Cleveland and knows everybody and most everything about Cleveland. Mr. Feagler is a blunt talker, and always makes his point. I was taken by many of his columns from the book, but this one seemed typical of the feeling that things change, yet they don't, and someone always has to pay the check for someone's ineptness. It is titled: PASSING THE WORD ABOUT WESTMORELAND, written by Dick Feagler on July 20, 2005.

I try to believe in an afterlife. If there is one, the ghosts were
murmuring in Arlington Cemetary last night.
The whispers went from foxhole to foxhole, grave to grave. My
bet is, they sounded like this:
"Hey, Westy's dead."
That's from a marine corporal in Da Nang. Dead a while.
"Really," said an Army guy who drowned in a swamp. "How old
was he?"
"He was 91," the corporal said. "He died of natural causes. He was
in a retirement home."
"Well, said the Army guy," given human nature, I guess we all died
of natural causes. He just lived about 70 years longer than us."
"How old were you?" said the Marine.
"Do the math, jarhead," said the soldier. "I was 21."
"I was 20," the Marine said.
A slow, warm wind blew a newspaper across the grave. I believe
the dead still get our news. It's a chilling thought. But maybe they
don't care anymore. It's like watching too much CNN.
The Marine read the story to the soldier:
"Retired Gen. William Westmoreland, who commanded U.S.
troops in Vietnam-the nation's longest conflict-died Monday
night. He was 91."
"Did you ever see him?" the soldier asked.
"Got a glimpse," the Marine said. "He got off a chopper and we
had an honor guard for him and he passed me by. That was about
two weeks before I got mine."
"I got mine when he was saying he saw the light at the end of the
tunnel," said the soldier. "Remember that?"
"Oh God, yes," said the Marine. "And the body counts; remember
"When we used to fudge the numbers?" said the soldier. "I sure
They chuckled softly in the darkness.
"You know, Westy was a great soldier," the Marine said. "He was
brave and faithful. He was a semper fi kind of guy. He once said,
"They put me over there and forgot about me." That's as close as I
ever saw him to whining."
"Well, said the soldier, "they put us over there and forgot about
us too. But the difference was, he called the shots. He saw the light
at the end of the tunnel."
"Ha ha," said the Marine.
"Ha ha," said the soldier.
There was a pause then.
"You know," said the soldier, "It was pretty obvious after we got
there that we weren't going to win the war. All we could win were
"Yeah," said the Marine. "We ended up just fighting for each
other. But the guys who were supposed to figure out what we were
doing there just took a hike. Or lied about it."
"Westy never understood that," the Marine said. "His job was to
fight. And he did that. All generals do that. The public doesn't care.
The politicians don't care. They are all gutless and the guys with
the guts are buried..."
Then the night was interrupted by the noise of a machine. The
machine was digging a new hole, which would be fresh and tidy in
the morning.
"Iraq?" said the Marine.
"Yep," said the soldier.
And they listened through the night and heard a new foxhole
being dug. Another neighbor. New midnight conversations. Some-
body else to talk to.

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