Saturday, June 21, 2008

Real American values

Victor Patnaude, 91, passed away a few weeks back. Just one of the 1,000 WW2 vets disappearing per day. At his private funeral over in Hadley (where strangely enough many Amherst townies repose, including generations of my family) a member of the renowned ‘Highlander Bagpipes Group’ piped “Amazing Grace” while a matched pair of F-15 fighter jets swooped in low, fast and loud.

A fitting tribute indeed to a distinguished member of the “Greatest Generation,” who selflessly performed their duty that--in his case--included blocking Hitler’s equally insane ground version of a surprise kamikaze attack: the “Battle of the Bulge”.

Sergeant Patnaude’s obituary in the Daily Hampshire Gazette also declared: “One of the highlights of his life was being selected as Grand Marshal of the 2005 Independence Day Celebration Parade.”

And while perimeter patrolling on my mountain bike that day, I do so vividly recall as his open car crept into the heart of Amherst town center the jeers, catcalls and derogatory bellows from a marginal group of anti-war protesters clustered on the usual (protest) corner directly under the official town flag.

Including one idiot holding aloft a placard emblazoned with “Sieg Heil!”.

Fortunately normal folks--including a bevy of exuberant children--cheering, waiving, and saluting far outnumbered the whackos.

Obviously he did not blame his hometown of Amherst, as his final written statement to all who knew him or of him, declared that brief and shining 7/4 episode (only an hour) a "highlight," out of a very long life, exceeding well lived life.

Thank you sir! Give my regards to your band of brothers.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

An extraordinary man, for extraordinary times.

anonynous said...

A good argument, an irrefutable argument, can be made about values that include armed service to one's country, whether it be for Independence or WWII to fight fascism, European domination and subjugation and genocide. Ask the supervisor's of Auschwitz and other Nazi "work" - civilian death - camps whether US involvement had a principled purpose that struck at the heart of the freedom we enjoy.

All of the values are American values, some arguably more right than others.

LarryK4 said...

One of the top plot points for aspiring writers is “ordinary person in extraordinary times”.

During WW2 an entire generation qualifies.

And as individuals go, they don’t come any better than Victor Patnaude.

Anonymous said...

What I read in this post and a lot of the posts on this blog, and the responses to them, is a certain nostalgia, a nostalgia about shared national purpose.

I think that we're angry that we don't have it any more, and we don't have it because our leaders don't demand anything from us, and we don't demand vision from our leaders. I find it ironic that the McCain campaign is already suggesting that the presumptive Democratic nominee is "just another Jimmy Carter", who was the last president who actually called on the country for widely shared sacrifice, whose every word was not conditioned on fine-tooth comb readings of public opinion polls. Subsequent presidents have learned "the lesson" of that experience.

We can take out our anger on "anti-war protestors" but it's beside the point. All this sincere and respectful talk about a "greatest generation"(most of whom, I suspect, don't view themselves that way) comes from another generation aware that it has not been tested, aware that it has been spending down the legacy bequeathed to it by others.

Rich Morse

hoya hoya hoya said...

When people rest an argument on the presumption of Jimmy Carter's incompetent presidency, I laugh at the premise and dismiss the conclusion.

When will they realize their view of Carter is not shared universally and the argument that someone else would be as ineffectual is a preposterous as claiming Carter was?

Carter was never cynical. He served in the armed forces. He has worked tirelessly for peace, fair elections, and housing for the poor for decades after his presidency. J

ohn McCain ought not cast aspersions on Carter, or Obama for that matter since its nothing more than a prospective opinion, and not based on any fact.

I agree that war protesters are not my enemy and constructive engagement is more likely to yield a protest that respects the service of fellow American citizens even while it may condemn the policy that puts them at war.

The boys and men, girls and women who served and sacrificed in WWII hoped that their fight would secure a lasting peace. Whether we choose to use that peace to serve in the armed forces, or national or international agencies, church, community, family is a gift we can cherish.

The Iraq war never made much sense to me. I think we should not have invaded and I think we should plan to leave.

The battle against al Qaeda is being fought in Afghanistan. We have 30,000 American troops there. I pray they can kill the enemy and leave the civilians safe and secure.

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