Sunday, May 15, 2011

"My Friend, Eddie"

Dear Eddie ,

Do you remember when our two families worked the fields together back in the early fifties?  We were all so poor back then; our whole familes worked just to get enough money to eat and pay the rent.   Do you remember all of us rising before dawn and filling the burlap covered water bottles, packing our baloney sandwiches in wax paper, then heading to the grape vinyard or peach orchard?  We were always in the fields as the sun came up, the vines still damp in the morning calm.  We cut those grapes and either boxed them for the wineries or layed paper trays for the raisins.  Remember how hot it got on those 100 degree days?  How the knats swarmed about our noses and mouths and drove us nuts?  We were just little kids back then, Eddie, and to break the monotony we would plug each other with dirt clods and raise the ire of our parents.

When we marched out of the fields the sun would be setting so we were too tired, Eddie, to do much playing....but on Sundays we'd congregate in one or another's back yard and mount our broomstick horses and hold off the bad guys with cap guns. 

Eddie, we shared alot in those days, you ate Okie food with me and I ate home-made tortillas and tamales at Christmas at your house.  As the years went by both of our famiies moved around alot back then and it would often be months before I would see you again.  We finally got to see each other daily when we got into junior high and high school.  What I remember most about you, Eddie, was that perennial smile; I don't think I can ever remember you without that smile!

We both went into the military at the same time, Eddie.  You beat me to Vietnam by two months.  After getting my orders for Vietnam I was determined to look you up; maybe have a beer or two at the club!  You stood me up, Eddie; you died in battle on a February day two months after you deployed.  Your face is now frozen in youthful smile now, as I think of you.

I'm now an old man now, Eddie.  I was one of the lucky ones who got to come home.  But, I remember you Eddie on every veterans day.  Eddie, do you remember that big yellow rose bush that climbed the back fence of our house on Thompson?  Some day, my friend, I'm going to visit The Wall, and leave you a yellow rose.

I'm proud of you, Eddie ; not Mexican-American, just "American".  We need you badly, Eddie...I know there are still many "Eddies" today, just like you, but there are far too many who now march in our streets carrying the Mexican flag and burn and desecrate ours, who see America as an ATM, not the America you died for.




Anonymous said...

There is a marvelous scene in "Band of Brothers" when an American soldier comes across a German soldier and they discover they grew up in the same small town in Washington State. My father, growing up in Arizona, came home from school one day and announced to his family that he would no longer speak their native language of German. He was an American, he insisted. Many of us have cultural and family ties to other countries. We will always feel that connection. To be American, even for those of us born here, is to make a choice to be a certain kind of person, to live free from the undue burdens (but not the legal necessities of an orderly society), to respect the dignity of others, to make our own way in this land. At best, America is an ideal, a place where one can reinvent oneself to be the best one can be. And AMEN to our fallen warriors, we are deeply grateful for your service. jo

A Modest Scribler said...

That is so beautifully put, Jo. You nailed it; America is America because of all the diverse cultures, we are enriched by those who bring their own unique cultures and meld them into ours. Salsa now outsells ketchup and we love it! But the key to American exceptionalism has always been the principles first established by our founders; we are so very special because we value independence and hard work and the freedom to achieve. Our success has been our ability to pass those principles on to each new generations of immigrants. Alas, many of our native citizens are forgetting those principles and too many illegal Mexican immigrants are refusing to even learn them. E Pluribus Unum is a wonderful national motto but it doesn't mean "open invite to everyone"; you must be willing to buy into the American Dream or it will surely die. Thanks for your wonderful comments, Jo.

Anonymous said...

"to live free from the undue burdens (but not the legal necessities of an orderly society"

Hahahaha, yeah, sure. What country are you talking about?

grenadavet said...

No "hyphenated Americans" in a foxhole,hey Just?I guess civilian society could learn a few things from the military mind.

A Salute to Eddie!!!