this in response to a recent post the gist of which was, "moments in life that take your breath away." there is another country song, "moments" by emerson drive, that enforces the message of that previous post quite nicely. part of the song goes, "lookin' at me now you might not know it-- but i've had my moments."
our oldest is in the midst of a whirlwind tour of japan. reading his posts about the things he's seeing, feeling and the general experience, i'm hoping that he's doing his best to record, pictorially at least, these "moments" for posterity. it's so much easier to do so in this digital age we live in. and i can't wait to sit down with him to see and hear about his experience. sitting here, considering all that he may be taking in, reminds me that there has been times in my life when i've had "moments" of my own.
i was drafted into the army during the viet nam war era. basic training was at ft. bliss in el paso. all inductees are trained as riflemen first, then it was off to ft. leonard wood in missouri for ait (advanced individual training). eight weeks of training aimed at making me a combat engineer. the combat engineer's task is aimed at easing the way for the combat soldier; building bridges across streams and rivers, placing explosive charges to clear trees to allow helicopters to land for resupply, for whisking the wounded and the dead back to the rear. not a combat assignment exactly, but combat engineers operate in a combat zone and most definitely are armed, prepared to defend themselves if need be and to take the war to the enemy should the opportunity present itself.
there was a "moment" toward the end of that eight weeks of training at ft. leonard wood, with orders already in hand sending me on to ft. benning in georgia for jungle training, that quite literally granted me the life i live today. among others, i was pulled from formation one afternoon and escorted to headquarters where they took our fingerprints. the army owes you no explanation for anything they do. you can imagine the anxiety rolling around in my head. "what the f*** have i done to warrant this, i'm thinking." long story short, they ran a security check which resulted in the orders to ft. benning being rescinded and orders being cut for me to go to ft. belvoir in virginia for training as an "atomic demolition munitions specialist." i went to ft. belvoir as a buck private and came out the other end, two weeks later, as a specialist 4th class with orders for a base in italy where i spent the remainder of my two year, active duty, obligation.
it was that "moment" at ft. leonard wood that allowed me a bit of travel around the splendorous country of italy. courtesy of uncle sam, i've laid eyes on the trash floating in the canals of venice. traveling by way of a eurail train pass, i've climbed the leaning tower of pisa, gazed on the beauty of michaelangelos's "david," in florence, and in milan i entered the quiet sanctity of the "duomo" cathedral. in rome, i've climbed the "spanish steps", made a wish in the fountain of trevi" and imagined the gladiators battling in the coliseum. i've walked st. peter's square and toured the basilica and the catacombs. then it was on down to naples and the ruins of pompeii left behind when mt. vesuvius erupted in 79 a.d.. i even took a ferry across to the isle of capris but, like a dummy, i didn't take in the blue grotto. instead i froze my butt off laying on a "beach" made up of melon sized rocks, wishing the time for the ferry back across to naples would hurry on.
images of all those sights are captured somewhat hazily in the reaches of my memory. i took pictures but where are they now? my kingdom for a digital camera. if only it had been invented then.
so my advice to our oldest, who most assuredly does have a digital camera would be, "don't spare the bytes." who knows when you might get back to see those sights again. record all you can. forty years from now, unlike the pictures in my mind, those "moments", courtesy of the digital images you're taking now, should still be crystal clear even then. aio