Archive for the Vietnam vet authors and musicians Category

The Good Old days? “It’s All Good!”

Posted in Nostalgia, Vetnam veteran Authors/musicians, Vietnam vet authors and musicians, Vietnam Vets, Vietnam Vets and Authors, Vietnam War on July 6, 2010 by eldorado90

               The Good Old Days?      “It’s All Good”!

 

As the years go by many of us old troopers long for days of old. Many a day I hear, overhear or engage in conversations of those days when we were young and in the military. A trying time for many of us for sure. Inevitably someone labels said days as the good old days. My question; why do we refer to those days as the good old days? Were they? Well, yes and no. I’ll offer a suggestion as to why we believe they were and why they may not have been all that they’ve been cracked up to be.

Do we really long for the days of basic training where we got up at ungodly hours of the AM only to be harassed? Well, not me. Do we really long for the days we left the comfy confines of our bedrooms at home in order to sleep in an uncomfortable bunk bed in an old dilapidated wooden firetrap with forty or fifty other guy. Well once again, not me. Do you long for mystery meals that were passed off as breakfast, lunch and dinner in the mess halls? I hate to be repetitive, but you know, not me. Wait! How could I have forgotten? KP. Good God almighty! Literally peeling potatoes, cleaning grease traps and washing dishes, pots and pans in the wee hours of the morning, all the while being given the evil eye by an overweight E-5 or E-6. I mean these mess hall NCOs never met a mystery meal they didn’t eat. Ya, they were the good old days all right.

But hey, think back, it only got better. How about the barracks latrine? Need I say more? I didn’t think so. Depending on your training posts and time of year, there just wasn’t anything better than standing in formation as you waited and waited, braving the elements for times that seemed to have no end. Ya, the good old days.

Sleep, you know, that pleasure of life experienced as a child, an adolescent or a teen. Who knew that according to the Unpublished Military Doctrine of Sleep, that one of the most important aspect of a teen’s life, sleep, was overrated? Don’t need no stinking sleep. It’s good to walk around in a daze for the first thirty to forty minutes of the early morn. Builds character, right? Ya, those were the good old days.

Now, the PT, that’s physical conditioning for you civilian types. I’m all for it. At the time of my induction I happened to be in shape. Obviously I was young and somewhat athletic. As a result of my conditioning I had no trouble with PT and it certainly enhanced my ability to navigate difficult terrain as an Army “paratrooper/grunt” both in Vietnam and stateside. On the other hand if one was overweight, non-athletic or in just plain lousy shape, PT proved to be difficult and cadre made life absolutely miserable for them no matter how noble the reasoning. I would be willing to wager that few of these unconditioned souls at most, if any, remember those days as the good old days.

Once you completed your basic training you were presented with the opportunity to travel this great nation of ours en route to yet another training facility. If you were of a certain skin complexion, in the South of our country where numerous military installations were and are, while in-transit you could legally be relegated to specified restrooms, water fountains and lunch areas. I mean can you imagine being on your way to or coming home from a new assignment, Vietnam, or anywhere for that matter and having to deal with that nonsense? So I ask, were those the good old days? I don’t think so and I can damn well guarantee that anyone who dealt with such situations has a different take on this subject.

No, in many respects those weren’t really the good old days. Those were the young days of our lives, our youth. That in large part helped make them good. The days when our bodies and minds were ripe for any and all stimuli be it good or bad. I believe that when we long for the good old days what we really are longing for is our youth and subconsciously the innocence that was stolen from us in those days and since. I mean look at the popularity of “oldies but goodies” radio stations or “retro” Camaros. These are but two examples of good things that come to mind. It goes without saying that many days and many things were good but there were also plenty of bad things in the, you know, good old days.

If you really think about it, the good days are the days we are alive. The days we see our spouses, kids, grandkids and friends. The days both present and past that aren’t filled with strife, conflict or Heaven forbid, tragedy. We miss fond thoughts of a time in our lives when we were in our formative years. We are nostalgic. Most people are and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s romanticism with the past. A time in our lives when we had not yet become so troubled with financial woes, politics, relationships or life in general.

In reality, the good old days can be yesterday or today. Sure we have problems, but most of us have a pretty decent life in spite of the onset of ailments. Nowadays some of us have bad knees, feet, backs, arthritis or other health issue. In the good old days those ailments were for older folks like our parents, relatives and their friends. Not us, we were young and tough and could lick anything they threw at us. How the hell did we become them?

 We complained a lot about lack of sleep, KP, harassment and all other aspects of that, dare I overstate, traumatic experience? Okay, I overstated it. Anyways, that’s how we survived it. Complaining has its place. The American Soldier, Sailor Airman and Marine are natural complainers. I know I am. I still complain, ask my wife.

 When I look in the mirror I see a weathered and worn face with the absence of hair follicles on the top of my head, gray stubble on my chin and face and the telling eyes of one who has seen things that prove not all days of old were good. Let’s hope that the life changing experiences we’ve seen and done in the good old days, to include the Vietnam experience, were educational, built character and helped to make us a better person. I sure hope so. Having said that I would only be kidding myself if I truly believed that all of those days were good. It’s kind of like making lemonade out of lemons, or whatever that analogy is.

As I sit here and rant, the arthritis in my hands and right foot are a bit of a nuisance. I watch what I eat so as not to raise my cholesterol and blood pressure. I wrestle everyday and have for many a year with a temper that occasionally flies out of control. At present I’m ahead on points. I’m also nostalgic for my younger mind and body but wouldn’t trade my wife, kids and grandkids to get either.  One more thing, I sleep less than I used to. Hey, maybe the Army was right. Sleep is overrated.

In today’s jargon “It’s all good!” is a frequently used response to the question of “ how you doing?”  I like that answer and find it to be quite descriptive. In my mind it more or less qualifies the good with the bad.  I believe it’s fair to say that these are good days, certainly not all that good, but you know, not all that bad. If you were to ask me “how am I  doing?”  I’d have to say, “It’s all good!”

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