Top Gun before Top Guns. Cemetery visit lest we forget. It’s November.

This is a terribly disjointed post. Lots of emotion for me.

The Top Gun flight instructor program started in 1969 (see above video). I don’t know what top flight instructors were called before 1969 (probably lots of four letter words by some sometimes disgruntled slow-learning students), but dad had that role first in the other Andrews in Maryland just to the Southeast of the U.S. Capital Building while also doing up JAG school at Georgetown, and then closer to home in Chicago. Dad died decades ago. And November 2nd has come and gone, again. And November 11 has come and gone, again. Do we remember when it’s not those days? Do we forget?

I also think of the 22 average each day who take their own lives because of the war they carry in themselves after their war experiences. A seminarian once told me with almost ballistic anger that in his opinion PTSD doesn’t exist, that that’s all for wusses and tender snowflakes. He said that without the experiences of those who take their lives. I’m guessing he had PTSD and couldn’t face the fact. Zero solidarity for others. He was really angry. White hot. How fragile we all are.

Anyway, my own dad had his faults – and I dare say some severe PTSD – but the reason why he’s always my hero is not because he did stuff in the military or was a “perfect human being,” but rather because he had the humility to face all of that and deal with it. Dad knew he needed Jesus and started a regime of spiritual direction, daily Mass, and good habits, shunning bad habits. I gotta lot of respect for that.

Anyway, it continues to be November, when we especially pray for the dead. It’s cold and rainy. Almost ready to snow and sleet. A slate gray day. I’m heading up to the local cemetery to say a pray or two for the souls of the faithful departed, for our vets who laid down their lives for us.

Don’t wait to visit a cemetery until you’re the one being buried. When’s the last time you’ve been? I’ll update this post with a picture or two after a bit.


Filed under Military, Purgatory

4 responses to “Top Gun before Top Guns. Cemetery visit lest we forget. It’s November.

  1. I have a personal family story that chimes with your thoughts in this post (I wrote the following in 2013 and reposted it a few days ago whilst reflecting on 100 years since the armistice that ended the conflict of WWI) :
    “My grandfather’s brother served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during WW1, serving some time in Egypt. Within his line of duty, he treated casualties from both sides. It is difficult to comprehend the atrocities he would have encountered and been forced to deal with on a daily basis. He became friends with one of his German patients, who out of gratitude gave him his field binoculars.
    During WW2 whilst carrying out his duties as a member of the home guard he was shot in the face with blanks which blinded him for a time. In 1942 he shot his wife before shooting himself; my aunt still remembers the day the news came to the rest of the family. There was an inquest which concluded that his being shot in the face had caused blood clots which led to the actions he took.
    Unlike his brother, my grandfather didn’t serve in WW1 although he did try to join the Navy on two occasions. On the first occasion he did join up and received the ‘King’s shilling’ only to be told by his mother to take it back. The second time he tried to join up his boss persuaded him against it. He was in a reserved occupation and therefore not obliged to sign up and take part in the conflict.
    Some years ago the German field binoculars were passed on to me along with a pair of my grandfather’s binoculars. The binoculars that belonged to my great uncle are a poignant reminder of the futility of war and the consequences of power and greed but most importantly they remind me of man’s humanity to his fellow men.
    When I went to get the binoculars out of the cupboard to take the photograph to go with this post I got both pairs of binoculars out and it was only then that I realised that the second pair were English Army issue from WW1 and that they must have belonged to my great uncle before my grandfather.”
    This personal story highlights the effects of PTSD (or shell shock), that many service men suffer, even now in more recent conflicts.

  2. sanfelipe007

    I have a plot at a Catholic cemetery nearby. I go there once in a while to see how quickly it is filling up – it appears people are dying to get in – groan-.
    There is a section for infants and toddlers. It always makes me tear up, to see the love lavished upon these children.
    My plot is next to a friend’s father. Whenever I return from a visit, I tell my friend that I saw her father. She always asks if I remembered to water the flowers planted by his grave. Sometimes I can answer “yes.”
    Do you have your plot yet, Father?

  3. Donna Kaup

    The Top Gun plane is one my brother’s first “birds” he worked on. When they were filming the movie Top Gun they had the planes down in Florida. Johnny’s job was to crawl down the length of both wings and pull out all of the old on-board tracking wiring and equipment. Then they installed the on-board cameras, flew the plane to Arizona where they filmed the scene where they “lost Goose”. The plane then went back to Florida and new on-board tracking equipment was installed.

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