Memorial Day and my Father on Good
May 26, 2013 Leave a comment
That day, Fighting an unpopular In a foreign country, many of the soldiers of the same unit were split, fighting amongst each other. It was the late 1960s and like back home in the U.S. there were tension between races ran high… and sometimes violent.
This is the story as it was told to me.
At night mob mentality ensued. A group of white racist men-in fatigues were out to start trouble. targeting a fellow black soldier at barracks.
One man, outraged by this absurdity. stepped in between the mob and the colored soldier and angrily commanded them to stand down. Both the mob and this large imposing white man, (now intervening in defense of someone else), had weapons.
This story was not a surprise to me. In particular the actions of the tall imposing white man as he told me the story. After all… I witnessed him rescue an innocent man from being attacked by five others in a street one day. I was nearby when he broke through a door to free a women who was being attacked by a violent boyfriend, after she screamed for help from her second story window. Unfortunately I was to small to help him in his usual heroics. The tall man was my father. And in both crisis he didn’t need my help. Nor did he wait for others.
Back to the the race war incident…
My father halted an armed mob of soldiers. It was during the Chaos of the Vietnam War, and he was only a Private in his early twenties.
What my father contemplated post-incident was not the actions of the mob. — But his own willful act. After all, He probably would have been hurt or killed — out-numbered in the melee. His action came without thought… He just acted. Why? What motivated him without thought or concern for his own safety? and Why was he so enraged by the mobs sentiment?
My Father explained to me his conclusion in an anecdote later: the event was his evidence that there exists inherent “Good” in himself. Without thinking, he was motivated to act in a manner that was greater in importance. Dad explained experiencing a will to the right thing… even in facing when overwhelming circumstances. There was no thinking that night… just anger and action.
“There has to be a Good…”
His interpretation of his actions during the heat of the moment would affect his ontological outlook. Dad never clarified to me if he believed in any concrete “Evil.” In his explanation, However there existed a state of being that a man could “transcend” to: inward and outward. A sum total of actions that were dignifying to him as an individual and beneficial to his society. A state of “Good”. The improvement of the whole.
My father was socially “progressive” and pro-social. He was also an altruist who would receive honors for community work around his town, late in life. He would work with prison inmates, and by all reports respected the inmate’s dignity. He was gravely concerned about the welfare of other Veterans (Also concerned with Behavior Disorders and Mentally Challenged who were in incarcerated prisons). After resolving most of his suspicions of Government, (a cynicism that was harvested from experiences of the War ) He regained faith in Authoritative means of social improvement.
Dad the pro-social “liberal” and I, his son (his son who evangelizes “relative self-sustainability” and individualism)… We often debated. We also debated if “Good” was an entity or just a construct for descriptive purposes. But we did share a common belief in the importance of dignity and doing-the-right-thing. We certainly agreed that racial conflict is dangerous and absurd.
I continue Dad’s concern with the welfare of Vets and I am concerned about the welfare of those with Mental Disorder.
This is the first Memorial Day without the old hippie soldier.
Happy Memorial day, Dad. Rest Peacefully.