29 September 2010

Words from a non-Monogrammed Guy

Old Gentleman

Tom Brokaw called them "the greatest generation," and that term has now been bandied about for years, pro and con.

I met a gentleman in the course of business last week. He was drafted at age 20 into the U.S. Army and was made an infantry officer. He made the landing in North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942, on Sicily in Operation Husky in 1943, and on Normandy in Operation Overlord in 1944. He ended the war at a river opposite the Soviet Army. He matter-of-factly described the 3000 bomber raid on the French hedgerow country where Allied bombers hit his unit’s position by mistake, and then mentioned in passing that when he was discharged he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The DSC is next to the Medal of Honor, and criteria is that one has acted with "extraordinary heroism in combat." About half of these medals were awarded posthumously.

No more comment, this gentleman’s life speaks for itself.

Of course we have heroes today. But we don't know who they are. Hint: Not Bret Michaels, not Dog the Bounty Hunter, and not Al Sharpton.


One of my current reads is The Redneck Manifesto, by Jim Goad. He begins with a stout declaration of principles of Southern and rural people who are derided routinely in contemporary media as hicks, hillbillies, rednecks, and so forth. (Later, Goad briefly blows through a Psalm to workers, great stuff, and about two-thirds of the way through the book (where I am now) begins an odd neo-socialist rant.

Be that as it may, the lesson here is that you don’t have to like an entire book to learn something from it and to take away something valuable. As Goad talks about the way that so-called "hillbillies" live their lives, he distills that to a declaration of innocence and a slam at their detractors:

"They never learned to be
ashamed of what they were."

There it is in a nutshell, friends. To those of us who own nothing monogrammed, work on our own cars, enjoy fiddle music, read the Bible and the Washington Post, and take our baseball caps off and put our hands over our hearts when the flag passes, why ever should we learn to be ashamed?

Repeat Lesson on Seat Belts

I’ve said it before: The routine, habitual no-exception use of seatbelts improves your odds of surviving a collision without serious injury - a lot.

What puts me in mind of this is that Tim rolled his grandmother’s Audi on the Interstate last week. Someone cut him off and dropped the hooks and in avoiding plowing them, Tim used the median and flipped the Audi. (I’ve been wondering if the other driver, who vanished by the way, was trying to cause an insurance scam accident in a very stupid way.)

Yes, no doubt you have a friend of a friend "who would have been killed if I had been wearing a darn seat belt!" There are even some very few kinds of accidents where seat belts may add to the risk of injury. (A "T-bone" into the driver’s door often is cited as an example. True though that may be, if it’s that hard a bang, the driver will be injured to some extent anyway.) But anyone who says that seat belts don’t improve your chances of avoiding death or serious injury is simply wrong.

By statute, damages in a civil suit are reduced only very slightly for an injured plaintiff who didn’t wear an available seatbelt. I can argue this one either way. That doesn’t change a defendant’s negligence, but someone who is more severely injured because they didn’t buckle up can hardly claim ignorance, can they? And as for not securing children? My worst memory of the EMS years was a fatality where parents didn't secure a one year old.

Pippa passes.


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