Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hail and Farewell...

Where we were "farewelled" last night...

Just a few months ago, Bill and I were "hailed" when we arrived at U.S. Army South at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.  Last night, at a barbecue hosted by one of Bill's co-workers, we were "farewelled".  The host of the party was "hailed".  Since he lives at Fort Sam Houston, Bill and I were on post in time for "Retreat and To the Color".  Every day at 5:00 pm, everyone on a military installation stops what they are doing, turns toward the American flag (or the music if the flag isn't visible) and salutes (if in uniform) or stands with hand over heart (if not in uniform).  A cannon fires and the flag is lowered and put away for the night.

An example of "Retreat and To The Color" at an Army post somewhere.  Based on the flag, I'm guessing it's South Korea.

This used to be a nightly experience for us, since we used to live on Fort Belvoir in northern Virginia.  Last night was the first time I'd heard the Army style "Retreat" in a long time.  We now live very close to an Air Force base, where instead of bugle calls, they play the national anthem, with the exception of "Reveille" at 6:00am and "Taps" at 10:00pm.

So last night, we were on post in time for the 5:00 ritual and Bill was there in his civilian clothes while many of his co-workers were in uniform.  The bugle played and the cannon blew… and everyone saluted.  When it was over, Bill turned around and there were big tears in his eyes.  He was very moved, no doubt because in less than three months, he'll be hanging up his uniform for good.

I'm very proud to be married to a man so committed to serving his country.  I know there are people out there who have no love for the military and what it represents, but for me it's still an honor to be married to a man who serves and loves what he does.

A familiar Texas scene...

On a related note, on the way to Fort Sam, we passed a surreal sight.  A scruffy looking male dwarf was dressed up like Uncle Sam.  Apparently, there's another guy who is not a little person who dresses up and the two of them regularly perform on the side of the road to lure people into a cash advance store.  Bill says they do a mean "bump and grind", though I didn't see that last night.  I posted about it on Facebook and a friend wrote, "I'm sure you meant to type 'little person'."

I wrote back, "Nope."

She wisely let it go.

Dwarfism is a legitimate medical term and, at least to my knowledge, it's not pejorative.  I could have written "midget" and she might have been right to correct me…  though I would have hoped she'd do it privately rather than call me out publicly.  In any case, what I wrote wasn't intended to be offensive.  Sometimes, I wish people would pay more attention to context over content and stop looking for reasons to be critical.  

I'm not sure what led that guy to his job dancing on the street dressed up as Uncle Sam.  I'm guessing he chose to do it, though.  I noticed him dressed in his costume and that was the intent, right?  It's probably not an easy job, though.  It gets very hot in Texas and people have probably yelled at him or laughed at him.  In fact, he might have even caused a few near miss accidents, given the spectacle of what he and his regular sized friend were doing.  

He's not the first person I've seen do that type of work, though.  A couple of weeks ago, we saw a guy with dreadlocks standing on a street corner very skillfully juggling a sign to lure people into a mattress store.  He clearly enjoyed his job and I rewarded him with a big smile, since he had managed to entertain me while we were stopped at a light.  He smiled back.  Maybe that's a reward even greater than the money he earns.   On the other hand, maybe it's not.  But I have to admit, until this morning I've never really thought about what leads someone to do that kind of work.  Maybe someday I should stop and ask. 


  1. Our nation wouldn't function even as well as it does without our military, nor would any other nation inhabiting our continent. My Canadian paternal grandmother even recognizes this, and sends flowers to my mom's brothers who are or were in the military on Veteran's Day.

    My thanks go to the Lt. Col., soon to be Lt. Col. Ret. (that's how my mom said the phone book listed retired lieutenant colonels back in the day when people used the phone book to look up numbers and addresses).

    1. I will relay your thanks to Bill. I know he will appreciate hearing it. This last assignment has been particularly good. The people he's been working with are awesome! It's fun to party with people from Central and South America.

  2. I'm not the queen of political correctness. I don't even cringe at the use of the word "midget." my mom agrees with you that both "dwarfism" and "dwarf" are still legitimate diagnostic terms and, as such, not considered derogative.

    She reminded me of something I may have known but have forgotten, and which you probably know, which is that "dwarfs" and "midgets" (AKA "little people") are not one and the same; dwarfism is caused by different medical conditions (often related to skeletal dysplasia) and results in disproportionate body parts, at least as compared to the rest of us. Then again, who's to say that they're not the ones who are "normal" and we're not the ones with disproportionate body parts?

    1. I knew "midget" was more commonly used for little people with proportionate limbs, but I was under the impression that it was one of those words that is considered rude. I'm not one for burying language, though. Changing a word doesn't change a condition. Anyway, I think sometimes people get way too hung up on things that ultimately don't really matter.

  3. You're absolutely right that "midget" is considered a rude expression. I'm just so politically incorrect and otherwise coarse that it doesn't bother me.


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