by James Glaser
They came roaring down my road on their motorcycles and came to a stop about a foot from my walker. They said that Semper Fidelis was not a slogan. They had heard about my accident and they wanted to help me any way they could.
I knew them right off, even after all these years. Redman was still rail thin and Joey was still big, but Terry Bell had a bad limp and he was missing some fingers from a State Side gun shot wound.
Back in the Nam these guys were my brothers and I loved them all. It was sad to see what that war had done to them. These three were still crazy, not nice and crazy, but mean and crazy. For sure they were all "packin" and they wore their colors with pride, but confessed that it wasn't a good idea to wear them all the time.
Each of them had done some time in the joint and they had bad attitudes because of it. I still love these guys because of what we went through, but I could see that each of them was still living on the edge.
I will admit that when I came home from the war I was nuts, some people will tell you that I still am. Someplace though, I lost the need for violence. I still can feel the allure of it and I do want that adrenalin to pump through my veins, but I know the price that my mind and body would have to pay. My brothers from so long ago have never stopped looking for that rush.
I gotta tell you, that if I could, I would go back with them to the Nam for one last time, but that isn't possible. They want me to get well and go on the road with them and if it wasn't for the thought of a woman, I just might. We laughed and joked and for awhile we were all young again.
I wanted to be able to write to them and they laughed and said, "Like we have a mail box." They gave me some money, they said they had lots and what was money anyway, but pieces of paper.
Like I said, I love these guys and I know if they aren't dead, they will be back next spring to try and take me away. I could maybe use the thrill for awhile, but I don't want to be mean again. Being a mean and crazy Marine was what the Corps wanted when I was young and I tried hard to be just that. It took a lot of time and a lot of work to get that out of me. Redman, Joey, and Terry Bell never even tried.
Today there are thousands of Marines in Iraq who are being just as mean and crazy as we ever were and I know that some of them will stay that way. They will beat those they love, until they push everyone away. They will be filled with hate and will never learn how to fit in.
Some of these new Marines will end up in prison and some will end up dead here at home. Nobody calculates this cost when we go to war, but it is there and I have lived it and so have those brothers I have loved.
BACK to the Politics Columns.