Category Archives: Warn Mensk!

Warn Mensk!

The Accolade by Edmund Leighton, British Painter (1853–1922)
“The Accolade” by Edmund Leighton, British Painter (1853–1922) ~ Courtesy Wikipedia

“Warn Mensk!” quite literally means “Present Honor!” in Middle English. For our knowledge of Middle English, we can thank Chaucer, who almost single-handedly preserved the language for us to know in his stories. There are a few others, yet nobody who presented anything like the sheer volume of Geoffrey Chaucer’s collective work, The Canterbury Tales, written between 1387 and 1400, all of it by hand!

Sinan Kökbugur created the amazing Librarius,  a complete version of “The Canterbury Tales” in it’s entirety, which offers a glossary, plus Middle to Modern English translation of the romantic language. The eloquent style and beauty of the written word is a joy to read and here is a YouTube where you can listen to spoken  Middle English: Prologue of Canterbury Tales.

I enjoy the English language no matter the period it originated, because I love obscure words and their usage. One of the few words I hate is the word: war. I’ve known far too many who’ve suffered knowing that word firsthand. While visiting the girl’s dorm during my sophomore year, my friends brother came home from ‘Nam.

The second day he was back, a backfire blasted out in the street. Before anyone knew anything, that guy was under a little coffee table in the rec room. A couple of people laughed, but I saw the fear in his eyes and knew he’d been changed forever by his experience with war. More and more came back, totally different from who they were when they left.

Being an empath, I’ve felt the terror, also watching them turn from stoned zombies into wild-crazed at sudden and unexpected provocations, like backfiring exhausts, firecrackers or any sudden, loud and unexpected noise…even a sonic boom! So sad.

8 inch Moving Wall composite
Trinity High School the Vietnam Veterans Moving Wall Event July 2-6 2003) ~ Courtesy  Cavette Collection (Complication of Seven Photos)

The above photo was never taken. Rather, was taken in numerous photos and is a composite created from all of those photos. If I remember correctly, seven main pictures were involved for this composite with parts from about 27 all together, in order to find matching lighting and perspective.

This picture was created for the Veterans who attended, so they could have the picture as it was seen from the stands at the high school football field of Weaverville, California, in it’s entirety, following The Vietnam Veterans Moving Wall (1/2 sized facsimile of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.) exhibition during July 2-6, 2003. Because of the location of the announcement building, pictures of the VVMW could not betaken and capture the entire memorial

For the three months prior to the event, preparations were made to cover every contingency imaginable. I had no idea what would be involved once we started. So much healing occurred. I am still in awe of the power within this monument, it was so impressive. Lingering. Brought tears of sadness, of healing, of joy…misery files were opened inside many Veterans as they related their experiences…opened their hearts and exposed themselves. It was raw and honest unlike anything ever witnessed.

At times confusion set in during this project; it’s doubtful I slept more than 6 hours the entire 4-day long event. One night, about 2:00 am, I listened as a Veteran finally spoke, twenty years later, of his experience and all those bottled emotions blasted out of him in a torrent. His sorrow, so deeply held within; merely exposing it brought him an enormous healing. All most Veterans needed was to tell their story to someone who could bear witness for validation.

Most spoke of lost buddies and the good times they shared back then; some revealed inner horrors of their experiences; all wept, either openly, or later, in quiet. Peace and solace was result from these open wounds which had gripped lives for so many years, once confessed. Guilt lifted; anger subsided; for some, laughter could replace tears, memories revisited of lighter times with one of the etched names inscribed upon the artifact.

Created to depict a wound set into the earth to symbolize the gravity of the loss of Soldiers, a design by Architect Maya Lin, while still a 21 year old undergraduate, beating 1,441 other public competition submissions for the design in Washington D.C. The finished design was completed in October 1982, of granite and v-shaped with one side pointing to the Lincoln Memorial and the other to the Washington Memorial.  The black cut-stone masonry wall carries the names of 57,661 fallen soldiers.

While The Vietnam Veterans Moving Wall is not cut into the ground, seeing such a dramatic, jet-black, sculpture in person, I was gripped by the immensity; over-powering, over-bearing, it makes one feel so small. Not having visited the Washington D.C. original, the heaviness of the smaller version was  a stark intercourse to the result of news reports for so many years and the personal touches returning soldiers had on my life directly. When I discovered names of relatives etched upon it, my connection deepened exponentially; and a slight dizziness overtook me for a few moments, even though these relatives had not been ones I’d seen since adolescence.

Those times, during the sixties, were days of a nation in turmoil… sadly, for so many, the toll of war was misplaced onto the soldiers drafted into the war, not the government that forced the soldier to serve. The draft was officially abolished* January 27, 1973, but in March 1973, 1974 and 1975, the Selective Service assigned draft priority numbers for all men born in 1954, 1955 and 1956, in case the draft was extended — but it never was.

~ Courtesy

Since my 18th birthday was in June 1973, reading the newspapers was kinda different:

This appeared two days before my birthday but I didn't see it until afterwards. Our local paper had published draft numbers in May for some reason and mine would have been 13 on the draft.

My Mom went kinda crazy over the idea of me going into the service, and Dad wasn’t real happy about it either. So my parents went out and got travel brochures from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and a few other places. I had decided I’d serve if the draft came back and I was picked anyway.

So I thought about it a bit and decided perhaps it may be the better choice to go in; besides I always liked Popeye’s suit. So off to London Lodge I went. The ride down was long, but I was ready by the time we arrived for a new adventure. Tough luck on that recruiter though…he’d forgotten to get my signature before I left. It ended up costing him a recruit by the time I got back.

All was going fine until we were told to drop our drawers and grab our ankles. I wondered what the heck this was about, but I’m game for most stuff and every one was participating soo… “Monkeys” he had said when telling us to assume the position. Hmm.

He was the darkest man I’d ever seen, a bluish tint in the reflection of his face, highlighted by the white of his lab coat as he walked into the room from the side. He walked behind all the guys and I wondered what he was looking at. My naivety came to fruition in a few more seconds when, Luc-ie!

I’d never been touched like that before! A royal goose if ever there was one! Unexpected, it caught me totally off-guard! Hello!!!

My hands left my ankles and I started to straighten up as my head snapped back to look at the doctor, his eyes widening once my gaze caught him.

Out in my peripheral vision, I detected movement — the MP’s! The doctor took two big steps back, held his hands open in front of him and said, “That’s All!” Evidently my face changed as I felt my ears begin to glow a bright crimson which lit my hands by their glow, and the Ironside theme started to play: Reeet-ruh! Reeet-ruh!

I think my entire body flushed as he said, “Rectal Exam! Nev’ah had one?”

I shook my head, No! as he waved off the MP’s and wiped his brow with his sleeve. He gestured an away movement, letting me know to return to my prior position of holding my ankles. I did not like the sensation afterwards, when we were allowed to pull our underwear back up and stand again.

My first couple of steps must have looked like I was a cat with wet paws, because the guy behind me giggled. “Feels like mashed potatoes in your underwear or somethin,” he said. We both laughed. “Yeah!” I agreed.

I was taken from my group for a bit, while they did x-rays on my feet. I didn’t know why, wondering as I stood on the table. When I came back out, I saw that the other guys in my group were heading out into another room. I was told to go and wait until my name was called.

I asked if I could use the bathroom and was handed a cup. I asked what it was for and told to pee in it. I’d never done that before and couldn’t get my body to work. Mind was fine with it, but my body ignored the request. Oh well. I found some toilet paper and took the K-Y Jelly off my behind. Yuck!

When I sat down in the waiting area still holding the cup, the other white coat asked me if I was having a problem, indicating towards the cup. I nodded and he left, all of the sudden coming back with a Coke for me. “Cool, thanks” I said. The cold in my hands made my whole body cold, and since I was thirsty anyway, I downed the Coke.

Pretty soon, there was no waiting and I got them the sample – to the brim of the little cup! I noticed then, when I came out, that my group was getting dressed. I wondered what the deal was, why I was still waiting.

Fifteen minutes later, I was called in to talk with the doctor. He asked me questions about my feet, if they hurt and the like. No. Then he asked if I had any medical problems ever. When I told him about my Osgood Schlatters in both knees bothering me during basketball, he said, “Uh-huh,” nodded, then began writing.

“Got any brothers or sisters?” he asked. “No, matter-of-fact, I’ve been told I am the last man to have our last name.” He wrote again, “Uh-huh.”

That’s when I heard something I’ll never forget.

“I can’t seem to find your signature on any form,” he said. I replied, “The recruiter never gave me anything to sign.”

Sharper than before he exclaimed, “Uh-huh! Well, you have your recruiter get that form done with your signature.” I was free to go.

As I walked out, I heard some guy say something in the room across the hall, that I couldn’t quite make out. All of the sudden, these two uniformed guys came up on each side of him and started yelling, right into his ears! They called him names and pretty soon the guys had tears on his cheeks. Then, one of the yelling guys began mocking him about his tears and about his mother…

I heard all this as I got dressed, so I left hurriedly. I decided right there that I’d not sign any papers when I got back home. I was still shaking from that yell-a-thon, and knowing that, if it was me, I’d have bashed one of those guys faces, just for being treated like that, and to stop the yelling.

I also knew, that would be exactly the worst thing to do under those circumstances. No way I’d ever let myself be treated that way…so, when I got back, I didn’t sign.

According to my two Sons, who did their hitch in the Marines in Security Forces, I’d probably have been turned into one of the best, mainly because of my attitude. My oldest boy was a Scribe through bootcamp, and he said the most stubbornest, bull-headed, hot-heads, were exactly who the Drill Sergent’s wanted to train… the “tough guys” are the best to break down, for they become model soldiers when trained…guess we’ll never know. Life turned out anyway…for the most part. But that’s another dozen or few stories.

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