Military Distopiaville

-- Military jets do a flyover during the annual Veteran’s Day parade in Porterville, Calif. 2000.

And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

the Bible, Revelation chapter 6, verse 8

I had things most five or six year old don’t have: Pictures of the dead. And these were photos of dead Vietnamese along side photos of my father standing next to a helicopter called the magic bus, holding a 45 caliber gun and smiling, standing next to a poster from the movie Easy Rider and listening to headphones.

The sound of Jimi Hendix, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, the Beatles and others came out of the living room in the early morning when father woke up in the middle of the night.

A few years later I found myself on the street of Porterville. A small central California town that lost more soldiers per capita in Vietnam than any other town in America. We were told to salute the flag everyday and recite the pledge.

And on Main Street every November there was a parade. It was for veterans they said. Most of the town came out. The bands marched. There was often a car for each war: WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam.

Dad used to tell the story about a dead man wearing a wedding ring, the story of flying in a hurricane and another story of the day he was wounded. He used to show a photo of a helicopter shot down and then he’d tell the story of the first time he was shot at by the Vietcong.