07 December 2017

SOUNDS - HEARD AND "HEARD"

SOUNDS - HEARD AND "HEARD"
By Andy Weddington
Thursday, 07 December 2017




There's nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer. James Harold "Jimmy" Doolittle



Cold this morning. 

Thirteen degrees.

Colder, courtesy of a slight breeze. 

Twenty-one paces (irony not lost on me) out our front door is a three quarters of a mile paved walking path around a rectangular grass parade field.

Two adults can walk abreast comfortably. 

Two children can likewise ride bicycles. 

The field is bounded by Custer Drive; Lincoln Way; Washington Square; and Sherman Turnpike. 

American giants. 

Traffic?

Sparse.

Beginning this morning's walk - clad in long overcoat, red scarf, gloves, and fleece watch cap - I decided to just listen.

The relative quiet was not so much when listening closer.

I heard ...

Dry leaves blowing across the asphalt.

A car engine struggling to start.

A jet engine turning.

A car door close.

Birds. 

A startled squirrel bark at me.

A heavy equipment engine idling.

What was I missing?

What sounds were not getting through filters?

Walking. 

But momentarily distracted from listening for thinking about winter cold weather survival training in Norway 36 years ago - much colder than 13 degrees.

A 6-weeks gut check. 

In truth, I've not been cold since.  

Listening.

Tinnitus now loud. 

It never stops. Ignored most of the time. 

Someone is running a leaf blower. 

A rope banging, for wind, against the parade ground's flagpole catches my ear.

It sounds much like lines against a sailboat mast. 

Soon a reality. 

And not just hope. 

Eyes left. 

Our flag - at half-staff - is outstretched and waving.

Colors striking. 

I "heard" ...

Airplane engines.

Strafing guns.

Bombs.

Alarms. 

Sirens.

Anti-aircraft fire. 

Secondary explosions.

Crackling fires. 

Bedlam. 

Orders shouted. 

Screams. 

Cries. 

Moans.

Last breaths.

Those "sounds" - from 76 years ago - consumed me for the rest of the walk.

Chilling. 

To the nth degree. 

Many died.

Some survived.

I was the sole soul on the path for the 30+ minutes. 

Inside, standing by the fireplace still in overcoat and doffing scarf and gloves, I heard (and saw) news a Sailor will be posthumously awarded a Bronze Star (assuming with device for valor) today for saving a half-dozen lives that infamous day - this date 1941. 

Better late than never.

Heartwarming. 

Salute. 

I "hear" 21 guns.  

1 comment:

Jijm Bathurst said...

WOW. Sitting here, I was wondering why my eyes watered as I read your post. But then, it came to me; those sounds, those awful sounds one never forgets having been there, done that - much like the stench of cordite. BZ Andy!