By Andy Weddington
Thursday, 07 December 2017
There's nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer. James Harold "Jimmy" Doolittle
Cold this morning.
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.
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.
A startled squirrel bark at me.
A heavy equipment engine idling.
What was I missing?
What sounds were not getting through filters?
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.
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.
Our flag - at half-staff - is outstretched and waving.
I "heard" ...
Those "sounds" - from 76 years ago - consumed me for the rest of the walk.
To the nth degree.
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.
I "hear" 21 guns.