November 11

I have not been blogging lately, due to a family illness. That situation is quickly resolving, so I will again start posting more regularly.

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Today is November 11. Veterans Day. For those who served, it is a day of remembrance. This day, however, I will use to celebrate the friendship of military members as well as remember those who gave everything or carry the scars of their combat experience.

The idea for this blog came about because of an interview conducted by a federal agency. My friend, Mark, had given the agency my name as a reference for his background investigation. Of course, this led to an immediate call that evening to talk with Mark and his wife.

This will give you an idea of how strong the bonds are between those who share a common experience in which service and danger is the common denominator of their friendship. It is strongest in the military, but you can also find it in aviation and on the sea.

If you have read Antoine de St. Exupéry, you may have some idea about how the bonds of friendship work with military members and aviators. St. Exupéry eloquently once wrote about friendship in one of his titles and he explained how pilots, who are good friends, might not see one another for months, or even years. He makes the point that when their paths do suddenly cross, they pick up exactly where they left off the last time they spoke.

And so it was with Mark and me. Right after he answered my call, Mark said, “Is this my friend, Joe Clark?” And then we began our new conversation exactly where we left off the last time we spoke.

When we became friends so many years ago, his infant daughter was only a few weeks old. One of my favorite photographs is of me holding her. That child, living under the shadow of her father’s service, became a Marine Corps officer. My niece, Sara, served as an army nurse. Both have suffered the loss of friends, as have my friend, Mark, and I.

For most of us, Veteran’s Day is now a day of picnics and sales. Many of us enjoying our free time are unaware it was purchased by the selfless sacrifice of many other American service women and men.

All of us enjoy our picnics, sales and time off. We vets, of course, will never ever forget our fellow vets and most importantly, our friends who fell.

It is to them we, all of us, owe a deep debt of gratitude.


©2014 J. Clark

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4 Responses to November 11

  1. Harrison says:

    Well said, Joe. I went to an American Legion meeting last night and had dinner with about fifty Vets. Good friends, great stories, and fun times. Glad to hear the family health is improving.

  2. Mark says:

    So true Joe. It hardly seems like 33 years since you flew into the room and said, “Help me put this stuff away!” as GYSGT Clark’s footsteps steadily approached. My memory of that is so clear it can’t possible be 33 years ago. I wish I could have your memory of that, because we all must have looked like, “Are you crazy! I’m staying at attention.”

    • Joe Clark says:

      Mark, what I remember was going into the room and seeing you and the other two candidates with horrified looks on your faces. I could only imagine what all of you were thinking. After that, I well remember you breaking out of your position, starting to help me prepare for the inspection, and then turning to the other two and telling them to help so we could have everything in place before the Gunny got to our room. I remember distinctly thinking, So, that’s what real leadership is all about.

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