Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A real honor

"Thanks for coming out to see us," I announced over the simple left-hand riff I was playing on my keyboard. Then I stopped and turned to Ron. "That doesn't sound right. They aren't really coming to see us."

Ron and I were rehearsing for a VA Hospital gig. We would be playing in the cafeteria during dinner hours, entertaining the residents while they went about their otherwise normal routine. My usual intro wasn't going to work.

Ron thought for a moment. "Say it's an honor for us to be there."

Yes, that was much better.

"It's a real honor to be here!" I announced to the vets who were sitting at their tables and lining up to get their food. "We're Cinder Bridge."

Better, but still inadequate.

* * *

I was a senior at Indiana University when the Gulf War started. During the long run-up to the war, as George H. W. Bush formed his careful alliances, I felt deeply conflicted. On the one hand, we were obviously getting involved because it was in America's self-interest. On the other hand, Kuwait had been invaded, and they genuinely wanted our help. I didn't join the students who were marching around Dunn Meadow with signs that said "No Blood for Oil" because I thought it was more complicated than that. And yet ...

If I believed this war was just, why wasn't I signing up? How could I even have an opinion when others would be doing the fighting? I didn't want to kill, and I didn't want to die, so how could I say it was okay for others to do so?

Ever since then, when I've heard about the horrors our soldiers have faced in the latest conflicts, or Gulf War syndrome (which shares a lot of symptoms in common with myalgic encephalomyelitis), or PTSD, I think, You suffered so I didn't have to.

Yeah, there's still some lingering guilt.

But I could hardly convey that to our audience. What would I say? "Thanks for listening. I don't even deserve to be sitting here in front of you, but I hope you enjoy the music."

"It's a real honor to be here" would have to do.

I hope they enjoyed the music.

1 comment:

DeppityBob said...

Better brief than clumsily long.