Not Your Typical Monday

12273888_sI must say the past two weeks have been chocked with news items. From the flooding in Colorado to the Boardwalk fire in Seaside Heights, New Jersey to Monday’s news with the Navy Yard shooting in Washington, D.C. As I read those words, I have the impression of a time traveler popping in from another century. I sit, watching all of the above on some kind of glowing device; a television maybe that I’ve never been introduced to, with horrific stories looping one after the other, and each one more shocking than the one before. In this instance, choosing a story to expand on did prove quite difficult. We know that lives were lost in the floods, and I do send my condolences to those families. However, the incident at the Navy yard grabbed more of my attention.

I understand it has been described time after time, by anchor after anchor in every way possible, but what keeps coming to my mind is this: Another Monday morning, your loved one gets up, showers, dresses, has their coffee, and heads out for work. It’s so routine, no one would ever have the inclination things could be any different. What’s on their mind? Maybe:

This weekend is Robert’s first football game for the school year. I’m so excited for him; or

I got Joe tickets to Las Vegas for his birthday on Sunday. This getaway will be like a second honeymoon for us; or

For Pete’s sake, Annie wanted me to bring the rest of those tomatoes in to work, and I forgot them. She’s going to be so mad.

But then, twenty minutes, or a half hour after they arrived at work, none of those thoughts mattered any longer. Because just like that, they were not coming home. At least that scenario played out for the poor souls at the Navy yard. I have to say, and I know it’s attributable to the fact that I now live in a military capital. Just as it is here in southeast Virginia, civilian contracting is a way of life, and has been year after year, without incident. We may now, however, be in for some policy changes for these armed forces.

When things of this nature happen it’s like the ringing of a massive bell, don’t you think? Reminding us to never take even one day for granted; never leave home without kissing, or at least saying goodbye to your loved ones. And, like my little building in the picture above, it doesn’t matter where you are – Navy yard, regular office building, or walking behind a garbage truck with your co-worker, you just never know. Not only is life very short, times have definitely changed.

All of this makes me remember an incident in a San Francisco, California law firm, where an irate client came in, and opened fire on the staff. A few years later, I vacationed in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Completely by fate, I met this woman who had given up everything here on the mainland, bought herself a sloop, which she had moored in Great Cruz Bay. She lived on that boat, and rowed herself in to shore every day on her dinghy. She then, made her way to one of the local restaurants where she worked as a waitress. At night, she maybe stopped off to socialize with the bartender at the local hotel before her return trip to her boat. So, what’s so different about this tale? She happened to be a paralegal in that same law firm that had been bullet riddled, in the years prior. She explained her new way of life as a necessary spiritual experience after such a close call. Like I said you really never know. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to the poor families that have been impacted by this senseless act of violence, and yes this is to include the assailant’s family, as well. Because everyone lost – even if it involved their sense of freedom, and safety – that counts as well.

Image courtesy of 123rf.com

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Military Capital

Many years ago when we visited this area, we never gave any thought to the military located here.  But, since I’ve lived here, I have discovered that Hampton Roads is the military capital of the United States.  All four branches of the armed forces call this region home, and that includes the Coast Guard.  In fact, Naval Station Norfolk is the world’s largest naval installation.  Probably because of the military, I would say more than 50%  of the people in this area are from some other place.  So much so, when you move here the second question asked, after where are you from is; are you military?

For us, out of the northeast or any civilian for that matter, doesn’t think of the different branches of armed forces there are.  I had uncles who were Army; my father served, which may explain my pro position.  My step-son is Army, and still a Reservist; my husband is a Marine (once a Marine, always a Marine), and he and his brothers covered every branch, with the exception of the Coast Guard.  But, aside from that it’s just not something myself or the everyday person thinks of, because under normal circumstances it is so very far removed.  Now living here, it’s not unusual whatsoever to spot military.  But, even with that in mind, I still find myself at times, staring and giggling like a girl under a spell.

I can remember, walking along in Manhattan, catching a glimpse of Sailors sightseeing around the city.  I’d glance, smile and then, be on my way, but it always proved a great topic of conversation.  I also have a memory of myself at seven years old, riding on the passenger train with my grandmother.  On this particular long trip I sat next to a Navy guy in his stark white uniform.  Falling asleep, and waking up with my head in his chest, my grandmother immediately became very apologetic to the young man.  He responded with something to the effect of, and I must paraphrase here; “Don’t worry about it.  It’s not a big deal.”  Lastly, I recollect twirling in her front yard, watching the jets overhead leaving their white plume.  I didn’t know it then, but now I realize they were probably from Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach.

So, I know you’re wondering what’s the reason for all of this; my husband, driving along the other day, pulled up beside a jogger with a close hair cut.  He slowed the car, put down the window, and commented, “With that kind of hair cut, you must be a Marine.” The young man’s response, “No, I’m a Seal.”

I don’t know about anyone else – my eyes stretched wide, I got all excited, and smiled.  My husband, probably because he’s been there, couldn’t grasp my interest or my excitement.  But, say the words – N A V Y   S E A L –  I’m impressed.  When he told me about this happening I couldn’t think of a better way to acknowledge our uniformed men and women than to write this little blurb, giving them all a corny, but heart-felt shout out, and to say – Thank you.  As usual, I didn’t intend this piece to be a history lesson on the military here, but that’s where it went.  Regardless, whether you are pro military or against, a uniform cannot be ignored when it crosses your path at least once every couple of days.  You can’t pull a cap down over your eyes when sitting behind a car at a traffic light, and the license plate holder on the vehicle in front of you reads, “Jet Noise – The Sound of Freedom.”  Knowing that all these military installations are around, I should shudder from fear of some type of attack, but I don’t.  When I rest my head on my pillow at night I think of that license plate holder.  I then, thank God for the men and women; not only the ones who live across the street or around the corner, but all of them who faithfully and unselfishly protect this country, and my freedom.

Photos courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

Information provided through Wikipedia.com