Thursday, January 17, 2008

On Loss and Liberty

It's funny how the mind can sometimes play tricks.

This is never more true than when one is mentally and/or physically exhausted.

The other night, after having arrived late to his hotel after a long day of flying, The Flying Curmudgeon had a dream about a childhood friend.

Like TFC, in the dream his friend was an airline pilot. Unlike yours truly, this friend lived in a beach-front home, with his wife and three(?) children. (The Flying Curmudgeon's home is not on the water.)

TFC had not seen his friend in some time. Throughout the dream, the primary theme seemed to be the frustration of not having seen him in a while - and why -and what had happened to the friendship. (As high school classmates, they had been best friends.)

Just as The Flying Curmudgeon was confronting his friend on what had happened to their friendship, he awoke, realized it had all been a dream, and that he was lying in bed in his hotel room. With this, TFC got up, proceeded to his laptop and began to write.

A couple of things about this were odd.

First, TFC rarely remembers dreams, unlike Mrs. TFC, who claims to remember all her dreams. This remarkable gift of recall is not always convenient, when applied to those things that occur during the waking hours.

Second, how real the dream seemed. Upon awakening, it took The Flying Curmudgeon a few seconds to get his bearings and remember he was not standing in his friend's beach-front home, but lying in bed in a hotel room, instead. (And why was his friend's home on the beach?)

The strangest thing about the dream - as of last month, TFC's friend has been dead for 16 years. He died in a military plane crash, shortly before Christmas, a few months shy of his 30th birthday - leaving a wife, an 18-month-old daughter, and the son his wife was carrying that never knew his father.

Waking up angry with a friend who had been dead for 16 years got the wheels in TFC's head turning. With all the things that vy for attention in this world, it had been some time since his friend had crossed TFC's mind.

The sad thing is, this particular person is not the only friend TFC has lost over the years.

Quite a few of The Flying Curmudgeon's friends never lived to see their 30th birthdays - young men all, who gave their lives in service to their country - the majority during times of "Peace."

Friends of the same age, former students, and others, some close, some not so close - all lost in the prime of their lives. Aviation, especially military aviation, can be a very unforgiving business if one is not careful.

Thomas Jefferson once said: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Although the United States currently finds itself at war, in the quote above, Jefferson does not differentiate between "Peace" and "War."

Freedom is never free, and must be guarded jealously, lest we forget what it cost our nation in blood and treasure to acquire and preserve it.

As we approach the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, and nearly seven years since 9/11, The Flying Curmudgeon remembers those friends who gave their lives in Peace, and those who continue to do so in War.

May we never forget them.


No comments: