Fifty-nine years have elapsed since I shared a freezing, olive-drab canvas tent with twelve other guys as the cease-fire that would end hostilities in Korea was negotiated a few miles away. Memories of that long forgotten Asian war still lurk in the far recesses of my mind – grainy black-and-white mental snapshots that I drag-out occasionally.
I stay in touch with some of the guys – our collective memory of flying over frozen, inhospitable mountains in aging aluminum World War II leftovers links us for life.
We connect regularly by e-mail - we're "geezers" in our seventies and eighties – an age when one could expect that our messages would be limited to hip replacements, coronary bypasses and the like – curiously, they are not.
Mostly we describe in lengthy detail the latest exploits of our ‘highly accomplished’ children and grandchildren - exchanging photos - sometimes including old ones taken when we were fuzzy-cheeked, teen-aged warriors.
We have tamed the intricacies of the personal computer and its stepchild the internet - revisiting the zeal and technical prowess that we once employed to master the arcane accessories of war.
We swap ‘war stories’ infrequently – after so many years have passed, we remain vaguely astonished that we came through those dangerous days relatively unscathed...
Despite today’s uncertainties we've lived long enough to have experienced such events again and again - having done so we understand that uncertainties are predictably cyclic – stability, and even prosperity will return soon enough - still, we remember all too well how we managed family health and finances during tough times.
We concentrate on more important things - holding hands with our wives as we walk along a beach, sharing a glorious sunset - or talking to our grandkids - applauding their triumphs and dispensing grandfatherly counsel to mitigate the stings of their minor tragedies.
We celebrate simple pleasures - the smells of breakfast - the knowledge that we can choose to be productive or aimless each day - the choice is ours alone
We consider ourselves fortunate to have experienced life's highest and lowest flows – to have survived to savor it - making more wonderful memories as each day passes.
Alan Mowbray Jr. – Luquillo, PR – [email protected]
Alan Mowbray Jr
Alan Mowbray Jr. is a natural history writer who lives in Puerto Rico - his most recent book 'The Animals of El Yunque' is about the bio-diverse animal population that lives and thrives in Puerto Rico's ecological marvel, the El Yunque rainforest. His recent publications include essays, technical papers and magazine articles, as well as numerous writings for the El Yunque National Forest website and an in-depth coverage of the vital, multi-agency recovery program for the highly endangered Puerto Rican Parrot for Dr. Jane Goodall's 'Hope For Animals' project. Mr. Mowbray served in the United States Air Force from 1952 to 1956 and in the California Air National Guard from 1957 to 1960. He is a an associate life member of the Blinded Veterans of America.