Probably the happiest moment of my whole life was when I had just quit being a trial lawyer for the FTC, the world's worst job, had moved out to UC Santa Cruz to teach, dragged my colitis-racked body into my tiny prefector's dorm room, unpacked, and then gone to look around. It was a surprisingly warm August night in Santa Cruz in 1972. I found a picnic table, a sturdy table indeed, and lay down on it on my back just for a lark. I looked up at the stars. I had never seen so many and they danced all around in the California sky.
I was at peace, free from cares and worries, about to plunge into a new life of love and redwood trees. And I know I've told you about this before and will again if I live.
For the next several weeks, I had a riot of romance with various women around Santa Cruz, got my first Weimaraner, learned to say good-bye to the day by staring at the sunset, and became generally a new man.
The old, frightened Benjy was gone at least for a few weeks or months.I was a hero of the revolution, James Bond raking in the girl chips.
I was happy.
BUT WHAT JUST OCCURRED to me today, December 29, 2005, is that none of this, absolutely none, not one bit of it, would have been possible without the men and women of the Armed Forces. While I was busy being born (and not dying), men and women were getting blown to pieces by German 88's and Japanese mortars to win the big one. While I was growing up, our freedom was saved by the Strategic Air Command ("Peace is our Profession") and by men and women patrolling in the Arctic Circle. While I was in elementary school, my cousin Joe and my uncle Bob were fighting and fine men and women were dying at Cho-Sin Reservoir.
The piece really should be read in its entirety.