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July 6, 2022

Worthy to Print Column | The Eternal Flame

If you have read any of my scribbling over time, you know I’m a lifelong conservative. I don’t know exactly when I discovered this. Although I can’t remember much about politics until my platoon sergeant and I were sitting on the hood of a Jeep in the motor pool at Fort Bragg, N.C.

It was a pretty day, I remember that, and I was broke so I couldn’t go to town until payday. Of course, that wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. I seemed to be broke all the time while stationed there.

Some soldier walked up and asked if we had heard about the assassination of President Kennedy. We looked at each other and grinned. This guy was trying to pull our leg. Sgt. Rutherford started to slide off the hood. The young man saw this aggressive move and started backing away. “OK guys, you’ll see!” About this time an officer walked by and Sgt. Rutherford asked him if the rumor he had just heard was true. The officer nodded his head and said, “It’s true, Sarge. There won’t be another like Kennedy.”

I didn’t follow any politics. I don’t think I was any different than any 18-year-old goof-off. This was a peacetime Army and it was a lot different than a wartime setting. I knew quite a lot about President Kennedy. He had been the only President to embrace unconventional warfare. 

He had come to Fort Bragg upon the invitation of the Army and observed an entire day’s programs showing just how good the rumored “Special Forces,” truly were. He had given his order that okayed the wearing of the green beret that designated this new branch of the Army. Nobody on his staff agreed with him but he was young, good looking and full of  himself. 

President Kennedy was the first politician I really liked. Sure, giving permission to make the beret was a huge thing. But later, he also backed down Nikita Khrushchev when that Russian wanted to make Cuba home to nuclear weapons. Believe me, that was a big thing! He believed in the concept. The generals and civilian employees of the Army didn’t get why the Army wanted another branch. 

Washington is filled with bureaucrats, as is the civilians that work for the military. They want nothing to disturb their fat-cat lives. Imagine what it would be like if we had a great President that would demand they work. Naw, that probably won’t happen soon. That is one of the reasons the bureaucrats hated President Trump.

I wanted to be in this new unit as soon as possible, but it turned out to be another six years before I was old enough and had achieved enough rank to transfer. My first assignment was Vietnam.

I remember back at the motor pool the young private was still shaking from Sgt. Rutherford bracing him and asking why he would say such a thing. “Hey Sergeant,” the young private hastened to say. “It is all over the news.” We looked around and the entire motor pool seemed to come to a halt. I saw many soldiers wiping their eyes as they stumbled around the motor pool. “Could it be true?” I asked myself. “No, it can’t be.” I also answered myself. “How? Where? We don’t kill our Presidents.” But someone had and it brought sadness to the entire Fort.

It was slowly sinking into my mind that the rumor must be true. As time went on, I couldn’t believe that someone who was our hero was gone. He is one of only two Presidents to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. His grave is the only one that has a 24-hour flame. This honor was suggested by his wife, as she had seen such a grave in France and thought it would be appropriate; she was right. He is the only President to be interred with the Eternal Flame. All this and he was a Democrat. 

I don’t think the present occupier of the White House would stand a chance against Khrushchev. He blames everyone but himself as time goes by. The United States is no longer respected either by the citizenship or any foreign leader.

I realize that many readers do not want me to mention the foibles of the present President, but I’m afraid that current events are calling upon me to at least point out how he is letting all of us cook in the cauldron of ineptitude. Do you nurse your child? Have you been able to find the formula you need? The only news I have is that the company that voluntarily closed will not be shipping for another two weeks.

How about taking a Sunday drive? I can’t take a drive because I can’t afford the gas. They are whining on TV about the high prices back East, but they can’t seem to understand we West Coast folks are paying almost $7 a gallon. It’s kind of tough to eat bacon and eggs when you can’t afford the bacon at $11 a pound. 

Thank goodness my lovely bride nursed our children. They have really good teeth and suffer little from the yearly colds that their mother and I share. My mom also nursed her children. It may have been due to the location of our homes, but I like to think she was giving us a head start on life. Hang in there because we have an election coming up and that is our chance to change horses.

God Bless.

George Worthy
Gonzales Columnist
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