Good Conduct Medals
This is a scan of my good conduct medal from Afghanistan. It was a long time ago, and there is not much to tell. It currently resides in a cigar box with other odds and ends. I have been to Kabul on more than one occasion, for more than one reason. Somewhere around my current digs is a fake fossil that looked interesting in one shop I wandered into. There is a copper ring about the place that some street urchin sold me for 80 afghani. What can I say, I was a lot younger and copper does shine like gold when it is polished? I have always been a sucker. As George C. Scott put it in the movie The Flim-Flam Man, “You can’t cheat and honest man.”
In another cigar box there is my good conduct medal from the occupation army in Japan after WWII. There were sometimes in Yokohama. Tokyo to me is much like certain areas in the hills that I have not visited in 20 plus years. I cannot find the old diggings. In one dresser drawer is an old silk battle flag from some imperial unit. The pastorals on the walls look like originals, but I do not know much about the art history of Japan.
During my school days, I vaguely remember getting a good conduct certificate. I guess I never did anything to warrant too much attention for good or ill. There are a couple of honorable mentions for photos entered into a contest. They are typical of pictures that everybody takes.
One of the lines that I remember from my literature classes was from a John Milton sonnet. It was there in the mire of my memory and floated up one day without the author’s name attached. It surprised me because all I remember of Milton on a general basis is the rosy fingered dawn and the pensive nun images. The line runs, “Thousands at his bidding speed and post over land and ocean without rest: they also serve who stand and wait.”
My sister pointed out to me recently that when we served out in the world, we did not get a lot of recognition for it. I pointed out that we did not even get the t-shirt. What I did not point out to her is that I would not have bought the t-shirt even then. As far as recognition goes, my conduct has never been particularly good, it just was not bad enough to get on anybody’s radar. That has enabled me to just plug along in the background.
When I was born there were around 2 and a half billion people on the planet. There were pushing 4 billion when I washed up on this deserted island after my first war. Now the planet is pushing 8 billion, and I am still living on the same deserted island, just another jurisdiction. One of the first lessons somebody taught me here was how to be invisible. It was worth learning as the island is getting very crowded.
I have never been in the military, not in this lifetime if you believe that kind of thing. But I know that you never volunteer and there are not atheists in in foxholes. There are a lot of artifacts around the sanctum sanctorum these days along with an ever-expanding library. There is the web as well as the akashic record. Into this life I was well drafted, but I can just use the cranky, crazy old man persona instead of being invisible now.
We all know the rules. We all were taught by somebody. I look for artifacts, learn, write. But on Nov. 3, 2016 in this crowded island we live on we learned that the rules are more like guidelines. Well, I did. They sent me my draft card that day. I am just waiting to be called up for my physical.