Cumberland Times-News

Jim Goldsworthy - Anything and Everything

March 8, 2014

If you can sleep well at night, here’s why

One of my companions excused herself and said she wanted to go to the toilet and wash her hands before our lunch arrived.

This restaurant is a replica of the tavern and brewery in Philadelphia where what would become the U.S. Marine Corps was conceived in 1775.

This is the Tun Tavern, I told her. It doesn’t have a toilet. It has a (little brown shack out back).

The food was good, as was the beer — and the company, for that matter.

I got out of bed at 5 a.m. in Keyser to be in Cumberland in time to get on the bus the Mountainside Detachment of the Marine Corps League was taking to Quantico, Va., home of the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

This was my second trip to the museum. If you haven’t gone, you should. If you have gone, you should go again.

the first thing you notice is a tall spire that protrudes from the top of the building at an odd angle.

Most of those on the bus were aware that the angle of this spire matches the angle of the flagpole in Joe Rosenthal’s iconic photo of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi during World War II.

This photo actually depicts the second flag raised on Iwo. Another photo by Louis Lowery shows the raising of the first flag, which was considerably smaller than the second flag.

The first time I went to the museum, it was the first flag that was on display. This time, the second flag was being shown. Both of them gave me cold chills. World-altering history has that effect on me.

Part of the Iwo display is a panel that has row upon row of small badges, one for each of the thousands of Americans who died in the battle. The docent showed one of my companions where to stand and where to aim when taking a photo of it. When viewed in the camera, the photo shows Mount Suribachi in the background. A neat optical trick.

If the members of Congress put as much consideration and intelligence into their work as the folks who conceived and designed this museum, we’d all be better off.

Walking through it is like navigating through a maze that takes you to different eras in the history of the Marine Corps. Just about the time you think you’re helplessly lost, you wind up back where you started and can go on to the next exhibit.

One room depicts a nighttime firefight in Korea. It’s cold in that room for a reason, but not as cold as the real thing would have been.

I pointed to one of the mannequins in a Korean-War era Marine combat uniform and the two canteens hanging from his belt.

How much good would those canteens do you, I asked my companions, in a place where water that’s poured out would freeze before it hit the ground?

I have no idea where that thought came from.

The docent who coached us on the Mount Suribachi display told us, “At least you could stick them in the fire and make some good hot coffee. You wouldn’t want to do that with one of the new plastic canteens.”

He also told me that USMC stands for “Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children.” I told him that MARINES stands for “My A** Rides In Naval Equipment, Sir.” (Marines often refer to the Navy as The World’s Biggest Taxi Service.)

The firebase exhibit in the Vietnam section wasn’t as hot or humid as it was the last time I visited. Too many tourists complained, as they apparently did about the frigidity of the Korean War exhibit.

You still enter the Vietnam firebase by walking out the aft end of a Chinook helicopter. There is a small round painting of a wolf’s head and the admonition to “GIVE A S**T” near the top of the tail section. Nobody can see it unless they make an effort to look, which I did. Not many other folks do. But then, I’m one of those who gives a s**t.

The Vietnam section has a shooting range where you can test your skills with an M-16 rifle that fires laser bursts instead of bullets.

A friend of mine who served in both Vietnam and Iraq scored a 99; one of his shots was just a hair outside the X-ring.

“I’ve still got it,” he said, showing me the target. He once showed me a panel of the Vietnam Memorial that holds the names of more than 70 of his buddies.

In the main gallery were several paintings of Marines who had been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I’ve seen photos and artwork that date from the Civil War through today, and one thing strikes me: The faces all look the same. They’re the faces of young men and women who’ve grown old too soon.

I’m 66 now, and things don’t stay with me like they used to. I can’t remember much of what I did yesterday at the newspaper, but nearly a week later I can retrace in my mind almost every step I took at the Marine Corps museum.

My friends and I walked around a corner and saw a busted-up chunk of concrete and a twisted steel beam that were just sitting in the middle of the floor.

A small, plain sign said the concrete was salvaged from wreckage at the Pentagon, and the steel beam came from the rubble that once was part of the Twin Towers.

The sign said we were welcome to touch them and make a connection with those who were murdered (my word, not theirs) by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001.

I did so and felt the same thing I had earlier, when I looked at the tattered, faded flag that once flew over Iwo Jima.

The song, “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” was adopted by the men and women who went to Vietnam.

I went to Washington for the 25th anniversary of The Wall and joined several hundred other folks in singing it — swaying in unison from side to side — when the Kingston Trio took the stage to present their version:

“Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing? Young girls picked them, every one ...  Where have all the young girls gone? Gone to young men, every one ... Where have all the young men gone? Gone for soldiers, every one ... Where have all the soldiers gone? Gone to graveyards, every one ... Where have all the graveyards gone? Gone to flowers, every one.

“When will they ever learn?

“When will they ever learn?”

Maybe someday they will, but I doubt that I will live to see it.

Thank God for the United States Marine Corps ... and the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard.

There are different versions and debate as to who actually said it, but it goes like this:

“We sleep safely in our beds at night only because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”

Semper Fi. Welcome Home.

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Jim Goldsworthy - Anything and Everything
  • He means well, and this time they spared his life

    Our pal Phil is the only re-enactor certified in writing by both the Lee and Custis families to portray Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (whose wife was Mary Anna Custis Lee). When he’s in uniform, he generally stops at the bottom of the path that leads to the summit of Little Round Top, salutes Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy and asks permission to join us. (Get it? Generally ... General Lee?) We always return his salute and grant him permission, in part because he’s our friend and also because the real Lee never got to see what it really looks like from up there. (Get it? Grant ... Grant? U.S. Grant? Real Lee ... really? OK. I hear you. That’s enough. Seriouslee.) Phil gets a kick out of being able to sneak up on us while we’re distracted by tourists.

    July 20, 2014

  • They’d have fallen like Autumn leaves

    So there we were, minding our own business (at least momentarily), leaning against the cannon at Little Round Top.

    July 13, 2014

  • Better read that french fry before you eat it

    People give me otherwise-insignificant items they hope will amuse or inspire me. I appreciate this. I’m always glad for free entertainment, which as Goldy’s Rule 33 says is everywhere. All you have to do is wait and it will come to you. Also, I have been writing columns for 37 years and embrace inspiration anywhere I can find it.

    July 6, 2014

  • The moose is loose, and it’s coming for you

    So how would you like to look out your kitchen door window onto your porch and see a moose looking back at you from close range?

    June 28, 2014

  • There are some debts you can never repay

    Today’s column will be relatively short, as my columns go, for reasons that should become apparent, and I thought long and hard before writing it.

    June 21, 2014

  • It could have saved the county a lot of money

    Random thoughts sometimes occur to me when I least expect it, usually when my brain has become tired.
    When I voice these thoughts at work or in other places, people may tell me, “Goldy? It’s time for you to go home.” Yes, ma’am.
    Here are two random thoughts of recent vintage:
    • If Bugs Bunny were an Emergency Medical Technician, would that make him a MedicHare?
    • If Daisy Duck got a job driving for United Parcel Service, would she be an UPS-a-Daisy?
    I wouldn’t blame you if you think that sounds Goofy — or Daffy.

    June 15, 2014

  • These two were part of the Not Top Ten

    Occasionally, at this time of year, I see reference to a “class orator” or a “class speaker.”

    Nothing wrong with that — people can call such things whatever they want, as far as I’m concerned — but it makes me wonder. Have “valedictorian” and “salutatorian” become politically incorrect, and I didn’t notice? It may come as a surprise to you, but I really have not kept up with what is politically correct or incorrect. That’s what people tell me, anyway. With some of them, it actually seems to be a compliment.

    June 8, 2014

  • Coming soon to a highway near you?

    People say to me, “Goldy? Can I ask you a stupid question?”

    In theory — and theory only — the correct response is: “The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.” Not so much. There ARE stupid questions, some of them so stupid that to call them stupid is to damn them with faint praise. Other questions are — on the face of it — legitimate questions, but shouldn’t be treated as such ... not if you subscribe to the same philosophy that I do: Free entertainment is everywhere; all you have to do is wait, and it will come to you.

    June 1, 2014

  • This was a skill that proved very useful

    The Belmont Park stewards have decided to let California Chrome wear his nasal strip during the Run for the Carnations. Nasal strips usually are worn by people who snore and may have saved numerous marriages. It helps the Triple Crown hopeful to breathe, and some twolegged athletes wear nasal strips for the same reason. In this case, Chrome’s nasal strip may keep him from (wait for it) ... losing by a nose.

    May 25, 2014

  • He made a big splash by asking this question

    “I don’t know who you were talking to last night,” said Capt. Gary, “but you were talking and moaning in your sleep. Never heard you do that before.” Neither has anyone else, I said. Besides, I had told him not to be surprised if we had visitors. I wasn’t at the top of my game for a couple of days, and he said some of our friends asked him if I was all right. It’s not the first time for this, so now I’ll know to watch out for it. It can affect you and is not something to play around with — as our friend Cathy found out.

    May 18, 2014

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