Jimi Hendrix should have turned 69 years old this week. Hard to imagine what the psychedelic rock star would look like or sound like today.
Sadly, due to his drug overdose, we will never know.
In late summer of 1967, The Jimi Hendrix Experience released its first album Are You Experienced. The début record was an instant hit and featured classic rock staples such as Purple Haze, Hey Joe, Foxey Lady, Fire and several other hits.
Thirteen years later, on a hot summer afternoon, I popped my 8-track tape into the stereo of my Chevy Blazer and headed for the Post Office. I was working a summer job on a farm in Brookshire, Texas, a short drive west of my hometown of Houston. My memories are still vivid as I headed into town during my lunch break, the music turned up loud, and my windows rolled down. Headed down the road with the music pumping I appeared to be just another wise-ass teenager. But, deep down inside, I was apprehensive.
Seems that, in July of 1980, President Jimmy Carter made all of us a little apprehensive, when he signed Proclamation 4771, Registration Under the Military Selective Service Act, which retroactively re-established the Selective Service. Every young man in this country was given 30 days to register for the draft, following our 18th birthdays.
“Purple haze all in my brain
Lately things just don’t seem the same”
I placed my name on the dotted line and headed back to work. The music was a little louder on the way back. Of course, all the worry was for nothing, after all. The draft still remains dormant since the Vietnam War. We never went to war against our country’s biggest threat, the Soviet Union. Leaders from both countries kept their finger off that BIG nuclear trigger button.
The commies have since done themselves in, without the aid of a single soldier from my generation fighting on a foreign soil.
We were lucky, I suppose. We didn’t have to face the destruction of a war. We were allowed to keep living our simple little lives, which at the time, were consumed with college destinations, women and where the next party was. No doubt about it. We were lucky back then.
But, duty, and service to our country, still calls out today. Our enemies aren’t as clearly defined as they once were. We can’t even pronounce most of their names anymore. The issues facing us, from our enemies of the new millennium, are far more complex.
This Sunday, my daughter’s husband will be asked to pack his bags and deploy once again to defend our country. This will be his second tour, and despite what the president tells the American public, we are still deploying troops. The threats facing our nation are far from over. Don’t let the media fool you. They are not all coming home soon. We still need to keep them in our prayers.
My daughter’s husband is a member of 1st Battalion 4th Marines Alpha Company. The tattoo on his arm is the Alpha Raiders logo. They call themselves Devil Dogs. The moniker was used by German soldiers during World War I to describe US Marines who fought in the Battle of Belleau Wood in 1918. The Marines fought with such ferocity that the Germans likened them to Teufelshunde – “Dogs from Hell.”
He’s your typical All-American Marine. Disciplined. Focused. Eager. Hard as steel and posses a total dedication to his country. He’s a devoted husband to my daughter.
He will miss his first Christmas with his new wife. My daughter will undoubtedly go through emotional tough times, missing him, worrying about him. Her family will stand by her side and give her all the support she needs.
Selfishly, I felt lucky back in 1980. Only this time, we all are lucky. Lucky to have men and women who give the ultimate sacrifice of themselves for this country’s freedoms.
Jimi came to my rescue in the summer of 1980. Sunday, twin Devil Dogs, will come to a country’s rescue.
I wish Ryan and his twin brother Riley safe returns. We are all proud of them. We will send our care packages. We will send our love. We will send our prayers.
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