I’m no patriot.
I don’t love my country, right or wrong.
I don’t think this is the greatest nation on earth.
And I don’t believe that soldiers are heroes.
The nickname that’s not a nickname
One of our South Bay stalwarts we call “Major.” What with all of the nicknames that get bestowed in the peloton, it’s easy to forget that we call him “Major” for a reason: He’s a major in the Air Force, and he’s nothing like Yossarian’s Major Major.
Our Major never skips a pull. Our Major never gaps out. Our Major always makes the break.
Most importantly, our Major is always straight up. You’ll get a good word when you do right, and a sharp rebuke when you don’t.
Looking for sugar coating? Look somewhere else.
The day job
Amidst the silliness of cycling in the South Bay, we often forget about the real world. Maybe that’s the point. Then something happens to remind us about the hungry maw of toothy reality that’s there whether we acknowledge it or not.
I learned via a Facebook invitation that there would be a send-off party today for Major. Send-off for what? Deployment number three. I don’t believe in patriotism or foreign wars. But I believe in my friends.
I believe in this guy’s honesty, decency…his humanity. I’ve seen it too often not to know what a rare man he is, and the thought of him going off to a war zone, again, fills me with fear and dread.
It fills me with dread not because he’s a hero but because he’s a good friend going off to do a dangerous job. But then I think about him as a representative of our country. I think about his character and his uncomplaining yet fully aware attitude towards his work. I think about how, of all my friends, he’s the one who never brags about his country or makes a big deal about what he does for a living, though he’s the one entitled to do both. I think about how when people abroad see him they will think he’s a typical American.
Then, reflexively and unconsciously and even embarrassed I flush with pride. Come back to us safely, Major. If you’re the face of our nation I guess I’m a patriot after all.