Friday, August 21, 2009

Heroes... Just For One Day

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can be Heroes, just for one day
We can be us, just for one day
We did an extended Happy Hour this past evening, given as how the wind died down late in the evning and the temps were oh-so-moderate, bordering on chilly. Now…who'd a thunk that… the "chilly" bit, I mean. But it's true… and I digress, as ever and always. You'll note I've embedded Bowie and quoted one small bit of the lyrics to "Heroes." There's a reason for that, of course.

First and foremost… we had our windows open and our Very Expensive Radio (aka our peesee) cranked up so as to furnish an appropriate soundtrack for the after-dinner whiskey and cigar extravaganza. And then there was this moment in time... which would be the middle tune in this series of three:

Which got us to thinking… a dangerous pursuit in the best of times, but more so when we're (nearly) in our cups than at any other time. Or close. We were thinking, specifically, about the lyrics to "Heroes"… which we've committed to memory in that strange way reserved only for rock 'n' roll tunes but somehow escapes us for shit that truly matters, like our grandchildren's birthdays. I was wondering if we (all of us) understand what it means to be "heroes, just for one day."

I've had more than a few occasions where I... or we... were heroes just for one day, but never considered them as such until this evening. This moment comes to mind:

That fuzzy and almost indistinct image would be YrHmblScrb holding SN3, only an hour or so after SN3 entered this world. We were heroes at that moment, The Second Mrs. Pennington and I. And SN3, too.

Or this:
That would be SN2, The First Mrs. Pennington, SN1, and grandson Sean… on the occasion of SN1's commissioning back in 2000. TFMP and I were heroes just for that day… celebrating our first-born's accomplishment and the fact that our second-born had sworn SN1 into the officer corps… and bursting with pride we were, despite our difficult past and considerable angst with each other.

There are others, of course, most of which we have no photographic record. And most of those events are minor… mundane, even... such as the time my buds and I walked off the hill at Doi Inthanon, Thailand after a hard day of raising the search radar antenna at a long range radar site we (a USAF Engineering & Installations [E&I] team out of Yokota AB, Japan) were building for the Royal Thai Air Force. Raising that antenna was a milestone in a long and difficult installation… and we celebrated by unfurling a home-made banner on the radar antenna… a huge thing cobbled up out of bedsheets, emblazoned with our makeshift "Baker and Sons Radar Installations" logo, and visible throughout the radar station. That banner was a thing we spent the entire evening admiring, all while hoisting many Singhas in celebration… accompanied by team members from the various E&I disciplines deployed with us… radio, telephone, construction… among others. A victory of sorts, and one to be celebrated. Once again… we were heroes, just for one day.

There have been many, many more... most of 'em minor… like when The Second Mrs. Pennington and I had a couple of drinks in this way-cool little bar in Rochester, NY to celebrate the closing on the next-to-last house we ever bought together… but all of 'em significant in their own way.

I suppose my point is we should celebrate these victories whenever they happen… and recognize that ALL of us can indeed be "heroes, just for one day." I spent the better part of last evening reminiscing and celebrating those victories, small as they may be. Yep… we were heroes, just for one day.

Bowie had it right.


  1. When I have been working with a student and suddenly you see the light come on for them and they "get it" - hero moment. When someone says, "Wow, that Jesse is just precious (okie term)" - another hero moment. When it is just Toby and me, and I think, "I love this man!" - heroes.

  2. Put out a grease fire with a wet towel for my neighbor who lived below me.

    Used a fire extinguisher to put out a car on fire that was parked next to a gas pump.

    Let an old friend live with me for eight months and borrow a decent amount of cash after his wife booting him out of the house.

    Rescued numerous folks on the side of the road, in all kinds of weather (it’s kind’a my thing). I hope someone will return the favor someday.

    "like when The Second Mrs. Pennington and I had a couple of drinks in this way-cool little bar in Rochester, NY"

    Buck, what was the name or location, was it downtown or which suburb, maybe even just a description...I'm really curious.

  3. Never really thought of my actions as a friend or the loved one of someone else to be heroic.

    Held hands with friends as they learned their daughter had died on Flight 11.

    Helped another friend navigate her way thru a trying personal time, and kept her from harming herself.

    Support my niece and nephew in everything they do.

    Be there for my family and friends - always.

    I still don't see these as particularly heroic - at least as I've always defined the word. But I guess in the moment actions can be powerful.

  4. What a great pondering assignment for a hot weekend -- think about your hero moments; revel a little in the good that you bring to this battered ol' Earth and her inhabitants.

    I think I'll go ask my geriatric dogs what they think, to begin with.

    Great pics!

  5. Nice stuff. But I would rather celebrate your victories, here. Your stories of glory are always great. What a family!

    "I'm happy; hope you're happy too..."

  6. I agree with Barco Sin Vela, your victories are beautiful and amazing.

    I have said it before, and I will mention it here again, your life just seems so interesting and the experiences you have had are your badges of honor, just as you've earned so many badges and honors while serving your country.

  7. This is the sort of blog post I live for. Stuff like this - folks' moments of wonderfullness in the midst of this big confusing thing we call life - are always worth reading about.

  8. Thank you all for both comments and the vignettes you shared... Dang, but I'm blessed with knowing some really FINE people through this dumb lil blog!

    tim: I sat in the bar almost 15 years ago, once and once only, so the memory of the physical place is rather dim. It was downtown and was the closest bar to the title company where we closed, had kitschy '50s sort of decor, and was nearly empty except for TSMP and I. It was the company and the occasion that made it special, NOT the place itself, LOL!

  9. You're a retired US Air Force Veteran, Buck - you're qualified for 2 lifetimes of revelling in your heroism.

  10. Gotcha Buck, thanks for coming back though.

    Amen Suldog, amen.

    And Buck, the world is full of really fine people; unfortunately the 10% who aren’t get around a lot ;)

    Have a great weekend y'all. Some vodka & tonics await.

  11. Andy sez: You're a retired US Air Force Veteran, Buck - you're qualified for 2 lifetimes of revelling in your heroism.

    Thanks for the sentiment, Andy... most appreciated. But let me be clear: the purpose of my post was to remind folks that there is joy to had in celebrating life's little victories. While, once again, I appreciate the intent of your comment, there was NOTHING in my military career that was even remotely comparable to the guys in my age cohort who strapped on a jet and "went downtown" over Hanoi, the guys who made the daily slog through rice paddies, or the guys who launched and recovered aircraft in the Gulf of Tonkin... or the kids today who are on patrol in Ramadi or are in the field in Afghanistan. Nothing at ALL. This post cheapened the word "hero," but that wasn't my intention at all. Rather, as I mentioned at the beginning... it was all about celebrating life's little victories and milestone accomplishments, and nothing more.

    tim: re: the weekend... And beer, too!


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