PDA

View Full Version : "Guys like me who built this great land are no longer needed"


Valentine One Radar Detector

Eric
08-30-2010, 07:27 AM
By John Mele

You want to know who I am? First, I'll tell you who I was.

I joined the Marines when I was 18, went to Vietnam when I was 19, was an 0331 machine gunner, survived a tour of duty in heat and humidity in the mountains of northern South Vietnam near the DMZ. My rear base, the Rockpile, was the most remote base in Vietnam at that time, or so we were told. I survived that war and when I got home I used the GI Bill to get into the Boston Architectural Center, a night school of Architecture. I worked days a few years as a construction laborer and then as an office boy in an architectural office. I got married, was accepted to the University of Oregon and got my BA in architecture in '77, worked, moved a few times (due to recessions), had two beautiful daughters, raised my family, etc.

After Nam I straightened out, as they say, and sailed a pretty solid course even when the seas of the economy were rough. We had our ups and downs, weathered financial recessions, lost one home and built another, finally settled in Knoxville, TN where I had my own architectural business mainly because I couldn't work in a cubicle with 400 other architects.

But in '09 that all changed. This is who I am now.

I am a former Marine, Vietnam war veteran, mad as hell and about to lose my home again. As far as I could tell, our entire financial system collapsed. I mean take forty to fifty years of “economic progress” and just dump it. That is in essence what happened. Many are still clinging to it, hoping for its revival. Something will recover but that something will never be what it was before. In '09 they changed all the rules. The jobs disappeared, gone to China and India. Guys like me and those before us built this great land and were no longer needed. The bridges, the skyscrapers, the industrial centers, the homes, highways, dams and byways, all built by us, was now thrown away as the “financial system” did not need us anymore. Things called “derivatives” took our place. The US auto industry was on the ropes, banks were collapsing, Wall Street was in chaos, and millions saw the future as a place of unemployment or low paying jobs, if one was available.

So, I decided not to follow the same path I'd been on. With no prospects for work and a boiling anger about--what I felt--was a stolen future for me and my country, I decided to take some alternative actions. I had not failed, the system had failed me and I was determined not to give up but also not to be a fool. I was 60 and soon no matter what I did age would get me. Do I go down playing by the ever-changing rules of financial insanity that I was being forced into? Do I take any job and try to keep the home I spent a lifetime working for? In short, do I suck it up again, go to where I must and start over again at 60 and keep my mouth shut and show up for work and do this until I am dead?

Hell, I’d rather charge up a hill and give it my all to save my “SPIRIT”, because that is the most precious part of any of us. Think "Geronimo" and replace it with "Whitehorse" and you get an idea of WHY I planned this. One last gasp, one last charge, one last mission till the forces of my destiny would overtake me. Would I die trying, if so I was willing to face and accept that. Would Whitehorse save me? I had no idea. I had no idea! It all started with a joke I said to my wife. After repeating it a few times it made more sense than what I was seeing around me.

The inequalities of life invade all our lives. In essence we all make decisions within the confines of the hand we are dealt. At age 60 I decided to challenge that hand one last time and in doing so set my SPIRIT FREE.

I am cycling to Whitehorse, on a bike with a 65 pound pack, a 3700 mile trip...I'll see you there, if I last...