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A Few Frank Words 4-26-23



These days I look in the mirror and I see a 27-year-old. Haven’t changed a bit in 73 years. Yep, I am 73. When I was 17, I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. At 18 I was fighting a war Viet Nam. I was invincible! At 19, July 28, 1969 I first learned I was not only not invincible but was brought to death’s door. Then I got to thinking, maybe I was the exception to the adage “no one gets out alive”.

I loved my dad. Dads are supposed to be invincible, right? My dad died at the age of 42. Younger brothers and sisters you would think at a minimum, I would die before any of them. Wrong again, my youngest sister died when she was 17 in a car accident.

Kathryn and I developed a very long-term friendship with a couple that had two children about the same age as our kids. Jerry, the father of that family, was a car builder. His dream was to build a ‘41 Ford Coupe. Jerry contracted cancer. During that time Jerry told me that death would have to drag him kicking and screaming through death’s door. Sure enough he beat the cancer. Four months later he died. The doctors didn’t look to see the cancer had moved to his brain.

If anyone is invincible, surely a Marine, my brother-in-arms is. Yesterday, I felt the need to get in YouTube. I usually catch war movies I haven’t seen. Out of the blue, Season 2, Episode 19 of Seal Team is first on my screen. What the heck, I watch it. The show is about a vet who has been “medicated and isolated” by the Veterans Administration. After much hassle he gets in to see a doctor. Tells the doc he has a traumatic brain injury. The doctor puts the vet through a few tests and agrees, it is a TBI. The vet says, great, I finally get the TBI recognized so the VA will compensate it for me. The doctor explains that the vet will have to apply for compensation, go through more tests, and then the VA will make a determination on whether or not the vet will receive compensation. During the entire ordeal a song is playing entitled “Find the Cost of Freedom”. The song was written by Stephen Stills and sung by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. In the meantime, the vet goes back to his car and commits suicide.

Turns out while I am watching and listening, I get a really weird and unusual feeling. I know my brother-in-arms, one of my three closest friends, has died. Seems every one of us is mortal, even a combat Marine that escaped death at the Battle of Hue City. Now while I am pretty sure about taxes, I am certain about death. Our end-game is mortality. We cannot escape, evade, bargain, or barter our way out of death.


Francis (Frank) Remkiewicz is an area resident and contributes a monthly column focused primarily on faith and religion. He can be reached at Opinions expressed are those of the author.