That In Those Times We Will Remember
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An Excerpt from "That In Those Times We Will Remember":
Gentlemen, I'd like to draw your attention to this outline of the continental United States," the old Marine began, as he put the first transparency on the overhead projector. "And this, gentlemen, is an outline of the island of Cuba drawn to the same scale," he added, superimposing a second overlay onto the first. "As you can see, it is over 800 miles long and would run from New York City to Chicago." He paused for effect, and then put on a third overlay. "Can you all see this little red dot?"
"Just barely. What's tha-at?"
In the relative darkness beyond the bright overhead he couldn't quite see who had asked, but the Cape Cod twang told him it was either the boss himself or his brother the Attorney General. It didn't surprise him that the AG was deeply involved. After the boss had had to scrape the Bay of Pigs fiasco off the bottom of his polished oxfords, there were damn few around him he still trusted. Obviously his brother was one, and this old Marine hoped that he too was on that short list. He'd served under many men since his ROTC days at DePauw - some were pompous pinheads and some weren't - but he genuinely enjoyed serving under this C-in-C. It wasn't just the famous "vigah" or the fact that he had served in the Pacific. The man was a quick learner, and he needed to be that above all right now.
"I'm glad you asked. That, gentlemen, represents the relative size of the island of Betio in the Tarawa atoll. About two miles long and maybe 800 yards at its widest point. It took 12,000 Marines three days to take it. Over a thousand never came home."
He could tell from the murmuring that they got the point. Those who wore uniforms -- and those who had ever worn one -- were no longer looking at the red dot. Their eyes were fixed on the little sky-blue ribbon with its tiny stars in the top row of combat decorations on his Class "A" jacket. It was a slight irritant to some of the brass, since they had to salute that ribbon even if they outranked the wearer. They all knew that his had been earned on Tarawa.
On the way back to his office he stopped by the scuttlebutt, took a bottle of his favorite APC grunt candy - Anacin - out of his pocket and washed down three pills with some water. Ever since the Bay of Pigs he'd made it his mission to protect the boss as best he could from the Langley cowboys and Foggy Bottom dilettanti who wanted to play at war, but every attempt left him with a massive migraine. He'd told them before and he knew he'd have to say it again. Either do the sonofabitch and do it right, or don't do it at all. Quit friggin' around. He went into his office, closed the door without turning on any bright lights, leaned back in his leather chair and closed his eyes.
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