Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Colonel Bud Day Passes

I've been absent from this blog a while and there are many reasons for it, vacation and writing being chief among them. But I wanted to pop back in to share my thoughts on the passing of yet another of those individuals who I remember hearing about in my youth: Col. Bud Day.

He passed away last Saturday after 88 long years. But if you were to compare Bud's years to how the majority of the world spends theirs, he might as well have lived a hundred eighty-eight of them. For those of you who don't know of Bud Day the man was a veteran of World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. He was the recipient of not only the Air Force Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross, various Air Medals and multiple Bronze Stars, but also our country's highest military decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor, for actions carried out during his capture by North Vietnamese troops, his subsequent escape and evasion and his later recapture. He endured many torture sessions, always resisting, and as the highest ranking officer in their group served as an inspiration to his fellow POWs, among them future Senator John McCain, in the years that followed.

Bud grew up in a generation that believed in service and engendered in their youth strong senses of honor, duty, courage and commitment.  He was part of a rapidly disappearing vanguard that sees the defense of American principles and values as the only way to live one's life well.

Yes, the world has changed a lot since Bud's day, and life is not so simple anymore in terms of discerning the right way forward from the wrong way. People have access to more information which gives them (hopefully) a better sense of what is going on in the world. In some ways this is both better and worse. We, the masses, are less easily controlled because we now know enough to question the actions of our governments, but this often leads to complications, stalemates and ineffectual governance.

In recent years Bud made headlines for some rather controversial remarks in the political arena that I am certainly not here to defend. But I do respect the man for being someone that in a world full of talkers, pundits and armchair quarterbacks, was always willing to put both his name and life on the line to be  "in the game."

Rest in peace, Colonel.