Friday, August 31, 2007

Tribute to Schofield Barracks

I was born and raised in Hawaii. I lived there until I was 20. That is to say I lived there until I had the cash to get out of there. Hawaii is incredibly beautiful and the pace of life is healthier than in most places in our country. But I got out because the mind of Hawaii is small.

My folks were very liberal. Both were truly ahead of their times. While everyone else in our town who was white was sending their children to private schools, all five of us were thrust into the public school system. Both the students, children, administrators, and education board considered this system to be a white man's system shoved up the ass of a working person's life while the white man and his offspring insulated themselves and lived life from far off.

It was this world in which I was submersed K through 12. My brother John spent as much time in that system as I did (except that he graduated after his junior year in high school). My other siblings managed to escape sometime in junior high and managed to enjoy private school for a while.

OK, I need to stop for a moment. Those of you who haven't enjoyed this cultural peculiarity cannot really appreciate what I am talking about. I'm very liberal myself, yet I will say without hesitation that my years in that public school system as an extreme minority were some of the most negatively formative years of my life.

But when I was in sixth grade things changed for a while. This was in '67-'68 and my dad who was in the reserves was called up to go to Viet Nam. This was met with lots of emotion all around naturally. But as part of the deal my folks worked out, we moved to Schofield Barracks on the island of Oahu (best known for Waikiki and Pearl Harbor). We spent nearly a year there. I enjoyed the only adolescent year of my life. I was not judged because of the (white) color of my skin. I instantly made friends. I didn't have to stand up on the bus on the way to and from school. I was human.

And I remember having terrible nightmares when the time to go home (with my habitually depressed mother whose husband was still in 'Nam) approached. All the loathing and fear of that jail sentence came rolling back to my subconscious mind. By the time 7th grade started I was a basket case, and rightly so. I had re-entered hell.

So I found an article today with a Schofield Barracks connection, and I immediately felt the old nostalgia for the place. The story is sad. It's a war story about young people who die for nothing. I don't know if it makes it better or worse that these people died from mechanical failure and not from war itself. Either way they would still be alive if not for the war.

And I feel some camaraderie with these people on this US Army Base who gave me a good year in my youth. You have my true sympathy for your lost ones.

No comments: