Ragbag Civilians and Violently Broken Hearts

The man who raised me, my adoptive father, dedicated twenty-five years of his life to the Army. Through and through, he was a proud and highly disciplined man. Despite the occasional fear he could inspire in me, I had developed a deep respect and carried my own proud opinions concerning country, duty and the government I once loved and respected so much.


Having served two years fighting in Vietnam, unfortunately, he came back home to find his wife shacked up with an M.P. along with his “newly” adopted daughter-that would be me.
I can’t imagine the horror of that happening to any man. Especially (according to love letters I later found that he had written her from trenches) when one considers how she had been the focus of his hopes during the cold nights, dreaming of coming home alive. Even now, my heart aches remembering the lines where he had asked her to kiss “our new angel” for him and how much the thoughts of her calmed the fears he dared not show his men. What a lucky man he was that she married him. Right.

After he retired, he had some disappointment concerning what he felt he’d been entitled to, never mind promised, from Uncle Sam. From seeking to put his learned trade to use (which never happened due to his age) to the more somber and quiet complaints of his healthcare services during the final days of dialysis. He eventually passed away from renal failure complications.
It’s a good thing too. That he died when he did.
I don’t think you could have convinced me years ago that I would be saying those words in a hundred years.

There were unique terms used frequently in our family. One of them was “ragbag civilian”.
In short, amongst other things it was a comment on how undisciplined and messy the average civilian was. It’s a term I still like a lot , despite having had acted quite the ” ragbag” throughout my own life.


For us, it also said something  about what an embarrassment it was to have civilian fat cats in leadership positions without “having served and proved their worth.” If you’re going to be lied to and deceived , how much better to be lied to and deceived by a real man and not a “sissy” coward. His words, not mine; not if I’m smart, right?

Overall, I grew up with a very clear distinction between “Military Us” and “Ragbag Them”.

A man who knew what busting your ass in real war is. Not the sad sack sneak with his ” P@#$) A##” handshakes and dishonorable soul.

I’m sure Papa found some kind of solace in the face of his disappointments by believing that at least, the Good Guys were in charge.

Every time I see Ragbags hide behind private companies to do something on the sly, like kill our rights to free speech, I think those thoughts of being glad he’s dead.
Every time I have to suffer through watching the Ragbags do their Veteran Day/ Memorial Day/ Fourth of July tributes and blink their Ragbag eyes in time to the patriotic bits of their “deeply moving” speeches on the God they know nothing about and the land they would never expend any energy fighting for…I think of those thoughts.

For as spirit crushing as it most likely was to find an inhumane slut wife waiting for him back at home, thousands of bullets dodged behind him and long nights of screaming night terrors ahead of him…
If he saw the Ragbags who occupy the throne, basically wiping their asses with the very rights he and hundreds of thousands of young men and women shed blood fighting for….the man would have died of a violently broken heart.

As many of your own fathers and grandfathers would have as well, folks.

photo by Jeffrey Collingwood

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