Col. Harold Joseph O’Grady, USAF
I wonder what my old man would think about today’s United States of America, the descendant of the country he fought for in World War II. Would he even recognize the place?
Harold Joseph O’Grady was born in 1918, at the end of World War I — “The War to End All Wars” — so, having found himself suiting up for another one just a quarter century later, he might not be surprised to find the nation still embroiled in its longest war ever, in Afghanistan.
The nation asked a lot of the old man back when he was still a young fella — 668 hours of combat time, flying out of New Guinea with the 65th Squadron, 433rd Troop Carrier Group — but it paid him back, too, with a 30-year gig, a generous pension and free health care.
As a career Air Force officer with a reputation for caring about and giving credit to his subordinates, he would’ve been seriously pissed that so many of today’s troops can’t make ends meet on what Uncle Sammy pays, that the VA has been jerking his people around, cooking the books to make paper-shufflers look good and veterans look dead, and that Congress only takes notice when the cameras (and the cash) are rolling.
As a conservative Southerner, he would’ve been appalled that there is so little attention devoted to actual conservation — not of the constitutional rights to shoot off your mouth or your machine gun, but of the basics — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, along with optional upgrades like serviceable roads and bridges, functional public schools, and a government that wouldn’t embarrass Albania.
As a guy with a sense of humor he might have asked, “Why did we fight a world war to save this country so you could treat it like a rental car?”
Shit, dude, we still can’t believe you gave us the keys.