| Do you believe in fate? Do you think or believe that things happen for a reason? To answer these questions, you must first have an idea of what fate is. Most who believe in fate would define it to be the power that is supposed to settle ahead of time how things will happen. Could there be such a power that rules our lives, and if so, why?
I began pondering these questions a few weeks ago after receiving a telephone call late one evening. At first I didn't recognize the voice on the distant end but it wasn't long until I pieced together who this mystery caller was. It was Jon Meade, an old
Marine buddy from my days in Vietnam where we served together with 9th Engineer Battalion, some 40 years ago.
|Mustang and Jon - New Year's Day, 1966 Rose Parade Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA
After overcoming the surprise and joy of hearing from an old friend after 40 years, I wondered how he had tracked me down, especially in calling me on my cell phone, which is only provided to a choice number of friends and colleagues. When he told me the following story about how he found me, questions about fate entered into my mind.
Jon said he had recently moved to Temecula, California, but in the months leading up to his move he had met a young Marine named Michael who lived in the same San Diego neighborhood where Jon resided. Every so often Mike and Jon would see each other and would talk for short periods of time about the Marine Corps and past experiences.
During one of their many chance conversations, Jon mentioned to Mike that he had served with the U.S. Marine Corps' 9th Engineer Battalion while in Vietnam. In response, Mike told Jon he was taking an evening class at a local university and that his instructor said that he too had served with 9th Engineers. After a few more comments here and there, Mike told Jon that he would try to get more information from his instructor.
Well, that instructor turned out to be me and I remember this young Marine student asking about my service in Vietnam and him telling me that he knew of another old Marine who lives in his neighborhood who also served with 9th Engineers. This is when I gave Mike one of my business cards with my cell phone number written on the back. Little did I know it would end up in the hands of one of my old friends and fellow brothers-in-arms.
That is how our paths in life crossed once again. Now for the first time in 40 years we came together. It happened yesterday, Saturday, November 1, 2008 when I rode my Harley-Davidson Fatboy to Temecula to reunite with my old friend, Jonny Meade.
Even after 40 hard years of living we immediately recognized one another and before we could stop shaking hands and embracing each other, we were laughing and joking like we used to do when we were both 19-year-old hard-charging Marines. For the next hour we talked about our lives and our past, about shared experiences and friends, and we made a commitment to each other to stay in touch for the remainder of our days.
As the hours passed, we continued our stories and memories over lunch. Old names, acquaintances, and friends were remembered. Experiences, good, bad, and humorous were talked about as we retold our memories about the events that we engaged in way back in 1966-67. We also talked about the guilt most veterans and we feel of returning home when others did not and about the horrors of war and how it affected our lives over the past 40 years.
And we both admitted to having old ghosts to deal with - psychological wounds, or as some call it, PTSD. We both agreed that it is long overdue for a lot of Vietnam veterans to confront their respective ghosts and that remembering and talking about ours somehow brings a comforting peace to it all.
A friendship renewed that was forged in fire and shaped by history.
Two old Marines, feeling young again, while looking through the lens shaped by a lifetime of wisdom in an effort to make sense of it all. Yes, it was a good day for we two old warriors.
And as I watched the sun slip below the western horizon I realized that all of my questions about Fate had been answered. It is now clear to me that Angels, disguised as Marines, deliver Fate to our doorstep - and anywhere else it is needed.