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Not Twice, Just Once

Posted on Wednesday, November 22, 2023
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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Hourglass as time passing concept in front of black wall background. Conceptual photo on history, fantasy and education.

People ask me, why do you do that? Why do you spend time with the American Legion, time talking about American history, time reading and writing memories of veterans, and time listening to their stories?

Why do you bother going back in time, pouring over old letters, unknown manuscripts, crusty speeches, and essays that would never be published today? Why bother with Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, for that matter, odd revolutionary era and slave writings, Mark Twain’s irreverent stuff, and old maps?

Why bother standing where the Wright Brothers launched their barely-a-plane, where the Pilgrims, who just followed wind, coast, and faith landed, or where Joshua Chamberlain looked down from Little Round Top, then later go to where Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address?  

Overseas, why did you waste good time standing on Omaha Beach in a March gale, shivering and thinking? Why travel by train to Auschwitz, walk through gas chambers, stand beside the rusty rails?

In Jerusalem, why did you get up early to walk old stones beneath old walls, read headstones so old they make America young, or climb the Mount of Olives to gaze on the Dead Sea, road to Jericho, right where Christ did those things? Why climb Mars Hill, in Athens, to stand where Paul did to speak, just listen?

Why many years back, did you bother to read the Book of Revelations written by St. John, looking on the ocean about you from the island of Patmos, a dot off the coast of Greece? What did you expect to see?

Why do you bother to roll the canoe on a fall day, brush needles and spider webs from the gunnels, drag it to the water, and then quietly part the fog with a paddle and daring bow, when you could just sleep?

Why bother to light a candle, build a pyramid in the fireplace, still use a maul and sledge to spilt wood, feed the popping cedar beast when you could snap on the light, up the thermostat, and dispense with that?

Why collect pinecones and seashells, or practice speaking to local loons, for that matter pause when you hear an owl declare himself, see an eagle drop from a tree, watch hummingbirds explore lilies, and wonder at a dozy, late fall bee?

Why consciously remember old friends, ones who did things for you and never asked you to remember yet you do – so pull paper to write a note or card, when you might as well imagine they do not need to know, or could just send an email?

Why do you say prayers at night, give thanks as well as asking, look for purpose in each day, some new need or feat, new friend to meet, new tasking?

Why do you visit, call, or send a gift to someone you have not seen in ages, why do you think about what you know, and ponder whether sharing it might lighten someone’s load, provide a fresh perspective?

Why do you do all you do, go where you go, say what you say, pause when you pause, think when you might just follow, or fill your heart and soul and mind, when you could shrug and leave them hollow? 

Because we do not get the chance again to do for friends what now we can. Because we are blessed, every one of us, with the chance to move the needle, if just a bit, to make someone our whole purpose.

Because as long as we breathe, think, and care, we can be there – can give to others each and every day, no exceptions, honoring the gift we are given best, life itself, by passing that beauty on. We can marvel at a turning leaf, a falling flake, a jumping fawn, a frozen lake.

And we should because we can, because the “can” does not last forever. We can now, so somehow ought. Like the writer who writes, who tracks good words, who hunts, we do not live twice – just once.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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Rik
Rik
6 months ago

“Why do you go back in time?” . . . Because HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF! . . . WWI and WWII happened because Countries/People get power hungry and desire to rule/dominate others they view inferior to themselves. And today’s Democratic Party Leadership wants to RULE AMERICA and take our FREEDOMS AWAY! Obama wanted to “fundamentally change America” but never explained how? Now WE KNOW, to Socialism which is Communist lite but is the real objective. One Party Rule, the Democratic Party! If the Republicans don’t retake the Presidentcy, We the People WILL LOSE OUR FREEDOMS!

John
John
6 months ago

It’s Revelation, not Revelations!

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