Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

Bobservation: Looking forward to 2021

By: Bob McDonnell | The Surveyor | December 24, 2020 | Opinion

It’s almost time to welcome in the year 2021. For some reason this latest and very different Thanksgiving and upcoming Christmas and New Years’ makes me think back to another not-so-great year. That year was 1966.

I spent from May 1966 to May 1967 with the United States Force in Thailand, so in December 1966, I was about half-way through my one-year stint in-country.

The tour in Thailand was termed “remote” by the military and they were not lying. We had little communication with the outside world. There were no English-speaking radio stations and the military newspaper, the Stars and Stripes did not make it as far as our location. Food and mail arrived weekly—if we were lucky.

We worked, ate and slept in crude military hooches. We did 12-hour shifts—four-day shifts then two days off followed by four nights shifts with two days off before it started again. Most days seemed alike but we did know when the holidays were.

The holiday meals were something we really looked forward to. We ate well, as a rule, but had to put up with powdered milk and powdered eggs. On holidays, the cooks served turkey, dressing and all the trimmings. We made the best of what we had, but we knew better times were ahead.

Now in December 2020, I am trying to muster up the same optimism I had as a 21-year-old, sunburned and lonely GI that year. We all need a good year.

I look forward to the time when I can go to my granddaughters’ swim meets. Also, I want to attend their gymnastic meets that are now held with no spectators—not even parents.

I am ready to go back to my writers’ critique group that stopped meeting every other week at local coffee shops. We have met outside and a lot of Zoom meetings but it’s not the same. They are my best friends and any success I have in writing is largely due to their feedback and guidance.

Every Saturday, before Covid-19, proud military veterans (PAMVets) met for breakfast at the Golden Corral in Loveland. On any given day, we had at least 100 in attendance. They ranged from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, to a few from more recent conflicts. I want to be with my military “brothers” and “sisters” again.

I am ready to go back to having family get-togethers. It doesn’t matter if it is a dinner at our house or theirs, going out to eat or just talking in a group.

I hope in 2021 to be able to go spend more time with my son and his family. I miss the spontaneity of visiting them, going out for a meal, or for ice cream with no restrictions.

I particularly remember a phrase we used in Thailand during the 1966 holiday season. Somehow, we started saying, “Next year will be better.” It was said almost every time we encountered anyone during our day.

As we approach 2021, I think it’s time to dust off these words from a small military outpost in the rice paddies of Thailand. I want the upcoming year to be a great one.

My Vietnam vet buddy and PAMVet member, Doc, summed things up in a Thanksgiving text he sent to me. He ended his text by saying, “We’ve done tougher things.” Well said, my friend.

I wish everyone a better year in 2021.


related Opinion