49 Years ago. The World Was so Much Different Then…or was it?

Left: 1971 Rhein Mein Germany; Right: 2020 Huntsville, Alabama

I remember when the picture on the left was taken. I am standing next to my friend Fritz Thomas. I don’t remember who took the picture but I remember posing for it as though it was yesterday. This month I put my uniform back on for the first time in 49 years. I don’t know what I was expecting. The boots I wore in the service were the most comfortable shoes I ever wore. In fact, I wore them after I got out of the Air Force for several years until they finally wore out completely. Fritz and I both were sent to Korat, Thailand in 1972 to be part of the 388 Combat Support Group. I’ll never forget that Fritz met me at the side of the C-130 when I landed at Korat on the flight from Da-Nang Vietnam. We were both aircraft electricians and for a time both worked in the flight line battery shop at Korat. In 1972 the Air Force started spraying around the perimeter of their bases in Thailand with Agent Orange. When the 50-gallon drums were emptied of rainbow herbicide they brought them to us so we could use them for battery acid and soda water. As a result of that direct exposure, 49 years later we both have Parkinson’s disease and we stay in touch as much as we can.

So, what is my point? We are currently in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and I hear many younger people talking about how scared they are because things are so bad. Bad? Yes, but if I look back at the time when that first picture was taken in June of 1971, I remember feeling scared then because the Vietnam war had been going on for what seemed like forever and we seemed to be losing. For the first time we saw the horror of war up close on TV. There were race riots in the states, Draft dodgers were leaving for Canada, Hippies and freaks were talking about peace and love, drugs were everywhere, and there were endless protests about the U.S. involvement in the war. The world as I knew it was crumbling at my feet. The feelings of security that I gained from the status quo were lost forever.
Earlier generations had their problems as well. World wars I & II, the Korean War, the polio epidemic, the pandemic of 1917-1918, the stock market crash, the cold war, practicing in school for what to do in a nuclear war….it goes on and on. As bad as the pandemic is, the world has come through a plethora of “scares” that at the time, seemed just as bad If not worse than the current crisis.

My point is that as bad as things seem to be, we will persevere. Society may be different from this point on but you will persevere and be able to look back at this time and remember the good things going on in your lives. Knowing this let me suggest that you go ahead and get a head start. Focus on the good and not the bad because life is too short to be distracted by fear. One of my favorite bible verses is 2 Timothy 1:7, “for God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and a sound mind.” If you find your security in God and his promises you will never need to fear…no matter what happens in the world. Now go take a picture of yourself and put it away to look at 49 years from now.

BTW—did you notice I can still fit in my old uniform!!! Not bad for an old guy!!!

Andy Bevilacqua

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