Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy Birthday, Vincenzo!

Today marks the birthday of my brilliant brother Vincenzo. Vincenzo, like my baby brother, Gomez, is a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army. He has always been an extraordinarily hard-working, generous, and intellectually curious person. When he was in school, he introduced an "open house" policy among his peers, so our family played host to literally thousands of young men and women from all fifty states, and several foreign countries. Vin always made sure that everyone was invited- nobody ever had pariah status in his eyes.

This generous spirit, a keen interest in other cultures, and a natural knack for languages has served him well in his career- he's engaged in scorpion eating contests with Thai counterparts, trained guardsmen in American Samoa, and run role-playing exercises involving Arabic-speaking peoples from Iraq and Michigan in government-run Potemkin villages. In all of these situations, he has made an effort to understand and develop an appreciation for those of different backgrounds (he still loves freaking out Samoans by dropping a bit of their language into a conversation).

He, of course, had to serve in Iraq, because he took an oath to serve a government run by people who fall far short of his high ethical and intellectual standards. As a voter, I feel I have to apologize for the decisions that we, as a society, have made. Hopefully, military personnel like my brothers will be able to repair some of the damage done by the stupid, the greedy, and the xenophobic. Maybe our country can try to shift our foreign policy duties to the State Department, rather than the Department of Defense.

It goes without saying that my brother has lost soldiers under his command, mostly young Americans from small, rural towns. He has always had a keen understanding of the socioeconomic realities which have caused young men and women to enlist (the same socioeconomic realities that inspired him to join the service). He's also aware that a lot of these folks will face challenges integrating into civilian life, and has made everyone he's been in contact with read Eric Maria Remarque's The Road Back. It should come as no surprise that one of Vincenzo's all-time favorite songs is about the harsh realities that face an enlisted soldier (written by someone who lived in an occupied city in the time of an insurgency):

Happy birthday, Vin, and all my love to the wife and kids.


zombie rotten mcdonald said...

EXCELLENT musical choice. Obviously your lunching with engineers did not negatively affect your musical taste.

Happy Getting-Older-Day, Brother of Bald Bastard. V sounds like he might be a F.O.Z., but I am a bit worried because in the movies, the military guys are always the first ones to start blasting away at the lurchers.

In any case, in his honor, I am putting on the SLF playlist for the rest of my working day.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

zrm, I'm sure that you and he would have an interesting time comparing mp3 collections.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

"interesting" has so many definitions, sir.

Hamish Mack said...

Vincenzo sounds like a really good guy. You get him to keep his head down.
I luvs this Tin Soldier song.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Great tune.

Happy B-day, younger BBBB!

Glennis said...

Sounds like a wonderful guy. Nice to think of all the experiences he's brought into your life that you wouldn't otherwise have had.

he still loves freaking out Samoans by dropping a bit of their language into a conversation).

My husband does this with Nigerian cabdrivers and Yoruba!

fish said...

"interesting" has so many definitions, sir.

I expect BBBB means all the definitions. The best kind of interesting.

Vonnie said...

Happy birthday to B4's brother.
Very cool song.
Good thoughts....good thoughts....