I was propped up against the headboard reading. I don’t remember what, but at that time I preferred military historical fiction like The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. My lamp was on. The radio set to low volume as not to keep Suzie-Q awake. Going to bed too late, waking up too early. It’s a Soldier’s malady. Or as the youngsters might say, a Lifer’s. In the Army young out of it old. Brought up on a diet of caffeine, Marlboros, Red Man and unhealthy adult beverages. Then came the radio alert familiar to every American stationed in Germany, “beep, beep, beep, it’s 10 o’clock in central Europe live via satellite from the United States, the news is next on AFN.”
It was the late 80’s or early 90’s. I don’t recall for certain, but I lean toward the 90’s. The news headlines were only background noise. Odd, but maybe it’s another Soldier’s disorder – being able to concentrate better if it’s noisy. The monotone headlines suddenly changed to a bombastic voice. I don’t remember the exact intro, but I recall smiling. Sounds like an old First Sergeant I thought. Counseling, but not counseling. Advising, but not preaching. He was having a conversation with me. Explaining the world to me much like my favorite First Sergeant Pedro Olivari did it. First Sergeant Olivari would direct in his fatherly Puerto Rican accent, “Come over here my son.”, take the stubby little cigar from his mouth, put his hand on my shoulder and explain to me what he thought I needed to know or, often for me, fix. After a few minutes, I was listening more than reading. This was my first introduction to Rush Limbaugh. At least the first hour of his program, which some politicians and others tried to have removed from American Forces radio.
Over the years, it was rare to have time during the day to listen to any radio program. In 1994, I was back in the States for good at Fort Myer (now Myer-Henderson Hall), Arlington, Virginia. Someday, I’ll share the story of how I ended up in the heart of the military industrial complex. Myer borders Arlington National Cemetery and is a stone’s throw from the Pentagon and every Defense Contractor imaginable. And some you’ll never know about. Beltway bandits. There’s lots of money made there and along with politics it drives and taints everything. Even the military. It’s unlike any military environment I’d ever been in. It was my first taste of the political world. I didn’t like it, but it’s where the Army put me so I did the best I could. Other than the local news cast and NBC’s nightly, I did not pay much attention. My job was challenging enough spending too much time giving attention to flag ranks and some senior enlisted people who acted like they wore stars. I was unable to give Soldiers the time they deserved if politics muddled my mind. Yes, even the Army’s politics.
In 2000, a year following retirement from the Army I went to work as a federal civil servant. Still not caring much about news and politics. I paid just enough attention to not appear ignorant of the world around me. I was working when the attack occurred September 11, 2001. We had to evacuate our building (located far from Washington) and were sent home. When I arrived home, I sent out an email too many friends in the DC area and in the Pentagon. I knew people who died in the Pentagon. Frankly, I was in a frenzy to find out anything I could. Americans were united until the dust settled. Then the blame game began.
At work, it wasn’t possible to listen to the television news coverage. While most had music coming through their earphones, I was switching around radio stations. One day during lunch, I reconnected with Rush Limbaugh. It wasn’t the American Forces radio’s condensed version. It was the full 3 hours. My work was sedentary, focused on a caseload and I was generally too busy to shoot the breeze with others. But I listened to the radio while I worked. One guy too preachy. One guy, like a machine gun, punished my ears. I finally settled on Rush because we were having that conversation again. I still cannot understand the blind hatred some people have for him unless it’s the dishonest politicians and media who created him in the first place. People who profess to hate Rush and have sounded gleeful about his stage 4 cancer diagnosis are not only people to be pitied, they’ve probably never listened to him and have no idea of his generosity to Veterans and others.
If there was honest and objective media and Washington wasn’t filled to the brim with crooks and liars, the people who most hate him, there’d be no market niche for Rush Limbaugh. There’s an expression here in the hills, “It’s the kicked dog that barks the loudest.” The boys and girls in Washington and the media bark a lot. Even more these days it seems.
Keep fighting the good fight Rush. America needs you.
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