Fence Post Columnist Earns Promotion

by Calendar Hacksaw

After ignoring more than 100 Fence Post deadlines over the course of the past 8+ years, ol' Calendar has decided it's time for a change. So, without bothering to consult the editors and publishers of this fine publication, I've taken it upon myself to enjoy a promotion, along with a new title. Effective immediately, Calendar Hacksaw will be known as "Correspondent Emeritus," with all the rights and privileges it implies.

Yes, I know it's a lofty title, and one I truly don't deserve, but that doesn't change a thing. I've grown weary of being tied to my monthly calendar, fretting as deadline dates such as the 21st, 25th, or 27th approach, simultaneously searching my inner depths for a column idea while also trying to conjure up some plausible excuse the Zanuttos will fall for and extend me some grace. My grandmother has died too many times and my dog's intestines must surely be clogged with column scraps.

No sweat this month, though. It's September 23rd as I write this; the deadline for the October edition. But I'm keenly aware that Adam Zanutto just returned from extremely perilous duty in Iraq, and I seriously doubt that Rick and Donna will ignore him in favor of laying out the paper. Thus, it would be terribly rude and inconsiderate of me to call them tonight and ask for an extension. No; the celebration must come first. Anything else would be disrespectful. Adam and so many others are truly deserving of our enormous pride and gratitude for what they have done, and I wouldn't want to take a single second away from his time with loved ones and friends.

So I'll fax the damned column tomorrow or the next day.

But, getting back to the subject at hand, in my new role as Correspondent Emeritus, I will face no deadlines and submit material according to my own schedule. The Fence Post is free to publish what it deems worthy, and discard the rest. I plan to venture into new arenas, including obscure local history. I may write under an assumed name, depending on how I feel on a given day. Already, I find myself feeling more relaxed, at peace with the world, and able to sleep much better absent the pressure that has consumed my life these past 102 months.

I may pursue a feature-length interview with Adam Zanutto, asking questions the Bakersfield Californian would never think to ask. I would likely focus on matters of human interest, rather than the horrors of war. Is there still humor on the battlefield? Adam would know better than me, and I'm sure he does. Humor surfaces at odd times, and under odd circumstances. A close friend stepped on a booby-trap in Viet Nam and wrote a rather humorous poem about it; a short verse which I can recite to this day, more than 30 years later. Got any humorous stories you'd like to share, Adam?

On Saturday, the 25th (did I mention that I missed the column deadline?), both of my local newspapers devoted a respectable amount of ink to articles and photos about a homecoming of great significance: The 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division (the fabled "2/4"), returned to Camp Pendleton. 35 members of the "Magnificent Bastards" failed to return, making it the hardest hit of any Marine Battalion to serve in Iraq.

It occurs to this old man that these Marines now know more about what this nation needs than do any of the rest of us. They are arriving home at a time when we are in desperate need of fresh leadership. These men and women know who among them showed the kind of leadership and courage we can't seem to find in our current crop of elected officials. Therefore, we need to elect some of these Marines to office now, while they're still young and fresh, so we can reap the full benefit of their wisdom and experience. We need to listen to them and follow their advice. The only endorsement they need to secure my vote is the positive testimony of their fellow Marines. Their leadership is needed now; not tomorrow. It's a shame that we have to call on them for help so soon after their return, but they have shown a tremendous willingness to suffer for the greater good of all. In my humble opinion, the Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded to the "2/4" and all the other units which sacrificed so much in our name. But I doubt they'll make the list of candidates. Shame on the Nobel Committee. Shame. Since 9/11, this nation has been in a butt-kicking mood, and we've got to keep it there if we are to further the cause of peace. Sadly, some of the first butts we need to kick are our own. Our complacency made us vulnerable, and we paid a tremendous price.

Adam Zanutto, and tens of thousands just like you, from the bottom of my heart I thank you for your service to America. But, please, don't stop now. Get some rest and then get on with the job.

Calendar Hacksaw shoots doves at calendarhacksaw@highdesert.com, but now he's entering a new phase of his life. In that this is his final monthly column, he would be remiss if he failed to thank the Zanuttos for their tolerance, encouragement and the many kindnesses they have extended over the years, the businesses which have suffered the fate of having their ads placed on the same page as my columns, and—above all—the readers who know how to separate fact from fiction, wheat from chaff, whites from yolks and men from boys, regardless of their gender. Happy riding, folks.

Last Month "Thunderhead" Next Month