By Nina Odele
I’m proud to be a Coronado resident. I love my Crown City and have been fortunate enough to live here most of my life. When I was a young girl in the 1960s, Coronado was all about the Navy. As it should be! Many of my childhood friends’ dads were Navy. Our family had lots of Navy friends. Orange Avenue was always full of men in uniform. Of course, back then, I wasn’t aware of exactly what the Navy actually does. We were civilian.
I have great memories of going to the pool and the movies on Base with my Navy kid pals. It was a simple time then and even civilians could get on Base fairly easily. My best friend worked in the commissary. I loved going there as a teen. Great deals on the mascara I loved but wasn’t (technically) allowed to wear yet!
During the Viet Nam War, every TV news show was chocked full of war footage: Pure carnage — Every day — Crazy stuff — Guys half blown up — Grief stricken young widows back home in the States — Children suddenly fatherless. Sadly, I simply took it in stride as “normal.” I had no real concept of who was getting blown up by whom or why. I was too young. That was grown up stuff and I was busy being a kid.
When I was in high school (GO ISLANDERS!) The young enlisted men used to hoot and holler at us local gals everywhere we went. Sometimes we’d get them to buy us beer with promises of meeting them down at the beach to party. This practice was called “tapping”. Of course, we’d get the beer, put it in our back packs, then haul on our bikes over to a friend’s house whose parents were out of town, and laugh our butts off at what suckers those Navy guys were to believe us! Alright, I’m not proud of it, but it was what it was.
When I learned details about Viet Nam and the horrible injustices our Navy personnel endured when they came home to the States, I was incredibly shocked and humbled. The fact that our great Country treated these brave people who had fought for our freedom abroad like monsters upon their return was beyond all reason. Those Veterans got the shaft from the very place they were protecting. It was ugly. I still remember those news shows and how horrible the carnage was. It haunts me to this day.
I cannot fathom how the men who saw it all first hand could cope once they were back home. A great many couldn’t cope. They went crazy or committed suicide. There was also a huge divorce rate among Navy families after the war. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome was epidemic due to the fact that even our own Government turned their backs on the Veterans who were so desperately in need of monetary and psychological help.
After every other war, our returning veterans were treated like kings. I remember feeling so heartbroken for the Viet Nam era guys. And ashamed at the powers that be for allowing such blatant neglect. Where was “Big Brother” during all this injustice? I had already gained a great deal of respect for the Navy by that time. This Twilight Zone type homecoming amplified that respect ten-fold.
Last week, I read something in the local newspaper that instantly made me quite ill. It was an article about how several Coronado residents were complaining about the “noise” from the Navy base. Not jets, not ‘copters — the FLAG raising and lowering ceremonies! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Each morning at 0750, two separate locations on Base play “Reveille” with bugles. At 0800, they raise the American Flag(s) and play the Star Spangled Banner. Each evening at dusk, the same locations lower our Flag(s) and play “Taps.” These ceremonies have always brought out the Patriot in me. They also make me feel well protected and extremely thankful for my freedom. We live somewhere in the middle of the two locations described above. The bugles sound at the same time every day. You can set your watch by them! I love standing outside hearing them in “stereo.” The fact that “several Coronado residents” are bothered enough by the bugles to complain is one thing. These residents are most likely transplants with no respect for Navy tradition or their own freedom for that matter!
The Flag ceremonies are not a new addition to Coronado. They are tradition and have been exactly the same as long as I’ve lived here (50 years). The thing that bothers me the most is that our esteemed Mayor actually took these complaints seriously enough to bring the subject up at City Hall. Shame on you Mr. Mayor. Are you really going to tell the Navy to “keep it down” due to a few rich idiots who have nothing better to do than complain? I think not. In a perfect world, these whiners would be told to move (preferably out of the USA) if they don’t like it. Sadly, this world is far from perfect. I suggest these “citizens” take a crash course in Naval history (emphasis on the Viet Nam era “homecoming”). Another suggestion would be for these sour few to be taken on Base and be forced to clean all the latrines with their personal toothbrushes!
The good news is that 99.9 percent of Coronado residents do have a very healthy respect for the Navy. Even though our “Big Admirals”, who used to be everywhere are now giving way to a new generation, we honor ALL Navy personnel — past or present, living or dead. Those who choose not to honor them should not be Coronado residents. We don’t want them here anyway! Ironically, the Navy fights for our freedom. And people can live anywhere they please. It’s because of the Navy (and all branches of Military) that whiners are free to whine. Like I said before, it’s not a perfect world.