Inky Blackness

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He glides silently, seemingly moved by invisible forces, effortless and graceful.  All around him are eddies and swirls, ripples and rills that dance on the surface of the water. Are the ripples there at the will of the fish below to spare them from being the main course for the intruder, or mere artifacts of the wind as it passes by?

The inky blackness hides what is beneath, obscuring it from view of surface dwellers and those who would venture out over the watery abyss.  Be there dragons and sea monsters lurking below, ready to wreak a swift and severe vengeance for having dared to invade their space and disturb their safe haven?

The depths of earth’s reservoirs of water have long haunted and terrified those of us who cannot breathe in the liquid. I contemplate the blackness of the north Atlantic for those aboard the Titanic, or any of the other manifold vessels that not-so-silently slipped beneath the waves, leaving dead bodies to dot the surface of the water like ducks on a pond.

And then, there are those who wear the dolphins of the Navy – who make it their calling to live below the surface on swift and deadly nuclear submarines, perhaps the greatest weapons of mass destruction ever designed by mankind. What kind of person does it require to sleep hundreds of feet below the water, let alone sleep there, knowing that outside the walls of the metal tube you call home is freezing cold death?

Fortunately, the goose in today’s photo seems oblivious to such things (though it appears to be trying to pierce the veil of blackness in the photo), but as an air-breathing human, I retain somewhat of a fear of the water when I can’t see the bottom or touch it. I am too dependent on air – this ether that fills our lungs, exchanges with our blood and which we so desperately need to be too comfortable in deep water.

Photo taken at Johns Bridge Park, Johns Creek, GA.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  Thanks to Hollywood, America’s collective consciousness (especially for those of us who lived through that time) of the Vietnam War is inextricably linked with the popular music of that era. Specifically, it is linked with the music of the late-60s counterculture and antiwar movement. But opposition to the war was not widespread in 1966—a fact that was reflected not just in popular opinion polls, but in the pop charts, too. Near the very height of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, on March 5, 1966, American popular-music fans made a #1 hit out of a song called “The Ballad Of The Green Berets” by Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler.

Sadler was exactly what his name and uniform implied he was: a real-life, active-duty member of the US Army Special Forces—the elite unit popularly known as the Green Berets. In early 1965, Sadler suffered a severe punji stick injury that brought a premature end to his tour of duty as a combat medic in Vietnam. During his long hospitalization back in the United States, Sadler, an aspiring musician prior to the war, wrote and submitted to music publishers an epic ballad that eventually made its way in printed form to Robin Moore, author of the then-current nonfiction book called The Green Berets. Moore worked with Sadler to whittle his 12-verse original down to a pop-radio-friendly length, and Sadler recorded the song himself in late 1965, first for distribution only within the military, and later for RCA when the original took off as an underground hit. Within two weeks of its major-label release, The Ballad of the Green Berets had sold more than a million copies, going on to become Billboard magazine’s #1 single for all of 1966.

While it would not be accurate to call “The Ballad Of The Green Berets” a pro-war song, it was certainly a song that enjoyed popularity among those who opposed the growing anti-war movement. A year after “Green Berets” came out, Buffalo Springfield would release the anti-war anthem “For What It’s Worth,” which continues to be Hollywood’s go-to choice for many films and television programs depicting American involvement in the Vietnam War.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Experts estimate that in a lifetime, a human brain may retain one quadrillion separate bits of information.

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