In the meantime, as the summer arrived, temperatures began to rise. They didn't stop rising. They started breaking records. They shattered records. By the end of June, we were sweltering each day in record-setting, triple-digit temperatures. It stayed in the 100s for at least 10 days before falling back into the 90s last week.
The roofers remain hard at work despite the blistering heat wave. Imagine working all day long on those rooftops, under that broiling sun in oven-like temps.
My wife took notice and said she wondered how the hard-working roofers could do it. She said as much to some of the roofers and to a lot of our friends. I, of course, respect the roofing guys, but I finally had to add an extra perspective to my wife's admiration for these local workers.
"Don't forget the Marine lance corporal in Afghanistan, who is working in the same kind of heat, while strapped with 50 pounds of gear and additionally burdened with the possibility of getting shot at any moment," I said.
It was one of those I'm-just-sayin' moments. It might bring agreement. It could start a debate. In this case, it brought on only a wrinkled nose, squinted eyes and scrunched mouth. That means: I see your point, but give the roofers their due.
Then I thought back to a time many years before, when I was a lance corporal in what Americans call the Vietnam War, or what the Vietnamese call the American War. I remembered being excruciatingly hot, sweaty and fatigued from the temperatures and humidity and 50 pounds to 70 pounds of gear. I recalled praying we wouldn't get into a firefight, because I was too hot and tired and weak to fight. We'd get into
firefights, anyway, but fortunately, the adrenalin would kick in. Suddenly, you were strong again and completely oblivious to the heat.
So, while I respect the roofers who are working under the scorching sun in the hot, Illinois temperatures, I want to salute that lance corporal who is defending freedom
afar, in those difficult and dangerous conditions in Afghanistan. Safe home, Marine. Semper Fi. And the same to all you Marines and all you soldiers, sailors and airmen, too.