CARL DIGGLER REFLECTS: What Memorial Day Means To Me

Read

I consider myself a pretty humble guy. Given my extensive experience as a political insider, my unparalleled predictive ability, and dedication as a single father, that’s pretty hard to do. I’m just a regular guy who puts a pen to pad and talks about what he sees.

But one thing kept me humbler than anything else. I’m of course talking about my father, Colonel John Diggler.

On days like Memorial Day, most Americans just say their thanks to the troops and move on, forgetting their larger sacrifices. But those of us who were raised by vets know that honoring them is a year-round activity.

My father is a veteran of the Korean War. He never talked about it (or anything else) much growing up, except for his graphic descriptions of what a “grease gun” can do to a human torso, and “the sacred ritual of death.”

But his greatest sacrifice came after the war. Longtime readers will notice that I never really talk about Momma Dig, and that’s for good reason; at age 13, my father told me that he refused to even allow my birth mother to look at me because “the woman’s weak gaze weakens the seed.” I know firsthand how hard it is to be two parents in one, but Colonel Dig’s religious obligations forced him to take up the most difficult job in the world.

It’s true, Colonel Dig Sr. missed a few of Li’l Dig’s birthdays growing up. Well, he missed almost all of them. On my 5th birthday, he had called me from Chile but the sound was obscured by what sounded like some pretty loud screaming. On my 8th birthday, he gave me a pretty cool fake novelty skull from his trip to Cambodia. But that wasn’t the same as getting to talk to my dad.

Then one very special day (April 20, 1980), my dad called from work to wish me a happy birthday.

I still remember it like it was yesterday. Dad was in Afghanistan, and from the sounds of the helicopters on the other end, must have been at an airport. He said, “Carl, you have become a year older. Sometimes a man must do things that bend against a code assigned by lesser men. But their concept of morality is a lie. It is a phantom, only perpetuated by men’s own fear of the illusionary nature of right and wrong.”

It was the most important thing he ever said to me. Those words of wisdom were the seeds planted in my mind, seeds that later became the strong oak on radical nonpartisan centrism. I know now that Colonel Dig was talking about party affiliation and political gridlock, simply concepts of lesser men that bind us from budget deficit and charter school solutions.

He may have not given me a conventional education. He may have not been around a lot because of the nature of his work. He may speak cryptically sometimes. But my veteran dad made me who I am today.

So enjoy your backyard BBQs, civilians. Just do me a favor and raise one Michelob Ultra to vets like Col. Dig Sr. on this holy day. You are welcome for his service.

Carl “The Dig” Diggler has covered national politics for 30 years, and is the author of “Think-ocracy: The Rise Of The Brainy Congressman”. Got a question for the Dig? E-mail him at carl@cafe.com or Tweet to @carl_diggler. And check out his predictions at SixThirtyEight

To try CAFE’s Morning Shot email, sign up here.