By: Garland Davis
Definition of legacy
- 1: a gift by will especially of money or other personal property : bequest
- 2: something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past<the legacy of the ancient philosophers
I learned of an event yesterday that has me thinking about legacies. Not the monetary or property legacy in the definition but the historical legacy that a person leaves in the minds and memories of those left behind. Was the person a good or bad person, etc.
We often hear the word legacy in connection with presidential terms and libraries. Lincoln set the bar pretty high by freeing the slaves and preserving the United States. If the pundits and newscasters are to be believed, the thing foremost on a president’s mind is the legacy he will leave.
Although his term still has about thirteen months to run, it appears that Obama’s legacy will be:
- Two autobiographies that contradict each other.
- Friends with a domestic terrorist from the 60’s.
- A questionable education, of which, he keeps the particulars of hidden.
- A questionable place of birth that leaves many unanswered questions.
- A historical national debt and a failing economy.
- An unwanted health care program that is flawed.
- Mishandling of the wars in the Middle East.
His predecessor, G.W. Bush’s legacy is as follows:
- Hanging Chads.
- World Trade Center attacks.
- Poor response to Katrina and ineffective follow-up.
- Strong response to Trade Center attacks by taking the war to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
- Needlessly involving the country in the Iraq war.
- No more caring president when it involves the active duty and veteran service men and women.
I’ll leave Bill Clinton’s legacy with a single line. Although I could write much more, this will be what he is most remembered for:
George H.W. Bush’s legacy is pretty much:
- A broken promise involving a tax raise.
Those of us who served in the military under Reagan remember:
- A military second to none.
- A six hundred ship Navy with four Battleships and thirteen Carriers.
- F114’s and Libya.
- “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
- The Iran hostages released the first day of his presidency.
- And so much more…..
Jimmy Carter brings to mind a number of things:
- Foremost is the Iranian hostage crisis.
- Billy Beer.
- Gas lines and rising gas prices.
- Wage and price controls that didn’t work
- That’s all I got.
I could continue going back president by president, but I think that is enough to emphasize the point I am trying to make. I am sure there are those who would dispute my points, but this is my opinion.
A lady I know died in her sleep Friday night and was found yesterday morning. It caused me to think about legacies that us common people leave behind.
Her father was a sailor who promised the pregnant Japanese girl that he would return for her and her baby and then abandoned her. Her stepfather, another sailor, barely tolerated her and when her brother was born, he and her mother pretty much ignored her. She was often neglected and left with relatives for weeks at a time. She did poorly in the DOD Schools and was passed through the system with a very poor education.
She discovered alcohol at an early age and then drugs. She did straighten herself up long enough to marry and have a child. But it was short-lived. A Navy wife, alone, her husband deployed and her with a predilection for mind-altering substances, and a willingness to do whatever it took to get them was a ticking time bomb. Her husband was granted a humanitarian transfer to shore duty in Pearl Harbor to care for his daughter. He eventually divorced her, left the Navy and moved, with the daughter, to the mainland. She hadn’t seen the daughter since the girl was a child.
She moved from shack up to shack up. She went where the drugs were. When the men kicked her out, she would go begging to her mother and stepfather for a bed to sleep and food to eat. They always took her in. She would stay for a time and then the urge and need for drugs would send her looking.
I don’t know how long she had been home. Yesterday morning, her sister-in-law went to wake her and found her dead.
I guess her legacy will be, poor abandoned and neglected girl who lived her life believing and acting as if she had no value.
I have never considered a personal legacy. I hope I am remembered as a good husband and provider. I also hope I am remembered as a crazy son-of-a-bitch and a good shipmate. And, I hope that from time to time someone finds the crap I write out there in the ether, reads it and thinks, “I would like to have known him.”
A native of North Carolina, Garland Davis has lived in Hawaii since 1987. He always had a penchant for writing but did not seriously pursue it until recently. He is a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University, where he majored in Business Management. Garland is a thirty-year Navy retiree and service-connected Disabled Veteran.