I wish I could report on crazy Fayette County happenings in response to Osama's death, but since I was in Pittsburgh I have no idea what those happenings may have been. If I had to guess, I'd say alcohol, fireworks, and guns, probably all at once. I expected to come home to a pile of ash, beer, and an American flag raised high. In the next few days, I'll be looking for the man that walks 119 waving a flag, radical opinion pieces in the Herald-Standard, and a nice sign from the very angry conservative church near my house.
But I can report on Fayette County happenings on September 11. I was 12 and in Conn-Area Catholic school. Mrs. Bell's class, either science or religion. They were pretty much the same and involved lots of coloring and movies. Leah tells me it was religion because one of our classmates slept in class, but if he slept in religion he probably slept in science so I'm not sure how Leah remembers that. Anyway, our principal announced it at some point during the morning, but we weren't told that the towers were actually completely gone, that the Pentagon had been attacked, or that a plane crashed in Shanksville. So we went about our day. But by lunch, parents were picking kids up, we were getting scared, and Mrs. Mascia told us not to worry because Conn-Area is, after all, a fall-out shelter. By early afternoon my dad picked me up, mainly because he was in the military and thought the unit might be activated. Even though he'd slept through the attacks. He also slept through the announcement and speech last night.
My dad did go overseas, first to Italy. I have no idea why and I don't know what they did other than go to Christmas Eve mass at the Vatican and use time off to visit Ireland and check out Oktoberfest in Germany. We have two little shelves dedicated to beer steins.
His second deployment wasn't supposed to happen. The National Guard is supposed to have two years between deployments. They kind of forgot about that until partway through training, and he was given the option to come home in the midst of lots of talk about securing oil for the "free world." At first he decided to stay, then realized going into battle with commanders who conveniently forgot he wasn't supposed to be there probably wasn't a good idea.
Deployment #3 was to Iraq, where he worked in and drove tanks and did things like knock over walls and power lines. He was wounded when a grenade was thrown into his tank, which he threw back out. It exploded just above him, sending shrapnel into his head and hand. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star from the military, plus a Medal of Valor from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, where he worked at the time. And he has his own page on the National Guard website. Actually, he's apparently everywhere: He was inducted into Pittsburgh's Soldiers and Sailors Museum's Hall of Valor a few years ago (another Fayette County resident was recently inducted) and is on Military Times, the Library of Congress, and now this blog (obviously better than all of that nonsense, right?). But he doesn't need to know. It'll boost his ego and he'll start saying things like, "When are you going to blog about me again?"
Other members of his unit have been injured, some much worse. For example, Timothy Boots had part of his leg amputated after being pulled out of a burning Humvee by Scot Sage. The article tells the story better than I ever could. If it doesn't at least make you want to cry, you have no soul.
So what's the Connellsville armory doing today? Probably celebrating and saying lots of very foul things.