You don't meet many people in this life who can a) quote the Buddha, and b) land a jet fighter on a pitching, rolling aircraft carrier deck. So Tuesday, I put on my suit and tie and drove down to Ft Logan to observe Veteran's Day early, in the best way I know how- by celebrating a life.
Francis Xavier Rozinski was not perfect (just ask his family!), but he was a hungry mind; generous of spirit and not afraid to get the most out of life. The Marines are not perfect, either (though in the Halls of Montezuma, they simply did what their country asked them to do. As for the Shores of Tripoli, there may not be a more important moment, post-1789, pre-July 3, 1863, in assuring this nation would be around today). But when the Marines and FX got together, amazing things happened. Frank got to fly, over Korea, and many other places, besides. Later, he joined the Caterpillar Club (had to eject, and "hit the silk").
He had a large family, retired, and flew private clients, including the bands Yes and Chicago, around the US. His and Leona's house was filled to bursting with friends, good Polish food, attractive daughters and their boyfriends (this is where I come in), and the expectation that every one of them would become their best, and strive to be happy.
In the same spirit, he wandered the art colonies of the Southwest, then retired to Colorado Springs, one suspects, to tell the more dunder-headed members of the military just what he thought of them. He read and talked about things; then joined a club so he could read and talk some more.
Why is it that no matter how hard one tries, one can never find words adequate to a life before it is done? Perhaps no one understands this gulf between words and actions better than the military. Before the USMC honor guard on that beautiful Tuesday morning had even finished unfolding the flag over his bier, most of the women were sobbing. I was dabbing my eyes when the first volley of a 21-gun salute went off behind us, making everyone jump, and the geese on the lake howl in cacophonous protest, as if nothing living could imagine Frank ever dying.
I don't know where Frank is now, but he lives on in a wonderful family. He always wanted to fly, and at this moment, I'm positive he's doing just that. And, if I were religious I would say, "Get ready, angels!"