The month of November is an emotional one for me. It starts with All Souls Day (November 1), the annual day of mourning for those who have died. That’s followed by All Saints Day (November 2), the day of celebrating all the holy people who have gone before us and whom the Catholic church has canonized, that is, declared to be saints. This year, November 8 was election day, unquestionably the most important election during my long lifetime.

Then comes November 10, in 2022 the 247th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. My military service was the army, not the Marine Corps, but during my many years as a spy, supporting friendly troops in combat with signals intelligence, I had my greatest successes with the Marines. In my support role, I lived with the troops I was helping, slept in the dirt next to them, ate c-rations with them sitting on the ground, used their latrines, and went into combat with them. The Marines, unlike the army, invariably exploited to the hilt the information on the enemy I was able to supply them with. That led to some spectacular tactical victories. And it was the Marines, headed by Colonel Al Gray, who saved my life during the fall of Saigon in April 1975 when I escaped under fire. Gray went on to become the Commandant of the Marine Corps and is still a hero to many, many Marines. It is because of my experience on and off the battlefield with Marines that I insist on capitalizing their name.

On November 11, Veterans Day, we honor those, including me, who served their country in the military. These are the men and women who were willing to risk their lives to defend us against our enemies. They deserve all the thanks we can give them. Veterans who served in combat are few and far between these days. They make up a tiny percentage of one percent of the American population.

Two more days of importance to me in November are my birthday, and, this year, the day after that, Thanksgiving. Then comes a day new to me, Giving Tuesday, on the 29th. It is defined by the website of that name as “a global generosity movement unleashing the power of radical generosity. GivingTuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Since then, it has grown into a year-round global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.”

Hence November. The month overwhelms me with reminders of subjects, events, and memories that are dear to my soul.

2 thoughts on “November”

  1. Tom, thank you for your service from one who also served. 🙂

    I share all these feelings and affections for these days of honor in November, including a birthday. All Souls Day is an especially touching day. Regardless of beliefs, I think we all know we have souls. I appreciate acknowledging the souls that have passed. By midlife and beyond, we all know many, right? May they rest in peace. And a toast to wise, somber, beautiful November!


  2. Rose, thank you. Yes, I knew so many who have died—including those who were killed in combat beside me on the battlefield. I’m now well past the life expectancy for the American male, and every year, I lose more compatriots, friends, and relatives. I fully intend to live to be a hundred. If I do, I’ll have observed many who passed before me. I guess that’s the price for longevity.


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