PLEASE NOTE... My DNT (Duluth News Tribune) columns will now be published monthly, with my next in print column set for March 4, 2023. Please check my blog from time to time as I enjoy writing more often and might write a column on a whim here on this blog. So... stay tuned here. Jim
Written by Jim Heffernan for the DuluthNewsTribune 2/4/23
Holy smokes! This classified document business in Washington, D.C., has me shaking in my boots.
You’ve heard about it, haven’t you? It’s on the news constantly. Trump and Biden kept certain classified documents that were supposed to go to the national archives after they left office. Biden hasn’t left office, of course, but these documents are from after he left office as vice president. And now former V.P. Mike Pence is involved back home in Indiana.
It seems like that’s one of the biggest things going on the news — even bigger than the debt ceiling and climate change, not to mention the price of eggs and Taylor Swift concert tickets. Oh, and “Fibber” George Santos of course. (Did you know he is a direct descendent of Santo Claus?)
Now every time I hear another “breaking news” report about how the FBI has uncovered more documents, I wonder when they’ll be coming for me. Yup, you read that right. Little old me right here in Duluth.
Here’s why: When I was on U.S. Army active duty a long time ago (how long is an eon?) I and the other inductees were given manuals on how to do everything. I mean everything. You’ve heard of “the Army way,” right? There’s the Army way and then there is the way any normal person would do anything. They usually are not the same.
So, in training they handed out manuals telling troops how to do everything, like how to dress (put pants on one leg at a time), how to hang your uniforms in your locker, where to place your toothbrush in your foot locker, and so on and so forth. Oh, there were also manuals outlining how to sling a rifle over your shoulder like a continental soldier (even if your ears hang low and wobble to and fro) and how to pitch a pup tent even if you don’t have a dog. When I say everything, I mean everything.
The thing that has me spooked is that these manuals were always stamped “SECRET” or “TOP SECRET” in big blue letters on their covers. I guess they didn’t want the Russkis to find out things like how to tuck your fatigue pants into your boots without using blousing garters. The war was very cold during those years but not as cold as sleeping in a pup tent on bivouac in February.
After a short stint on active duty, I returned home to serve in the National
Guard and Army Reserve for six years. This was a way of fulfilling what was called the “military obligation” of all non-bone-spurred American males (only males) once they turned 18 years old.
But enough history. The reason I’m concerned about the current classified documents imbroglio is that I might have a few of those “TOP SECRET” manuals left over from my military days stored in my garage. I can’t be sure, but I did end up with a few remnants of Army stuff after I got out.
What if the manual outlining how you must make your bed…er…your cot is out there? You know, how to fold the sheets and tuck the blankets so tight you could bounce a quarter off of them, and where to place the pillow. What if the Chinese got hold of that top secret information?
So lately I keep a wary eye out the window every time an “official” looking car passes by, in fear that they might be coming after my “top secret” manuals — if, indeed, there are any in my garage.
These are nervous times.
I’m also quite concerned about some Army flatware I ended up with — don’t know how. I have two forks, two knives and one spoon, all engraved with the letters U.S. on their handles. We have them in a kitchen drawer and use them quite frequently. Nothing like an Army knife for spreading peanut butter on toast.
But what if the FBI searches my house and finds these unintentionally purloined utensils sitting right there in our kitchen drawer? And wouldn’t they wonder why I have two each of knives and forks, but only one spoon?
I’d have to tell the FBI agents that our little dog laughed to see such a sight — when a dish ran away with the spoon. That was shortly after the cow jumped over the…well, you know.
Nervous times indeed.
Jim Heffernan is a former Duluth News Tribune news and opinion writer and continues as a columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and maintains a blog at www.jimheffernan.org.