COMMENTARY: Another summer of opportunity

Memorial Day is this weekend. Can you believe it? Another start of summer and all that. 

Nearly a year ago I was thinking about making a run to the state capitol for my sister had spoken about it from watching a Huell Howser rerun. We sort of made it to Sacramento but in July I lost sight in my left eye from a hemorrhage in the blood vessels, which supply blood inside the eyeball.

After an urgent injection in my eye (yes, it is a bit painful), my sight cleared enough for the two of us to make a small detour (about a 500-mile detour) to witness the full eclipse of the sun in eastern Oregon. It was surely a once-in-a-lifetime trip for both of us.

Here we are again. Two weeks ago, I experienced another hemorrhage in my left eye. My doctor seemed a little, well, let’s say upset that I was back in his exam chair with another loss of sight situation.

I had no excuses. I’ve had a lot on my mind. The optomologist/retinal specialist) agreed that stress affected my blood pressure and, combined with my diabetes, it was a recipe for disaster. He numbed me up, “stuck a needle in my eye,” and my sister accompanied me home.

I tried it alone once but ended up sitting on a bus bench in downtown LA, finally dialing 911 for I was blinded from the treatment and the bright sun. I learned my lesson the hard way. I ask her to go with me to LA whenever the need arises.

Now we are on the doorstep of another Southern California summer including a seemingly return (or continuation) of the great drought.

Yeah, I know, there were 25-foot snow drifts on Lassen Peak as we traveled to the eclipse zone, but hey, last year’s 200 plus percent of precipitation in the northern part of California almost broke the tallest dam (Oroville). It did dampen our initial trip plans for some of the nation’s prime fish hatcheries were cleared out from the muddy emergency dam release.

The good news is that I made sure we stopped at the Independence Hatchery on the way back because I had promised my sister we’d see one. I try not to break any commitments to her.
Another reminder of a war past is right off the 395. The restored Manzanar National Historic Site, a detention or rather concentration camp from WWII.

Memorial Day reminds me of the time I interviewed a Vietnam vet at my adopted VFW Post in Barrio Logan.

That was my first real experience with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Without going into details, I can say that I ended the interview because I could see that we had both traveled back to Kaesong during the siege of ’68.

Later, maybe I experienced too much death in my duties as a cemetery employee where the casualties of the current “War on Terror” came through our doors to be prepared for burial at the National Cemetery in San Diego. I just know that I felt so much hurt when I encountered a family who lost someone in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

That was a lifetime ago, yet our involvement in conflicts today still have the names Iraq and Afghanistan being spoken of in addition to Syria and now Niger.

I think I’ll visit Dad this weekend. He was a good soldier and father. He rests in Little Lake Cemetery with his bronze memorial thanking him for his service as a member of the US Army during the 1950’s.

Mom, Amelia his wife, lays with him in the same plot. I’ll thank her too.

Also, I’ll attend the city of Norwalk’s Memorial Day remembrance service at the beautiful year-old memorial and monument to all veterans who served our great country.

I suggest we all come out. It’s Monday, May 28, starting at 11 a.m.

By Raul Samaniego, contributor

Raul Samaniego