MRE’s—We Had Them       

We’re all reading about the Meals-Ready-to-Eat that have been found in abandoned tanks and vehicles of the great column of war machines that some Russian soldiers have left in the wake of their escape, along Ukraine’s highways. Many had the expiration date of 2002.

It speaks to a poorly-prepared and outfitted military that Putin unleashed on the people of Ukraine.

I don’t know how many of you have ever eaten these meals.

My family did.

In my youth, my family only went on one summer vacation, though my father was principal of our town’s high school and his summer schedule would have allowed. During the break, he needed to do student scheduling for the coming academic year, leaving him much time for other pursuits. A huge vegetable garden took up most of his time. And on really hot summer days, he took us to the enlisted men’s outdoor pool at Quonset Point where I spent hours jumping of a tiered concrete fountain.

Well, my mom must have been extremely adamant one summer, insisting Dad take us somewhere—anywhere, on vacation. My father finally relented.

At the time, my older brother was an Explorer scout who worked every summer at the Rhode Island Boy Scout Camp Yawgoog. The 14-18-year-old Explorers oversaw younger scouts, brought them on field assignments and overnight excursions. On those junkets, my brother packed MRE’s for the boys’ meals because those packets were convenient. Open the plastic pack, add water and voila—the contents morphed into some gustatory delight (I’m being sarcastic here).

Those packets gave my father an idea: To save money on that vacation trip, Dad collected extra MRE’s from my brother’s supplies to provide us with meals for part of the week we were on this trip.

To this day, I recall my Mom, standing over a Bunsen burner (my father was a chemistry teacher so he had access to these, too, which acted as our grille), heating up the contents of a few packets of dehydrated creamed chipped beef to which she’d added water.

We awaited our meal in a clearing, against a sylvan backdrop in Maine where logs clogged a river before this practice of transporting timber by paper mills would be declared illegal (it polluted the streams).

So much time has elapsed since then.

It’s amazing that Russian soldiers abandoning tanks containing grossly expired dehydrated meals would blip me back in time to a time in my own life. But such is life and the “6 degrees of separation” affecting us all.

We here, in America, are fortunate, indeed, though many, here, fail to appreciate that very real fact.

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