Nov 12

Chevy men, once again

 

By hvacman
 
Note: We hope everyone had a good Veterans Day yesterday.
 

“I grew up in the shadow of Fremont California’s General Motors assembly plant. Like a lot of my friends, my step-dad’s GM paycheck put bread and butter on the table. That all changed in 1982 when GM closed the plant. We weren’t too surprised, as it seemed GM hadn’t got it right since 1970 – always building the wrong car, and building it badly. By the early ‘80’s, the employee parking lot was half-filled with Toyotas and Hondas, which made us sad. At heart, we were Chevy men …

There was a time when Detroit’s Big Three ruled the roost, celebrating America’s car-crazy pre-smog-control-and-gas-crisis golden era. Amid global warming scares and $4/gallon gas prices, though, that golden era looks pretty tarnished. Everyone wonders what will be the 21st century’s Model T?…. For once, General Motors (shockingly) may lead the way. At a “classic car cruise” 2050-edition, “Chevy men” may lovingly drive fully-restored 2011 model Chevy Volts …
 

 

… Extended-range electric vehicles will transform 21st century transportation. Finally, GM is building the right car and it will be done well. When it hits the dealer’s showroom floor, I plan on standing first-in-line to take it for a test drive and plunk down a deposit, once again proud to say, ‘I’m a Chevy man.’”

I wrote those lines in an April 2008 opinion column for my local newspaper, not long after learning GM was developing an unusual electric vehicle called the “Volt”. So much has come to pass since then. All-electric Teslas now roll out of that old GM plant. Gasoline prices chronically exceed $4/gallon. The Volt is in its third production year and despite relentlessly negative right-wing press, ever-increasing sales demonstrate that the Volt’s time has indeed come. And I, though not first in-line with a deposit, now own a newly-minted 2013 Chevy Volt.

In 2010, my mom passed away, preceded in death by my step-dad – a Korean-War-era U.S. Army veteran – who died in 2003. My brothers and I thought it fitting, given our parents’ fierce pride in their country and the men and women who bravely serve it, to inter their cremains at the Northern California Veterans’ Cemetery near Redding. On September 24, we escorted our urned-parents for their last trip in my 1999 GMC Yukon.

At the cemetery, with full military honors, our parents settled into their final resting place, a place of quiet dignity, under the ever-watchful eye of Old Glory. The US burial flag was folded and presented to us. Taps‘ melancholy notes hung softly in the background as the echoes of the honor guards’ final rifle volley faded away. I had never been so proud of my parents – and all US veterans and patriotic citizens – as I was at that moment.

Even as our parents and grandparents looked dangerous and uncertain times in the eye and attacked them with aplomb, skill, and courage, so do our sons and daughters now. With the same conviction, but with far more advanced tools, today’s American young soldiers take on seemingly-eternal political unrest as our young engineers take on the equally-daunting challenges of energy resource and environmental uncertainty. With the brave efforts and sacrifices of those soldiers, our engineers are secure to focus on the technical excellence required.
 


 

That final ride for my parents was also the last drive for my Yukon, a vestige of a bygone era. The next day, my Volt arrived. When I later returned to the cemetery to visit their grave site, I could feel my step-dad giving my Volt his truck-line-QC inspector’s critical eye, the eye that made him wince so many times with my previous GM vehicles. As he looked, we stood and admired the US flag flying high overhead – a flag proudly watching over the hallowed ground my parents and their companion patriots share. And I could see him smile, even in-spirit, proud to be a U.S. Army (Airborne) veteran, proud to be an American, and proud, once again, to be a Chevy man.

This entry was posted on Monday, November 12th, 2012 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 17


  1. 1
    Jim Fallston Md.

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    Nov 12th, 2012 (6:07 am)

    Thanks to all Service Men & Women and Chevy Men & Women. Happy Veterans Day.


  2. 2
    Seajay

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    Nov 12th, 2012 (6:39 am)

    Thanks for a terrific article, reflecting duty, honor, country and Volt!
    Greetings and best wishes to fellow veterans.


  3. 3
    joe

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    Nov 12th, 2012 (7:52 am)

    This is a very touching story, hvacman! It brought tears to my eyes. ….a perfect true story for us on Veteran’s Day, Thanks for sharing.


  4. 4
    haroldC

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    Nov 12th, 2012 (8:07 am)

    l salut you fellow veterans…l was Royal Canadian Air Force….and a avid Chevy man all my life…
    Thank you for a great article….Happy Veterans Day to all..
    haroldC


  5. 5
    George S. Bower

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    Nov 12th, 2012 (8:14 am)

    joe:
    This is a very touching story, hvacman!It brought tears to my eyes. ….a perfect true story for us on Veteran’s Day, Thanks for sharing.

    Agreed on that.

    for those that don’t remember, hvacman is one of “the old ones” or should I say one of “the originals”…..ie he’s been on this blog almost since day 1.

    Thx for the article hvacman and congrats on (finally) getting your Volt :)


  6. 6
    KUD

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    Nov 12th, 2012 (8:17 am)

    Hi all

    I still read this site every day, just don’t write on this forum as often as I used to. But after having my heartstrings pulled by this article I just had to thank HVACMAN for a great article.

    Thanks also to all the veterans out there, without you we wouldn’t have our great country. And without our country we wouldn’t have the Volt.


  7. 7
    MrEnergyCzar

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    Nov 12th, 2012 (9:14 am)

    Great story. Save a soldier and drive a Volt….

    MrEnergyCzar


  8. 8
    Jackson

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    Nov 12th, 2012 (10:48 am)

    At a “classic car cruise” 2050-edition, “Chevy men” may lovingly drive fully-restored 2011 model Chevy Volts …

    … with contemporary batteries and a firmware flash for an AER of 100 miles.

    Old Volts never die … they just go farther.

    Though I was never in the military, I have known some Veterans, many of whom have passed on to their reward. I remain thankful for their service.


  9. 9
    Raymondjram

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    Nov 12th, 2012 (10:52 am)

    That was beautiful!

    My Dad was the only member of my Ramirez family who didn’t serve in WWII. My Grandfather was a Sargent in the Army and served in France, while my two older Uncles were Officers (one in the Navy and one in the Merchant Marine) serving in the Pacific. Since my Dad was the only male left in the family (he wasn’t old enough), he took care of his mother and two sisters during WWII in NYC. My Grandfather and Uncles returned alive.

    He later tried to prevent me from serving during the Vietnam War, because I registered as required by law when I was 18 (in the Federal Building at Varick Street in NYC), but he visited the person who selected the candidates during the draft and ask how I could be excluded. The person responded that the selection was based on birthdays during each month and that the quota for June was filled (my birthday is June 27th), so I was automatically excluded.

    I didn’t join the Air Force ROTC in college (my sister joined the Army ROTC) because I developed asthma and was medically unqualified. So that was the end of my possible service. But I visited the Vietnam War Memorial Wall at Washington, DC in 1989 and searched for any known names (family, classmates, neighbors) but found none. yet I cried a bit for the other names on the Wall who could have been known to me but gave their lives for this country. My family returned from their service in WWII so I know their names are not in that Memorial.

    I respect all who served and I will always remember that our peace and liberty will never be free. God bless them all!

    Raymond


  10. 10
    Loboc

     

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    Nov 12th, 2012 (12:42 pm)

    Jackson: … with contemporary batteries and a firmware flash for an AER of 100 miles.

    Old Volts never die … they just go farther.

    Though I was never in the military, I have known some Veterans, many of whom have passed on to their reward.I remain thankful for their service.

    Whoever got Lyle’s #8 has a good candidate for a ‘survivor’ car.

    I’m the first born in 4 generations that has not had to serve. One of my brothers enlisted during peace time.


  11. 11
    Noel Park

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    Nov 12th, 2012 (12:48 pm)

    MrEnergyCzar: Save a soldier and drive a Volt….

    #7

    Amen to that. +1

    We’re Chevy people to the core here, owning 8 at the moment from 1917 to the 2011 Volt.

    “Buy American, the job you save may be your own”


  12. 12
    N Riley

     

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    Nov 12th, 2012 (4:03 pm)

    Thanks for inspirational story, HVACMAN. Reminds me of many other people I have know during my 68 years. Good luck with your Volt.

    I grew up being a Chevy man, myself. I keep finding it difficult to come back after experiencing the Honda and Nissan cars and trucks. My last Chevy was a good 15 years in the past. I have been trying to find a reason every few years to purchase a Chevrolet vehicle but things keep preventing me from doing it. I have about given up on purchasing a Volt, but I am trying to decide if I want to purchase a new truck. I will look hard, as usual, at the Chevrolet pickups, but I will not accept a secondary product. I wish Chevrolet had their small pickup ready for the market because I don’t really need a full sized truck. anyone have any “skinny” on when Chevrolet intends to release their updated small pickup truck?

    But, again, great article. Written very well. Thanks so much.


  13. 13
    Whatstreet

     

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    Nov 12th, 2012 (4:46 pm)

    HVACMAN,

    Thanks for the great article. By the way, I drive past the old Fremont GM plant that is now Tesla every day and I have family and friends who live in Redding, CA.

    Regards


  14. 14
    erewhon

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    Nov 12th, 2012 (9:26 pm)

    hvacman,

    Thanks for the touching words about your parents. My father was a WWII Navy combat pilot, and later had a 28-year career with the Navy. My parents celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary together. My father had to spend the 66th alone – my mother had died. On their 67th anniversary, I buried them together, with full military honors, at the Georgia National Cemetery. I visit them several times a year, using my Volt to make the trip from suburban Atlanta. They would have been so fascinated by the car. I miss them terribly, and am so proud of them, and am in awe of what they endured and accomplished.


  15. 15
    omnimoeish

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    Nov 13th, 2012 (2:46 am)

    One of the proudest moments of my life was the burial ceremony of my grandfather who also served in the Korean war.

    It was a quiet ceremony, but the 2 Air Force personnel who played the taps and folded the flag were so respectful and perfectly crisp and deliberate. They were standing at attention when we drove up to the burial site, wearing a full dress uniform on that hot August day. I have no idea how long they’d been standing there. It was an experience I’ll never forget because I hadn’t realized what an honorable service my grandfather had performed until I heard their only words. “This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Air Force as a token of appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.”


  16. 16
    xiaowei1

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    Nov 13th, 2012 (8:13 am)

    Well… I’m not from the US, I don’t reside there either, and I don’t own a volt (yet), but I can’t help saying I also found that a moving tale of setbacks, patriotism, and a sense of pride worth celebrating. Thanks for sharing.


  17. 17
    emd

     

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    Nov 15th, 2012 (8:49 am)

    wasn’t the freemont plant the same as nummi? when gm backed out toyota got nummi and then sold it to tesla/musk. is this the same plant you’re talking about?