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.