It is indeed. I was born in Jefferson City, Missouri. According to family lore, the hospital where I was born was equidistant between the state penitentiary and the state capital. I tell people that’s why I turned out to be a lawyer.
Frankly I’m ambivalent about birthday celebrations. I’ve had some great ones and I’ve had birthdays with no observance whatsoever. And I’ve been fine with that.
The first birthday I can recall was my fourth birthday. My father, an Army lieutenant at the time, had received orders to Germany. We sailed from New York on the 22nd of September 1958, aboard the USNS General George M. Randall. We arrived in Bremerhaven, Germany, on October 3, 1958. The docks were lined with what seemed to be hundreds of thousands of Germans, mostly teenage girls, and lots of press photographers (this was before the word “paparazzi” became widely used) awaiting the arrival of the ship. I understood that they were not waiting for me. Instead they were waiting for one of our fellow travelers, a recently inducted Private named Elvis Aron Presley, who was also aboard the Randall.
We were to take the train from Bremerhaven to Frankfurt. Before we boarded the train, Dad told me it was my birthday. He took me into a little shop, what might be called a “minimart” today. Dad said because it was my birthday I could select any treat I wanted from the store. I chose a box of Oreo cookies.
My next memorable birthday party came when I was 14. Dad was overseas in Vietnam. I had just started ninth grade at Van Buren Junior High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mom gave me one of the best parties I’ve ever had at the officers club at what was then called Sandia Base (now part of Kirtland Air Force Base). We had lots of guests, lots of music, and lots of food. We played the song “Mony Mony” over and over again until the adults couldn’t stand it!
I turned 21 in Annapolis, Maryland. I had accompanied the Air Force Academy football team as the play-by-play announcer for radio station KAFA for the game against the Naval Academy. Air Force had lost the game and our moods were somber as I had my first legal drink.
I marked my 27th birthday somewhere along Interstate 10 moving from an Air Force assignment to Montgomery, Alabama, to a new assignment in Tucson, Arizona.
In 2003, I was Saipan on government business on my birthday and there was a party given by the governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.
In 2004, I was in Bangkok, Thailand on my birthday, leading the United States delegation to an international conference. The 50 member delegation arranged a surprise party in our hotel.
So, birthday celebrations for me have been both glorious and ignominious. The important part to me is saying thanks to my ancestors for my being here at all.
October 3, 2006 Tuesday at 12:25 pm