This posting is largely from my friend John, who has contributed to my blog space previously. By way of introduction, I met John at Randolph-Macon College (Virginia) on the first day of our freshman biology course in 1963. I was in the course because I wanted to major in biology. John was there because his father taught the course, and I think he had little idea about his major. During that first semester we became good friends. John’s parents had a home in town in which they rented a room to college students. Since my major was biology, and his father was the head of the department, it seemed logical to me that this was the place to live. I moved in my sophomore year; John’s room was across the hall.
After graduation, our lives took separate paths. John’s path led him to the Marine Corps, and eventually, after additional schooling, he became a Marine lawyer, a JAG for short. We maintained contact throughout the years, visiting when work and other schedules permitted. Thank goodness for email, neither of us is particularly good with letters or telephone calls.
John is intelligent, well read, patriotic, and politically astute (and conservative).
Periodically, John and group of like-minded folks get together on an overpass over the local interstate highway and wave the flag and display banners in support of conservative candidates and causes—they call it “Wav Ex.” They look for horn beeps and light flashes indicating support.
The following are his notes from the latest “Wav Ex.” Items in italics are my comments.
“My Wife joined me on the bridge today for our ‘flag rally.’ The organizer had pleaded for maximum turnout and I guess it worked . . . we had about a dozen folks at one time.
“One event today was both amazingly uplifting and simultaneously depressing. A girl and a guy came to see what we were doing. He is a Marine with 12 years in the Corps, stationed at Camp Lejeune. He had just submitted his re-enlistment papers. The depressing part is that he is in danger of being caught in a ‘reduction in force (RIF)’ due to USMC downsizing.
Now the uplifting part.
“The girl, (Editor’s note: at our age, most women are ‘girls’) his wife is a native of Slovakia. He apparently met her while serving as a security guard at the American Embassy where she was an employee. She’s been in this country three years. Her English was quite good with a pleasant middle European accent.
“In talking with the two of them, I was apparently ‘preaching to the choir.’ From California, he is a hard-core conservative and we seemed to agree on pretty much everything.
“What was even more impressive was her enthusiasm for what we were doing: as she put it, ‘fighting for our country.’ She went on and on about the woes of the current administration and why didn’t more people join us and add their voices to our cause. What was so stunning was that she was showing the kind of interest and enthusiasm one would want to find among our ‘own people’ . . . but it apparently takes a foreigner to recognize—and appreciate—what we have here. She does not take our freedoms for granted the way too many of us do. She has a basis for comparison of what the lack of freedoms are like—maybe not personally, but certainly from her family’s experience under the prior regime. She ought to be hired to talk to high school students in hopes of waking them up and making them vaguely aware of what is going on in this country!
So here is the paradox: it takes a foreigner to see and understand—and appreciate—what too many of us natives never even think about—maybe even have forgotten.
“I talked to another guy at the rally from North Carolina, who is part of a group of about 450 families that are ‘organized’ and have prepared several ‘retreats’ across the state to serve as refuges when the ‘grid goes down.’ He was well spoken, a college graduate, and analytical. Both he and the ‘Marine husband’ agreed that they saw no answer other than societal implosion and rebirth (of some sort) from there. They both apologized for sounding cynical, but confessed to seeing no viable option. I could only agree. The Marine liked my analogy that what we were doing with our demonstrations was the equivalent of ‘rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic,’ but he opined that if we only changed one mind, it wasn’t a total waste of time.
“We got lots of honks and flashing headlights today. . . but unfortunately, only votes count. We’ll see in the fall.”