God Bless the Marine Corps
Sunday Morning 10 AM, May 16, 2010
Participants in the local Marine Corps half-marathon have been running past my house all morning. It’s a beautiful morning. A Marine Corps Sergeant and a local Police officer have been at the corner all morning to ensure that the streets remain closed. The Police Officer left a few minutes ago, shortly after one of the marathoners approached him and pointed back down the race-course. It’s in the third hour of the race, and we’re fairly close to the nine-mile mark, so I assume the officer is aiding a runner in distress. The runners have thinned out and only stragglers and the walking wounded are still on this section of the course. Even those seem to have stopped. The streets are closed, and are expected to be open soon as the clean-up crew comes down the street to remove the cones that indicate “the street is closed”. The Sergeant remains on duty. Real soon now, the road will be open.
There is a church two doors down from me. The church has Sunday morning services and (I assume) normally has earlier classes that start at 10 AM. Members of the church are beginning to arrive, and most are parking in a lot located right at the place where the street is shut down, and walking over to the church. Someone approaches the Sergeant, lets him know that they'd like to avoid making an elderly disabled lady walk the half-block distance to the church, with the aid of her walker. A race-course attendee comes up the course, and they agree to let the one vehicle through so that they can get to church. Thinking that the road is now open, other cars approach, indicating they seek to park at the church. Additional vehicles (who it turns out are not going to church) follow through, not a good thing, since they will eventually be approaching runners still on the course from behind. The police officer returns and reminds the Sergeant that the road is not yet approved to be open. A course attendee follows shortly and indicates that it will be ten minutes or so until the road is open again. The police officer briefly leaves.
Another church member approaches, and seeks permission to transport an elderly disabled by car to the church, so that she does not have to walk. The Sergeant indicates he has to keep the road closed for another ten minutes or so. The elderly lady chooses not to wait, and uses her walker to get to church, loudly complaining about the folk who are making her walk half-a-block to church. She is accompanied by quieter escorts. A middle-aged church-goer approaches, and lets the Sergeant know what he thinks of the situation. (I wonder if he’s related to the lady with the walker.) He indicates the road should have been opened by ten, offers his opinion that the race is putting elderly at risk, and that he’ll be approaching the county to see what can be done about it. (I wonder if he’s from around here.) The city police officer returns, and the same gentleman lets the officer know what he thinks.
Sunday Morning 10:10 AM May 16, 2010
The course attendees come by, removing the cones that block the road. Bystanders and church-goers are beginning to gather and generally expressing approval for the parts of the conversation that they are hearing. The middle-aged gentleman who has engaged the Sergeant in conversation appears to know the unwritten rule of America, “he who shouts loudest is the most right”. It is certainly true for the moment on that one street corner. The Police Officer returns. He lets the middle-aged gentleman know who he can approach in the City to file a complaint with. The elderly lady with the walker is now out of sight, and into church. Race over.
As I turn to walk home, a bystander says there is no common sense on this corner. I agree, but it is clear to me that if we pursued the conversation we’d disagree on exactly who lacks the common sense. I choose to say nothing. Instead, I wonder if all would be different if the elderly lady had chosen to wait ten minutes.
Sunday Morning 10:15 AM May 16, 2010
All is peaceful again. I watch as the middle-aged gentleman return to his car, and move it from the parking lot to a spot directly across from the church.
As I return home, I think to myself
“God Bless the Marine Corps. They protect our religious freedom, and our freedom of speech.”
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