Editors note: It seems fitting that Lou unmasked the Peace Flag on the eve of June 12th. On this day 1982, well over a million people marched the United Nations HQ in New York, for the biggest anti-war demonstration in U.S. history.
The pandemic put a damper, to put it mildly, on promoting peace to folks going to Indians games, but I finally FINALLY, yesterday afternoon, was able to resume my “labor of love,” promoting peace to people on their way to the Indians-Mariners game at Progressive field in downtown Cleveland. As is my wont, I stood at the northwest corner of East 9th Street and Carnegie Avenue for about an hour-and-a-half before game time, which was 7:10. It is the perfect spot because my peace message is easily visible not only to pedestrians going to the game but also many fans driving north on East 9th Street, heading for a place to park. Reactions to my embarrassingly-tight U.S. Army dress uniform and peace flag were mixed, as was the case in the past. I wanted to project as positive an image as possible, which meant adopting the classic military “ramrod-straight” posture, often saying to myself, “shoulders back, tummy tucked in…shoulders back, tummy tucked in, shoulders back, tummy tucked in, etc.” More often than not, I forgot to observe that self-admonition.
Also, as is my habit, I was friendly and upbeat–not at all defensive in hearing comments from those who disapproved. I constantly smiled, saying “hi”, “gorgeous evening” or “beautiful evening” to people. Many responded in kind, but many also did not, looking away. My guess is they did not appreciate my message–and are not war veterans.
A few people said, “I like our flag!” and I said, “Thanks. I wish everyone did.”
I was a bit stunned when one friendly young woman said she didn’t know what the symbol was on my flag. I told her, “It’s a peace symbol. We need much more peace, civility, tolerance, mutual respect and compassion in the world.” She smiled and thanked me. One friendly fan walking by said, “Thank you for your service…wrong flag.” Smiling back, I immediately said in a friendly tone of voice, “We disagree.” One young person mentioned seeing me in parades in past years and I said, “Maybe next year.”
On my way to Tower City to catch a Blue Line rapid home, I walked past the high fence around Progressive Field, displaying my peace message to people waiting in concession lines. One young man was very pleasantly surprised to see me, came over to shake my hand between the bars and introduced himself. Chris said he has seen me at games for years and thanked me profusely for doing what I do. As I began to walk away I said, “You made my day!” and he said, “You made mine!”
While walking past Rocket Mortgage Field House, a smiling gentleman walking toward me said as he passed by, and referring to my peace flag, “You can’t take that into a bar.” I nodded in agreement, and said, “I’d furl it before I’d go in.”