On Tuesday, June 15th, I again took my post at East 9th Street and Carnegie Avenue to greet Indians fans and a few Baltimore Orioles fans heading to Progressive Field. I will try to make as many games as my schedule allows to compensate for lost time during the pandemic. One mom with her son, who I’m guessing was about 11 years old, asked why I was there. I offered my traditional mantra: “I’m promoting peace. We need much more peace, civility, tolerance, mutual respect and compassion in our society.” She smiled and asked if she could take my picture. Of course I said, ‘yes’ and asked if she would like to include her boy in the photo, which was fine with her and her son. When he went back to stand with his mom, the youngster said he wanted to join the army. (I suspect he liked my uniform and he wanted one too.) I said, “If you want to become a medic and help save lives, that’s good. But if you want to kill people, I wouldn’t like that.” His mom laughed and he smiled. As the two walked away, I encouraged Mom to circulate the photo via email and Facebook and she said she would, adding, “I’m on social media.”
As a smiling middle-age man approached he said, “Your uniform still fits.” I said, “I’m sucking in my gut as we speak. I really don’t need a belt to hold these pants up.” Another middle-age man rode up on a bike and as he waited for the light to change so he could cross East Ninth Street, he mentioned he was a Marine for 12 years. He asked what I was all about and I told him my raison d’etre: “I’m here to promote peace. We need much more peace, civility, tolerance, mutual respect and compassion in our society.” He tersely said, “That’s gone,” citing what’s happened over the last four years. His comment strengthened my resolve to keep doing what I’m doing. In light of his comment, it seems even more worthwhile and important now.
While walking toward Tower City to catch the Blue Line rapid home, a middle-age woman walking toward me with a friend asked if I was part of a military color guard. Such ensembles occasionally take part in pre-game ceremonies at Progressive Field. It was clear she had not seen my entire flag, due to the way the wind was blowing. I smiled and said, “I don’t think they would want my flag as part of a color guard.” She took a look and when she saw the peace symbol, said, “Ohhh, that’s even better!!”