While standing behind Cleveland’s iconic West Side Market (built in 1912) to promote peace wearing my tight U.S. Army dress uniform and holding a peace flag, a woman shopper thanked me for my service and, although I appreciated her comment, I said, “I didn’t serve my country, I served deceitful, lying, fear-mongering, war-mongering politicians and their war-profiteer bed partners.” She said, “Thank you for saying that. Do you know what I do?” I cringed a bit and quietly said, “Build bombs?” She nodded and said she works for a company on the east side of Cleveland that manufactures components used in bombs. “I have bills to pay,” she said, rather defensively. “I have to eat and keep a roof over my head.” I said, “I understand.”
On a sorrowful, sour note, she said, “Better that we bomb them before they bomb us,” which sounds like a nonsensical fear-mongering rationale she heard from her employer or fellow workers. (As far as I know, neither the Taliban, ISIS, al Qaeda, Boko Haram or any terrorist group has an air force that includes bombers.) It’s a tragic shame the defense industry–more accurately the war industry–has metastasized throughout our nation’s economy.
Speaking of bombs, last Friday, August 6th, the 76th anniversary of our atomic bombing of Hiroshima, I stood at the corner of East Ninth Street and Carnegie Avenue greeting people headed to the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Indians. One gentleman passing by, who I had talked with on earlier occasions, noted my dedication to promoting peace. I gave him my rationale, saying “I lost a lieutenant during the Tet Offensive, three days after his 23rd birthday. His whole life ahead of him was blown away. Perfectly healthy one minute and the next minute he’s dead. All those lives wasted in Vietnam” (Lt. Billie Joe Blacksten’s head was destroyed by mortar shrapnel when a round exploded less than 10 feet from him.) Billy Joe Blacksten : First Lieutenant from Missouri, Vietnam War Casualty (honorstates.org) The passerby said as he walked away, “You are committed.” At least I think that’s what he said. Or maybe he said, “You oughta be committed.” Not sure.