It was an enjoyable, albeit frigid afternoon today greeting fans heading to FirstEnergy Stadium for a game between the “former” Cleveland Browns (aka Baltimore Ravens) and the actual Cleveland Browns. I cheerily greeted everyone, with many thanking me for my service. One young man, noticing the six medals on the left breast pocket of my 1966 Army field jacket, said, “Thank you for your Bronze Star.” That was a first–never heard that before. A few young men walking by shouted “USA!! USA!!”. I shouted back, “Peace on Earth!!” “Peace on Earth.”
One fan waiting to hook up with some friends said, “Those fuckers have no idea what war is like.” I said, “Those who shout the loudest for war have never been in one.” The gentleman said his father fought in World War II in Europe and that his father and grandfather were named Adolph, which I thought was rather ironic. I said, “German descent?” and he said yes but that his father did not fight in Germany. He fought in Anzio (Italy) and was wounded three times. He said his dad didn’t talk much about the war–which is normal for many, if not most, combat veterans. Another fan waiting for a friend said, “I like your flag.” I said, “Thanks. I wish everyone did.” He said, “That would be perfect” and I said, “Heaven on Earth.” A few people said they missed seeing me at the last two Browns home games and I said, “It rained during the Buccaneers game and the other game was a night game (Thursday Night Football). I don’t go to night games because my peace message is not as visible.” One woman asked if I would be there when it was snowing, and I said ‘yes’. Rain I can’t stand because it penetrates my clothes, Snow doesn’t. In a few instances when I cheerily said to Ravens fans, “Welcome to Cleveland” I added that I had cousins who graduated from Bel Air High School in Maryland. Most had heard of the city. An elderly couple wearing Ravens gear stopped to chat. (Well, okay, they were probably younger than yours truly.) I mentioned some of my cousins had graduated from Bel Air High School and the woman said her daughter graduated from the school. The woman noticed a button above my medals that had the words “U.S. Peace Memorial” over a large peace symbol. Under the symbol are the words “Honoring those who stand for peace.” She asked about the memorial, and I told her Dr. Michael Knox, a retired psychology professor at the University of South Florida, is trying to establish such a memorial on the Mall in Washington D.C., looking for donations to make the project become a reality. I told her she could find the name of Dr. Knox’s U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation on the web. I mentioned to the couple that my cousins’ dad worked at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The woman’s husband smiled and said, “We hear them every day,” referring to exploding ordnance at the proving ground. The gentleman said the concussive vibrations from the explosions were so loud at times that they caused fissures in his home’s roof. I said, “Can’t you get the government to repair the roof?” He said, “The government wouldn’t do that.” I said, “Yeah, the government would blame the fissures on climate change.” He and his wife smiled.