Saturday, July 5, 2008

My 4th of July, Actors and a Real Hero

It is 8:30 PM on the Fourth of July, 2008. Sundown, and the community fireworks have not yet begun. I am writing this blog while listening to a CD by the Los Angeles Police Concert Band. I had the pleasure of hearing the band live today at the Ronald Reagan Library. What a treat.

Fourth of July; A very good time to visit the library of one of our greatest Presidents; A President who furthered freedom like no other in the latter 20th Century.

There are several things to say about today. I’ll address the events chronologically.

The Library’s Fourth of July festivities began at 10 AM, and we, my wife and 5-year-old granddaughter, were there as the doors opened. What a marvelous family event. Kids games: three legged race; sack race; candy scramble; egg toss and water balloon toss. Kids crafts: necklaces; bracelets; fans; visors; and wind chimes. Patriotic bingo. Face painting, and balloon animals. There were speeches by actors depicting George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Music. Oh, what music! A Karaoke duo. A western band. And, the LAPD band. Did I mention Jumpies? Yes, two of them. Free watermelon and birthday cake. Plenty of food for purchase. Flags! Free American flags! All in all a fantastic holiday fest in the finest American tradition.

I was really treasuring my family time free of the responsibilities of a professional Sheepdog. You may recall my angst in my previous blog, “Damn It Lt. Colonel.”

Damn it, Dave! You’ve invoked the preciousness of my grandchildren and spoken the truth, as I know it must be. There is no relief from the burden!1.

What is the burden? Carrying a firearm everywhere you go on and off duty.

OK, so here we were at the Ronald Reagan Library. It is summer; Shorts, sandals and a polo shirt. I left my piece, the 45 caliber semiautomatic pistol that is my constant companion, in the car. We are in the festivities, and I’m now looking over the happy, celebrant crowd. I don’t see anyone that I make for a police officer. There is Library security people about, but no cops. Suddenly, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s words pop into my mind.

Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself... “Baa.” 2

Back I go to my car, and I am strapped for the rest of the day. That simple act heightened my Sheepdog senses, and I was on the alert.

Sniffing the breeze, pissing on the trees: being the sheepdog. 3

It’s my fate in life. It’s my burden. It’s the least that I can do while my brother and sister warriors are patrolling the streets of America and foreign lands while I enjoy the day with my family.

I mentioned earlier that there were actors depicting the great American Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. But, what most people never learned was that there was a real live American hero present at the library. He was performing his duties as a Library docent. Even one of the other docents did not know the legacy of this man. Who was he? He is none other than Col. Clyde B. East. One of the most decorated military men of all time.

Lt. Col. Clyde B. East is one of the most decorated military veterans that this country has ever had the privilege of calling him their own. He flew in WWII, Korea, SE Asia and the Cuban missile crisis. 4

Col. East was assisting in the bingo room. I walked up to him, addressed him by his name, shook his hand and wished him a happy Fourth of July. As is his unassuming nature, he thanked me and we parted company. I hope that he understood my respect and the honor it was for me to shake his hand again. I did it once previously. Read about it in my earlier blog, “Col. East & Pres. Reagan’s Missed Opportunity.”

So, off I go enjoying the day. I’m being watchful and sniffing around. Mind you, I’m not pissing on any trees. Somewhere around 2 PM, I spot a Muslim family disembarking from a shuttle bus in front of the Library; an adult male and female and two young children, one a female about 8 years old. They aren’t hard to spot. The woman is wearing a hijab.

In contrast to the rest of the Library guests, the adult Muslims are wearing hard expressions upon their faces. The children are just children and look just like their age contemporaries. The family made directly for a table where they receive several small American flags. Then without out entering the Library courtyard, where the LAPD band is playing and leading to the event activities, the family joined a line for a children’s jumpie. They remain in the line for a few minutes and then leave the line without the children having the opportunity of enjoying the jumpie. The family proceeded directly to and joined a waiting line to catch a shuttle bus leaving the event. They were on-site less than 15 minutes.

This Muslim affair could be absolutely nothing. But, to a Sheepdog this is a possible pre-incident indicator for a terrorist attack. This could have either been a surveillance operation or a dry-run.

What’s a Sheepdog to do in such a situation? I notified the head of the Library security of my observations. I was gratified to subsequently observe that the Library raised its level of security deployment.

Our day at the Library ended. I had a marvelous time with my family. And, I treasure my moment with Col. East. Still, there is a cloud on the horizon my friends. I am not comfortable with the actions of the Muslim family.

With due respect to the legacy of Col. East, it is time for the rest of us to stand up for America and do our individual parts for the freedom that she represents.

Thanks Dave for keeping my nose to the grindstone. If my grandchildren were old enough to understand, I hope that they would thank you as well.

Uu-ah Sheepdogs! In the words of LTC Grossman, “Hunt the Wolf!”

Citations & Links in this Blog:
1. Damn It Lt. Colonel

2. On Combat, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman with Loren W. Christensen, PPCT Research Publications, 2007, 2nd edition, pg 186

3. Ibid pg 141

4. Col. East & Pres. Reagan’s Missed Opportunity

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