A trip to the mall

Posted by The Real Don Johnson on Thursday, September 02, 2010 2:51:11 PM

Our friends Dean and Jill Elliot arrived from Ridgecrest Ca. on 9/25 to accompany Diana and me to the Restore Honor rally in Washington DC on 9/28. Together we had a wonderful time, beginning with a tour of the Mark Twain house in Hartford, a magnificent and beautiful house, in a beautiful Connecticut city.

We drove to Washington DC on Friday through the beautiful countryside of South Western Connecticut, Southern New York, Western New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, down into Maryland to Tyson Corner Virginia; a beautiful and scenic drive.

On Saturday morning we set out to the Washington Mall via the DC Metro; what an experience! The metro cars were jam packed, but the four of us managed somehow to squeeze in; I was reminded of a video I had seen of subway security forces somewhere in the Far East, pushing and stuffing people into the cars with no regard as to the space available. Most of us on the train were destined for the rally, and we actually had a good time with these people, with Diana actually getting a back massage from a lady behind her. Arriving at the Foggy Bottom Station, it took another 45 minutes to get out of the station, it was that packed. Although this was a hot and sweaty 45 minutes, it was enjoyable because it afforded the opportunity to meet and talk to new friends.

The new friend I talked to claimed to be a retired Army Intelligence officer who was part of the team that searched for WMDs in IRAQ. He related some interesting stories of this experience as follows: his team was looking for evidence of chemical weapons. He pointed out that chemical weapons, once they are mixed for use have a very short shelf life, on the order of 5 hours. I asked him if they had found the components necessary to mix the final product, either separately or together, and he said they did, in many locations, although since they were not mixed could not be counted as WMDs; In interrogating senior Iraqi officers they consistently told the interrogators there were no WMDs. However, when asked what their answer would have been six months earlier, they consistently answered that they (WMDs) were there; I asked about reports that WMDs were convoyed out to Syria prior to the invasion. He told me that they followed those leads, but there was no conclusive evidence that they either had or had not convoyed WMDs out of the country. On a side note here, Diana and I attended a lecture in San Diego, where General Sada, a top Iraqi Air Force General and close confidant of Salaam Hussein, testified that he personally had witnessed, and was part of the removal of the WMDs; The retired officer said that they did find a warehouse filled with castor beans, the main component of ricin, a very potent chemical/biological warfare agent. Was the man who he claimed to be? I don’t know, but he was certainly an interesting prelude to the coming day.

We arrived at the Mall at about 9:15, with the start of the rally being 10:00. The areas directly surrounding the reflecting pool were already filled to capacity, with the crowd spilling out into the trees on both sides, extending back to the WWII memorial. We settled in under the trees, about a third of the way back from the Lincoln memorial; not the most ideal place, as we could not see the memorial or the participants, and often times had difficulty hearing as well. But it was a great feeling just to be a part of this great event. People were still arriving, and if you have seen the aerial photos you can see the extent of the crowd.

The rally was advertised to be a non-political event, and it certainly was that. The call of the event and of Mr. Beck was restoring Honor by turning to God, and returning to the values of Faith, Hope and Charity; values that Mr. Beck has been emphasizing for quite some time on his TV program. The emphasis was on restoring these values in us first as individuals, and thus influencing and shaping the future of the nation in a positive and God honoring way. The rally also honored our military, and partnered with the Special Operations Warrior Foundation which provides college scholarships for the children of special operations personnel who have died in operational or training mission.

Thanks to C-SPAN, we were able to view the entire event later, and fill in the gaps resulting from such a large crowd. Much of my comments will be from the C-SPAN replay of the event. But first, let me share with you some of the things I did during the rally.

I have a new favorite hat, a “Vietnam Veteran” hat, which has been the source of mutual attraction between me and veterans of wars going back to WWII. During the day on the mall, I wandered around, sought out and talked to a number of veterans from WWI, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq.

I met three WWII vets, and one particular gentleman, who was sitting in his walker chair, stood when I shook his hand, smiled a very large smile, and told me of some of his experiences with General Patton in Europe. Another man was wearing his Army uniform coat from the Korean War, and also shared with me his time on the staff of the Nixon administration. Another man was wearing a Navy hat showing the USS Dixie, a destroyer tender. I am familiar with the Dixie from San Diego, and also when we came alongside her in the Philippines when we needed to re-gun because of barrel damage caused by defective projectile fuses which caused the projectiles to explode in the barrel. I also knew several sailors on the Dixie who were in my boot camp company. I’ve been wearing “The Hat” for several months now, and it has been fun talking to various veterans around the country. One of my first encounters with the hat came in Harpers Ferry West Virginia when a fellow wearing a similar hat greeted me with a “thank you, and welcome home”. If you may recall, retuning Vietnam military personnel were often greeted in a very demeaning way, including being called baby killers. Thus the “welcome home” is a common and belated greeting among Vietnam vets as a way to make up for past abuse.

Among the speakers, two were of special interest to me: the first being Pastor Charles Lewis “C.L.” Jackson who was present as a boy at the 1963 Martin Luther King “I have a Dream” speech. Pastor Jackson spoke of that day, and the effect it had on him, and the nation. He was not shy in his praise of Glenn Beck who he called a man of God and a servant of God; the second speaker was Alveda King, a niece of the civil rights leader Dr. King. She appealed to rally attendees to “focus not on elections or on political causes but on honor, on character … not the color of our skin. Yes, I too have a dream. … That America will pray and God will forgive us our sins and revive us our land.” King also addressed the civil rights leaders and members of the black community who had been critical of the rally, responding that “My daddy, Rev. A.D. King, my granddaddy, Martin Luther King, Senior – we are a family of faith, hope and love. And that’s why I’m here today. Glenn says there is one human race; I agree with him. We are not here to divide. I’m about unity. That’s why I’m here, and I want to honor my uncle today.”

Mr. Beck’s speech was inspired, and inspiring. I agree with Dr. Jackson that Beck is a servant of God, and is called to serve in a powerful way to heal the nation. What continues to amaze me is how God uses the most unlikely people, places and circumstances in order to accomplish his ways: The enslaved Israelites in Egypt calling out to God for help, and are sent a man (Moses) with a stick; The place and circumstances of the birth of Jesus to an unwed young girl in a backwater village in a Roman occupied land; and an alcoholic Mormon to rally Christians, Jews and Muslims in a return to the values of Faith, Hope and Charity in order to heal a nation.

I hope you will take the time and effort to view this event. You should be able to find it on C-SPAN, I do know that you can purchase a CD of the event there. I don’t know if you can see the entire event on the Beck web site, but I suspect you can.

But wait!! That wasn’t the end. The rally was quite peaceful, with no arrests or violence. There was one incident of confrontation that I am aware of, mainly because I was involved. It happened well after the rally was over, and the Lincoln Monument was reopened to the public. I was going up the steps when I notice a young man carrying a sign reading “Glenn Beck is a Bigot”. He and two other college age young men were staging their own protest, so I accepted the challenge of talking with them. The exchange was quite friendly, with no anger displayed by me or them. I asked some questions of them in trying to get them to justify their accusation of bigotry, got a response, of sorts, having to do with Islam. We exchanged ideas and I asked who their heroes were, and who informs their world view. We exchanged book recommendations, with the young man recommending Howard Zinn’s “A Peoples History of the United States”, and books by Noam Chomsky. My counters were “A Patriots History of the United States”, by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen; “Common Sense” by Glenn Beck, and Mark Levin’s “Liberty and Tyranny”. We parted on good terms, and I can only hope I made some sort of positive impact on these young men. This is the second time I have had such an opportunity to talk with young people having a contrary world view; the first was at a (you guessed it), a Glenn Beck book signing in North Haven CT. Again, the exchange was pleasant, with no anger expressed on either side, but rather some challenges to examine our points of view. It makes no sense to be confrontational or angry when talking with young students like these, it can only confirm their worst stereotypes of who they think you are. Instead, challenge them to examine the history of this nation, and look for the goodness that it embodies.

Later that night, we went to diner. Our waiter was a young immigrant from Bangladesh named Mohammed. The four of us took to this young man and had quite a pleasant time talking with him about his home, family and experiences that brought him to America. When several managers came to our table (separately), we began to feel that we were taking too much time with Mohammed at the expense of other customers. His manager assured us that this was not the case, and was pleased that his new employee (two days on the job) was making such a favorable impression on the customers. We then began a conversation with the manager, who is from Iran. We talked about his family, and how he came to America. He shared with us his sadness and embarrassment with the regime in Iran, and was hoping it would change soon.

When we left the restaurant, we decided that each couple would leave a generous tip for Mohammed, one included in the credit card, and another $15.00 cash we left on the table. It was fortuitous that Diana gave Mohammed our card with our contact information, because the next morning we got an e-mail from him concerned about the extra money and what should he do with it. He went to his manager and asked him, because he wanted to be a man of honesty and integrity, and was agonizing over what to do with what he thought was a mistake on our part. Diana responded, telling him what we had done, with also a note to his manager praising this young man for wanting to do the right thing.

All in all, a very pleasant couple of days, with many pleasant memories.

Best Regards,

Don Johnson


One response to “A trip to the mall

  1. Pingback: What About Those Syrian Chemical Weapons? | A Yearning for Publius

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