People Notice

Talking of that one guy not laughing when everyone else is in stitches reminds me of something a high-level crime fighter once told me . And I do mean high-level: as in worked for Scotland Yard.

He told me that people are pretty amazing when it comes to noticing things that don’t fit the pattern. That’s what helps the cops track down the criminals.

It could be that guy who lives with his grouchy mother. He usually comes out of his house at 8am on the dot, buys a paper at the newsstand and walks north. Only this one day he didn’t come out until 9.

AND he was dragging something heavy.

AND chuckling to himself.

OK too obvious an example maybe but here’s a thing I noticed almost 12 years ago during the inauguration of George W. Bush. I noticed that Dick Cheney didn’t sing the National Anthem.

George sang along. Laura sang. Everybody up there sang along but this Cheney guy who just looked somberly straight ahead.

What did it mean I remember wondering?

We didn’t know much about Bush back then. Would he be open and good-natured, or would he tend more toward caution and secrecy? Would he hold grudges and fence himself off like a man in a stockade, or would he be able to let go of grievance, seeing people as they really are, filled to the brim with every sort of impulse, from high to low?

I remember wondering this about Former Present Bush that day as he and Laura and the girls got ready to take up residence in that satin-pillowed jail, as former Bush and Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan once described the White House (and she ought to know since she worked there for three years.)

I remember silently wishing him the best. But mostly I remember the cold withholding feeling I sensed coming from that man who served as his vice president.

And for all we have learned or not learned about him in the years since – from his book, his utterances, his actions – I still wonder: why didn’t he behave like a team player that day and sing along when they played our national anthem ?

I’m not saying it has great meaning. I’m just saying…… I noticed.

8 thoughts on “People Notice

  1. Addendum Teacher:

    It does indeed have great meaning for some of us, they call us “United States Marines.” We don’t lay on satin…we die on foreign soil.

    Yesterday we celebrated The Marine Corps Birthday, in the event some here go unaware. That song, that “anthem” is written in blood. Remember Steve Stills? Neil Young? David Crosby? Grahnm Nash?
    “Find the Cost of Freedom, buried in the ground..” Cheney won’t stand?

    One day, in Fanuel Hall, a group of college boys, who knew nothing but Daddy’s bank account picking up the tab and the everyday life of the classroom, with it’s fresh smell of new books and carefree campus life, sat drinking beers across from “us.” Us, being me and my friends. Two of us Marines. I, one of them. The group spokesman of the Ivy League Know It All’s, said: “I’d never visit a military facility, never mind become a soldier. How stupid can you be to join the service?” My blood surged. I stood up to make my way to this snot nosed little brat, but my arm was grabbed by a fellow Marine, Billy.

    “Bruce, he’s not worth it. Let it go.” So, I sat back down. A couple of beers passed. Then Harvard Boy starts in again, with his detraction of our military. That’s it. Semper Fidelis is a lived reality.

    I stood and walked up to them all, my friends, knowing me well, whispered, “Holy shit, here we go.” I said, “Hey, college boy. What if your sister was bound and gagged, duct tape over her mouth and roped to a chair, blindfolded, maybe raped? You seem to know everything. I can hear you all the way over there and I am a Marine.” (Professor Boy turns bone white. His pals in unison put their heads down in shame.) My friends have Chesire cat smiles on their faces. Taking it all in. Knowing I require no back up. I went on, “You remember the Falklands boy? You remember when American exchange students were kidnapped, blindfolded, bound and gagged, with Ak-47’s pointed at their heads? Huh? You remember? No, probably not. You were probably asking Daddy to buy you something new. “Ah..I ah..I was just..” “Ya, I heard you. You were just saying bad things about men who die for this country, so that you can sit here and act tough in front of your friends.” (I grabbed his shirt at the chest with both hands-his friends froze.) I got about an inch from his face, my teeth grinding and said, “Do you know who freed those students? Do you know that SEALS died storming the airport to rescue those American students? Do you know what one of the American girls said after being freed, when Army Rangers and Marines stormed into a complex where the students were being kidnapped? Do yo know? I do! She said, in a hysterical flood of tears, “I want to thank those Rangers and troops that saved us.I thought I was going to die. But I heard a loud pop and smelled smoke (smoke grenade) and a voice yell:

    “American Armed Forces!! Do not move! We are here to save you!”

    Then, hardly able to speak, tears streaming down her face on live T.V., the female student said, “I love those soldiers. When I heard, “American Armed Forces,” I began to cry. I knew I was going to live. They saved us and I’m sorry some had to die.”


    Meaning? Anti-Military? Go talk to a person rescued by our boys…they’ll have plenty to say about meaning, freedom and our National Anthem. It’s so easy to talk trash and act like a political science expert, until you are abducted in another hostile country, or if you are not one so honored to wear a Marine uniform. And if, if your ass is rescued by American troops, you will have a whole new perspective on the military, our Flag and our Anthem. Most take it for granted.

    Sing that Anthem. Sing it loud. Salute that Flag.

    NOT because it is what we do…do it in the name of the the boys who died and still do. Do it, for them. because, “Some have to die..”

  2. Note: The Above.

    It may have been Granada? I am much older now and my memory of the abduction and raid are exact, but the location, is foggy. I do remember though, it’s reality and my reaction that day. If that Ivy League freshman, who is a man now, has any guts, he’ll realize that an invaluable lesson was given to him that day in Fanuel Hall. The kind you don’t learn from teachers or books. When I sat back down after he asked that I, “Please not hurt him,” one of his buddies sent a round of beers to our table. I had no intent to hurt him. It would have been like a tiger eating a rabbit. I’m not mean. I’m a Patriot. I don’t support war or killing. I support those, our troops, who are willing to defend this nation from hostile invaders. To each their own…

    I just wanted to set him straight. He shot his mouth off. An incident from the real world…thanks for letting me share some reality with your readers. I know one thing. Those Americans held hostage and that student, that tiny little college girl who had been abducted and bound was there with me, she’d have bought me a beer also. And something tells me, wherever she is today, she has a very deep grasp of the inner meaning of our anthem.

    I just came in.. hung my flag to a post on the front of my home.

    I like looking at the American flag and I’m proud to have been a Marine.

    And Dick Cheney can kiss my ass.

  3. Thank you, Oh Jok, you, and yours and all of our country’s sons and daughters. From a retired VA nurse.

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