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Ways of the World

Carol Stone, business economist & active Episcopalian, brings you "Ways of the World". Exploring business & consumers & stewardship, we'll discuss everyday issues: kids & finances, gas prices, & some larger issues: what if foreigners start dumping our debt? And so on. We can provide answers & seek out sources for others. We'll talk about current events & perhaps get different perspectives from what the media says. Write to Carol. Let her know what's important to you:

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

On a Plane from Denver to New York, May 2, 2011

I'm on the way home from a friend's wedding in Colorado, which took place during the weekend.

Early Sunday afternoon, her Dad, a retired Air Force officer, and I had occasion to drive through the grounds of the Air Force Academy. Sam ran an errand in the Commissary (grocery store) and when he returned to the car, he said, "They checked ID at the entrance – they never do that, only at the checkout. One of the security guys told me there is a Code Bravo in force." Sure enough, at the exit from the Academy, only one lane was open each way, and there was a uniformed military guard as well as the civilian security service that normally monitors the Gates. Later, we heard from other wedding guests that when they toured the Academy earlier in the weekend, one of the gates had been closed altogether and military personnel were visible in several locations. Conversation then followed about what might have happened to prompt the heightened military attention. A Taliban threat in Afghanistan had been reported in the press that morning and several members of Gadhafi's family had been killed just a few days before. Either of those developments, our host indicated, might be enough to motivate the greater security.

Late Sunday night and during Monday morning, of course, we learned of the dramatic event that most likely was the specific reason: the killing of bin Laden.

The wedding itself was an extraordinary occasion, so much so that I had considered devoting an entire Ways of the World article to it. I've known the Bride's Mother Kathy forever – literally – as our families were already neighbors in Kansas City when I was born. Kathy's husband Sam comes from a town in Missouri not far from there. With his military career, they've lived in Japan and numerous U.S. locations. I went to college in Texas and had a first job there, then moved to New York. Across all these years and all this geography, we have kept up our lifelong friendship.

Their son Jim is a Navy pilot; during tours in Japan, he married a Japanese woman, and their son was born in Germany.

Their daughter Debbie, the Bride, went to college and graduate school in Chicago. Friends there introduced her to her eventual husband. His parents are German and Indonesian and live in Germany. Since Indonesia was once a Dutch colony, his mother's family settled in Holland, where his grandparents and one aunt live now. Another aunt lives in France while a third is from Berlin. Vincent still has numerous friends in Germany, several of whom attended the wedding.

So here we all were in an old mining town above Colorado Springs, instant friends who had traveled there from Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, France, also China and at least ten U.S. states. The marriage service was conducted by a Methodist minister at the local Episcopal Church. A "Welcome" greeting in the program for the ceremony was printed in ten languages. Music, of course, is a universal language, and at the party, people enjoyed American, German and even African dance music. What a joyous time!

How odd then to layer on top of this the killing of Osama bin Laden, a genuine mortal enemy of the United States. By Monday morning, I had moved on from the wedding scene to the home of one of my cousins who lives in the south part of Denver, where I learned about it. When my cousin said, "Oh, you haven't heard news; you don't know. They took out bin Laden!" I gasped. "Oh, my — goodness!" I blurted, my breath gone momentarily. I had been in the World Trade Center on September 11. This matters in a very personal way.

But then what do you do? what do you say? The wedding had been Saturday night. There was another party Sunday night at the corner of Vesey and Church Streets at Ground Zero to celebrate this, er, uh, killing. Vengeance! Hooray!

Oops. Does that sound a bit awkward?

Now there's a quandary. Is this vengeance rightfully ours? And another part to the quandary: Bin Laden, while a Biggie, is only one terrorist. Surely, SURELY, there will be reprisals.

Later Monday, as I went through security at Denver International Airport, I heard myself thanking the TSA personnel. "Thank you. After yesterday, I'm really glad you're here." One of them replied, "Some people are saying they think we don't need this anymore now." "Oh, no," I said, "right now, we really need this!" She nodded vigorously in agreement.

The plane took off and went straight out from Denver airport toward the East. The Rocky Mountains were at our back and the expanse of the Great Plains was opening up. It's not quite the season yet for the image, but I heard myself again, now singing ever so softly as the plane climbed higher in the sky,

"O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

"O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea."

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Blogger siggiofmaine said...

Thank you for sharing your bitter sweet thoughts...lots to think about. I do agree that the security at the airport is still needed. You gave me lots to think about. Siggi in Maine

5/04/2011 11:46 AM  

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