A Few Good Men
he small hotel had no coffee in the room. I was forced to walk two miles before I found a gas station selling coffee right off noisy Highway 5. Armed with the wake up cup in one hand and a donut in the other I cautiously meandered up the ramp to the highway nonchiantly ignoring the “No pedestrian, No bicycles sign”
I was on a bridge hemmed in by noisy trucks and speeding commuters when I heard the siren. “Where do you think you are going”, the muscular California Highway Patrol Officer barked. Knowing my destination was 500 miles away, and assuming honesty was the best policy, I meekly replied “San Francisco?” “You can’t walk on this highway”, the now not so polite cop replied. “Get off the highway”, were his final words as I headed back down the ramp.
Thank God for research! The donut now consumed and the coffee rapidly cooling I remembered the guide book mentioning that there was an alternative bicycle route around the highway which looped through the U.S. Marine base at Camp Pendleton. As all Americans know the Marines are perpetually searching for “A few good men”.
I am a Vietnam Veteran
“I am a Vietnam veteran” I tell the sergeant in charge of security at the Camp Pendleton gate when he is skeptical about letting a shaggy, almost senior citizen, with a three day beard growth and with no bicycle in sight, gain entry to a highly secured military base still reeling from the terror of September 11, 2001. “OK, sir”, the sergeant finally says obviously assuming I had been a Marine. [Actually I had been in the Army
As I walk I pass Marine housing areas all enclosed by short fences as if to announce that these are private family spaces. Handmade signs like “Welcome home Corporal Ron Blake” line the roadway. It is another time, and another war yet the role of the soldier is still the same.Three miles into the fort I stop when I see the billowing dust clouds and hear the rumble of diesel engines. I salute all marines when I see the sign announcing a “Tank Crossing”. Then I cry a bit thinking of so many memories of a time long gone but forever remembered.