Real Mistakes, Real Laughs:

Air bases were built on captured islands of Tinian, Saipan, and Guam but they were barley within the range of the long-range bombers.

(hope the bombadiers weren't on gluten-free diets)

Didn't catch the typo? Scroll to bottom of page

Friday, June 12, 2009

Backyard Tragedy

I was a student at George Washington University when I first heard Washington, DC described as "where local news is national news." Catchy, and true. I've lived most of my life in and around Washington and, not surprisingly, I've been privy to many historical events, good and bad. Even out here in Annapolis -- 22 miles and a lifestyle away from the District -- we aren't immune. Years ago, when the DC Sniper targeted Benjamin Tasker Middle School in nearby Bowie, that was too close for comfort. Annapolis gas stations hung opaque plastic panels around pumps to cloak customers from clear view. And that wasn't the only frightening proximity; some of the 9/11 terrorists took their fateful flying lessons at a small aviation school about 15 miles west of Annapolis. I couldn't decide if that was creepier than other 9/11 terrorists spending the preceding night at the same motel where my in-laws all stayed for our wedding in Boston.

Still creepier was the realization that the gunman who attacked the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington actually lives in Annapolis. I found it hard to believe that such venomous hate could reside, undetected, a mere five miles from my house. Had I ever passed him on the street? Would he have noticed the gold Star of David necklace I wear? Might I have been tutoring at the Writing Center on the same day he showed up at USNA to complain about ethnic enrollment?

Readily identifiable evil like a skinhead protest march or a KKK rally is one thing; it's quite another when a mild-mannered old gentleman living in a modest Annapolis apartment complex burns with a hatred that's been germinating for 60 years. We could be generous and allow that dementia may have quashed self-control and fostered violence. That's a palatable explanation many of us want to believe, instead of the more likely and exponentially more horrifying truth. It's no easier to wrap one's mind around the idea of an elderly, self-styled vigilante than that of deliberately crashing huge airliners into skyscrapers.

The bitter conclusion is that there is no escape from evil. Hatred and violence aren't confined to poor urban areas, international waters, or war-torn battlefronts. Evil can reside in our own backyards, the same place where we're told to seek our happiness. But guess what, Toto: we're not in Kansas anymore. Apparently it will take more than a weed-whacker to keep the crabgrass at bay.

This blog is dedicated to the memory of security officer Stephen T. Johns.


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