James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Friday, September 21, 2007

A real American hero

At about 2:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, 2007, I got a quick look at a genuine American patriot, a man of courage, conviction and commitment.

No, not some strutting general with all the medals his peers had awarded them, as they award each other, for being in some safe haven near where people are being killed, or for playing war games well, or whatever else all those ribbons truly represent.

Neither was it a soldier who, in desperation or a moment of anger-driven madness, committed some genuine act of physical and perhaps moral courage. (Nor a phony who was given a medal because that's more politically useful than courtmartialing him or her.)

I was headed east on 46th Street in south Minneapolis, about to cross the bridge over Hwy. I35W –- a portion of it that remains open -– on my way to visit a hospitalized friend.

At one corner of the bridge, on 46th Street, stood a man, all alone, holding a sign, hand lettered with something like Magic Marker on a piece of cardboard obviously cut from a box.

Across 46th from him, in the spot occupied by some such person for a few hours every day, was a another man, younger, with an equally crude sign that said “Homeless. Please Help. God Bless.” I think they hand off that sign from one to another.

But the sign held by the man I saw first – who was no better dressed nor better trimmed than the beggar -- said “Is it fascism yet?”

He looked embarrassed to be out there, but there he was, holding his little sign where people in the increasing traffic could see it.

I've stood on bridges with signs –- fairly frequently during the run up to Bush/Cheney's war –- but never alone, never when someone else hadn't planned the event and rounded up some of the braver folks among those who hate the waste and stupidity and cupidity of Bush/Cheney's war of greed.

But to go out there alone, just because you're sick of the whole thing, the war and the trampling on the U.S. Constitution, and maybe don't know how else to tell people that the madness must stop -– that's guts.

I'll make a few trips to that spot again, when I can stop, and hope that I find him and can talk to him.