Thursday, September 27, 2007

I Ponder Peace

Because the morning was chilly I pulled on my sweater that has the peace sign on it. Not that I'm an activist; I just bought it because I thought it made me look hip. It took on an odd significance for me, however, when we took a stroll through Fort Casey while waiting for the Keystone ferry. As we explored the fort I became conscious of the irony of traipsing through the military ruins wearing a giant peace sign on my chest. I really wasn't trying to make a statement-- well only a fashion statement.

Though Fort Casey has long been abandoned as unnecessary, it is still a formidable sight with its long stretch of concrete gun batteries aimed into the ocean. It was built in 1908 along with two other forts on the Admiralty Inlet as defense against possible invasion by sea. This leads me to ask, "Who were we protecting ourselves from in 1908? And the answer is, anyone and everyone.

To someone of my generation who was watching cartoons during the Vietnam War, the idea of a concrete fort, circa 1900, on the U.S. pacific coast seems so odd. I grew up assuming America was so bad-ass that nobody would dare mess with us on our soil, except for those insanely foolish Japanese bombing Hawaii, which is an island way out in the Pacific and hardly seems part of America. Forts, in my mind, were relegated to early-America when the threat came from Redcoats and savage Indians. But walking around the concrete batteries and parapets and underground magazines of Fort Casey I realized I was looking at the physical manifestations of man's desire to protect his ground. Though I'm never aware of it, someone else, someone running things, feels this defense is necessary. Even with no threat, the presence of defense to deter foreign invasion is something we don't appreciate.

Later, on the ferry we struck up a conversation with a local WWII veteran who became a missionary in Japan after his service. For 38 years he lived among the Japanese whom he had fought against years earlier. He didn't express any opinions on war or peace, for that matter, regardless of the statement I wore on my sweater. But that wasn't the end of my brush with the subject: When we were driving though Port Townsend, Washington we saw that someone had mowed a giant peace sign into a field which I made Robert circle the block so I could get a decent photo.

Tonight we are camping in Sequim (pronounced, Skwim.) Robert made us come here because someone told him Sequim was paradise, a magic spot where a blue hole opens to the sun over the Puget Sound. That we are staying at the marina named for John Wayne, the film-star known for rugged westerns and war movies, and his pro-Vietnam war politics, is another odd occurrence for me to ponder. Which I'll do to the sound of rain pouring from the skies above Sequim.

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