A few weeks ago, I was headed for BWI Airport on my way to Columbus, Ga. I always seem to get a little excited when I fly, for some reason.
Perhaps it’s the anticipation of going through the security process at the airport. I’m sure you’ve heard stories of how TSA staff are accused of mistreating children and allegedly “groping” beauty pageant contestants.
As I arrived at the airport, I retrieved my electronic tickets from the kiosk and proceeded to security. After putting my baggage and shoes on the X-ray conveyor, I walked through the metal detector.
A TSA staff member saw that I lit up the metal detector and sounded the bells. “He must think I’m the tin man from the Wizard of Oz,” I thought.
“A few necessary metal parts,” I told him. “Step over here to the side, and place your feet on the printed foot markers,” he directed.
He then explained his search procedures. I held out my arms, palms up, and complied with his directions. I didn’t get groped or harassed, and the TSA worker was most professional.
I wondered after experiencing the search process if any of those who complain ever think about the events of 9/11.
You can complain all you want about the TSA, but after going through the additional security search, I feel a lot more comfortable flying. I’m also less suspicious about those cute little kids and those pageant contestants who receive the same thorough search.
As I arrived at the Atlanta airport, I struck up a conversation with five young recruits who were headed to Columbus and Fort Benning for Basic training. They were from New York, Alabama, Georgia and Wisconsin. Some of them had orders to go to Afghanistan in November after basic and advanced training.
“You guys make me feel old,” I told them. “I went to basic training almost 45 years ago.”
The world hasn’t changed much in 45 years, I thought, in regards to war.
Vietnam in 1966; Afghanistan and Iraq today. Young men, then and now, leaving home for destinations in a war zone.
A few moments of peace, I concluded, are perhaps the real jewels of life to be valued.
I shook each young man’s hand and wished them well in their military travels and careers. Be safe and be well, I said, as we went in different directions upon our arrival in Columbus.
During my visit to some rural areas near Columbus, I saw some beautiful “red dirt roads” (like Brooks & Dunn sang about), heard stories about the “wild pigs” that were populating the area and had some locals tell me about some good “catfish” holes in a nearby lake.
I didn’t make it to nearby Plains to visit Jimmy Carter or to Warm Springs, where Franklin Roosevelt built a polio treatment center.
After spending a week in Columbus, I had to return home.
Upon boarding the plane to Maryland, I sat next to a very polite young man who was returning from Israel after visiting that country for Passover.
We talked about his visit to Jerusalem and I asked him if there was any solution to the conflict in that area.
He was of the opinion that the Palestinians would have to recognize Israel as a legitimate state before anything could move forward. He also was concerned about the recent alliance between the Gaza leadership and Hamas.
Although he was hoping for a peaceful resolution, he had no firm convictions that peace would be achieved any time soon.
“Maybe within five years,” he said.
I guess, at the end of the day, a few moments of peace would be a nice gift for all of us.
I was glad to be heading home.
Lloyd “Pete” Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes columns for The Herald-Mail.