Joe’s Journal

Leftovers ...

Posted:  Wednesday, August 8, 2018 - 7:00am

Before I sat down to write this missive, I opened my notebook and found a few items left over from last week’s trip to Washington, D.C.

I thought I would share them with you.

On a blistering hot Friday morning, we took John Druce on a tour of the military monuments. At the World War II memorial fountain, a group of teenaged girls cooled their feet in the water. A pair of mallards were perched on the fountain’s spillway doing the same thing.

I stopped a workman who was picking up trash and asked him if the ducks were there all the time, and he just smiled. Then he told me how he had been at work since 4 a.m. cleaning the debris and dirt out of the fountain that had been deposited there by record rainfall.

By the way, we were all impressed by the lack of debris and trash on the National Mall, despite its heavy use by the public.

While we flew into Washington to view the U.S. Marine sites, a detour behind the Pentagon brought us to the spectacular Air Force memorial. Look it up, it is special.

Consisting of a trio of 200-foot-plus soaring stainless steel arches it represents the contrails of the Air Force Thunderbirds' signature bomb burst maneuver.

On the day we were there, a pair of red-tailed hawks perched on the top of the tallest arch.

A nice man came up to us to explain the memorial and how it memorializes the brave men and women of the Air Force. After we thanked him, he mentioned that he was a retired U.S. Navy captain. In addition to the red-tails, other raptors seemed to have recaptured the nation’s capital. Not far from the Lincoln Memorial, we saw an eagle soaring over the Potomac River. At the Quantico Marine Base, it seemed that dozens of street lights were home to ospreys.

When we stopped for a visit at the office of Brunswick’s Angus King, Maine’s junior senator, we were greeted by Boothbay’s own Marge Kilkelly. When she found we were from Boothbay, she wanted us to know she was “a Brewer,” related to lobsterman Butch Brewer. Butch is the husband of the longtime Register editor Mary Dodge Brewer who recently passed away. Kilkelly asked that we pass on her condolences to the family, especially to Mary’s daughter, Sarah Morley, the Register's operations manager. We did.

As we waited outside Sen. King’s office, we noticed a man sitting on a marble bench in the entrance hall. It was Michael McFaul the U.S. Ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014. He has been a frequent guest on TV news shows appearing as an expert on US-Russia relations.

News reports say Russian president Putin said he would allow our FBI agents to question the Russian military officers named in federal indictments charging them with using the internet to interfere with the 2016 presidential election if, and it is a big if, his federal police could question Americans. He mentioned McFaul by name.

We told McFaul we hoped he would not fall for that ploy. He smiled and assured us he would not.

We were invited to attend a Marine Corps headquarters reception, hosted by Ronald L. Green, the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. When he was named as the top enlisted man in the Corps, there was some controversy as he was not an infantryman. He was an artilleryman. A “cannon cocker” in Marine parlance. When he was introduced to us, I mentioned I was an old Marine “cannon cocker” too, and he laughed. Then he said he was the last Marine artilleryman qualified to load and fire nuclear artillery shells. “I hope no one ever is called upon to use those skills,” I told him. “Me too,” he said.

When the gathering of Marines learned John Druce was a veteran of the World War II campaigns in the South Pacific, Sgt. Major Green was just one of the dozens of Marines, including a three-star general, who lined up to meet him and shake his hand.

We are in the middle of the Boothbay summer tourist season, and we all hear a lot of griping about the traffic conditions.

Well, it has been a while since I was caught up in the commuter traffic in a major city, but a few trips on the Washington freeways brought back one of the reasons we retired to the Boothbay peninsula.

But our driver showed us the trick he uses to navigate the bumper to bumper traffic. He drives an old Honda van and, when he wants to switch lanes, he just waits for a new Mercedes or shiny BMW to drive next to him, and he just edges over in front of them. “They always let me in,” he said.