The Summer That I Became A Republican

One of my granddaughters had once asked me why I was a Republican. I answered her easily and quickly. This is that story.

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I was born and raised in Anaheim, California.  When I was very little it was still an agricultural town.  There were less than a dozen kids in my first grade class.  However, after Disneyland the town became a large city in huge Orange County.  There were almost 900 kids in my high school graduating class.

I didn’t know what to do after high school.  So at my mother’s urging, I enrolled at nearby Fullerton Junior College – a fifteen-minute drive to the next town.  I registered as an “undeclared” major and took a broad collection of classes which were guaranteed transferable to any of the nearby four-year colleges regardless of my final major.

But during that first college year I did make one long-term big decision that changed my world view forever.  I enlisted in a United States Marine Corps officer candidate program called the Platoon Leaders Class.  The training would not interfere with college since it all would take place during summer months at Marine Corps Schools in Quantico, VA.

These were pre-Vietnam years and our military was held in high regard by everyone I knew.  My girlfriend had bragged to her friends about my being a Marine, and the varsity wrestling coach told me, “Yep.  That suits you.”  I had also really never been anywhere.  My father referred to my trip to Virginia as going “back-east.”

As my freshman year ended I received my official active duty orders and the first airline tickets I had ever seen.  My mother and father, who also had never been on a plane were especially impressed.

After the third week of training the Marine Corps gave us our first liberty.  We could leave the base immediately after the Friday morning inspection and not return until 1800 hours Sunday evening.  Five of us from my platoon were now special friends and had agreed we’d share some costs and travel together to Washington, DC on the earliest available train.

After a 22-mile bus ride from Camp Upshur we arrived at the historic Quantico train station (built in 1872) in the unincorporated little town of Quantico, Virginia.  We purchased round trip tickets to Union Station in Washington and had been sitting in the station waiting room about ten minutes when the uniformed station master entered the waiting room.

The station master walked over and told the five of us while he nodded at Eddie, the only African-American in our group, “Boys, your friend can’t stay in here.” Before we could say anything, Eddie shrugged, picked up his overnight bag and went outside without saying anything to the rest of us.  Two of us followed him outside, but Leo and I confronted the station employee.  Our conversation was short and went as follows (I paraphrase):

ME: “What’s this all about.”

HIM: (Pointing at a small “White’s Only” sign) “Can’t you see it’s posted?”

LEO: “But he bought a ticket.”

ME: “And he’s a Marine.”

HIM: (Acted irritated) “That doesn’t matter.  It’s posted.  It’s the law.”

LEO: “Who’s stupid law?”

HIM: “The city’s law.  And Prince William county’s law.  And the State of Virginia’s law.

ME: “Can’t you make an exception?”

HIM: (As he walked back into the ticket office) “No, I cannot.” I am ordered to enforce it here.”

Eddie took the bus back to camp Upshur that day and didn’t go to Washington with us.

That wasn’t the last time that I saw “whites only” signs that summer.  However, I didn’t see them in Washington.  President Eisenhower (a Republican) had pledged during his first State of the Union address in 1953 to end public facility and school segregation in the nation’s capital, and did so.  The rest of the country wouldn’t match Ike’s achievement for a few more years, and at the time every level of government in Virginia had a Democrat majority.

When I returned home I was asked a lots of questions by my friends and family about my experiences.  I told everyone two things. The first was about the pride I personally felt by having become a Marine.  The second was about the shame I felt toward my country’s Democrat party and why when I became old enough to vote I would never vote for the Democrat party to control anything in my country.

I have not changed either of these two decisions.

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He Was Working At A Gas Station When He Saw A Woman Shaking And Said, “Stand Behind Me”

You never know what’s going to happen when you go into a gas station, and Manveer Komer knows that better than most. As an employee at a gas station, the 25-year-old sees all types of bizarre things happening during his shifts in the Philadelphia store. While he is quite used to seeing strange things at all hours of the night, Komer knew something was off when a man and a woman walked into the gas station one evening.

It all started when Komer noticed that the woman was shaking, and then the man she was with purchased cigarettes with her credit card. This is when Komer felt compelled to do something, aware that the woman was not supposed to be with this particular man. And then, in an act of courage. Komer told the woman to stand being his back.

“You come stand behind my back. I’ll help you. No problem,” Komer said to the woman.

Even though Komer had no idea what the relationship was between the man and woman, he knew something was wrong, so he pretended to have a gun in his pocket and he went right up to the man. He took it a step further and demanded that the man return the credit card and keys to the woman, but the man refused to oblige.

For a few moments, Komer didn’t know how the situation was going to unfold and he wasn’t sure if the man was going to respond by attacking him. The man, evidently scared of Komer’s confrontation, fled the scene and drove off in the woman’s car, leaving her behind. Because the car had the woman’s cell phone inside it, the police were able to track down the criminal. Police later found out that the man kidnapped the woman, who was a doctor, earlier that day. He had been driving her around in her car to various ATM machines, forcing her to take out as much money as possible at each one.

There is no telling what the kidnapper would’ve done to the woman after he got all the money out of her bank accounts. It was obvious that she was frightened and the man had most likely threatened her if she said anything, which is why she was so obviously shaking.

This woman was lucky that the kidnapper happened to take her to this particular gas station, because Komer’s quick thinking and act of bravery may have saved her life. When the footage from the gas station was later viewed, Komer can also be seen offering the woman a bottle of water while helping her call the police. She had been so scared that she was shaking so much that she couldn’t even dial the phone.

Hopefully, this woman thanked Komer for his kindness and courage. Had he not been the attendant working that night, we can’t be sure that man would’ve been found out and if the woman would’ve been freed. It’s always best to be on high alert at all times and aware of your surroundings.

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