As Patriotic as it Gets
I celebrated the Fourth of July, by exercising my freedom of speech, in what seems to me the most appropriate use of this holiday I have ever experienced. Joining a select group of demonstrators, I spent a couple of hours alongside Highway 101, in downtown Laytonville, protesting the existence of Monsanto in general, and G.M.O’s in particular. My sign read, “JUST SAY NO TO G.M.O’S.” As far as I’m concerned, that’s as patriotic as it gets.
In anticipating the event, my thoughts did not go beyond the general idea that I would be carrying the sign, and it would be hot. As it turned out, that was exactly the case, except for the fact that there was an added component, and that turned out to be acknowledgement by those on the highway.
First of all, the highway was extremely busy, considering it was a major holiday. I said to Casey at one point, “I can’t figure out why there is so much traffic. I always figured that everybody always got together and barbecued on the Fourth.” And then it occurred to me that the traffic was exactly that; people traveling to different destinations to barbecue. We were down there by around eleven and left by one, so it was a bit on the early side, so we probably got a lot of early commuters, heading to their respective parties.
We continuously got these twenty-thirty car caravans, which normally would indicate controlled traffic for road construction. But on the Fourth of July? Not likely. It was far more probable that the single lane on the highway, both north and south of town, just bottles the Type-A personalities up behind the mellower drivers. The result was that if someone at the very start of the “caravan” indicated his or her approval of our demonstration, by honking and waving, then others naturally joined in. Rarely did we fail to garner acknowledgement, and only once did someone holler out dissent to our opinion.
On the other hand, we were very active in our demonstration. I canted my sign in the direction of the cars continuously, making sure that both southbound and northbound traffic could always see my succinct message. Casey held a sign which said, “Local Farms-No Monsanto,” and Courtney encouraged response by continuously giving travelers her “princess” wave. Also, Casey must know most local residents, because he was constantly telling us who it was in the vehicle(s) who was making so much racket. Almost never did a string of cars go by without some kind of horn-honking, hand-waving action. Not surprisingly, it fueled our enthusiasm. I am convinced that at least half the vehicles which passed us felt inclined to side with our political stance.
Every time I would point the easy-to-read sign and get a response, I would thrust my left arm high in the air, and wave frantically. I wondered idly, while we were down there, whether travelers had passed a similar demonstration, down in Willits, or up in Garborville. The knowledge that others, all over the country, were engaged in a similar process, was very encouraging. The only other people demonstrating when we arrived, were Susan and her friend, Sharon. After we had been there a short while, we were joined by Atlanta Will and Johnny, and they hung out for quite a while, before continuing on their journeys. Others drifted in and out of the arena, touching base, and sharing political views.
We made sure we had our water bottles, and just about the time mine was empty, Susan ambled over and suggested that we give it a few more minutes, and then pack it in. After all, there were barbecues to fire up, and libations to ingest. I don’t know that our efforts accomplished a whole lot, but it sure made my Fourth of July a memorable one, and not for the quantity of beer I drank, or the hangover I woke up with. And that there is a good thing.