Land of the Mattress Giant

Still out driving. Lodging tonight: Drury Inn (dumpy in a pretend-upscale way) in St. Peters, Missouri. Cuisine: Ruby Tuesday. Went out for a walk afterward in the neighborhood, which happens to be the Mid-Rivers Mall. In addition to all the usual suspects, like Circuit City and Bed, Bath and Beyond, and a couple unusual ones, like Mattress Giant, I noticed an armed forces recruiting office, just another storefront with a neon sign. Things must be busy for the people working there: 17 sedans and one van with U.S. government plates were parked out front, presumably for the Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force guys and gals to make their rounds, chasing elusive enlistees. All four services had big recruiting murals in the store window. The Navy offering caught my eye. It read, “Freedom: Paid for by the U.S. Navy.” There’s just something about that formulation that bothers me. Yes, of course, the Navy and all its works are indispensable to our ability to enjoy the rest of the mall. But is there no other way to help “pay” for our freedom besides learning how to fly an F-18 or target a cruise missile? Where are the recruiting stations, with the 18 cars on standby, for people who might help make us stronger here at home, like teachers?

Sorry. I just realized my panty-waist liberalism is showing. I’ll return to more news of the road. …

2 Replies to “Land of the Mattress Giant”

  1. Dan: Looks as though you had another good day of travel through the heartland. You ought to apply for a Guggenheim Fellowship to do just the stuff that you are doing now. They give these grants to people from all disciplines. It is a thought. Because all you would need to do it is funding. It doesn’t cost anything to look.
    Your comments about post-industrial St. Peters are poignant, especially after a look at today’s grim news from Baghdad. What are the guys in DC thinking when they look at this stuff? Also, this story is not the lead. Granted Hurricane Ivan is big, but I have to ask myself if our news guys don’t want to be the bearers of–really– bad news. Anyway, all those youngsters in Missouri will eventually wise up, right?
    Sounds as though you guys are having a good trip. How’s the weather? How about the light? It must be interesting as the Indian Summer approaches. Talk to you soon.

  2. John: You’re right about the news guys, I think, and it really kills me to say it. The big media that are the source of so much of what we know about the world don’t appear to want to exercise any independence. That’s the thing that gets me: they actually *do* have independence; but there is more and more of a choice not to use it. Can you imagine a guy who is actually something of a journalism icon to more than a generatin of people saying, “If my president says we need to go to war, he’s the commander-in-chief and I’m behind him.” That’s pretty much what Dan Rather said at the outset of Iraq. In a world where news organizations were acting independent of governments and corporations, that would be it — he wouldn’t get to go back on in his Newsman costume.
    In other news: Yes, much more to say about the day’s travels. Just running out of time now for the night. But stay tuned! And thanks for the encouraging words.

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