What my father would have said about the TSA

My father fathered the way they did on black-and-white TV, though not so much Ward Cleaver as Ralph Kramden (if he and Alice had had kids). He went to work, Mom stayed home. Every night we ate dinner together, but I don’t remember Dad ever saying much. When he did, it was so unusual that it stuck with you.

I was a latecomer, a product of the more permissive 1960s. That was the Vietnam era, a time when people weren’t feeling so good about their government.  One night at dinner — I was maybe 10 or 12 years old — I was relating the story of a discussion at school about the Pledge of Allegiance. I opined that it was rather foolish to pledge allegiance to “a piece of cloth on a stick.” I was a precocious kid in a turbulent time, what did you expect? Dad, a World War II veteran, looked up, fixed his gaze on me and said, “A lot of people died defending that piece of cloth on a stick.”

A dozen words, give or take. It may have been the only civics lesson he ever gave me, but I’ve carried it with me for 40-some years. I suspect I’ll carry it to my grave.

I’m thinking about Dad while I wait in line at the airport. They’re ordering an older man to stand on the mat with his arms extended so they can pat him down. A blue-shirted agent struts like the cock of the walk. Whenever I watch this I seethe.

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