May 12, 2003

On Saturday, Meryl Yourish wrote:

A few days ago, I went on a morning hike with a friend to break in my new hiking shoes, and as we were returning to our cars, we saw a helicopter flying overhead. We stopped to look. It was a military helicopter, and the thought that was on both of our minds is that in America, we've never had to fear the sound of helicopters above. I know Andy was thinking it, because he said to me, "You know, no matter what else you say, one thing about this country is that we don't have to worry about our own government shooting us."

That's not the only thing we don't have to fear from helicopters. In 1984, I was working as a programmer on the 12th floor of a building in Roslyn, Virginia, with a beautiful view of the Key Bridge, Georgetown (the neighborhood and the university), and the so-called National Cathedral. (As a Roman Catholic, that name always irked me: my National Cathedral is way across town.) The White House was maybe two miles to the east, but our windows faced north.

One day I was coding up a storm with my office-mate, a recent immigrant from mainland China, when eight large military helicopters, the kind that carry troops or cargo, flew by in tight formation, very low and very close, passing from left to right, that is directly towards the White House. My first thought was that there were at least 50 countries in the world where that would very likely mean that the president's life expectancy had just shrunk to an hour or less. I was glad (still am) to live in a country where I didn't have to worry about where they were headed and why, and could be completely confident that Reagan was in no danger at all from them. (Weirdos with crushes on Jodie Foster are another story.)

Posted by Dr. Weevil at May 12, 2003 12:20 AM