After a few minutes, I approached a group of these guys standing around awaiting their turn to drill. “Gentlemen, thank you for your service,” I said to the group.
“Thanks for your support,” several of them replied.
Then one of them, in what seemed like a very rare moment of candor, spoke to me quietly.
“I wish your neighbors were as welcoming as you,” he said. “Has somebody been unwelcoming?” I asked.
“When we first got here, a guy came to us with some papers in his hand. He told us that this is private property, and the homeowner’s association prohibits us from being here. Later another guy came out and told us that we were scaring his children and he wanted us to leave immediately.”
“I’m very sorry,” I said with embarrassment. “You’re always welcome in my neighborhood, as far as I’m concerned.”
“Thank you, sir,” he replied.
He went back to work with his team, and I stood in amazement for a moment, before somberly walking back to my home. “How could anyone be so rude and unwelcoming to the United States military,” I wondered.
It is true that my neighborhood - - park and all - - consists of “private property.” And I haven’t researched this issue, but, legally speaking, I doubt that the military can arbitrarily supersede private property rights on a moment’s notice, just so reservists can train somewhere other than at the armory.
But delving into legal technicalities misses the point. While I was honored by the presence of the troops, others chose to be “scared,” or to complain about perceived private property rights violations.
This didn’t happen in San Francisco or on a university campus. It occurred in an American, suburban, middleclass ( and I might add “predominantly Republican”) neighborhood.
I believe that without the sacrifices of military members, I would have no private property rights. And my son knows that those who wear the uniform are good people.
How are things in your neighborhood?
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.