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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Freedom taken for granted


Recent terror events throughout the world targeting public gatherings remind us that the world is a dangerous place. While these events don’t occur in the U.S. as frequently as Europe, we must adopt more stringent security measures and be willing to put up with some inconveniences in order to ensure our day to day routines have some normalcy.  This all reminded me of a scene witnessed in which someone asked to abide by security restrictions forgot how lucky she really is.

Secure at all costs

Attending the Baltimore air show we started the day at Martin’s State Airport where the Blue Angels were prepping for their demonstration and other planes were on display. Parking was limited and most people were shuttled to the airfield. Beginning at the parking lots, guests were warned that there would be no bags allowed. No purses, camera bags, etc. Across the parking lot you could see trunks and hatchbacks open, ladies emptying purses and parents reducing their child supplies to only the necessary items. School buses were used has transport, lining up at the edge of the parking area. Once on board the buses had signs listing what was permissible and not, broken into columns of items.

Once arriving at the airfield, guests were deposited into an area that was lined with food and merchandise tents similar to a carnival midway. At the end of this line of tents were the security checkpoints to enter the airfield. Several common standup magnetometers were situated next to each other with roping defining the lines to each. Signs were again visible listing prohibited items, which now included food and drink. Security personnel were vocal about what could and could not be brought through and instructing guests what to place in the trays before walking through the scanners. Which was pretty much everything that had any possible metal component, i.e.-coins, wallets, phones, glasses, belts.

One fellow was seen collecting his possessions from the little basket after having been rejected by the magnetometer. Seems he had a four-inch folding knife attached to his belt that he forgot he was carrying. No fuss, no comments, he just collected his belongings, turned and walked away.  

After we successfully passed through, a conversation was overheard between a couple and the security personnel. Apparently, the woman in the couple had purchased a sandwich from one of the tents and was beginning to eat it in the security line. When it was her turn she was denied entry with the sandwich and was not happy. Security held firm and from what could be overheard the lady made the decision to trash the sandwich rather than back away and eat it. This decision made the man vocal about the restrictions as well, announcing to anyone within ear shot how much the sandwich had cost and how little of it had been consumed. Fortunately, security did not overly engage the couple and while they were vocal the couple kept moving through the line. For the fortunate guests experiencing the exchange, the coup de grace occurred as the couple waked away, the woman calling back over her shoulder in an exasperated tone, hands in the air, “Well! The terrorists have won!”

Not sure a victory celebration erupted somewhere in a terrorist command and control center, but the point was taken. For the last fifteen years our liberties have been restricted. Every time there is a terrorist attack on a soft or different kind of target more restrictions go into place. Authorities are constantly evaluating methods to further protect soft targets. Americans have become more aware of the happenings in their surroundings. More are willing to contact law enforcement with any suspicions.

Liberty and freedom

Yes, we have more security restrictions than we ever have in the U.S.  Public gatherings, big and small, are provided security and can be logistic nightmares for planers, but they still take place. We are still out enjoying the freedoms of our country. While we do not always agree with restrictions, law enforcement and security personnel are doing their best to protect us so we can enjoy concerts, fireworks, sporting events, or air shows. All of which could easily be canceled.

I’m sure the lady at the air show was exasperated at trashing her $7 sandwich, but that was her choice as well as was her choice to ignore the security rules. The fact that she was attending a public event and able to make choices is testament that the terrorists have not won. We win everyday that we, as a nation, continue the normal routines of our lives and express our liberties.