So how many days are left of this coronavirus lockdown, this shelter in place? It was supposed to have expired today, but as we all know, Gov. Brian Kemp extended it until April 30. Wisely, I think.
Meanwhile, life is weird.
About 12:30 a.m. Friday, I drove, as directed, into a Florida weigh station on I-95 that had been converted to a coronavirus checkpoint. What a scene. There were enough Florida Highway Patrol cars with lights flashing to provide security for about a dozen presidential visits.
We stopped in front of a collection of five people who appeared to be Florida National Guard members. They all stood stoically looking at us until I broke the silence, with a, “Yes?”
“What state are you traveling from, sir?” a woman asked.
“Georgia,’’ I answered truthfully.
With a wave of her hand, she said, “Have a good rest of your morning.”
And so we proceeded to a pet ER in Jacksonville so our dog Gracie could be treated for a severe gastro-intestinal illness. We weren’t really allowed out of the car there. A technician got Gracie out, gave us a pen to sign a form and told us to keep the pen and to take a picture of the form on a cell phone and email it to them. They’re serious about avoiding contact.
While we waited, we went to a nearby Wawa convenience store where people out at 1:30 a.m. including the police weren’t quite as strict as the ER folks. In fact, a couple of young people hugged each other.
Anyway, we made it home by 5 a.m., about the time I usually get up. As I write this on Good Friday, Gracie still isn’t herself by a long shot, but the awful symptoms are gone. I hope to wake up at home Saturday morning at my regular time without having gone through any checkpoints.
Meanwhile, 18 days and counting.
We also have a countdown to primary election day, which the coronavirus has turned into a moving target.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has delayed the primary elections until June 9. But before he did that, Raffensperger mailed an absentee ballot to every registered voter in Georgia so they wouldn’t have to go to the polls and be exposed to the virus.
It didn’t take the American Civil Liberties Union long to file a law suit claiming the postage to mail back the ballots amounted to an unconstitutional poll tax.
Don’t these people have anything better to do?
Let’s say you want to go to the polls anyway. The average cost of driving a vehicle one mile, according to some estimates, ranges from 41 cents to 60 cents depending on the size of the car. Most people will have to drive well over a mile to the polls so you figure it’s going to cost most people at least a couple of dollars.
If you live in Atlanta and ride Marta, the fare is $2.50 one way, more if you get robbed walking to or from the station.
The price of a postage for an oversize envelop is 70 cents. If it takes two first class stamps, it’s $1.10.
If you don’t have two first class stamps, just put $1 bill and a dime in with the ballot and a note asking the postal carrier to afix the stamps. A letter carrier told me they still do that.
So what’s it going to cost Georgia taxpayers to defend this one in court? Who knows? The meter’s running, and it’s not a postal meter.
One more thing:
A few weeks ago I wrote about the funeral of the late Wally Spencer who had won a dozen battle stars aboard the carrier, the USS Essex, during World War II. People who held him dear attended his funeral services.
Spencer’s family was unsatisfied and dismayed with the way the Navy conducted the military honors at his graveside service, an honor he truly deserved.
It’s true that veterans, even those who fought on Iwo Jima, the Battle of Midway or Hamburger Hill, get only a three-person detail to fold and present a flag and play “Taps.” Those who die in service get full military honors.
A family member said that the Navy detail played “Taps” on a cell phone. His widow, Urania, said she couldn’t see the bugler or so much as hear “Taps,” and that the flag wasn’t folded correctly.
The Navy said that a recording of “Taps” was played on an electronic bugler, which is standard procedure now. The Navy said it did not know why it couldn’t be heard but noted that portion of the service occurred as the rain fell. As for folding the flag, it is done carefully and a supervisor is always there to ensure it’s done properly the Navy said.
At this point, there’s no good explanation for what happened. The funeral director at Spencer’s crypt said he couldn’t hear “Taps” but didn’t mention any problems with the flag.
I know this much: The Kings Bay detail covers funerals for all military branches in a big chunk of Georgia, and they had to travel to another service after Wally Spencer’s. If a flag is not folded exactly right, the sailor will sometimes respectfully present it to a family member in the interest of time and ask for it back afterward to refold it. I’m not sure if there was time for that.
I wasn’t there so I can’t say exactly what happened. I’m relying on the word of some people I trust.
I do know this: Wally Spencer was a hero to those who knew of his military record and adored by the community who enjoyed his huge displays of Christmas lights. I also know that the same people respect the military and are grateful for all they do for our country.
The U.S. flag Wally Spencer was likely proudest of had 49 stars and flew from the Essex. He and other brave men kept it flying proudly in the Pacific winds in spite of the evil efforts of our country’s enemies.
There was only one Wally Spencer, but I’m glad today’s Navy still has people willing to do what he did. I pray they are never required to.