The VigilanceVoice

Saturday... February 2, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 144

Patriot's Peaceful Mud Truck
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City--There's a "Mud Truck" here in the Big Apple that pushes not only caffeine, but peaceful patriotism in the faces of citizens of the East Village.
             The "Mud Truck" is a four-wheeled coffee shop, replete with the finest blends one can imagine.  It parks in the morning at one of the city's busiest subway stations, the 6-train where people pour in and out hurry to and from work.
             Burnt orange and shaped like an armored car, the boxy cafe latte machine hunkers between two giant competitors--the Starbucks at Astor Place, and only a block across the street, another Starbucks on Third Avenue.   Standing at one Starbucks, Johnny Weissmuller could throw a javelin to the other Starbucks, using the Mud Truck as the half-way mark to the goal.
            Competition is fierce for coffee in New York City.   You can tell the caliber of a street person by the cup he or she uses to jiggle at you for change--if they hold a Starbucks, they are on the upper crust of panhandling.  If the have a small, unmarked cup, they're on the final skids.  And, if they have a Mud Truck cup--well, they're good local guys, in support of the ebb and flow of the East Village.
            Astor Place is like a hub of liberalism.   It is the epicenter of a class between the old East Village and Yuppie East Village.   Where the Mud Truck parks, conservatives and liberals pour into and out of the subways.    On one corner Greenpeace advocates challenge you to sign their petition, and across the street a mad poet cries loudly for everyone to gather guns and stave off the police when they try and take away our freedoms.   It is a potpourri of emotional, cultural and political viewpoints--a thriving chunk of history with a coffee flavor for everyone's taste, regardless of race, color, creed or whether one stands on the right of the American Flag or the left of it.
          That's why I was enthralled to see the American flag attached to the side of the Mud Truck.   It wasn't the contemporary flag, but instead a replica of our original Memorial Flag, the one with thirteen stars, representing the first States of the Union.
          "We got it at Martha's Vineyard," Nina, who woman's the Mud Truck in the morning said above the din of buses pulling past, taxis bleating horns, the rush of subway noises funneling out of the catacombs below.   She was busy making coffee for customers who lined up waiting to receive what Nina calls "the freshest cup of coffee you'll ever drink."
         I shot a series of pictures of the flag and truck as a symbol of how someone in today's climate of Terrorism can cast aside their polarity and still represent a patriotic yet peaceful point of view.
        Personally, I'm a red-necked conservative Republican at heart.   I grew up in the tough-minded Northwest, in Oregon.   A "rugged individualist" state, where there was America first and everything second.    As an adult, I lived  in the conservative citadel of Orange County, California, so my background is red, white, and blue.    I was also in the U.S. Marine Corps where the highest honor was to die for your country--after killing lots of those who threatened its symbol of Freedom.    Some might say I was brainwashed.   The point is, I'd rather see the American Flag used to state one's position on peace with the way the Mud Truck Flag was presented, than see it being burned or abused.  
        I thought it quaint that the flag was hung on the side of the truck with clothespins.   It gave it character.    As I moved in close, I noted the center of the flag had  a peace symbol sewn in using stars.   I shouted a question to Nina as she brewed up coffee:  "Who did the stars?"
        "I did," Nina replied.  "I sewed them on."
        I wanted to get into a deep discussion with Nina about her viewpoint on the war, and how peace and Terrorism worked.   In New York City, I've altered many of my former narrow and rigid views, and become far more accepting and tolerant of other people's right to their opinions and ability to express them.   But the noise along the street and the constant flow of people seeking a cup of coffee or one of the magical brews of "mud" prohibited such a conversation.
       Plus, it was apparent that the facts were flying in my face.   The story was told by the presence of an original American flag with a peace symbol sewn in the middle.
       It meant that Nina and the Mud Truck were Patriots of Peace.   
       Patriots of Peace are simply those people who want Freedom without Violence.   Martin Luther King was one example.   Most mothers of young boys are Patriots of Peace.   They don't want their siblings to go to war and be killed.
      Back when I was more narrow minded, I might have thought of the Mud Truck crew as being "commie pinkos," assaulting the purity of the flag by desecrating it with a peace symbol.  But as time has passed and my vision broadened, I thought it even more appropriate the flag be adorned with a peace symbol.    It represented the real goal of America--to be free from Terrorism, and since Terrorism's opposite is Serenity, and Serenity ultimate means Peace, it seemed absolutely on target, to the point.
      A Patriot of Peace also had to have courage, conviction and take action.   Someone willing to appoint the flag with a peace symbol would certainly run the risk of alienating "flag purists."   In business, that's not good.   But, as I studied the flag and pondered its message, I realized that the young, energetic people cranking out coffee from the Mud Truck respect America's foundations. They may disagree with its policies, but not its principles of Freedom and the right to be able to follow one's dreams and beliefs without repression.  That's what Freedom really means, at least to me--the Freedom to express one's viewpoints in a peaceful, mature way. 
       At the same time they advocate America's foundations, they seek peace.   The two are not exclusive.   They can co-exist in the same breath.  Peace and Freedom are mates.
       I thought about how I might explain the flag to my five-year-old grandson.   I could tell him that the people who presented the flag were peace advocates, or I could call them "left-wing liberals."   Or, I could launch into a big hurrah about how the American Flag should never be altered, never be touched because it was untouchable.  
        Ultimately, I could tell him that the flag belongs to each American. That we are franchisees of Freedom.  We own 1/300 millionth right to the flag.   It is each citizen's flag, to do with what he or she decides.   One can burn it, desecrate it, honor it, evolve it, redesign it, or, the worst of all, one can ignore it.  I would tell my grandson the greatest crime was to refute the flag, to ignore it, to turn one's back on it--for despite its good and bad--it was still the mother and father of our Freedom, the symbol of our right to be Free Thinkers, to enjoy Free Speech and Free Expression.   And we were its children, charged with protecting its rights for our children, and their children.  And, if we didn't like what it stood for, we could change things.  
        I would tell him the Mud Truck people were Patriots of Peace.  In their way, they fly the flag as proudly as Ronald Reagan might, but with one caveat.  They emboss it with the symbol of peace.   They added the exclamation point to the red, white, and blue that it doesn't just stand for power and might, but also compassion and caring and consideration for others' rights.  After snapping my pictures I stood for a moment and processed my thoughts.
        Then, being a good American who prefers Peace over War, I bought a cup of coffee from the Mud Truck.
       "It's the freshest cup of coffee you'll ever drink," Nina said as she proudly brewed it.
      And, it was.   I not only got a fresh cup of coffee, but also a fresh and crisp viewpoint of how to express Patriotism.

Go To Daily Diary, February 1 - Expecting The Unexpected



©2001 - 2004,, All rights reserved -  a ((HYYPE)) design