I had an opportunity to speak with a representative of the Marine Corps earlier today. I tape recorded the conversation.
--Good afternoon. R.O.T.C.
(MZ)Hello. Are you involved with the group doing calesthenics in Pease Park this morning?
--Yes, we have Marine ROTC here. Yes, I do believe they were out at Pease Park this morning.
(MZ) I went outside during the drills this morning at about a quarter to six. And, non-confrontationally, I said, “You know, people are trying to sleep here.” And one guy got up in my face screaming, “We have provided the freedom that allows you to sleep. I suggest you get back in your house.” Now, this is not the kind of behavior that I think appropriate in dealing with the public.
(MZ) Do you know who is involved in that at all? Is there someone around who is in charge of that exercise drill?
--Um, yes. What is your name, sir?
(MZ) Michael Zagst.
--Just a moment.
Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto played while I was on hold.
--Hello, sir? Thanks for holding. I’m going to transfer you to Major Kopke, and he can help you now.
(MZ) Major who?
(Major Kopke) Good morning. This is Kopke.
(MZ) Hi, Major. This is Michael Zagst. I live across the street where the Marine R.O.T.C. has been doing their morning calesthenics. Do you know anything about them being out there this morning?
(Major K.) I do, sir. I know that they were out there this morning.
(MZ) I went out there about six, after they had been out there awhile, and just wanted to, I don’t know, to see who they were, for one thing. What I said was, not confrontationally, to one person was, you know, people are trying to sleep here. He got inches away from my face, shouting, “We provide the freedom for you to be able to sleep. I suggest you get back in your house.” And they were all carrying assault rifles, and I thought, I don’t want to be arguing with this guy out here. I just don’t think that’s appropriate behavior in dealing with the public, and wanted to see if y’all are going to continue to exercise out there, or what the deal is.
(Major K.) I agree with you one hundred percent, sir, and that’s been tended to this morning, after the fact. You’re right. It’s inappropriate. We do plan to continue out there infrequently. I think we probably exercise out there once or twice a semester.
(MZ) It’s been three times in the last six days.
(Major K.) Three times in the last six days? Really?
(MZ) Last Thursday and Friday, and this morning, Thursday. So, eight days.
(Major K.) That’s news to me.
(MZ) I just wanted to see…I don’t understand, really. I could have been a veteran of Hill 935 in Vietnam, but why even argue the point? Why bring it up? I could have been nobody. I could have been a janitor for the past fifty years. It shouldn’t matter.
(Major K.) Sir, absolutely.
(MZ) So, I hope you take appropriate measures to where it doesn’t disturb the neighborhood, at least.
(Major K.) I don’t think that’s going to happen again. I met this morning, and we’ve definitely dealt with that. And I absolutely understand your concerns. You are one hundred percent right. That’s not supposed to happen, and that’s not the right way to handle business.
(MZ) Thanks for letting me know.
(Major K.) Oh, absolutely. And if there’s anything else you need, please give us a call.
(MZ) I will. Thanks.
(Major K.) Have a good day. Bye-bye.