I don’t know why, but my thoughts turned this weekend to a time fairly long ago when,as a magistrate judge, I sentenced people to jail for crossing the line at StratCom headquarters at Offutt Airbase in Omaha. These folks, part of the Catholic Workers movement, protested against the military and nuclear weapons by crossing a line at the base entrance. Two fellows in particular come to mind.
One was Father Frank Cordero. Big Frank, a former wrestler, raised hell throughout Iowa and Nebraska protesting against various and sundry things. He was (and I presume still is) a smart ass. One time, after I sentenced him to jail for six months, he surrendered to the US Marshals with a cross made out of hack saw blades. I think he ended up at MCC in Chicago. If he did, he wasn’t laughing.
The other fellow I came to know was Rich. He crossed the line, but agreed to abide by probation. I learned that Rich operated a shelter for men down on their luck and often just out of prison. About that time, I married Joan after the death of my first wife.
True to her faith, Joan insisted that my kids learn about the poor. So, I contacted Rich. Over the next several years we spent Thanksgiving with Rich’s guys delivering turkeys in North Omaha. It opened eyes wide. Later, we lent Rich a little money to keep the shelter running. Rich repaid us in full. But, he gave us so much more.