Letter to the Editor: When it’s time to turn and burn

October 7, 2016
By Marcy Shortuse

To the Editor:
Well, it happened again. Boca Grande made the news in another unflattering way. One of our community members made an “off-color” statement on social media.
I have met a lot of people in my lifetime. People from all walks of life. I grew up in Fairfield County, Westport, Connecticut … hardly a bastion of racial inclusion. I was raised by two southerners. My mother and father taught me many things in my time with them.
Something that sticks out in my mind is when they were called for jury duty. During Voir Dire my father told the court that he and my mother would be biased if they had to judge a black person. That was a shock to me, but then I realized he was being fair to the system.
And to all the naysayers, they were excused from that trial and moved to a different one.
I served in the United States Navy, which is literally made up of every kind of person from all walks of life in our country, and some from different parts of our world. There was racism in the Navy, but in the end we all worked together and lived together – because we had to.
The ship was our world, our planet, and when it was time to turn and burn we all pulled together. We were black, white, brown, yellow and red sailors/squids/snipes/officers/enlisted … we were all sailors.
My vocation as a photographer took me to many locations across the country and around the world. Whether it was on an industrial shoot with workers in a factory in the UK or a corporate function in a United States boardroom, I always heard racist chatter. I don’t think any of us can claim that there’s not a bit of a racist in all of us. I catch myself falling into that dark place when I get angry. I don’t see it in my children, which I admire. I find it humorous that a lot of my friends won’t accept a black person unless they are a wide receiver on their fantasy football team.
I have known Lt. Mike D’angelo from day one at the fire department. I have photographed the department’s training sessions, and I know what a good instructor Lt. D’Angleo is. I’ve seen how he cares for the people he is around.
I like Mike. Over the years we’ve become friends, and we argue politics like Matalin and Carville. Like James and Mary, we still like each other.
Despite what he said from the shadows of social media, there is one thing I know about my friend. When the lieutenant has his bunker gear on and it’s time to turn and not burn, he will put his “six” on the line for anyone – no matter what color.
He is a firefighter.
Skip Perry
Boca Grande
Planet Earth