Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 51

In the post-9-11 world, the arrangements for that work
detail seem almost quaint. A group of seasonal tour guides
to help provide security for General Westmoreland and
hundreds of others along a mountainous section of the Blue
Ridge Parkway after a bomb threat?
It was anchored into the bedrock on either side
of the gorge by two enormous towers of concrete. I
looked for something out of the ordinary, but there
was nothing but massive blocks of concrete, clean
lines and negative space. It was a beautiful construction - much more impressive underneath than it
was on top.
When I climbed back up the shoulder, there was
a man standing on the bridge. I remember being
surprised to see him there because this section of the
parkway had been closed as soon as the procession
of automobiles had passed and he wasn't wearing a
uniform. Then I recognized him: It was General
Westmoreland.
As someone who'd grown up in the '60s and '70s
listening to protest songs, I'd been prepared to hate
General Westmoreland. He'd repeatedly called for
more troops to be sent to Vietnam and had sent
many men to their death. My politics weren't very
sophisticated and neither were my prejudices. But
when I met General Westmoreland on the bridge
that day, I was struck by his gentleness. His eyes
were full of kindness and he had this incredible
magnetism.
He waited for me to put out my hand then shook
it firmly. He didn't say anything. After another few
minutes looking out over the gorge, he turned and
walked to a car parked on the north side of the
bridge. Then he left.
THE NEXT DAY, we returned to our positions before

the cordons were lifted. Once again, I scrambled
down the sides of the bridge to do a sight inspection.
Everything looked fine. I radioed an "all clear." A
half an hour later, the first spectators arrived and
fanned out along the bridge on both sides of the
ceremonial ribbon.
A few minutes after the motorcade had begun its
procession, I got an anxious call from the team
leader. Someone had called in a bomb threat and
they had reason to believe that it was on the underside of the center span. Could I check it again? I

clambered down the south side and radioed back
that everything looked fine but that I wasn't able to
check the crawl space within the concrete buttress
itself.
"Check it," he radioed back.
"I don't have the equipment or the training," I
answered, remembering the protocol.
"Stand by," he said.
Moments later, he arrived with a flashlight. I
stood at the entrance while he checked the inside.
"All clear," he radioed.
Just then, the crowd applauded as the escort Jeep
with General Westmoreland in the back drove
through the ceremonial ribbon. The span rumbled
with the passing traffic overhead. "Roosevelt, we
have returned," the team leader said from underneath the bridge. Then he sat back on the giant
block of cement and laughed.
"Sorry," I said.
He shook his head and smiled, "Don't worry
about it."
When I got back to the Sandburg Home the following day, the superintendent called me into his
office. "So you don't do bridges," he said.
"Not as a GS-3."
IN THE POST-9-11 WORLD, the arrangements for that

work detail seem almost quaint. A group of seasonal
tour guides to help provide security for General
Westmoreland and hundreds of others along a
mountainous section of the Blue Ridge Parkway
after a bomb threat? There is no question that a
similar event held today would be treated differently
by everyone involved.
The one thing that sticks in my mind about the
parkway detail is not the event itself or even the
bomb threat, however. The truly memorable part
was meeting William Westmoreland. He was dignified and humble and omniscient all at the same
time. There was nothing to get excited about.
Nobody was going to kill him. God would judge all
in the end. 
MAY/JUNE 2014 | 51



Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014

Letters / You Said It
From the Editor
From the Farm
BRC Unlocked
Mountain Report
Creasture Feature
Great Buys in the Mountains
The Hike
Festivals and Events
Country Roads
It’s Weird, It’s Wonderful, It’s Asheville!
Photoessay: The Waterfalls of Western North Carolina
Mountain Adventure: Where to Play, Where to Stay
One Day on the Parkway, 1987
Little Zoos, Big Fun
Mountain Garden
Flavors
Cabin in the Woods: The Farms Cabins and Cottages
Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - Letters / You Said It
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - From the Editor
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - From the Farm
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - BRC Unlocked
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - Mountain Report
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - Creasture Feature
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - Great Buys in the Mountains
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - The Hike
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - Festivals and Events
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 20
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - Country Roads
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - It’s Weird, It’s Wonderful, It’s Asheville!
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - Photoessay: The Waterfalls of Western North Carolina
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 38
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - Mountain Adventure: Where to Play, Where to Stay
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 42
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 44
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 45
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 46
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - One Day on the Parkway, 1987
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - Little Zoos, Big Fun
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 54
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - Mountain Garden
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - Flavors
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 58
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - Cabin in the Woods: The Farms Cabins and Cottages
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - 67
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2014 - Cover3
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