by Marc Moran
August 12, 2002
Every summer for as long as I can remember our family has rented a house at
the Jersey Shore. Different years, different beaches, but always we were to
be found, laughing, playing and soaking up the sun along the coast of my
The adult males, as was our custom, would stay at home during the week,
working, while the women and the children were given, depending on how the
dollars were flowing, for a week, a month or more, a break from the routine
and a place to relax and regroup. On Friday evenings the men would join them
with bottles of wine, card games and cigars. It was a time to talk about
nonsense, read books and draw pictures. It was a time for flying kites and
beachcombing in the fading light while the green waves pounded the surf in a
This year we chose Brigantine Island, as much for its beauty as its
convenience. For my part I agreed to commute from work each day, while my
wife and son relaxed and enjoyed the restful atmosphere and briny air.
One afternoon last week I had made the drive from my office to the house on
the dunes in a little over an hour and discovered that they had gone down to
the water's edge together to build sandcastles. I stashed my briefcase and,
dropping my shoes and socks on the deck, I rolled up my pants and walked onto
the strand where my beautiful family played, oblivious to the world. Halfway
down the beach my son looked up, perhaps sensing my approach. He rose
quickly and ran at me, full tilt, his little arms pumping furiously calling
out as loud as he could, "Daddy, daddy!" as he came at me.
We met a little more than halfway to the water in an embrace of salty limbs
and sandy hair.
"I've built a castle," he squealed proudly, pointing towards his mother and
a significant mound of sand beside her.
"It's wonderful," I said. "Show me what you've done."
"Look daddy, a moat."
I bent to kiss my wife and then settled down to examine my son's work.
For quite some time now my wife and I have ended our evenings together
sitting in the darkness, drinking a glass of wine and discussing our lives,
our world and the events unfolding before us. It is not always relaxing and
it is not without its share of disquiet that we unburden ourselves to one
another. It is what husbands and wives do when they love each other and
raise a family with purpose.
On one of these nights my wife expressed her sense of dread at my ability to
speak out on the topic of Race and the impending disaster of America's slide
into chaos. If it were up to her we would flee, like refugees, from our home
and our community, from the graves of my forefathers and the playgrounds of
our children. She would pretend that things might work themselves out, that
others would speak and write if I would not and I believe that she might be
right, but I cannot take that chance. I can only speak for myself, only pen
my own thoughts, but only I can give my voice to the cause for our struggle.
Not for me, not for her, not even for my own son, but for something bigger
and far more important to us all - our people.
"Do you have to put your name on what you write?" she asked me one evening
as the stars spun above us.
"Yes, I do. It's my name and I am not ashamed of what I think. I want people
to know that it is worth taking the risk. If I do it, so then might someone
else," I said firmly.
"Aren't you afraid of what might happen? Aren't you afraid of them coming
I thought on this for a moment, on different levels. I am, if nothing in my
life, loyal. I give my word and I honor it. I am bound to protect my family
and to ensure their safety, but not at the expense of those who will follow.
Would I die for my son? Of course, but would I live so that his son could be
enslaved? Never. I realize that there is no room for escape, nowhere left to
run and that as this final act in the history of the White Race plays itself
out, we will be forced to choose sides, one way or another. I prefer to
speak up while the others run from the truth because not enough of us dare.
I choose to side up now with the people who share my culture, my genes, my
beliefs. I have no desire to be a traitor to the nation my family sacrificed
their own lives to build, no thought to abandon the ideals of the people who
brought me into the world, no choice but to pledge my sacred honor to those
who have done the same for me and mine. Whatever happens, will happen and
there is little I can do to stop the inevitable. What I can do, I must.
I told my wife this and she nodded in the darkness, but said nothing more.
My son had built his castle so that the walls, rather than face the surf
head on, were set on a diagonal, diamond shaped, with towers out to the
front just beyond the moat. My wife, I could tell, had decorated the
parapets with shells and dune grass pennants.
"Why are the towers outside of the castle?" I asked him.
"To protect it against the waves," he said proudly. "To protect the people
in the village."
There, inside the wall of the castle, was a series of square buildings and
squat structures secure behind the walls of the keep. There was an elaborate
castle just down the beach, not far from the one my son had built, and I
noticed that as beautiful as it was, my son had not copied it in style nor
in design. The beach was slowly emptying and the breeze was coming in cooler
now, as the sun began to dip toward the horizon.
My wife gathered their things together and asked if we were ready to go.
"I think we'll wait and see what happens," I said smiling.
"Yeah, we're going to wait, see what happens," my son said to his mother.
"Then I'll see you boys up at the house," she said, and walked up the beach
toward the dunes.
On the second date I had with the woman who would one day be my wife, we
went with another comic to Sunset Beach on the island of Oahu. The waves on
Sunset are big and perfect for body surfing. They are shore breaks, where
the waves literally fall upon the sand in concussive explosions of water and
foam. It is not the type of beach for napping.
Perhaps I was showing off, perhaps I was simply being reckless, but within
twenty minutes of entering the water and several hairy rides on the back of
fifteen foot breakers, I found myself farther out than I had ever been
before and completely unable to move towards shore. I had been caught in the
riptide and was being drawn inexorably out to sea, while my future wife sat
on the beach laughing with another man.
I tried to draw their attention by waving my arms. After a few minutes they
both looked up, and like a scene in a comedy, they waved back, turned, and
resumed their conversation. I realized in that very moment that unless I
could figure something out immediately, I would certainly drown.
I am a strong swimmer and have been most of my life. The ocean cares little
for such boasts. As hard as I could stroke, the current carried me farther
from shore. I floated for a few moments, calming the panic that rose in me
and assessed the situation with the dispassion of a judge. Continue to fight
against the current and you will lose your strength. Lose your strength and
you will succumb. Surrender and you will drown. Drown and you will be
forgotten. Nothing will be left behind but two people on the shore and in
time, they too, will forget.
I looked up and down the coast and in an instant I made my decision, the
only choice I could make. The riptide was heading out to sea in an easterly
direction. To the east of Sunset was a series of huge rocky outcroppings
where waves crashed in a deafening roar that I could hear from the water. I
decided to be carried into the rocks rather than out to sea. I swam with all
the strength I had at an oblique angle, all the while struggling to head
into the rocks. The waves seemed bigger from the ocean than they had on the
shore and I knew it wouldn't end pleasantly, regardless of what happened. By
this time I could see that both of them had risen from the sand and were
pointing in my direction. They were waving to the single lifeguard who tried
his best to make it out to me before realizing that adding his own life to
the mix would solve nothing.
As they stood on the beach watching I focused on one thing only, land.
I have no idea how long it took me, but when I finally collapsed on the cold
wet sand, bleeding from the scrapes and cuts on my feet, knees and hips,
they ran up to me in wonder.
"What were you doing?" she asked me.
"Are you nuts?" the comedian added.
The lifeguard walked back down the beach without a word and I lay there
breathing deeply, my face buried in the wet sand, trying to recall just
exactly how close I had just come to the end, for nothing.
"I almost drowned," I said weakly, sand clinging to my mouth.
"No you didn't," she said. "You made it to shore."
The waves came in three at a time and slowly they began to eat away at the
foundation of the towers out front. The first one slowly caved in and fell,
and likewise the second and the third. I was surprised to see that a channel
had been cut where the towers stood and this held the water off of the walls
until long after the bigger castle next us had been entirely engulfed and
taken back by the sea. We sat there until the walls were breached and
eventually the village was reclaimed by the tide and then we got up and
gathered his castle building tools.
"That was quite a castle," I said sincerely. "You did a fine job."
"Did you see how the towers protected the village?" he asked me.
"Yes, yes I did. Very impressive work." I thought about what he had built
and how stoically he had watched it come apart, for a five year old.
"Where did you get the idea to build the castle like that?" I asked.
"From watching the waves," he said nonchalantly. "They come in at an angle
you know. I thought it would last longer that way."
"Well, it certainly did. I noticed that the towers protected the castle
pretty well. That was a good idea you had."
"It wasn't my idea, Dad, it was yours."
I hadn't been there when he built it and I couldn't remember having said
anything about putting towers in front of a castle so I asked him what he
"You said that sometimes you have to stand up to protect your community and
you have to be up front about it. So that's what I did."
I stopped for just a second and looked down on this beautiful child standing
there covered in sand, smiling, and I could feel my heart breaking in my
chest. Maybe it was the slanting rays of the sun in my eyes that made them
tear up, but I'm not so sure.
"I said that?" I asked him.
"Sure. You say it all the time."
Later that night as my son slept in well-earned slumber, I told my wife what
had happened after she had left the beach. It was a good evening and I
didn't want to spoil it with talk about our culture and the things that
weigh heavy on my mind, but I couldn't think of a way to exclude it either.
I reminded her about going to Washington, D.C., at the end of August, and that
it was important, and I thought about how easy it was for a five-year-old to
turn concept into reality, even if it was nothing more than a sand castle.
My wife listened, but I know she didn't quite get it. She had never seen the
ruins of Egypt, never heard of Ur nor read Xenophon's Anabasis.
She was there when he built the castle, but she missed it when the walls
came tumbling down.
I thought, in the cool sea air under the velvety spread of the Milky Way,
that it doesn't matter much if it all ends in ruins. In the cosmic sense, our
civilization is little more than my son's sand castle and like the greatest
of them, our too is destined to collapse upon itself leaving no more trace
than a few scattered blocks.
It does, however, matter that someone stand out front, ready to meet the
forces of whatever comes, to protect our community and to be up front about
My son taught me that.