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June 24, 2011
The Greatest Battle

The Greatest Battle…


         Key West, Florida…April 30, 2011. At stake…the sovereignty of the Conch Republic. A little after 5:00 pm troops of the Republic began to assemble for one of the fiercest battles the world has ever seen. This was a battle unlike any other. These brave men were not fighting for religious freedom, or civil rights, or political asylum, or liberty (or because of any kind of persecution really). I believe they just want their republic to remain that everlasting symbol of …well…fun. And they don’t want some rich outsiders with too much money to develop houses on the little island across the bay and never even live there, leaving their unoccupied houses to block the most beautiful sunset in the world. Oh wait…that already happened. Well, I guess they don’t want it to happen again.

      Either way, their cause was as real as their courage. For sure they would be outnumbered.  After all there were only four soldiers, one of which was a dwarf. He (dwarf) seemed to be the bravest of all. He would man the canon all by himself with little or no concern for his own well-being. His tenacity and bravery were an inspiration to all around him (or at least to the three other soldiers). The first enemy ship to engage these brave troops was what appeared to be a large “party” boat. Sure there was a band playing music on board. Sure there were scantily–clad women of ill-repute dancing about. Sure there were what appeared to be an endless number of large kegs of beer onboard. This is how this enemy works.  It was a ploy and the Republic troops were having none of it. The canon-wielding dwarf fired the first shot across the bow signaling the commencement of all out war. Immediately, one of the rum-soaked scoundrels onboard the ship fired back. This only seemed to increase the little man’s resolve and he ordered his troops to retaliate. The barrage of firepower was a bit overwhelming for the ship and its weary sailors to endure so they sailed off into the sunset. (Band never stopped playing, by the way).

      However, rest was not to be had by these brave men. Soon thereafter another ship tried their best to crush the battle-hardened troops of the Conch Republic, only to be sent away with their “keel” between their proverbial legs, shall we say. By this time the Coast Guard was in on the action.  But not even they, with all their military know-how and might, could dissuade these brave souls.  However, these troops knew that their efforts to defend the Republic could be in vain. And at any given moment their beloved republic could fall. Anxiety had reached a fever pitch as the dwarf and his troops raced about the pier barking orders at each other as if they’d grown deaf from the canon shots. For now, the enemy seemed as if it had a chance.

      Reinforcements were needed desperately. After all, four men, even four men of exceptional ability and stature would not be able to ward off an attack by the Coast Guard. As the battle unfolded and all seemed lost help finally arrived from the air. That’s right! The Conch Republic has an air force. During the day, these unassuming planes drag signs across the sky informing sunbathers (already drinking mango coladas and eating conch fritters) where they can drink more mango coladas and eat more conch fritters. But during wartime, these planes traded said signs for a different payload…confetti bombs. These proved to be the deciding factor that turned the tide in favor of the republic. From a distance, one could see the planes and their double-winged shape. They were slow and noisy. And as they got closer they were even slower and noisier than one could possibly imagine. However, their confetti bombs wrought havoc and mayhem to the enemy’s high-tech gadgetry. They were simply unstoppable. As these daring pilots flew their “sorties” with baron-esque precision, the Coast Guard found itself in the unenviable position of having to withdraw from battle only to eventually surrender. And surrender they did…complete with a signing of a treaty and a handshake over several pints of beer. To the victor go the spoils and so the Republic remains. After the treaty was signed by all, peace and prosperity was once again brought onto the Conch Republic (at least until next year). 

    Something I failed to mention was that while this battle raged on for what seemed like minutes, the action on the pier never stopped. There were fire-breathers, knife throwers, sword-swallowers, accordion players, unicyclists, a guy that sounded like Gordon Lightfoot (on a bad day). There was also a Cuban band playing some of my favorite childhood songs, inadvertently creating the most beautiful soundtrack that war could inspire.  All this while people danced and drank mojitos while dreaming of being in Havana. However, every one of them seemed oblivious to the dangers around them and the possibility that all this may never be again if the republic had fallen.  Luckily for the Republic, on this glorious day, to her defense came the bravest and toughest of men.  Men, who would undoubtedly live to fight another day.

    No, there was no Wolf Blitzer and his situation room…no press conferences from five-star generals…no cameras from news organizations to capture any of the action. However, everything happened just as I described it. I saw it all from my hotel balcony while enjoying a margarita…(ok, several). This is Key West. Even war in Key West is fun. Dangerous times sometimes lead us to ask questions...questions that are not easily answered, or answered simply. But just imagine, if all our conflicts were resolved like this one was. What a wonderful world this would be…RM



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