My neighbor, Lorraine Krofchok, called last week to tell me someone stole her peace.
"Actually," she said, "Someone stole everyone's peace. It belonged to the entire neighborhood."
If you read my Vet Day column in 2010, you might remember that Lorraine and her husband, Steve, display two peace signs on their property. One sign spells the word "PEACE" with garlands while the other features the greenery shaped into a peace symbol. Last month, both were stolen.
While the signage probably violated the subdivisions covenants, conditions & restrictions, no one complained about what this grandmother did with her property, at least not until she added a whiteboard with a statistical caption.
I first asked her about the signs in 2010 as she was tending the flowers in her front yard. At that time, she'd scrawled these numbers on the board:
"What's the story on your whiteboard?" I had asked her, unaware of what my question might stir. "Did you know someone who died in the war?"
"We all have someone over there," she answered. "They're all Americans and we should think of them as part of our family."
Good point, I thought.
I asked if she'd had complaints.
"No," she said. "Mostly, I watch people go by and look away."
However, she told me that someone had erased the data three times during the past eight years. I suppose that's why she'd added a footnote below the numbers: "Erasing the numbers doesn't mean it didn't happen."
True enough, but apparently someone thought stealing the peace symbols might just do the trick.
Hurt and angry over the theft, she asked me, "Why couldn't the thieves at least wait until the troop withdrawal was complete?"
She admitted that there was "no monetary value in the sign, but stealing it was just plain mean. Petty, really."
She'd kept the decorations up these past 10 years "because the 'Support our troops' stickers ring hollow. Peace is not just the absence of war, it is many things."
To illustrate her point, she referenced the recent VA health care scandal.
"I want our veterans to find some peace and that includes taking care of them. There were promises made, but they weren't kept. To make them wait is awful, a disgrace really. I want them to find peace."
As you can see, the theft hasn't robbed Lorraine of her passion. That's because she's also the director of Grandmothers for Peace, a position she took on the death of founder Barbara Wiedner in 2001.
Ironically, GFP is an organization with no requirements of age, gender or orientation. In fact, Lorraine has never been a grandparent.
"GNP considers the word 'grandmother' to be a concept," she explained. "It's one that embraces the love for children all over the planet."
Fortunately, there is a remnant of Lorraine's stolen Christmas ornaments. The lettered sign was a duplicate part of a set that a neighbor shared with her years ago. This week, the generous neighbor restored Lorraine's peace by giving his sign to her.
That peace sign is a "universal reminder that we all need peace in our heart if we are to help our planet. No matter how large or small, we can do something to make a difference because collectively, it's a huge impact. It all counts."
She's right, of course, but I tend not to argue with grandmothers. And may I just say, God help the person who would steal from a grandmother.
Norris Burkes is a syndicated columnist, national speaker and author of "No Small Miracles." You may leave recorded comments at 843-608-9715, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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