Local Currents: Memorial Day


“The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society.” –Thomas Jefferson


col local currents David Vanderveen by Gabe Sullivan-2968Memorial Day is the official start to Laguna’s biggest season—summer. It is when the ocean and beach hopefully shift from the intimidating cold and bracing winter months to a warm, womb-like embrace.

We should hope that our community can shift gears this summer as well and become more embracing of our youth that embody the freedom to express themselves on the beaches and streets in this town.

The cost of American freedom is horrific. I remember the April day five years ago when I called my former Brooks Street neighbor, Howard Hills, to tell him that our friend and neighbor, Mark Metherell had been killed in Iraq. He had been training and leading Iraqis, teaching them to defend their liberty and right to self-determination.

Howard said, “Today, the meaning, the cost of this war, has changed for us. Today it has cost us more than we can afford to give.”

Memorial Day is about remembering our nation’s heroes who gave up everything, including their lives, and why every day we must protect the rights in the freedoms we enjoy.

Part of my work is sharing a global brand that is all about the values of youth, adventure and the opportunity to build your life as you think is best.

The world isn’t always interested in the traditional symbols of American freedom and liberty anymore; we’re too powerful and have made too many mistakes lately. Our hubris has overtaken our compassion. But the world is terribly interested in the freedom we have to live lives where work, play and personal beliefs are blended together in a life that we get to define for ourselves.

While I was between events in Europe and the Middle East last week I received these messages on Facebook from parents and young professional skateboarders about a meeting to consider a skate park at Moulton Meadows:

Kim O’Brien Young described it this way: “Anyone who was in the camp for a park wasn’t allowed to speak or complete sentences. There was heckling, booing, nasty looks, yelling, condescending comments about skateboarders in general, ‘We don’t want their kind here’ for an example… probably 50+ people stepped to the mic…maybe three from the opposition did so in a thoughtful, productive manner with decorum…It was literally like a lynch mob!”

Chad Gibbs noted that Pam Hawk from the Tony Hawk foundation, a national foundation that helps plan skate parks with communities said, “We have built over 520 skate-parks and to be honest this is our first angry mob we’ve faced.” She said they are usually greeted with enthusiasm from a community who wanted to build something constructive for their community and youth.

The worst and entirely intolerable part was that the parents of skaters left with their kids, who did not speak, because they were afraid of being attacked.

Why do we tolerate abusive adults and uncivil behavior in a public forum?

Fortunately, the skaters, high school students and other “dangerous elements” in our society, are the ones who understand what the fabric of freedom in this town is about. They chose to leave a hostile debate rather than lower their standards to the uncivil behavior of dangerous adults.

Mark Metherell didn’t die for our freedoms so that opponents could dictate through intimidation. Memorial Day is about remembering what our liberty has cost us. We cannot tolerate the majority oppressing individuals and destroying the foundation of our society and do justice to our heroes.


David Vanderveen is a Laguna Beach resident, husband, father and energy drink entrepreneur. His email is [email protected]

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