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Neighbor to Neighbor: North Korea, Iran pose threat to peace: Meeks

What better way to end the week than by having breakfast with your congressman. This was the scenario in mid-July, when U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) met with southeast Queens community members in the lovely restaurant Thomasina’s in Cambria Heights.

The congressman had arranged for that breakfast with the able assistance of his staff and that of Thomasina’s, which is headed by my friend, Vivian McMillan. Years ago when I met Vivian working in the food tent at a Harmony Picnic, she and Elizabeth Jeffrey (both associated with the 113th Precinct) had things so organized that I should have suspected real professionalism was being volunteered.

The morning of the breakfast, Thomasina’s “sky” was filled with tulle “clouds” and tiny, twinkling “stars.” Each table was set with pretty flowers, white linens and an invitation that a lot of delicious food was to come. That certainly proved to be true. Meeks was a very gracious host and told us that breakfast was something he had wanted to do for a long time.

Spending so much time in Washington, D.C., Meeks tries to have a member of his staff attend each community event, although he said he wishes he could talk directly with constituents. He then tried to fill us in on some of the problems facing congress, such as the out-of-country purchase of prescription drugs.

Although medications in this country often cost more than those outside of the United States or on the Internet, the latter has bypassed the Federal Drug Administration’s criteria and the buyer may get a product that is not the same as the one sold here and which may be unsafe.

Although Meeks initially voted against the war in Iraq, he said that once it had begun he was supportive because he knew former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to be an evil guy. He had been concerned because, with the exception of Great Britain, our country went in there alone. He said all the other members of the Coalition of the Willing wanted to be paid.

He also said that conditions in North Korea are more threatening to world peace than was the situation in Iraq. He is also worried about Iran and home defense. Meeks said we must keep our eyes and ears open because Washington, D.C. and New York City still are likely targets. He listened to concerns from his guests and invited written questions from those who had not been called on that morning.

He also invited all the constituents of the 6th Congressional District to contact him at one of his offices: 196-06 Linden Blvd., St. Albans, N.Y. 11412, 718-949-5600, or 1931 Mott Ave., Far Rockaway 11691, 718-327-9791.

The following Tuesday, summer was in full swing at Cunningham Park. The laughter of thousands of our southeast Queens children could be heard from every vantage point. The event was Patrol Borough Queens South’s Annual Harmony Picnic. Weather predictions had been dire — thunderstorms and downpours with strong winds.

The day before, I was told the picnic would only be canceled if there was a thunderstorm. The morning of the picnic, as in years gone by, the clouds rolled away and the sun shone down on us in all its splendor. We unloaded the important things such as soda and chips, set up the grills and were ready to start cooking when the iced burgers and franks arrived.

This year there was a large, very capable contingent of cadets and law explorers to help with the food. My primary partner at the grill was Steve, a school safety expert as well as an expert at the grill. He is assigned to the 113th Precinct, where I taught radio operation to the members of the civilian patrol many years ago. (I hope that patrol will become active again because there still is a need.) In the meantime, all our grill chefs deserve promotions.

That is one hot, smoky job. One welcome, relief event at the picnic was the arrival of the whirlibird, our helicopter. The wind from a landing helicopter has a lot of cooling force. Steve kept voicing the hope that it would fly over us again when it took off. It didn’t. But it was not long after that all the food was cooked and we were ready to pack up for home, just as the thunderstorm arrived.

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