Home Page

carol gould

Join our email list for updates.




We hope that you'll feel our website is worthy enough to contribute a few pounds to the bandwidth bills.



Our Person of the Year: Joseph Pozell
Last uploaded : Tuesday 27th Dec 2005 at 22:31
Contributed by : The Editor


This year our Person of the Year is not a public official or celebrity. He is not a sports figure, business magnate or philanthropist.

He is a man known only in his community and church. He is a career policeman who devoted his life to looking after the public and in his later years cared for the grounds of a tranquil burial ground.

He is Joseph Pozell, the Washington DC police officer who directed traffic at the treacherous corner of Wisconsin and M Streets in Georgetown. His familiar figure and whistle became a mainstay of those who worked in the area and to shoppers and tourists.

During my time in Washington in 2005 many wonderful sights and sounds became a part of my daily routine. Unlike my cynical neighbours I actually got a thrill every time I heard Rumsfeld or Cheney rumbling by in their armed convoys, or an Air Force One helicopter zooming overhead. Sometimes I wonder if Washingtonians appreciate what a unique privilege it is to live in the city that affects the destiny of every person on earth. (To put the Rumsfeld-Cheney convoy concept in perspective, in my neighbourhood known as Londonistan, constant daily sirens herald the latest in an endless stream of terror suspects being taken to nearby Paddington Green Police Station, or a terror atrocity being thwarted.)

Joe Pozell became for me yet another of the familiar sights and sounds of the American capital city. Despite a disability that precludesd me filming anything 'usable,' I decided to bring my camera to Wisconsin and M on Wednesday May 11th on my way to the Twilight Tattoo, in order to catch a few frames of Joe at work. My recuperative time in Washington was drawing to a close for the time being, and I wanted a lasting memento of this special man. He performed a kind of ?traffic ballet,? swivelling around in his yellow-highlighted jacket and glove, and keeping a sharp eye -- and whistle -- on every one of the perilous corners of that infernal junction.

I took some footage of Joe that afternoon and made my way to the Ellipse for the extraordinary event known as ?Twilight Tattoo? performed each week by various branches of the armed forces to a large outdoor audience as the perennially magnificent Washington sunset envelops the crowd. Little did I reckon that the footage in my camera taken that day would be the last ever recorded of Joe Pozell.

On Saturday 14 May I witnessed a spectacular thunderstorm the likes of which we simply do not have in Great Britain. I thought my windows would break from the thunder, and that my building would explode from one of the terrifying bolts of lightning. I began to think ?Is God mad at us? Has something happened to anger the firmament?'

The following morning I attended a service at Christ Church Georgetown and noticed that the Revd Rita Steadman seemed shaken and distracted. She announced to the congregation that one of the most beloved and respected citizens of the local community, Officer Joseph Pozell, was in a critical condition in Georgetown University Hospital after having been struck by a young driver in an SUV the day before. I was stunned. Thinking about the dreadful storm the night before, my mind travelled back to a rally I had attended in Tel Aviv in 1996 to commemorate a year after the death of Yitzhak Rabin. It started to pour with rain just as the rally ended. A weeping female Israeli soldier looked at me and said, ?God is crying.'

I went to Georgetown University Hospital and just stood outside. I had never known the man but he had touched something in me every time I had passed that lively corner where he had patrolled. At Wisconsin and M I spoke to a homeless man who seemed unable to stop crying. ?Mr Joe, he and Mrs Joe was the best,? he sobbed. Flowers were taped to the four traffic light poles and black ribbons had been draped on the street signs.

Joe died on 17 May. A vigil was held at the intersection on Saturday 21st May, a lone bagpiper playing and a large assembly of Washington policemen and women raising their hands with replicas of his yellow-highlighted glove. The joyous occasion for me of the Confirmation of hundreds of new Christians had taken place that same day at Washington National Cathedral. On the following Monday I found myself in the same Cathedral section and seat for Joe?s funeral, surrounded by hundreds of members of police forces from the entire region.

The clergy of Christ Church Georgetown officiated at the funeral, and Joe?s intrepid wife Ella gave a self-assured eulogy. Her aplomb was impressive.

We have selected Joseph Pozell as our Person of the Year because he kept vulnerable pedestrians safe year in and year out, in all weather and conditions, befriending the homeless and endearing himself to everyone in the neighbourhood. He changed the lives of many and cared deeply for his local community. He tended Oak Hill Cemetery with care.

His presence at Wisconsin and M gave comfort to countless souls and he will be greatly missed.

Had he been British he would no doubt have been awarded a ?gong,? as are thousands of ordinary Britons every year who provide a valuable public service outside the normal call of duty.

We wish the family of Joseph Pozell a happier 2006 and hope his memory will endure for a blessing.
Read more:




Read more Editorials    go >>



Web Design - Web Designers
© current viewpoint .com

All Rights reserved.
No copying of any text or images allowed in any form digitally or otherwise,
without the prior written consent of the copyright holders.