I left late with my beagle, Dutch, in tow. I drove down the Baltimore/Washington Parkway banging out to "Ghetto Music" by Outkast. Once on New York Avenue I get cut off by some idiot lady in an SUV trying to make a U-turn at a major intersection and have to slam on my brakes and hit my horn. I turn to the police car next to me and say, "what are you gonna do?" He said I was speeding! Lame.
I had no trouble finding the rally or parking as I pulled up behind a truck with telling bumperstickers.
I got out of the car and spoke with a wonderful woman from Virginia with two beautiful little boys. We talked for a moment and I let the kids pet Dutch. The kid showed me a pictoral story he drew in the van about how Kerry is bad for America. I was impressed because it was not based on talking points--he knew what a true lie was and how liars should not be president. I told the lady that I was impressed with the next generation of republicans--she said that was all her husband's doing (jokingly).
I pass the expected counter-protestors (18-30 years olds) gawking and yelling profanities to the Vietnam Vets quitely practicing their right to assemble and protest. There were a handful of Viet Nam veterans with them and I want to thank them for their service for the country. But there were not many.
Dutch and I walked closer to the rally to hear a woman speaking; she spoke about honor and loyalty and drew many applause from the crowd.
I head over to the registration booth where I meet two wonderful women and one fine young man manning the booth. I asked how much the bumperstickers and pins cost.
They said they are free and take what you will use and display (what charity!). I insisted on giving them $20 dollars and took a picture of them. They were with Viet Nam Vets Against John Kerry.
Strolling around the lawn Dutch became mesmorized by a horse (something he'd never seen before).
I began to notice that these were not "protestors." These were citizens with a legitimate beef.
They were not the Generation Next crowd at the bottom of the steps chanting hateful slogans when they are too young to know anything. I see men and women PROUD that they served in Viet Nam.
They wear their pins and uniforms and flags.
They held placcards with succint statements whose message was as powerful as its brevity.
He called us rapists; He called us murderers; He called us traitors; Kerry is Phoney.
I listened to the sermon by a chaplain that drew tears in the eyes of Vets who to this day felt robbed of their sacrifice because of people like John Kerry that used popular sentiment to further their political aspirations.
I also bumped into people my age, college aged folks and asked them, "are you counter-protestors working undercover?" ABSOLUTELY NOT!
What a breath of fresh air to see people who are there simply to pay their respect to those who fought for our freedom. I shook the hands of three men and thanked them saying, "I wasn't alive during Viet Nam, but I know that I am free today because of the sacrifices you and your friends made."
The air there was aged, filled with smells and vibes I will never understand. The look, feel and fraternity of these vets is distinctly different than the "Greatest Generation" with their VFW hats and such.
What was familiar was the breeze of Americanism; the smell was intoxicating and overwhelming; it smothered any funk coming from the granola kids at the bottom of the hill who refused to listen to people who might have something to say. Thank goodness for DC's finest.
This was not a political rally.
It claimed to be a rally against Kerry, but it was a rally against the haze of liberalism over history--that they refuse to allow hippies who did not fight define their contribution to the survival of our ideals of freedom and liberty.
These are people who refuse to be robbed of what they gave blood and tears to obtain: our respect, gratitude and a fair hearing of their opinions.