Monday, September 13, 2004

The Gathering

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.


Ghost Dansing said...


Statement of Mr. John Kerry

"...I am not here as John Kerry. I am here as one member of the group of 1,000 which is a small representation of a very much larger group of veterans in this country, and were it possible for all of them to sit at this table they would be here and have the same kind of testimony....


I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command....

They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

We call this investigation the "Winter Soldier Investigation." The term "Winter Soldier" is a play on words of Thomas Paine in 1776 when he spoke of the Sunshine Patriot and summertime soldiers who deserted at Valley Forge because the going was rough.

We who have come here to Washington have come here because we f eel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country; we could be quiet; we could hold our silence; we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, the fact that the crimes threaten it, not reds, and not redcoats but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out."

Wild Bill said...

Did you see anyone wearing my Kerry is a Traitor shirt? Great post great pictures.

GOP & College said...

It's good to see a blog with as much coverage of the Vietnam Vets meeting last weekend. I was disappointed at the fact that AP was the only large sized media that covered the event.

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