Skip to comments.Defending the Wall
Posted on 03/18/2007 5:18:48 PM PDT by Interesting Times
Well, its over now, the assembly areas for the Gathering of Eagles is an empty hillside of churned mud, the antiwar protest field is less muddy but just as empty. It was a long day, but a good one.
It started for me last night, when I went to visit one of the principal motels for the GOE movement, a Holiday Inn in Ballston, just outside DC. A friend and I walked in the door and were struck immediately with the sight of a couple dozen men in various kinds of clothing and insignia that marked them as Viet Nam veterans. I saw the name badge of one, a name given to me by a vet who runs a great blog, said hi, and was greeted warmly as a brother. The next few hours we spent meeting more vets, from Florida to California and every place inbetween, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, some older, some younger, some in good health, some in bad, but all rejoicing to be there, and determined to keep the memorials safe and show support for the troops. We were again, a band of brothers. That feeling alone was worth the trip.
The first major meeting was a discussion held by a vet who is also a retired cop, with crowd control experience, and who had been in liaison with the Park Police. He explained how carefully they were preparing to keep things safe, that they were our best friends, and that we needed to cooperate with them to the max. And that above all, we were not to let ourselves be goaded into any sort of violence, even if seriously provoked, since that was exactly what the radicals would like. People were to be designated as marshals, with special identifying shirts, and it would be their job to buffer the rest of us from attacks, and to demonstrate the discipline we have as lawful counterdemonstrators. He reminded everyone that there would be both very sincere and nonviolent demonstrators whom we should not confront, and even regular tourists to whom we should be as courteous and helpful as possible.
The message came through loud and clear, and was accepted fairly well by everyone. (Even those angrier among us who would have welcomed a chance to let an abusive radical find out firsthand what the consequences can be of provoking those who have served the country they love.) It was said again and again by people that after all, we fought for their right to free speech and political expression, whether we like what they say or not. After all, it is who we are.
The next morning we got on the DC Metro at one of the outlying stations, on the first train of the day, and no sooner did we enter the car than we saw half the people on it were veterans. The sharing in conversation was great, and we were all building enthusiasm for the day to come.
When we got off the Metro, we were several blocks from the Memorial, and as we exited the station, there was another group of vets assembling on the corner. We started together down to the assembly point, and on the way, joined with three other groups of vets and supporters. This was before 8AM, and it was quite chilly, with a nice breeze to help suck the heat from your body.
At the assembly point they were already building a large garden of US flags, and hundreds of people were already there. I got registered with the coordinators to take photos, and was paired with a vet who was to use a videocamera to record things while I took regular pictures.
By then the police presence was obvious, numerous officers standing around, motorcycles and police cars parked nearby, and booths had been set up at one end of The Wall for metal detectors, and one-way traffic past The Wall was required so everyone had to get checked before getting near it. There were also officers at a couple of places along the walk, and many vets making their way along as well, so I felt reassured that the chances of any vandalism had become vanishingly small. My partner and I then made our first pass through moonbat territory, but hardly anyone was there. They were setting up enormous 12 foot speakers , and various displays of different protest groups, but clearly the main mass of their people had not begun to arrive. We did note large stockpiles of very nicely preprinted signs, condemning the war and call for impeachment of the President, ready to be handed out. Clearly these people are well funded and very well organized.
We roamed some more, to the Lincoln Monument, always impressive, and the sizeable group of vets there. Many wore the colors of various groups such as Rolling Thunder, US War Vets, Patriot Guard, Nam Knights, Legion Riders, and dozens of others. Others were, like myself and my partner, just wearing fairly normal clothing with just a badge or two identifying us in some way or another as Vietvets, our brand of service or particular unit, and/or some motto relating to the war or our time there. There was also a smattering of Gulf War and Iraqi vets in the crowd. There were vets in good health, and others looking older, many with canes now, and some in wheelchairs. A lot of graying and grizzled men, clasping hands and sometimes embracing when they met others, often shivering in the crisp cold air, but shaking it off and smiling to see each other.
In the following hours the crowds grew, and eventually the main line between the protestors and the vets was drawn, right at a point on one side of the Lincoln Memorial, where a street divides the memorial area from the field where the antiwar people had set up the HQ (loudspeakers and all). Vets lined up on the memorial side, displaying many American flags, POW/MIA flags, and some banners as well. On the other side were many of the printed antiwar signs, but also a mixture of many others, some homemade, some also nicely printed, like the several I saw of Che Guevara, There was a PLO flag, a few "Truth for 9/11" signs (you know, the CIA/Mossad/Martians flew the planes into the towers), a poster calling for Christians to be Christian and renounce war, and some really nice vintage signs, like that oldie-but-goodie "Make Love, Not War".
The yelling across the street (police were on the median telling people to on their own sides, the vet side had marshals in orange shirts as well) got loud and nasty, and some of the protestors would come across the street to provoke the vets. I watched and photographed one guy deliberately carry his large homemade protest sign in a walk across the entire length of the vet side, inches away from them, taunting them, clearly looking to have someone throw a punch or grab his sign, but the marshals were telling everyone to stay cool, and the protestor finally reached the end of the line and had to cross back over to his side. Several more protestors moved over towards the vet side, yelling and screaming, only a few vets moved into the street to yell back, and finally the police pushed the protestors back to their side and told them to stay there. I never saw any of the vets give any trouble at all to the police, and it became clear later that this was noticed.
Eventually the police called in reinforcements, eleven mounted officers formed a line at the end of the corridor between the two groups, and riot police put barriers all the way down the whole front of the antiwar side. But the barriers were shorter on the vet side, and every officer on the ground between the two curbs was facing the antiwar side, It was not hard to see who they thought were the real troublemakers.
The chants of USA-USA-USA at times could be heard from the vets, but much of the time the giant speakers on the other side drowned out everything. I was occasionally walking through that side (had a pullover windbreaker on over my jacket so they didnt see my VN ribbon or USMC emblem), and it actually hurt my ears to walk past those speakers. People wanted to give me the Socialist newspaper ($1 donation), and other antigovernment publications, but I stayed busy taking pictures of the lifesize red doll of a devil with Bushs head on the shoulders, and the assorted radical cause banners displayed in several places. There were Quakers there, Moslem activists, old VVAW guys, a motley collection of people and causes only united by their being in opposition to our government. Some of them reasonably sincere and courteous, but many harshly aggressive. Meanwhile, there was more sense of having gone through a time machine back to 1970, as the loudspeakers played the old songs, like "War- - What Is It Good For", and people actually had "Hell No, I Wont Go" buttons on. Original issue buttons, not reproductions, on people who must have dusted them off from their souvenir drawer to wear them again.
At one point a VVAW guy came up to me and wanted to talk, he recognized me as a vet and wanted to see where I was coming from. We had barely started to speak when a TV crew came over to drag him off for an interview. When he came back I asked him how they came to him rather than anyone else, and he mentioned they had interviewed him at other protests and knew him. He also said they were foreign press, so I asked from where. Germany.
Hmm, I decided to try something, so I ran after them found them and said to the lady interviewer "Sind Sie Deutsch?" She, surprised, said yes. So I said "Moechten Sie mit einander altem Soldat sprechen?" (Would you like to speak with another old soldier?) I figured, how could she say no, how often would she ever get a chance to interview an American vet who would speak German to her? Theyd love that in Germany.
But she said that they d just talked to one of us, and I said, yeah, but I am from a different point of view. She then quickly said "Oh, we have all the interviews we need, I must hurry now", and she turned and walked away fast.
I say again what media bias? In my trips through protest areas, I saw at least 6-8 interviewers with TV cameras talking to people. I was told only two made it to the GOE area, Fox being one of them. Perhaps theres some meaning there.
The late morning went on, the crowds got thicker, the GOE hillside filled up and the many feet turned the soft ground into a monster mud pit in places. There were some good presentations, good music, and that feeling of unity and warmth that made up for the cold breeze. (Well, almost!) Guard groups of vets formed at the two entrances to the GOE site, and no one with an antiwar banner was allowed in. There were minor scuffles when some protest types tried to push in, usually their signs were trashed and they found themselves facing a solid wall of bodies that would not let them pass. And they went away, yelling nasty things. I saw one young woman slide past the first rank of guards, then start screaming at everyone, get barred from further travel inward by a line of men, and when she kept up her yelling, the police came in, she abused them, and wound up on the ground outside the gate. (A lot of smiling and chuckling at that point.) But no vet touched her.
When parade time approached, a procession of protestors came by the GOE area, between ranks of vets on either side, and it was again flashback time, Yes, I kid you not, they sang "Give Peace A Chance". A bunch of them were the Code Pink ladies, in seriously ridiculous pink outfits, and old enough that I realized they were probably singing that song because theyd sung it before, back about 1970 or so, and were reliving the glory days of the old protests.
In the end, their parade went off towards the Pentagon, and most vets relaxed and the day wore down, and by 2 PM people were heading for the Metro or their cars.
My best guess was that there were roughly equal numbers on both sides, maybe 4-5000 each. No one came near a monument with a spray can, no vet was ever rebuked by the police, and the antiwar people were clearly taken back to find themselves for once not in command of the situation, not able to dominate the whole event, and with a strong and unyielding presence of people who disagree with them while not trying to prevent them from exercising their rights. This was not a win for them, though they will certainly try to claim it as one.
This was a win for all of us who honor the Memorial, who dont agree that antiwar extremism should prevail, who do believe in giving as much support as possible to our people in harms way on our behalf. I am enormously grateful to all those who worked hard to set this up, and get it organized and coordinated. I am so damn happy and proud to have stood again in the ranks of those who love and defend this country that its hard to express it properly. It was a great, great day.
To all those who participated in any way, I can only say I was honored to be there with you, thanks a thousand times, and Welcome Home, Brother.
Now and always.
Since a link is required and this came by email, I've included a link to Del's excellent educational booklet, Whitewash / Blackwash: Myths of the Vietnam War.
Gathering of Eagles ping.
Video I took of a WWII Sailor from WWI who was in the Tarawa Invasion
This brings a patriotic tear to my eyes. :*)
A big heart-felt hug and prayers and good wishes to all our true American Heroes!! God bless you all!
My count was us = 10,000...them=5,000
Some French journalists were there and told me we had twice the numbers
So did a German Camera crew
NOT ONE AMERICAN CAMERAMAN from ANY of the networks covered us at the rally point.
Very cool. I was pleased to see there's a whole stack of GOE videos up on UTube.
bump. The Drive-by Media is once again shown to be traitorous scum. Thanks to everyone who was able to be at the GoE!
Thank you! BTTT!
..A Freeper Vet goes to the Vietnam Wall..
Thank you ...~Pandora~
Great report, IT!
Thanks for the ping... and thanks for doing what you do!
I was there. I was standing with the vets at one of the bottlenecks intended to keep the commies away from the Wall.
It was a sight to see when one of the commies tried to get through the bottleneck with his sign. The vets trashed his sign and blocked his way.
Words can't describe how it felt to be standing there with them.
Damn, that was a an excellant account.
Hats off to all who participated.
Good to hear from you again, and thanks for the kind words.
It is wonderful to see our military so honored and that it remain so. It's time and should have been done a long time to make sure these brave men and women get only the very best.
We are not worthy!
I thought the vets guarding the entrances to the rally took the right approach. Anyone could enter the GOE area unless they were carrying an opposition sign. The leftists made several concerted efforts that I saw to break through. Most were simply blocked, there were a couple of occasions where signs were ripped up and handed back to their owners.
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