So my brother, a buddy, and I all went to the Gathering of Eagles
last weekend. Wow! What an experience!
The irony rising from the ANSWER
crowd was as palpable as a humid summer’s day in the deep South. I realize that much of my observations were covered elsewhere... more eloquently... by smarter folks, but I’d like to share my humble experience with those of you who couldn’t attend.
Our day started early with a ride on the DC metro. We (my son, brother, and friend) opted not to drive and park down by the Mall. I was concerned that my VFW stickers would result in some long, key width, scratches down the length of my pickup. So, we got on at the Vienna metro stop and were amazed at the number of veterans that we picked up along every stop as we headed down town. I was doubly amazed at the number of veterans utilizing canes. One joked that he may not be able to move quickly, but that he could “reach out and touch someone a mite easier.” Nice.
That was the feeling. As more veterans met along the route, the sense of comradeship and sense of duty increased. I think that we all hoped that others would show up, but were worried that we would be the only ones there. What does that say about conservatives?
I expected to find a mass of protesters making their way down to the Mall along with us at 7:30am. I was legitimately surprised to find nearly all the veterans massed about 8:00am. After thinking a moment, I mentioned to an SF old timer that it said a lot about the vet that we all make muster at the break of dawn, no matter our age. He mentioned that it was even more remarkable that we hadn’t conducted a Mad Minute
. Too true.
As the morning drew onto the afternoon, the Opposition (organized by ANSWER) grew in number. Wow, they were young. Except for the left-over hippies and middle-aged professors, they were all just kids. Kids who had come (late morning) from local universities like George Washington University, Georgetown, American University, and George Mason… had this “massive protest” occurred in Richmond, it would have sported about a thousand die-hards (and even less “Eagles,” BTW). Nonetheless, their passion was laid out on their sleeves. I mean, they were really belting out the chants. What a bunch of mindless assholes.
That being said, my next observation regards organization and intent. When we arrived at the muddy pit that was the Gathering of Eagles (there was rain, sleet, and snow on Friday) we noticed a ripping (wicked windy) sea of American flags and patriotic songs playing. Later there would be at least a half-dozen speakers that would speak of God, America, and Service to both. Standing over by the Lincoln Memorial was a stark contrast and clearly outlined the difference between the two.
ANSWER and their ilk had some wicked-awesome music pumpin’ through massive speakers. Some dude with a reggae accent broke in periodically with important information (“We’ve got Wisconsin! Wisconsin is in de house! Stop de war in Iraq!”) that lent their voice to “de Cause”… whenever these voice-overs interrupted the inevitable rendition of “War.”
War is something that I despise
For it means destruction of innocent lives
For it means tears in thousands of mothers' eyes
When their sons go out to fight to give their lives.
Yet another irony is that most of the veterans were singing along. Apparently, this is a song that crosses many lines. The retired vet that I was standing next to said, “Man, I love this song, too.” Yep, guilty. Somehow, however, I feel like I’ve earned the right to agree. I’ve paid (and witnessed) the price.
Bascially, ANSWER has organized a huge party. There were no speeches (until much later at the Pentagon, apparently) and no attempts at dialogue. It was simply a draw for the old and radical, and the young and gullible.
We were extremely fortunate to have a number of dedicated organizers at the rally. While I’m sure that I can’t know everyone who lent themselves to this enterprise, I did see several placards carried by the Freepers
. It was a picture of Saddam in a noose (pre-hung) with a caption of “Sic Sempre Tyrannis” (Thus always to tyrants). Indeed. While there were some pre-fab signs that read things along the lines of, “The War is either HERE, or THERE” or “Peace through superior fire power” or our own Mr. Hahn’s “Go to hell traitors. You dishonor our dead on hallowed ground.” I applaud you, sir!
The Opposition, however, was much more predictable (and yet strangely not so). The vast majority of signs were pre-fabricated and handed out by ANSWER. Some of the more inventive signs I saw included “Capitalists Against the War” (yeah, right)… “Radical Queers Against the War” (no doubt), and something about not having ‘merely a war, but a “class war.”’ Brilliant. No dialogue. No debate. No sense of fear. No knowledge of the world outside their own. No ability to reason. No meaningful future. Sad. Really sad.
We got bored. We decided to move toward the porta-potties. The sidewalks between the Lincoln Memorial and the Eagles area was absolutely packed with veterans. There were few liberals that made it through the area, as far as I could see. I stopped one jerk (headed into Eagle territory from ANSWER) with long hair, dressed in ACUs and with make-up depicting a head gunshot wound. He said that we had to all work together to end the war. I scornfully said that he was clearly looking for a confrontation and that I was pretty offended as I had a close buddy who died from such a wound (from an insurgent). Unsurprisingly, he just moved on. I really wanted to clean his clock.
We finally reached the porta-potties. We had to wait for a long line at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. Just getting by was difficult with the lines of vets who were waiting to see it for the first time. That was a pretty moving experience by itself. The blue potties were yet another clever taunt of the protestors. The first had a sign that read, “Jane Fonda’s Field Office.” I don’t care which side you’re on, that’s pretty damn funny!
Shortly thereafter, we ran into a very young woman dressed in pink, attempting to engage a group of leather-clad veterans in some sort of dialogue. As I was walking up (and eventually stopped) I heard:
Code-pinker: “Seriously. Why don’t we spend all that money on sending kids to college?!?”
Stone-faced Vet: “I did that. Three goddamn times.”
Code-pinker: “No. Seriously. Why can’t you just listen to ‘us’?”
Code-pinker: “No, seriously!”
Stone-faced Vet: “……….”
Code-pinker: “Seriously, you people are impossible to talk to!”
Me: “See, when you use a term like ‘you people’ you let us all know that you aren’t interested in dialogue. You think that we should have just acquiesced to your superior experience and wisdom . Too bad you have neither.
Code-pinker: “… Seriously!”
Too easy. We find ourselves bored again and find ourselves on Constitution, near the entrance to the Eagles site. There are a couple of Ignoramus’ that would like to convince the nearest Vietnam Vets that they are misguided in trusting the government. These überinformed liberals were, in turn, informed that they were correct… a Congress led by Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid shouldn’t be trusted. There was a stunned pause by the liberal at the depth of knowledge displayed by the veterans (or possibly the recalculation of a miscalculation). Needless to say, the moonbats retreated to their ‘posse.’
For a full picture. I have a friend whom I will call “Bill.” Bill is a federal law-enforcement agent who is undercover with the radical left. He was with the Opposition folks and gave me a rare glimpse into the reaction inside the radical’s camp (a comprehensive post about his experience is forth-coming). He said that the typical reaction to the Eagles was one of incredulousness. He heard most describe the single-finger-showing vets as “illiterate hooligans.” “Unintelligent” and “stupid” were other oft-used descriptors. Nice. We, however, never used the word “illiterate.” Instead, I heard words like “spoiled,” “ungrateful,” and “ignorant.” I also heard several vets utilize their First Amendment right to express by explaining “Fuh Q!”
He also mentioned that EVERYONE was intimidated by the counter-protest. Those who had planned to make trouble (the anarchists) and those who had never met a veteran (all the rest) were absolutely in awe of the turnout of the veterans and other supporters. It was as if all the polls had somehow turned upside down. Bill said that this was the first time that any protestors had encountered any meaningful opposition SINCE THE VIETNAM ERA. I suppose that means the “silent majority” ought to be deeply ashamed. Here the protestors have gone along (albeit nearly completely ignorant of reality) without opposition since the onset of OIF!
By the way, I consider a hard-core dude, and I was moved to tears on a number of occasions. First, the feeling of camaraderie in the face of the Opposition was awesome. The second is the common theme among the Vietnam Vets. It went something along the lines of: Nobody stood up for me while I was in the fight, so if I don’t stand up for the troops… who will?
That last nearly brought me to tears every single time… and I heard it time and again. I guarantee, we youngsters got the message. We know who has our back. (Bitterness ON) Incidentally, if any RedStaters live in the D.C. area and didn’t attend… you are dead to me. I took my eleven year-old and saw many men carrying their infants in rucksacks. I’m sincerely PO’ed that more local conservatives didn’t show. Heritage? Townhall? Any conservative celebrities? Nope. Any conservative politicians? No again. ……… Oh, I get it. The veterans are left to do ALL the work. We train, fight and return to crappy conditions. We are underpaid and over-utilized, but unworthy of meaningful respect. Again, if you live in the D.C. are and didn’t attend, you should be ashamed of yourself. (Bitterness OFF) [To be fair, GOE didn't want or allow any politicians to speak... but they could have shown up in jeans and a VFW cap!]
As we stood along the Lincoln Memorial, members of the Military Veterans Motorcycle Club
checked to make sure of your loyalty. Some people have questioned this practice. Let me be clear when I say that the lines between US and THEM were exquisitely clear and the only folks crossing into the aforementioned area were there to make trouble. Very few tried, and none succeeded. Have a problem with that? Show up next time and take it up with the serious men in black leather. Otherwise, I recommend you keep your own counsel!
While waiting in the ridiculously ripping wind, I found myself talking to yet another Eagle. Her name was “Carolyn,” and she was a teacher from Maine. She had driven over eight hours to be at the Wall and show her support. A woman in her 50s, she told me that she was absolutely sickened by the teachers getting hired out of college. She was sickened by their biases and their complete lack of objectivity in teaching students. “Carolyn” was simply appalled at the “best” this newer generation had to offer and came in an attempt to absolve them. I believe that she left without that absolution, but with a greater sense of personal pride and mission. She told me what an honor it was to stand beside such veterans and that she was ready to guard our flanks. She was representative of those Eagles who were non-veterans. The honor was mine. De Oppresso Libre. Here are some non-Squirrel taken pics!