Saturday, March 17, 2007
My friend, Chris, and I were a bit worried about the turnout, but as we came down the hill from the Metro station and looked to our left, our concerns diminished rapidly. There were Vets everywhere, from all over the country.
Security for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was tight. Visitors could enter from one end only and exit at the other side. Everyone had to pass an electronic screening. The line was long but orderly.
For the demonstrations, The National Park Service had set locations for each side and patrolled the interim space constantly. There were no altercations that I saw. Some anti-war people tried to get to the Vets but they were asked to leave quickly and quietly - they did. It was apparent that the anti-US crowd did not expect a Veterans turnout of this size.
What will the media show? I don't know but the line up of protesters walking to the Pentagon to protest will look long. What will be missing from the scene are the thousands of vets who lined the protest route and thousands more were on the other side of the grounds. Take all numbers with caution - my best guess, having walked back and forth multiple times is that the numbers were even at worst, Vets outnumbering protesters a bit at best.
I have just watched the "news" on Channel 4 in NBC in Washington DC. Their statement of "tens of thousands of protesters" is flat out wrong! More biased coverage - NBC never showed the number of vets other than the ones at the Wall. Thousands of Vets were everywhere. Perhaps NBC had to inflate the numbers because the crowd was so much smaller than expected. In addition, they had to revert to film from 1967 to show larger crowds. It also appears the "name" speakers didn't arrive because only Cindy Sheehan was shown. 'Tis a national disgrace when the media must enforce its anti-freedom agenda on the public.
In general, the anti- ____ crowd was comprised of naive and some very factually-challenged people. Signs with "data" were simply wrong.
The usual protest representatives were there: sixties hippies; their kids; ANSWER; Che Guevara; the pacifist and anti-fight for anything crowd. They were joined by another assortment of protesters: high school kids bussed in from Philly - they get extra credit in their US History classes if they participate in a protest (note, anti, not pro); a few who dressed like Palestinians and carried signs for the oppression of the Palestinians; "No war with Iran" crowd; impeach everyone crowd; anti-Halliburton; etc. These people are well-financed, signage is good.
On the other hand, the vets were proud, professional, and polite. Speakers summarized some real history - in particular, the real culprits for Vietnam casualties. One speaker, Kevin Michael of DC was particularly powerful! He is a Desert Storm Veteran and proud of it. He speaks well for all veterans.
After the protesters took their march to the Pentagon (who works there on a Saturday is beyond me) the Vets milled around, making sure key contacts will be maintained. An interesting side point: the grounds where the vets congregated were clean, no trash; the grounds where the protesters congregated - well, they apparently don't know how to use trash cans.
All in all, a proud day for Americans who know what freedom means, Americans who don't take freedom for granted, Americans who understand the value of life and what it takes to protect what we have. Half of today's attendees "got it".