Sunday, March 18, 2007

Gathering of Eagles: The Real American Opinion

The usual war protesters were met with a bit of a surprise yesterday when they started attention grab: patriotic Americans fought back.

As war protesters marched toward Arlington Memorial Bridge en route to the Pentagon yesterday, they were flanked by long lines of military veterans and others who stood in solidarity with U.S. troops and the Bush administration's cause in Iraq. Many booed loudly as the protesters passed, turned their backs to them or yelled, "If you don't like America, get out!"

Several thousand vets, some of whom came by bus from New Jersey, car caravans from California or flights from Seattle or Michigan, lined the route from the bridge and down 23rd Street, waving signs such as "War There Or War Here." Their lines snaked around the corner and down several blocks of Constitution Avenue in what organizers called the largest gathering of pro-administration counter-demonstrators since the war began four years ago...

The large turnout surprised even some counter-demonstrators. Polls show public opinion turning against the war in Iraq, and the November election was widely seen as a repudiation of the administration's policy

A Gathering of Eagles, the group which organized the counterprotest, estimates that 30,000 people came to ensure the anti-war people didn't desecrate monuments and the capitol again like they did in a similar protest earlier this year.
"That was the real catalyst, right there," said Navy veteran Larry Bailey. "They showed they were willing to desecrate something that's sacred to the American soul."

Well before 7 a.m., hundreds of people milled about near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in an effort to, they said, "occupy the ground" and keep any disrespectful war protesters away.

"This is sacred ground to us," said Rick De Marco, 62, a Vietnam veteran from Cleveland.

K.C. O'Brien, 65, a Vietnam vet from Fairfield, Calif., said: "We believe in freedom of speech. We're here to defend the right of people to say whatever they want. But we will not allow any desecration."

Protest is sacred, but so is counter-protest. We know who tends to get the most coverage, and we know how that coverage affects opinions. Americans need to willingly stand up to these people and let them know that, in the immortal words of Cindy Sheehan, the protesters should "Stop the bullsh*t."