My Visit to the Pro-War Rally

This posting from an Internet discussion group shows what waging peace looks like: a long, painful conversation, a miracle!

By Christian S., a disabled American veteran

Last night, a local radio station organized a rally in support of the upcoming war on Iraq. As the sun set, I headed into the belly of the beast. There were probably 200-300 people there - a pretty decent -sized crowd, but still only 10% of the usual Phoenix peace demonstrations. To be honest, I was shaking and a bit nervous. I heard there was another pro-peace demonstrator there, and I saw him, so I was able to relax a little. Two was better than one.

Fortunately, I am taller

I have never been so mocked in my life. I stood there quietly, not getting angry, holding my sign. Some others held their signs in front of mine, so I just raised mine higher. Fortunately I'm 6'2" and had a long stick on mine. An older veteran threatened me, saying that it was because of him that I could be out there today. I thanked him for his service, and then produced my DD-214 and VA letter stating I, too, was a disabled veteran. He seemed flustered and left.

A lady who lost her husband in Korea called me a jerk. I asked her whether she ever wanted anyone else to go through what she had gone through and said that I was sorry for her loss and grateful to her husband for his sacrifice. She muttered "asshole" and walked away.

Some younger pro-death types then challenged me. I asked them if they thought we should really be going to war. They said "Hell Yes!" So I pulled five enlistment forms from my pocket and said I would go with them to sign up to fight. Their response: "I can better support the war by staying here and paying my taxes." So I asked them if they thought it was okay to send other people's children to die in their place. Flustered, they left.

I had long, calm debates with a few college Republicans. They didn't know that the original disarmament resolution was designed to create a WMD free buffer zone in the Middle East - and that included Israel. They had no clue about the tension between Turkey and the Kurds. They didn't realize that France lost 1.4 million people in WWI, or that France has been dealing with terrorism for over 20 years now.

I Do Support The Military

The event hosts mocked me openly over the microphone. They tried to chase me away with chants of "USA, USA." One guy even challenged this "commie pinko, fag-loving hippie" to donate $20 to the Red Cross - a challenge he placed on all Vets. I put my sign down, took the envelope, pulled $20 out of my wallet, sealed the envelope, and gave it back to him. "See," I told them, "I do support our military. I just do not support the war with Iraq."

They played that damn Toby Keith song and all of them sang along, "We'll put a boot in your ass, it's the American way." Someone asked me what group I was with. I said, '"Me and my two children. That's who I'm here for." She actually smiled when she learned that I was there by my own volition and shook my hand and left.

It was a unique experience. Even one of the most fervent pro-war people told me that he secretly hopes it does not come to war so that no more veterans like he and I would be created. We thanked each other for serving, shook hands, and parted ways. None of the 20-somethings in favor of the war took my challenge to enlist in the military. None. Zero. Zip, zilch, nada.

As I was leaving, a woman and her three kids handed me a pocket book copy of the Constitution. I thanked her and told her to keep it as it would become a collector's item once Dubya and Ashcroft were done eliminating the parts they didn't like.

About 8:30, I put my sign in the car trunk, and headed back home. Yelled at, mocked, taunted, teased, and threatened, I consider it to be a success. I didn't lose my temper and I didn't make an ass of myself.

Peace Magazine Apr-Jun 2003

Peace Magazine Apr-Jun 2003, page 26. Some rights reserved.

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