Tuesday, August 30, 2005

To Amy & Justin - Thank You

I have not wanted to write a post about Cindy Sheehan.
I feel sorry for her and nothing but contempt for those who are exploiting her. I've known since the 18th that Move America Forward was planning a caravan of support to oppose those protesting in Crawford. I'm on MAF's mailing list and got updates from the road by Melanie Morgan, but I still had no desire to put in my 2 cents worth. I changed my mind on Sunday when I received an email from Amy, the wife of a soldier on his second tour in Iraq.

Amy is a lovely young lady who packed up her two small children and drove up from Ft. Hood, TX, to be with MAF for the end-of-the-line rally in Crawford on Saturday. She sent me a bucketful of terrific pictures and gave me permission to use them here. Amy's husband, SSG Justin, is a 12 year career soldier who reenlisted "indefinitely" after he'd completed his first 12 month deployment to Iraq, and is currently back there on his second tour. They are both dedicated to the country, to the military, and to the mission upon which we have embarked.

I was searching for what to say in this post. I wanted to write about the "good guys" and relegate the anti-war types to the back burner. So I wrote Amy back and asked her some more questions in an "interview" style to get some ideas. When I read her responses, the post wrote itself. The rest is from Amy.

GN: Who went with you to Crawford?
My two small children ... accompanied me to Crawford in show of support to their father, my husband, and to all of our brave men and woman in uniform serving abroad and at home. A 45 minute drive in 102 degree Texas heat was the least I could do to show my support to my country and our Military.

GN: Have you been to Crawford before last weekend?
Yes, when my husband first deployed to Iraq in March 2003, my mother and step father accompanied me to Crawford to see the place where the President spends his vacation time. Also, when my husband was on R&R this month, we made the trip up the weekend of 8/20 to check out the media circus and Sheehan movement.

The pics of the crosses are located at Ft Qualls in downtown Crawford. Mr. Qualls, who lost his son, Marine CPL. Louis Qualls in the fall of Fallujah, erected this Memorial for the fallen and their families and our troops abroad and at home. The crosses you see are the ones that families took up from Mrs. Sheehan's Anti-war site at Camp Casey. They oppose her view and did not want their loved ones who have given the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq to be at an Anti-War site. Mr. Qualls told me and Justin personally last weekend that he had asked Mrs. Sheehan and her group not to place his son's name at her site on a cross after he removed the 1st one....he has since gone back out to her site and removed 2 more. I think that is incredibly disrespectful - especially after this father had asked her not to place a cross out with CPL Qualls name on it. Anyways -- the crosses you see here are the Pro-troops Memorial at Ft Qualls.

GN: Were people li
ned up along the streets leading into town showing support?
Oh, Absolutely! You bet there were and unfortunately our main stream media failed to report the crowd of supporters of our Military and President this weekend. It took me approximately 20 minutes to reach the only red light in town from about 2 miles out of town. Cars had colorful paint on the windows, trucks had U.S. flags waving in the back along with their branch of military flag and our very Patriotic Bikers had U.S., Military and P.O.W. flags waving behind the seat in which they drove. It was truly amazing! An awesome American - Patriotic sight! The support was breathtaking!

GN: Do you think the Crawford residents were mostly opposed to the protesters?
definitely opposed!! Signs were posted in trees, on fence posts, on businesses, road signs and cars showing their adamant dissent towards Mrs Sheehan's movement and their loyal support to our Troops and President. I actually ate lunch at the Crawford Coffee Shop and was told by a local that 80% of residents supported the President and opposed the Cindy Sheehan Anti-War movement that had invaded their small community.

GN: How did the hippies behave? Were they polite or rude?
Well, I did see tempers flare on both sides, but from the beginning of the Protest, it was the Protestors that were calling our military men and woman "Baby Killers", "Murderers", "War Mongers" and "Thugs". When I was at Camp George/Camp Reality, which is across the street from Camp Casey - I held up a picture of my husband in his uniform at which time I was laughed at by the Anti-War protestors and told to return to my home. I felt that this demeanor was disrespectful and I had just experienced first had that these Protestors were not as Peaceful as they proclaimed to be.

(check out the sponsors of the "Bush Lies" sign-GN)

GN: Were the hippy-protesters and the "good guys" ever in contact with each other? Did the groups interact?
There was verbal communication between the two sides but never any physical contact that I am aware of or have seen or heard via the Waco News channels here that perpetually report the situation in Crawford. When I was present at the Protest I encountered Protestors who wanted to talk to me as if they wanted to convert me to their side - or to convince me that the war is wrong. But mostly, the Protests seemed rather quiet other than some yelling back and forth across the road between the two camps.

GN: How did the patriotic folks behave? Were they polite and happy or were they more vocally angry?
As with the Protestors, there were both Angry and calm individuals who represented the Pro-troops/President rally. It was truly and emotional rally in which both families of military men and woman and citizens who support our military were there to show their loyal support to our country and military. But mostly I feel that they were more happy and definitely proud of the cause they were supporting and that was our military men and woman. The mood was upbeat, proud, people were happy and definitely Patriotic!! Everyone was eager to show off their Soldier, Marine, Airman, Seaman or Coast Guardman who was previously or currently serving in Iraq in show of support. It was an amazing sight! I would say the mood and behavior was appropriate under the conditions.

GN: Tell me about the real Americans. Who impressed you?
It had to be the Veterans who were there - some disabled and some not that were honoring our men and woman in uniform with very large flags, both U.S. and military flags and signs showing their unwavering support. They touched me the most along with the families there that had lost a loved one in the fight of Iraq who were there showing their support to our mission in Iraq. I was also incredibly impressed by the soldiers, not in uniform, who traveled up to Crawford from Ft Hood to represent and support their fellow comrades currently fighting terrorism in Iraq. With my husband being in Iraq for the second time it meant so much to me to see our own military men and woman, both present and past, show up with signs and flags and show such passionate Patriotism towards our country, troops and President.

I'm truly honored that Amy let me tell this story. She made a really distasteful situation in Crawford (that I was trying to ignore) into a personal and uplifting event. This is the perfect way to get the "real news" on the ground. For Amy, Justin and the kids - HOOAH!