Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Support the Troops Weekend - After Action Report


My apologies that it has taken me several days to get this post up, but life has been keeping me very busy.

The bottom line is that we had two successful Support the Troops weekend events. Following are photos and a complete report.

There were two main events: Friday evening September 22 outside of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC, and Saturday afternoon, September 23, at the Sylvan Theater near the Washington Monument, also in Washington DC.

Support the Troops 2006 was sponsored by FreeRepublic.com, the DC Chapter of FreeRepublic.com, Military Families Voice of Victory, and the Protest Warriors. I'm not sure if I'm officially a member of FreeRepublic but I've got a Freeper screen name and have participated in most of their events over the past year so I suppose that's good enough.

Day 1 - Walter Reed Army Medical Center

This Friday marked our 75th straight Friday outside of Walter Reed. Our objectives are twofold; one, as a show of support for the troops, especially those on the bus which returns from a DC restaurant every Friday evening (more below). Second, to keep the radical leftist group Code Pink away from the entrance. Complete reports on all Walter Reed "freeps" can be found here. My own personal accounts of these and other rallies can be found here and here. I have been participating since August 2005.

We usually have 20-40 people show up for our Friday night freeps, but on this night I estimate we had well over 50. Our number were swelled partially due to the large number of George Washington University Republicans who joined us. They were quite an enthusiastic bunch and brought a lot of energy to our rally.

Here is our MOAB ("Mother Of All Banners") which was directly across from the main entrance to the hospital.

Here are two more of the MOAB with lots of supporters incuding many of the GW Republicans

Here are some pro-troops supporters at the main entrance to the hospital. I took this photo from the corner where the MOAB was displayed.

Down the street about half a block are the radical supporters of Code Pink. As I was taking this photo Pinko leader Gael Murphy drove up and parked right in front of me. She asked what I was doing and I told her what whe perfectly well knew, that I was taking photos of her people. She held out some radical literature which I took. I'm always interested in that stuff so I figured why not? It turned out to be pretty standard stuff and not very interesting.

If you're not familiar with Code Pink, I've got a lot posted about them over at The Redhunter, just go to the Categories section at right and see either "The Left" or "Rallies and Protests". However, two pieces that explain matters pretty well can be found here (scroll down to where it says "The Case Against Code Pink) and here.

Code Pink used to occupy the corners right outside the entrance to the hospital, but we got the permit when they forgot to renew it last January.

At some point during the evening some lady came by to argue with us. I think that she was from the Pinkos, but am not entirely sure. I'll find our more when the official after-action report comes out on FreeRepublic.com and will link to that. As you might imagine she was quickly surrounded and an "enthusiastic" discussion ensued.

Interestingly, the Pinkos show little interest in debating or arguing with us when we go down there. Several times over the past year wounded soldiers from the hospital have gone down to where the Pinkos are standing to tell them what they think of them (hint; it isn't good). For a group that holds "We Support the Troops But Oppose the War" signs, most of them ignore the troopers.

Two weeks ago Milblogger SMASH went down to the Pinkos and told them off royally. He's got audio and pictures on his website. Don't miss it.

The Troop Bus

Every Friday evening several local charities (organized or partially sponsored by the Italian Embassy) take a busload of wounded troops and their visiting families out to a local restaurant. They return to the main entrance sometime between 9 and 11pm. When they do, the bus slows and the driver turns on the inside lights. We go crazy waving our signs and banners and they wave at us.

In case you think this doesn't mean anything, two weeks ago an Army Captain and a Command Sergeant Major, all of the 101st Airborne Division drove up, parked, got out, and the following conversation ensued
The two men were clearly delighted at seeing this unambiguous show of support not just for the troops, but for their mission. "Wow! We're just back for ten days and we came to visit some of our men in the hospital," one of them related. "Seeing this is just fantastic -- thank you!" he exclaimed, to which we returned a volley of "No, thank you! We thank you!

"When we're in Iraq, it's so great to know you're here," he continued.

"How do you know we're here?" I asked.

"The Internet -- we knew there were people like you out here while we were in Iraq," he smiled, "and we appreciate it! How about some photos?" They lined up the group of young people and snapped several shots before jumping back into the vehicle with broad grins and waves, and more shouts of "Thank you for your service!" from FReepers.
In addition, I've talked to dozens of troops at the hospital in the past year I've been doing this and can tell you that they are all very happy that we are outside.

In addition, after all this most of us go inside the hospital complex to Malogne House. All of us bring things for their donation tables, things from food treats to coloring books for the kids (their families come and visit) to cigarettes and books and videos. We visit for about an hour or so but of course by then it's getting late

Day 2 - The Support the Troops Rally in Washington DC

The main event for Support the Troops Weekend took place from noon until 3 at Sylvan Theater, an outdoor mini-arena which is in one of the corners of the large field where the Washington Monument stands.

First off was an opening ceremony. We said the Pledge of Allegiance, sang the Star Spangled Banner, and a military chaplain said an invocation. Kristinn Taylor, co-founder and current president of the DC chapter of FreeRepublic.com, moderated the event. Kristinn organizes the Friday night Walter Reed Freeps as well as many other rallies and counter-protests. The flag was made by children at Ft Benning after 9/11

Over the next few hours we heard from several speakers.

* Larry Schweikart – co-author of Patriots History of the United States
* Mychal Massie - Project 21
* Richard August - father of Cpt Matthew J. August, KIA 1/27/04, Iraq
* Capt. Larry Bailey, USN Ret. – Vets for the Truth
* Ray and Becky Davis - Military Families Voice of Victory
* Diana Irey - Washington County Commissioner, Pennsylvania, and running for Congress against Jack Murtha
* Nikki Mendicino - POW/MIA activist
* Kevin Martin - Project 21; veteran, USN
* Eve Tidwell - God Bless Ft. Benning
* Frank Schaeffer – co-author of AWOL, author Faith of Our Sons-a Father's Wartime Diary
* Wes Vernon - Accuracy in Media
* Evan Sayet - Writer/Entertainer
* Leo Flood, father of son who served in Iraq and Afghanistan
* Richard Linn, father of LCpl. Karl R. Linn, KIA 1/26/05, Iraq
* Kristinn Taylor, D.C. Chapter of FreeRepublic.com

Here is Larry Bailey speaking

Another crowd scene with some of the flags we had.

No rally would be complete without a few anti-war heckers. We ignored them and they went away. I quoted Ann Coulter to ConcreteBob; "If you're not pissing them off you're not doing your job!" Given that ConcreteBob is the president of the DC chapter of the Protest Warriors, and the person who got the permit away from Code Pink for the entrance to Walter Reed, he was one who I knew would appreciate the quote.

Channel 4 News came by and did a few interviews. I searched their site but haven't been able to find anything about the rally on it. The Washington Times had a reporter there and they did an honest story on the event. Their estimation of 70-100 people was what I counted also. Conservatives just don't draw large crowds for these things. It's just not in our culture.

Diana Irey, the lady running against Jack Murtha, gave a good talk. From what I read the Democrats are putting lots of money into the race to make sure they don't suffer the embarrassment of a Murtha loss, so while I doubt that she'll win at least we're putting up a good candidate.

Closing Ceremonies

Finally - all true pro-troop patriots reading this who can swing by Washington DC for a weekend are welcome to join us Friday nights at Walter Reed! Don't be shy, we get new people every week. We even serve pizza, so what's not to like? But if you don't find yourself in this area, consider holding your own rallies or counter-protests. There are FreeRepublic and Protest Warrior chapters in most major cities, so you can also contact them. There's probably more going on than you realize. Show your support!


At 9/26/2006 7:48 PM, Blogger Rosemary said...

Absolutely fantastic job, Tom. Thank you so very much for living in DC. That alone is taking your life into your own hands! :)


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