The horns began blaring as soon as we arrived thirty minutes before the Gathering of Eagles rally start time of noon to set up Win the War signs and American flags.
People began showing up immediately, first one, then two more, then others ... happy to see one another ... each with a reason to be there....
I was greeting everyone as they arrived ... and then I saw Military Mom! She had driven down, once again, from Alexandria to join us. Military Mom ... the one whose daughter, Brandi, stationed in South Korea with the U.S. Air Force in 2003 had seen anti-war protesters pictured in the local newspaper and asked, "What's going on in Staunton?" That was the beginning of our rallies to show our military that America was behind them. Military Mom ... who had moved to Alexandria two years ago but has come back twice for our rallies and who is, thankfully, moving back to Augusta County. Military Mom who is, herself, an Air Force veteran.
Barth who was in Iraq for 15 months turned out today with his wife Kimberley and two little children ... Barth who is one of those we owe eternal thanks to for his service ... Barth who is a local hero even though he doesn't think he's a hero.
Le who escaped from Vietnam during that war ... who legally emigrated to the United States in the 1970s to make a new life ... Le whom I met during the 2004 Bush reelection campaign when she came to headquarters to volunteer and, through the course of our days at HQs together, told me her story of getting out of Vietnam, her disgust at John Kerry, and her appreciation for President Bush's strong stand against terrorism, to the United States, and her understanding of freedom. She was there today with her husband, Gene. Everyone who protests the war should talk with Le.
Phil who was with the NYPD on 9/11 ... Phil who stood on the burning rubble at Ground Zero, who experienced the sights, sounds, smells, and emotions of that day in a way none of the rest of us could even imagine ... Phil who saw what the terrorists did to our country and understands we must stand firm against it happening again. As he held the American flag his two young sons stood with him holding flags. They have been with us a number of times over the past two years.
Barb who has been with us at these rallies the past two years in her red, white, and blue American flag scarf ... Barb who is unapologetically patriotic and pro-troops, someone I appreciated having by my side at HQs when some unsavory characters came in last fall ... someone who is there to help all the time ... a friend ... many thanks, Barb.
Colleen who had been, in her words, a "tree-hugging liberal" until 9/11 when her entire perspective changed. I met her at Bush Headquarters in 2004 when she drove up from Lexington for a yard sign ... she was passionate as she explained that national security was the most important thing for America and she was ardently supporting President Bush and the Republicans. We reconnect six months ago when she met met in Staunton to buy Win the War signs to take back to Lexington ... Colleen who works to collect and send care packages to our military ... and today she brought her daughter with her to stand on the street in support of our troops.
Kim who has had serious health issues of her own but who had been coming out be my rock at many of these rallies ... Kim, who thanked me but it is I who should thank her because she has faced far more adversity than I ... Kim whose daughter's boyfriend left in August to spend 15 months in Iraq with his Army Unit. Kim ... God bless you for your friendship.
Debbie and her three little girls ... the same ones who came out for the March rally and stood on the Courthouse steps (along with their sister who wasn't there today) with American flags for the Pledge of Allegiance ... three little girls who held American flags and Win the War signs and waved as cars honked their horns.
Vietnam-era vets Bill, Dick, Larry, and Fred ... guys who were treated with contempt by anti-war protesters in the 1960s and who are determined this generation of GIs will not be treated like that again. They have been at these rallies before ... their blood runs red, white, and blue. True patriots all ... we thank you for your sevice to our country.
Emily who is a patriot and friend and has been at most of these rallies throughout the years. She stood with an American flag and sign ... and Joyce who has been part of us for years and who came out today to support the troops. Thank you.
Casby represents the Mary Baldwin Republicans and has been with us in the past for these rallies. Casby is a patriotic young lady who believes in standing up for what she believes in even on a campus that runs rampantly liberal. Many thanks for standing up with us again.
Kerri whom I call "Little Miss Republican" ever since meeting her during the 2004 Bush campaign. Now 12 years old, she was the youngest volunteer I had for the Bush campaign; she worked the Kilgore and Allen campaigns, and she has been out with us in the past along with her mom, Kim. She is now running for class president in school and, since she told me at the age of 10 that her goal was to be the first woman governor of Virginia, I'm not surprised to see her in school government. We wish her the best of luck in her campaign!
Marine vet Jim Holbert was in D.C. with the Marines for today's rally but his son stopped by to lend support. Jim provided the Support the Troops flag, Gathering of Eagles banner, and my Eagles armband. A true patriot who has been at most of our rallies the past two years, he stood in the pouring-down rain the first time I saw him, at parade rest, throughout the Support the Troops ceremony, snapping to attention for the flag ... I approached him afterward and a friendship began that has continued. My thanks to Jim and Russ and all the Marine League guys who were here in spirit but felt they needed to be in D.C. today. Semper Fi.
And my own daughter and husband, there to help set up and to support the troops ... my husband who is a Vietnam era Air Force veteran and the wind beneath my wings. And the others I didn't know ... thanks, Guys!
The support from the Valley was, as it has been the dozens of times before, overwhelmingly supportive. Patriots walking past on the sidewalk applauded; the trolly dinged his bell with a thumbs-up; the law enforcement office hit his siren in support. Trucks, cars, SUVs ... everyday citizens were glad to see Win the War supporters.
On an absolutely glorious day with temps in the 60s, dozens of patriots came out to show support for the troops, the war, and President Bush. With many SWACers in Washington, D.C., for the huge rally there, other SWAC folks as well as some who saw us and stopped to join were here to put a public face to those who want to Win the War! Horns blared for the entire time we were there.
Many thanks to all -- friends and neighbors, vets and active military, children and parents -- for taking an hour out of your day to thank our troops.
The Eagles soared today....
NBC-29 TV coverage here
SWAC Eagles soared today ... The Photos ... Part 1
SWAC Eagles soared today ... The photos ... Part 2
SWAC Eagles soared today ... The photos ... Part 3
Cross-posted at Win the War!