Sunday, November 18, 2007

Fighting the Battle at Home

It has been a little over a week now since I attended the Veterans for Freedom Townhall meeting in Middletown. I'm embarrassed that it has taken so long to recount the event here on ConservaChick; however, even though it's been a week, I find myself still amazed at the caliber of people I met at that Townhall Meeting. That caliber ran from disgraceful to honorable. (You may be surprised at who I would include in the honorable category.)
As I posted here at ConservaChick prior to the event, we expected a hassle from the loony Left in Louisville. Apparently, they couldn't drum up the resources to make a big showing so they opted instead to attend the meeting. (Either that or the Middletown police presence made them think twice.)

The meeting was opened by Johnny Waltz who is a disabled Navy veteran. Johnny served onboard the USS George Washington from 2000-2004 and was involved in Operations Noble Eagle, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Johnny serves as the Kentucky chapter leader for Veterans for Freedom and writes prolifically on veterans' issues and is active in his support for our troops and our cause. NPR did a story about him and his struggle to obtain the help he needed after returning home. Google his name and you'll see that this veteran has been an amazing supporter of our efforts and our troops all while struggling with his own disability.

I was struck by the earnest, caring, and straight-forward speech Johnny gave. His speech was short and packed with pieces of wisdom that made him seem older than his years. I thought he hit the nail squarely on the head in this bit of his speech:

... "Many use bumper sticker slogans such as 'Free Tibet,' 'Save Darfur,' 'Feed the World' -- these slogans betray the fickle attitude behind the motivation for actually doing something.

Too many 'activists' think 'caring' is enough but despite television spots, celebrity endorsements, and plenty of pity, Tibet is not free, the world is not fed, and Darfur is far from saved." ...
How right he is! How easy is it to slap a bumper sticker on your car? How easy is it to spout empty words in "support" of a cause? It's the easiest thing in the world! What is harder is to take real and meaningful action that supports the men and women who are taking real and meaningful action on our behalf. Johnny Waltz doesn't sit idly by knowing that he took action; He does not let his contribution stop there. He is active on the homefront even after serving his country and giving so much of himself in wartime. He should be justly proud of his efforts both overseas in service to his country and here at home in service to his countrymen. I believe he is a rarity. God bless him and all that he does; this country could use more patriots like him!

Michael Strunk is an Army veteran who did two tours of duty in Iraq. He was a part of our forces that carried out the initial invasion of Iraq. On his second tour of duty he returned to Iraq after the insurgency had begun to make a mess of things. He remarked on how dramatically different those “two” Iraqis were.

Michael spoke with the studied thoughtfulness and emotion you might expect to actually conflict -- the wisdom of someone twice his age and the emotion of someone his actual age. The two came together in a speech that touched on just about everything that you and I might want to know about the conflict in Iraq. All while highlighting the nonsense in the rhetoric spouted by current detractors of our efforts in Iraq.

One of the things that stuck with me after hearing Michael's speech was what he relayed about the day of 9-11-01. Prior to joining the service, Michael said that he had not been a model of maturity; He partied into the wee hours of many mornings and slept his days away. On September 11th, a friend called and awakened him with the news of the terrorist attacks. Michael simply hung up the phone, rolled over and went back to sleep. When his friend called again, he said to Michael, "Man, you're sleeping through history!" According to Michael, this is what awakened him to wanting to do more with his life. I don't know if Michael's friend realizes it or not but that phrase is quite profound. It still applies to many Americans today as more than half of this country continues to "sleep through history."

[Michael was amazingly patient in answering questions and handling commentary from the old hippies. They didn't seem to be able to ruffle his feathers. Nice job, Michael.]

Erwin Roberts, who filed papers with the FEC back in May of this year to run against John Yarmuth (KY-3) in 2008, was invited to speak at the Townhall Meeting. I ran into both old and new friends who are associated with the campaign. Erwin Roberts has chosen great people for his team.

Not just for his astute selection of people for his campaign staff but for other reasons as well, I was impressed with Mr. Roberts. He currently serves in the Army Reserves as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) while working for a local law firm here in Louisville. He and I are both Army brats and there is an inherent understanding that comes from a shared military style childhood. I respect the character built by life in a military family. It’s hard to communicate what that means exactly so suffice to say that to understand, you’d have to live it. I certainly respect his service to our country both in the military and in public service to the Commonwealth. I wish him all the best in his run to represent Kentucky's third district in 2008.

After watching
John Yarmuth disgrace Kentuckians in the third district since his election, I am sickened by the thought that other Americans probably don’t have a clue how smart and insightful we Kentuckians actually are and how very much we love our country. Yarmuth dishonors and disrespects the very institution, the very people, he was sworn to serve. I hope the people in the third district speak loudly at the polls in 2008 and replace Yarmuth with an honorable man like Erwin Roberts. It's time to put the Yarmuth brand of idiocy out to pasture.

The two back rows of this townhall meeting were full of rear ends belonging to people who make a habit of showing their rear ends in public by trashing our troops, lying about our Commander-in-Chief, and running down America on a regular basis. You can find them any given weekend protesting something or other but most often it’s the war and the president. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've stood near these Vietnam-era rejects when the local chapter of Protest Warrior was more active. I recognized their faces immediately and anticipated the worst.

[In the very last row, slouched down as if to say, "I'm embarrassed to be here," sat a local Lefty who likes to label himself a Vietnam Vet. He loved to give interviews as a "Vietnam Vet" when Kerry was running in 2004.]

It was interesting that the old hippy contingent chose to sit almost quietly and not disrupt the meeting. I say "almost" because when Erwin Roberts thanked the veterans for their service, he used the word men. (Ooooh, how politically incorrect of him not to have noticed one gray-headed old female hippy who claims to have served!) Naturally, she felt a need to shout, "and WOMEN!"

I truly expected the usual disrespect they exhibit regularly to be a total distraction during this meeting. I'm happy to report that they showed some respect for a change and, for that, I was grateful.

After the speeches, the floor was opened for questions. We all expected the loony Left in attendance to start with the baiting and taunting. Shockingly enough, they didn't. Instead, we heard from another Iraq veteran who stood in the back of the meeting. As it turns out, he had an inspiring story of his own about his time in Iraq. I was proud to have been the person who invited him to the Townhall Meeting.

[Will Creaseman served in the infantry in Iraq and has been active in
his own support for our troops
and our Commander-in-Chief on the homefront.]

["Follow me!" The infantry produces some awesome chicken eaters
and beer drinkers... we know... we bought him dinner after the townhall meeting.]

After a small but peaceful question period, the meeting was closed and we mingled. I approached the gray-headed female who felt compelled to yell “and WOMEN!” earlier simply to offer my thanks for not making a mockery of the meeting. I told both she and the young man next to her, "I really appreciate the respect you showed for these veterans today. Thank you for not being disruptive or disrespectful."

She said to me, "I'm a veteran. I haven't fought in Iraq."

I suppose that was her way of saying that she thought it wrong to be disrespectful of other vets. This would indeed be an ironic sentiment if I’ve guessed correctly since she participates in protests that ARE disrespectful of our veterans and our country.

I asked if they heard anything from the vets during the meeting that enlightened them about this war. I expected their typical ascerbic response of "Ha! Right!" or for them to completely ignore my presence; however, like a breath of fresh air, the young man sitting next to the gray-headed woman said that he had heard some interesting stories that he might not otherwise have heard. I found his honesty and civility very refreshing; I’ve been around these folks a number of times and this was a real first!

What a difference from the gray-headed Vietnam-era rejects that usually turn their heads and ignore any “noise” from my side of the equation! This guy might just be the future of the Left in this country in which case there is hope that civility may return to the American political arena one day. He introduced himself as Abel; The gray-headed hippy deigned no introduction of herself. One thing I find very interesting about the Left in this country -- and you see it here at ConservaChick all the time in the comments section -- is that they either will not introduce themselves or they will give you their first names only; We Conservatives tend to introduce ourselves to everyone equally regardless of their political ideology. Interesting anti-social behavior for Lefties who claim to want equality, peace, and love, don't you think?
As we were having a civil conversation and I had fully endorsed their right to free speech, the gray-headed woman asked what it was that I found so offensive about what they had to say. I told her I disliked the way they continued to misrepresent the war, our troops, and our president at a very critical time in world history. I have a real issue with the banner -- "Bush lied" – when, according to that pseudo-logic, so did Clinton and the leaders of so many other civilized countries. It’s just so completely out of context.

A sloppy man, looking to me to be about the same age as the gray-headed woman, had flopped down in a chair next to her about that time in our conversation. He piped in with, "Well he DID lie!" (Heck, it was less that he “piped in” and more that he came just short of yelling.) It was clear that the loonier of the Lefty contingent had just interrupted and derailed the conversation, as they so often do. Evidently, the time for honest dialog had been declared over.

I said to him, "Look, I'm not going to engage in this debate; it's old, it's tired. Anyway, it was nice talking to you."

To which Mr. Loon replied, "Well it wasn't nice talking to YOU!"

He continued, "As a matter of fact, maybe we ought to just stop talking! I've got plenty of signs out in my car and I'll go get them! I'll show you 'nice!'" With that, he jumped up and ran out the front door in hot pursuit of his protest fix. It was a surreal moment in an otherwise very nice day.

Somehow I think folks like Johnny Waltz, Michael Strunk, and Erwin Roberts, who are patriotic in a more traditional way, would fully understand that I would include Abel on the list of honorable people I met that day. That young man seemed to be the only sane Lefty in attendance and he may represent the other type of patriotic that the Left likes to tout -- the type that want to understand, need to question, and hope to do what's best for our country. I respect an individual's right to disagree in an ongoing effort to learn and to understand; however, I respect it even more when done in a thoughtful, diplomatic, and friendly way. Given enough time we might just have had an agreeable conversation and gained some insight into the thinking behind each position on the current state of affairs. Then again... maybe not; At least he tried.

It’s clear to me that we've won our war on the Iraqi front; The remaining work is on the day-to-day political landscape there. The good news is that we seem to be making progress on that now as well. I just hope we'll make progress on that same front here at home soon!

[Michael Strunk and Will Creaseman -- Army brothers.]

[Johnny Waltz brought these stickers and cards. I didn't ask him for the story but would love for him to tell us in a comment if he's inclined. Obviously Matt Maupin is someone who needs to be kept in our prayers.]

1 comment:

Tammy said...

Thanks for the great post.
I wish I could have been there.