Charlie Anderson is a Marine Iraq Vet. He writes about the upcoming anti-war protest near the Vietnam Wall. Here's part of it, without commentary.
[I was saddened to learn recently that for the first time since the beginning of the Iraq War, the sanctity of The Wall will be challenged by protest. On March 17, a coalition of citizens concerned about the war gathers for a protest march originating at Constitution Park across the street form The Wall. A group of counter-demonstrators, calling themselves The Gathering of Eagles, will gather around and presumably in the memorial while spreading their pro-war, pro-Bush/Cheney message. The "eagles" claim that their intention is to "defend" The Wall from attack by the anti-war demonstrators. Yet, through four years of anti-war protest, there have been few incidents of vandalism and no war memorial has been damaged in the past. Further, hundreds of veterans and military families, including those who have had loved ones die in this war, are at the forefront of today's anti-movement. None of us who have sacrificed in this war would tolerate, much less condone, such behavior.
While the mission statement of the "eagles" states, "... we are adamantly opposed to the use of violence, vandalism, physical or verbal assaults on our veterans, and the destruction or desecration of our memorials ... we defend and honor those whose blood gave all of us the right to speak as freely as our minds think." Yet, a cursory look at the comments section at the bottom of the page tells a different story. One commentator said, "I hope one of these Muslim commies cross the line so we can teach them a valuable lesson. I will be there with my brothers and will be victorious over these Dimicrat scum. This will teach them not to look at us with seditious eyes." Another expressed similar sentiments: "We need to show these anti-war turkeys we are all business that the sacrifice and honor of the men and women of this Memorial will not be defaced by the likes of them." Organizers for the veterans' contingent of the anti-war march have also received death threats from "eagle" supporters. It seems that the real intent of the Gathering of Eagles is to intimidate those who do not agree with their position on the war. They purport to believe in free speech and to forever honor America's men and women in uniform until the men and women in uniform disagree with them. At the point at which we veterans who feel a duty not to remain silent and advocate that our brothers and sisters in arms be brought home alive and cared for both now and when they get here, the "eagles" call us "commies," "traitors" or "dimicrat scum."
I took an oath to defend the Constitution and honorably served ten years in uniform. I still hold my oath no less sacred than the "eagles" claim to. One of the ways to honor that oath is speak freely and from the heart. I sacrificed everything I had and everything I was when I went to Iraq. I lost my marriage, a job I loved, and the very way I viewed the world. It is a shame these "eagles" who claim to love and support me so much not only want to silence my voice, but they have chosen to put a wall between me and the one place in America I where I can truly let my guard down and grieve.]