Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Heros Tour Roundup

I got home last nite exhausted but with a smile on my face. What a day it was.

It started at 5 am in Minneapolis, with what was supposed to be some live interviews, but the Forest Lake HS story quickly became the story.
By 730 we were on the bus. It was an honor for me to spend the day with a Navy Cross winner, a Silver Star winner, and a Medal of Honor nominee. And, as an aspiring blogger, I took pleasure in watching Uncle Jimbo from Blackfive in action.

Since our visit to the high school was verboten, we arrived at the Forest Lake American Legion. We were warmly welcomed by the post officers, and the media. We walked in wondering if we would be talking to ourselves only. Instead we found a packed room that kept getting more packed. Several dozen students who decided to brave what the left called our planned indoctrination were sitting in the front rows. See the video here.

After a stop for lunch, we headed to the Pioneer Press to talk with the editorial staff. We had no talking points, no propaganda to put out. We simply explained what VFF was and why we joined. Jason Meszaros talked about processing the sites where high value targets were detained in Afghanistan, so that we could justify their detainment. I talked about the differences I saw over the 16 months I spent in the Anbar province. We didn't preach or talk about politics. Just what we saw and why we wanted others to know our stories. The editors wrote about our meeting today, and I was impressed with their thoughtfulness.

On our way to the main event at Fort Snelling Officer's club, we stopped at the Fort Snelling cemetery to remind ourselves who the real heroes are. We honored three fallen Minnesota heroes with their families, and laid a wreath at the Airborne monument. The left loves to talk of the death toll in Iraq hitting 4000, but only the soldiers and their families understand the true cost.

At the O club we had reserved a room that would seat 80. We quickly found that we needed to set up more chairs and find extra room for the crowd wherever we could. The events at Forest Lake had created a huge publicity buzz, and it translated into a huge standing room only crowd. Of note during the presentation was the remarks by David Bellavia. Having been around him all day, I had been amazed by his wit and intelligence. He could make everyone laugh hard, yet got into an animated discussion about theology and philosophy. His remarks were completely extemporaneous, as he interacted with the crowd and seemed to draw energy from their emotions as well. If this man chooses to go into politics, I may well have been looking at a future US Senator.

Throughout the whole day I was impressed by the positive and can-do approach to everything that happened. There was no negative talk of the politicians who want us to retreat from Iraq, just brain-storming on how we can convince even the most ardent anti-war type that our cause is just. There were no insults at the principle in Forest Lake, just amazement that anyone would feel threatened by us talking to students about what the war was like for us. I listened to Pete Hegseth give dozens of interviews where he talked calmly and politely to reporters who were obviously hostile to his point of view.

In two weeks I will be joining hundreds of other Vets in Washington DC to tell our stories to members of Congress. Hopefully the left wont find that to be too political.

As I have mentioned before, it's been noted by many that the costs of this war are being borne by a very small minority of our society. And so it's worth paying attention to when that small minority, who faced the greatest risks and suffer the most time away from home and family, are asking the people and the politicians of this country to keep sending us into harms way, keep sending us away from our homes. Not because we like it, but because we believe it's the right and necessary thing to do.


Lassie said...

Thanks Dave — not only for your great coverage on the events yesterday, but for your service. My husband and I made it to the O club at 6:30 and were able to hear the great words said in a nearby room. Col. Joe Repya and others let me inside so I was able to catch Pete's introduction and I heard him acknowledge you. Sorry I couldn't thank you and the group in person. We were so humbled by the patriots, vets and families there to support you all.

Anonymous said...

This whole affair is but another example of how emotions have completely displaced sanity over these crucially important issues. For these individuals to claim that this was simply an innocent attempt to bring balance to the event is insulting. By the same token, to look at the Vets for Freedom website and conclude that that group is strictly "non partisan" is also insulting.

Perhaps if the school had managed this whole affair better by inviting different groups on different days (which is of course the least preferred), or by going out to the community and inviting prominent Vets at random, then this might not have happened.

The strong emotions on both sides of the POLITICAL spectrum are a key reason why support for this war has fallen so precipitously. It is clear, that with respect to our commitments overseas that most people want some semblance of honesty, accountability and strategic vision. Instead they get poorly orchestrated PR campaigns by both the right, and certainly the left.

Of course the real tragedy in all of this begins with our Men and Women in uniform and those that sacrificed so much in previous conflicts. They are but pawns in this sickening affair.