The little black electric clock was buzzing, I was in a wonderful dream, and we were at peace. When I looked at the clock it said 0600; I had to get up and be about the business of protesting on the Morrison Bridge, Portland, Or. I wanted coffee----give me coffee and all things would seem better. My beloved wife Patty said, "You don't have to get up, it is your day off, and taking one Friday off from your protest will not change the world." During my second cup of coffee, waiting for the bus to come at 0705, I wondered what keeps me going.
What makes a guy who is happy with his life, has a great lady to share his adventure of living for the last 25 years (+)---grandkids that think he is funny and love building things with him; what makes him risk being arrested or run over by some nutty Bush supporter who gets angry over one of his signs.
What makes this guy, who now calls himself the "Lone Vet" because he has decided to stand alone on the bridge from 0730-0830 every Friday with a sign that most people ignore, some cheer, and others who yell commie coward. One word comes to mind, "Fear."
I spent nine years of my life in the United States Navy, (1962-71) fighting for what I thought was the greatest, most wonderful country in the world. My last year in the Navy was a turning point for me. I came to that uncomfortable place we all reach at one time or another; my beliefs did not reflect the truth of what my country was doing in my name. The Vietnam war was now exposed as a big lie, two Presidents had lied to us, Johnson to get us into the war and Nixon who promised us that he would get us out with honor, and soon. The country was being torn apart and everyone was taking sides, I chose the side of peace and "Get us out of Nam." The war ended and so did my protest. I wanted to go to college, as my military career was finished half way through to retirement and I had to start over. During the next few years I went to college and worked as a volunteer in the Peace House located in San Diego, Ca. When Nixon resigned I thought we had won a great victory. I went to college full time on and off for the next few years, finally getting a BA in 1979. Fast forward to 2000.
I was stunned when the Supreme Court gave the election to Bush by a 5-4 decision making him the most powerful man in the world. I could not believe what had happened. I remember writing in my Journal this was going to be the worst four years in our history; little did I know how bad it was going to get.
Bush loves to invoke 9/11 in his speeches, well when it happened I knew we would go to war, Afghanistan was going to be destroyed and the retaliation was going to be awful, and it continues to this day. The invasion of Iraq was a major stain on our nation that will take generations to pay for, and I don't just mean money. My grandkids will being paying for this war and that makes me so pissed. I no longer even try to convince people that this war is wrong on so many different levels, I just protest. I believe that if you still support Bush you believe the sun goes around the earth.
So I give a few hours of my time, I write to my representatives to the point they groan when they see one of my letters. I talk on radio talk shows and plan other protests down the line, I do fear so.
I fear that this coming Friday will be the last time I can protest, that right is being taken away piece by piece. The first amendment is under heavy attack from this criminal administration.
I fear that I am getting old and will not be able to stand on the bridge for health reasons.
I fear that America will lose that wonderful trait of trying to be a noble nation.
America has never been perfect and never will, we have done terrible things in the past, but I always had the feeling we, as a people, are at least trying.
So, we are back where we started, and I would like to keep talking to you but here comes the number 15 bus, have to go- my bridge is calling. If you see me, a smile helps.