Saturday, June 09, 2007

STOP-LOSS Vigil - Parting Thoughts

Evan Knappenberger's week long Tower Guard Vigil ended Friday afternoon.

I spent some time out in front of the Federal Building each day of the vigil. I was there at various times of day and no matter what time it was, passersby were drawn to the tower and to Evan.

Most who stopped to talk were curious, not really knowing what stop-loss was but sensing it was something they should know about. There were people who had heard about the vigil and made special trips to meet Evan and thank him for what he was doing. Many Veterans stopped to talk; Veterans of WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm and O.I.F.. All of them were supportive of Evan's efforts to educate Americans about the Pentagon's use of stop-loss as a backdoor draft.

I asked Evan about negative reactions to his vigil. The people who stopped to talk and expressed a favorable view of stop-loss could be counted on one hand. There were a few people who shouted or made rude gestures from their vehicles. Evan observed that a common trait of those detractors was that they never spoke or made gestures while they were stopped by the traffic signal, but only when the light changed and they began to drive away.

During the time I spent at the vigil, I heard a few (very few) shouts from passing vehicles, but whatever they were shouting was unintelligible because they had already gone through the intersection. I witnessed only one person make a clearly understandable disparaging remark. A youngish guy walked past with an angry look on his face. After he had completely passed the tower, he spoke over his shoulder; saying "why don't you trying serving before you criticize" and then hurried on down the street. Apparently he completely misunderstood the meaning of the vigil and who he was speaking at.

In the Friday's edition of the Bellingham Herald there was a story about the vigil. In the online comments to the story was a bitter complaint that the article wasn't balanced because it didn't contain interviews with "Those who support our military stop loss program", but the commenter didn't suggest where to find such creatures.

Evan's vigil wasn't about being anti-war or liberal or Democratic, it was about fundamental issues of ethics and fairness. No one who actually listened to what was being said could support the continued use of stop-loss to maintain troop levels in Iraq while most Americans are completely untouched.

There's more video of those who spoke at the closing ceremony:
Stop the STOP-LOSS - Closing Ceremony (clip 4 )
Stop the STOP-LOSS - Closing Ceremony (clip 5 )
Stop the STOP-LOSS - Closing Ceremony (clip 6 )
Stop the STOP-LOSS - Closing Ceremony (clip 7 )
Stop the STOP-LOSS - Closing Ceremony (clip 8 )
Stop the STOP-LOSS - Closing Ceremony (clip 9)
Stop the STOP-LOSS - Closing Ceremony (clip 10 )

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