Monday, May 26, 2008

I was trained by a family that taught me to love our country, not blame it.




Memorial Day isn't until Monday. But for Rich Davis, a 20-year veteran of the Navy, it seems to come every Saturday. That's when he pulls out a handmade sign and heads for a street corner near the Chester County Court House in this suburban Philadelphia community.

Mr. Davis, 54, is a pro-military protester who makes a public stand each week in support of the troops and their mission.

"We're not silent anymore," Mr. Davis told me. "We refuse to let antiwar protesters have the stage to themselves."

Not that he wants to stifle dissent. He just doesn't want to go unanswered the signs and protests that he believes encourage the enemy and demoralize U.S. troops. So, sign in hand in September, he walked to the corner praying he would have the strength to stand there, to be seen and heard.

"Every time we go out, I remind the guys that we represent more than ourselves," he told me. "The troops and their families look at us. So I hope we present ourselves with the same type of dignity, courage and honor that our own sons and daughters are showing in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Mr. Davis notes that he has been accused of being part of a vast right-wing conspiracy that trains and pays pro-troop advocates. Asked about that, he offers an answer that may inspire others to join his efforts.

"In a way they're right," he told me. "I was trained by a family that taught me to love our country, not blame it. And I am paid by troops and their families who say thanks for doing this, thanks for being here."

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