Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: My daughter's first protest

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My daughter's first protest

When I saw someone had organized a Move-On protest in Anchorage for the fifth anniversary of the Iraq Occupation, I was determined to get behind it and help promote it. I posted about it on my little blog and any other local blog and board I had access too. I even emailed a number of local media outlets and asked them to support it. Luckily, lots of other folks had the same idea so I was excited to attend. I was especially excited because my 10-year-old daughter was coming with me.

Morrigan wasn't sure what to expect. She kept asking me what it was going to be like, if anything scary would happen, etc...Part of her fear was because early that morning, some unknown character decided to pour red paint on the Veteran's Monument. Of course, the local right-wingers (urged on by one of the television stations, rumor has it) threw together a small, impromptu gathering of Vets (all of whom hated Moveon.org) at the memorial and they spent their time blaming us.

They didn't mention that a bunch of MoveOn folks and other Progressives made a beeline for the Memorial when they heard about it to help with the clean-up.

(It was pointed out more than once that had someone seriously meant to do that as an anti-war protest, it was strange that they would do it secretly rather than publicly. Of course everyone knew ahead of time when and where MoveOn was doing the vigil. Hmmmmmmmm...)

When we got there, the sky was bright blue and the weather was mild for March in Anchorage (upper 30s). We saw that the organizers did a great job since there were tons of signs and candles waiting for us. We grabbed a couple of signs and walked to the corner. Morrigan carried a chair for me as well since I had to be careful on the ice with my cane. We found a nice spot and it was so wonderful to see all four corners of the largest intersection in Anchorage full of people with signs, candles, an effigy of Bush, costumes, etc... There were at least 100 people - in Anchorage that's a great turnout when there's no music or food involved!

It had been a long time (2004) since I'd participated in an Iraq protest and the difference was staggering - the horns honked constantly in support and there were very few signs of disrespect. All of the local news networks were covering it - talk about a change.

One thing that hadn't changed, there was one rather disheveled (possibly drunk) man who came along to harrass everyone there. It was the typical rhetoric - we were traitors, we hate the troops, we were aiding the enemy...yadda, yadda, yadda... Up to that point, Morrigan was doing pretty well but his yelling and unpredictable behavior scared her and she started crying. When I pointed out to the man that he was making my daughter cry as he continued his tirade in front of us, he turned to us both and said that she "should cry," that I should be ashamed and had no business bringing her there. I then asked him if he had an s association with the military and mentioned I'd worked for the Army for 13 years.

He walked away. That's usually all it takes.

Heck, I was just a Federal civilian employee. The real kicker is that of the three MoveOn organizers, one is a Vietnam-era Vet, one is a military wife whose husband has done several tours in Iraq and the third is someone who lost a friend and former student in Iraq. Yeah, we hate the troops alright.

After about an hour, Morrigan and I realized that we hadn't dressed warm enough to last longer and we headed to Cafe Felix to watch a video from some past vigils involving Cindy Sheehan and others. I was ready to go home if she was bored or depressed, but Morrigan actually wanted to stay until the videos were over.

That night, we monitored all three networks and were very upset at the coverage. Two of the stations tied the paint incident in with our vigil. One of them - at least during their 10:00 pm coverage - focused more on that one angry guy saying he was speaking out "for the troops" (insinuating that we were against). They also focused on the dozen or so angry Vets that showed up in response to the paint incident and we got to hear what they would do to the "protester" who did it if they ever found him.

That's when I saw my daughter get angry about injustice for the first time.

Later, on her way to bed, she said "I'm going to tell everyone at school tomorrow." Then she paused for a second. "I'm not going to tell my cousins, though, they wouldn't understand." Her uncle is a right-wing radio talk-show host in town.

That is when I almost sadly realized that my daughter's not my baby anymore...she gets it.

When Morrigan got home from school today, she mentioned that she told everyone at school about it.

I asked, "What did they say?"

"They didn't care," she said. "Accept for Lane, he said that the people at the protest for peace dumped the red paint. I got so mad that I sounded like you when you talk on the radio!"

That made me smile.


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Gary Wallis

3/29/2008 4:46 AM  

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