"When I wave my white flag, that means you surrender."

In Waterville, Maine, a group of veterans have been arrested for defending their territory.

A group of peace activists from the Waterville Valley Bridges to Peace decided to reach out to the Veterans of Foreign Wars to see if they would be interested in some sort of joint action to honor those American service members who have fallen in Iraq. Not surprisingly, the VFW didn’t bother to answer; those most inclined to join such organizations have very little truck with those who “oppose war.”

So, rebuffed by the vets, the BoP people received permits from the town to set up a display in the local veteran’s memorial park cemetery to commemorate the fallen. And armed with that, they set up their display. They stuck up signs that say “War Is Not The Answer,” ”2000 Soldiers Killed in Iraq How Many More?” and ”100,000 Iraqis Died as a Result of This War How Many More?”

And around the signs, they planted 2,000 little white flags.

White flags. The international symbol of defeat, of surrender.

The veterans from the VFW saw what was being done in THEIR cemetery, dedicated in THEIR honor, and were outraged. They protested vehemently, and the BoP took down the sign about the Iraqis. The veterans still seethed at the perceived insult, but held their peace. They noted that the permit the BoP had obtained covered “until the first snowfall.”

Last week, Waterville received a dusting of snow, but the flags remained. And Thursday night, mere hours before the day when we are all called to give them some small measure of the honor they are due, five veterans decided to enforce the law themselves and remove the flags. They couldn’t stand the thought of those obscene symbols of defeat and surrender desecrating their cemetery.

They were arrested.

A representative from BoP, when asked to comment on the story, said he felt sorry for the poor, stupid, ignorant veterans. Bill Lord, himself a veteran as well as a leader of BoP, told a reporter ”I wish they could understand that what we are doing is an attempt to reduce casualties among our brothers and sisters fighting in wars overseas.”

They do understand what you are doing, Mr. Lord. And just like when their allies in Code Pink decide to hold their protests outside military hospitals, telling the wounded within just how stupid they are and how pointless their sacrifices were, they know the difference between a solemn memorial and a calculated slap in the face. It’s the new version of the spits and the cries of “baby killers” that greeted returning veterans from Viet Nam.

They really do support the troops — as long as those troops are properly ashamed of what they have done. Any who have the nerve to believe in their mission or take pride in their achievements are simply “ignorant” and need to be properly “educated” by their betters.

By any means necessary.

Update: A couple of readers have questioned the discrepancy between my account and the Boston Glob’s, which I linked to. I heard a radio story on the same event, and several veterans said the terms of the permit said “first snowfall,” not “significant snowfall.” I put more faith in the words of the veterans than I do of the Boston Glob, which has a long history of shading the facts to suit their agenda.

But prompted by those readers, I did a bit more research — which I should have done in the first place. This story by the AP also says “first snowfall,” so I feel pretty comfortable that the Glob simply took the spin of the BoP mouthpiece, as is their tendency.

I’m taking a lesson from this: in the future, when I use the Glob as a source, I should use Google News to doublecheck the Glob. And my thanks to Rick and Nicholas for nudging me to back up what I’m saying a bit better.

Coming to terms on the war in Iraq
Carnival of the Trackbacks XXXVII


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