'These Colors Don't Run'

It’s been 40 years since anti-war and anti-military protestors trampled upon the hearts and spirits of America’s troops who served in Vietnam. The anti-war movement staged a massive march to the Pentagon on March 17, 1967 to decry the fight against communism and demand the end of the Vietnam War.

Now with that anniversary approaching, the anti-war movement is determined to revisit history by marching to the Pentagon once again, to demand American surrender in the war on terrorism.

For the defeat-retreat-surrender crowd there is also the added significance that this marks the fourth anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The problem for the cut-and-run crowd is that a hearty group of American patriots won’t sit back and allow another generation of America’s troops to be denigrated and disrespected.

For the past seven days a caravan of families who lost children in the war on terrorism, families who still have loved ones serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring freedom have crossed the nation to send a message to the nation: surrender is not an option.

The brave men and women of the United States military will not come home to an ungrateful nation. There will be no more spitting on our troops, no more harassing of our troops when they wear their military uniforms in public.

The "These Colors Don’t Run" pro-troop caravan, organized by the pro-troop, grassroots group, Move America Forward, began March 8 with three pro-troop rallies in the San Francisco Bay Area, a region that might seem like an unlikely place for pro-troop supporters to gather.

The response was phenomenal.

Pro-troop supporters outnumbered anti-war activists by a ratio of more than 1,000 to 12.

American flags waved proudly at the rallies, cleansing the negativity and defeatism of the liberal bastions of San Francisco with patriotism and pride — pride in our troops, pride in our country and pride in the American ideals of freedom and liberty.

As the caravan has crossed the nation the number of anti-war protestors dropped to literally zero.

Twenty-five pro-troop rallies have taken place and at each stop the caravan has been welcomed with an enthusiastic response from a public that is irked by politicians and certain media outlets that seem to wish for American failure in the war effort in order to validate a political agenda.

At each rally stop the caravan collected American flags, all of which will be displayed in a giant "Flag City" at Constitution Gardens in Washington, D.C. Move America Forward had expected to collect hundreds of flags, instead pro-troop supporters donated over 10,000 flags. Each flag will be sent to a unit serving in Iraq and Afghanistan so that our troops may see they are loved and supported back home.

Debra Argel Bastian says the response from the public has invigorated her, and that’s a good thing. Deb’s son, Capt. Derek Argel, died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Derek believed in the mission and so does his mom.

Deb told supporters that at a time when the nation seems disengaged with the war on terrorism while fixated with the American Idol reality TV show, priorities needed to be changed.

"The only American Idols I care about are the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States military," she told the appreciative crowds.

Crowds at the pro-troop rally stops have hugged her and thanked her for speaking out on behalf of all those who have fallen in the fight for freedom and all those who continue to serve today.

Joseph Williams is a Gold Star Father. His son, Michael Jason Williams, died in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Joseph went on the trek across the nation to make sure that the men and women serving overseas come home to a grateful nation.

"Jane Fonda is a disgrace to this nation and she caused a lot of pain to a generation of American servicemen, we can’t allow that to happen again," Joseph said when explaining why he joined the caravan.

American Legion Riders, Patriot Guard Riders and members of Rolling Thunder have mounted up on motorcycles to lead the caravan into many of its stops. Many of these good people are Vietnam Veterans and they share Joseph’s commitment to show respect and appreciation for our troops.

The caravan has been received surprisingly well by the news media. News helicopters followed the caravan, providing aerial coverage to viewers in several cities. Radio stations broadcast the rallies live in city after city.

In the nation’s second largest media market, Los Angeles, both news radio stations covered the rally — making it their top story.

The New York Times blogged about the caravan. Washington Post Radio is doing a segment on the historic event, and USA Today and the Reuters news service couldn’t ignore the success of the caravan as they reported on its progress.

In central Texas the caravan received a police escort and was hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. In Dallas a choir comprised of homeschoolers sang patriotic songs to the crowd, their voices breathtakingly beautiful.

In Memphis, Tennessee a thunderstorm dumped over an inch of rain in a one-half hour period, but that didn’t stop local residents from turning out and vocally supporting the caravan at a boisterous rally.

On Saturday the caravan will complete its journey in Washington, D.C. where Move America Forward’s hearty road-warriors will team up with several other pro-troop and veteran’s groups for the "Gathering of Eagles" — an effort to protect America’s war memorials from desecration and vandalism by the most radical of the anti-war protestors.

Marine Mom Deborah Johns, who has traveled with the "These Colors Don’t Run" caravan all across the nation, said it’s up to each of us to make sure that our men and women in uniform come home in victory from their missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Some people say it’s a hopeless cause to try and fight against the media’s misreporting on the war effort and the negativity from the anti-everything crowd.

"What these people fail to recognize is that the American public wants to succeed. They want our troops to prevail in this cause so that America may never face another attack from Islamic terrorists again. We can sit back and whine about the media coverage of the war, or complain about the actions of anti-war protestors. Instead, it’s time for the eagles to gather up, soar high, and lead this nation ahead with confidence and determination to declare victory over tyranny, terrorism and fear."

Eagles up, everyone: the battle for hearts and minds here in America is just as important as the battle our troops are fighting half-a-world away, and it’s a battle we can’t afford to lose.