Thirteen TFP volunteers traveled fourteen hours from Pennsylvania to Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, to show their support and gratitude to our brave troops on November 19 through 22, 2009. They also made the trip to counter-protest leftist pacifists at the gates of the military base. The thirteen young men were treated to some glaring contrasts that made the long trip a memorable one.
Rally for the Troops
Gathered at the intersection of 13th Street and Broadway, the volunteers unfurled two large banners reading: “The American soldier guarantees the peace, not socialist protesters,” and “We are proud of our military heroes. May God bless and protect them!” The banners were accompanied by hand-held signs calling for passersby to “Honk for our brave troops!” The result was a cheerful chorus of honks from the majority of vehicles, from large trucks, police cars and even ambulances crossing the busy intersection.
“Knowing pacifist protestors were in town, the locals were extremely happy to voice their gratitude to the troops by honks, waves and thumbs up,” said the group’s organizer John Ritchie. TFP volunteers also passed out copies of their statement published in the local newspaper, the Ledger-Enquirer, titled “A Call to Gratitude: Who Will Thank Our Heroes?”
A few of the pacifist protesters passed by and briefly argued with the volunteers, but were visibly disconcerted by the overwhelming support from Columbus residents who would not stop honking. Then a lady in a mechanized wheelchair came along with a gentleman wearing an Uncle Sam costume. They held their own “Support the Troops!” signs and happily joined the campaign. “It was impressive to see a lady in a wheelchair join us able-bodied men at the street corner. I’m sure people also honked to congratulate her,” said TFP volunteer Thomas Schneider. “She showed us that if you love an ideal enough, you can redefine the word ‘disabled.’”
Meeting with a Hero
While in town, the TFP volunteers toured the newly opened National Infantry Museum, described by Major General Jerry White as a “multi-million dollar love letter to the American soldier.” The museum is simply awe-inspiring. Dedicated to the courageous infantry soldiers that have defended our country, the museum brings to life many historic wars and battles with sophisticated sound and visual effects, cast figures of real infantry soldiers and numerous historic items from actual battles, such as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle that was damaged by terrorists in Iraq. The museum also sports a shooting range with M-4 and M-16 rifles modified for electronic target practice but still kick like the lethal versions. The glass encased Hall of Valor honors the nearly 1,500 infantry recipients of the Medal of Honor.
To make their tour of military history even more vivid, the TFP volunteers chanced to meet a newly commissioned 2nd lieutenant with an eye-patch over his right eye. His name is 2nd Lt. Peter Sprenger, the young soldier who sustained serious injuries including the loss of one eye to a suicide car bomb attack while serving in Iraq in 2003. This brave wounded soldier defied all odds and skeptics by passing U.S. Army Ranger training and going back to combat. Then, because of his exceptional dedication, the Army decided to grant him entrance into Officer Candidate School which he recently completed, receiving his 2nd lieutenant’s insignia from General David Petraeus himself.
The TFP volunteers chatted with the unassuming soldier who, when told why the TFP volunteers were in town, thanked them for their support and gratitude. When he stated he was from California, the volunteers told him about the TFP campaign there in defense of traditional marriage. Lighting up, 2nd Lt. Sprenger said, “I voted for Prop. 8!” referring to the bill that protected marriage as between a man and a woman. As each volunteer bade him farewell, they could not but think they shook the hand of a true hero, one willing to lay down his life for his country.
Pacifist Protesters Promote Communism
In light of the above, imagine the contrast when the TFP volunteers campaigned close to the area where socialist pacifists picketed the entrance of Fort Benning. The demonstration against Fort Benning and the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) – formerly called the School of the Americas – was a conglomeration of confused leftist Catholic nuns — only a few wore a habit but most wore marked sweaters identifying them as nuns — communist agitators, rainbow-flag waving pro-homosexual activists and many students from Jesuit high schools and universities. Right next to tables manned by leftist Catholic nuns was a well-frequented tent of a radical communist bookstore called Revolution Books that sold Che Guevara and Fidel Castro wall calendars and atheist communist literature calling for open Marxist revolution.
Wait. Didn’t the Berlin Wall fall twenty years ago? Apparently, liberation theology and the subversive communist ideas that built the wall are still alive.
After campaigning a block away from the pacifist demonstration, the TFP volunteers distributed copies of their statement: “A Call to Gratitude: Who Will Thank Our Heroes?” among the pacifists themselves. The look of consternation did not take long to form on most of the pacifists’ faces as they read the flier lauding our soldiers’ service and the training they offer South American nations to combat Marxist guerillas.
Ironically, many of the pacifists took a belligerent attitude towards the TFP volunteers, including one long-haired male organizer who shouted, “keep your propaganda away” and told other organizers to make sure the TFP volunteers stayed away from them. In the background, the loud speakers repeatedly blared a song with the lyrics, “the power of love…the power of love…” So much for peace, love and tolerance….
It is experiences like these that help one to better appreciate the heroism and sacrifice of soldiers like 2nd Lt. Peter Sprenger. Oftentimes, we need stark contrasts to awaken in us the admiration due to men of honor and to help us loath the harmful ideologies of pacifism and Marxism that seek to disarm and dishonor hallowed institutions like our military. May God bless and protect our heroes as they defend us from our enemies!