January 26, 2008
Jacksonville, North Carolina
The NC Gathering of Eagles sponsored an Operation to demonstrate support for and celebrate the American Military.
Hundreds of people came to Jacksonville, from all over North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina and West Virginia. They spread out along Highway 17 waving American and Marine flags and holding signs proclaiming respect, admiration and gratitude to the men and women of the United States Military.
GOE National Director, Larry Bailey reports.
In response to the pitiful gathering of Westboro Baptist Church miscreants near Camp Lejeune, NC, on 1/26/08, the North Carolina chapter of Gathering of Eagles organized a support-the-troops rally alongside a 300-yard stretch of US 17. Scores of flags and hand-painted signs adorned the route, and the Eagles stayed at their posts despite a continuing cold drizzle.
The event was supported by various other patriotic organizations, including Eagles Up and various motorcycle clubs.
For three hours, Jacksonville, the host city for Camp Lejeune, rang to the sound of beep-beeps, ah-OOH-gahs, honk-honks, and BLA-A-AAAATs as passing vehicles indicated their approval of the pro-troop message the estimated 250 patriots were putting out.
Scores of Marines and their family members actually pulled into the parking lot near the gathering to express their appreciation for what the Eagles were doing. One of the most memorable was this quote from a Devil Dog: “We just got back from Iraq yesterday, and it’s good to see that somebody gives a s__t!”
One Eagle stated, “This was so good, I’d have PAID to be here!”
It was a great day for America and for the US military.
Jacksonville News Video
Eagle Toothless Dawg, (Jim Holmes), has written up his AAR for this event. He did a fine job, and I reckon there’s not much else to say.
So here is Dawg’s report.
To those at Operation Celebration of America’s Military that I met for the first time, I’m honored to have met you and to stand on line with you … to those who I have met before and been on line with before, I enjoyed every minute of today and look forward to standing with you again in the future as we support our country and our military and all patriots.
Ahhhhh, Another wonderful day standing on line. Today in Jacksonville NC near Camp Lejeune hundreds of patriots came together to show thanks and support for our military.
The distasteful first -
the Jacksonville PD closed all streets surrounding the location where WBC would be demonstrating. They allowed foot traffic if the people were going to visit a friend or lived/worked within the closed area. SURPRISE, one gentleman patriot owned property next to where WBC was located. SURPRISE, USMC wives and girlfriends were permitted on his property. I didn’t get a chance to go there but everyone I talked to that did make the trip said there was a estimated showing of 100-150 wives/girlfriends/mothers!!! Now if that won’t put the fear of God into you, nothing will. PD had a strong presence, some on horseback. USMC had a strong presence on the base across the street from WBC … including Marines on APCs and in riot gear. As expected the wives/girlfriends/mothers handled it just fine … they made their intentions known and the police finally allowed that one at a time they could walk up to WBC while being escorted by a police officer and have their say … all complied in the time permitted.
At our location a few miles north of the Veterans Cemetary demonstration, I arrived at 10:30 to find 50-60 Eagles already on site and many flags already placed. At 1100 hours (permit was granted from 1100-1400) all Eagles gathered in the parking lot and sang the national anthem as a flag owned by Bubba McDowell, the NC GoE Coordinator, was raised. This in NOT the normal run of the mill flag … it is a 20′ flag that is hoisted on a specially made flag pole that is anchored by a base plate the truck sits upon. All I can say about it is AWESOME!!! Another GoE member fabricated the flagpole and base plate.
It is difficult to assign a number to attendance … people were coming and going … also once the WBC left town, the wives/girlfriends/mothers joined us. I would guess-timate that in our lull period we had 100-150 patriots on line … at our high water mark probably 200-250 and National Colors in abundance. We had GoE, Patriot Guard, Militaryappreciationday.org, Leathernecks MC, and other motorcycle clubs in attendance including Pagans and affiliate clubs. I apologize if I missed any group but your attendance is greatly appreciated.
We had people that were driving by join us on line … we had people from the Super Walmart come out and join us on line … we had families that were going to Chucky Cheese Pizza come out and join us on line … and we had young Marines who came out and while they could not actually join us, they walked the line and shook hands of everyone there and thanked us for our support. The local pizza parlor (sorry I forgot to get the name) delivered a ton of pizzas and drinks to the line. USMC delivered coffee and doughnuts to the line on NUMEROUS occassions.
12 large pizzas were donated and delivered by Steve Vinson from the Dominoes Pizza on Gumbranch Road. Steve is also a retired Marine.
Thanks for the hot pizza, Steve!
A group of Marines came by and said hello, then went to WalMart. They returned with bottled water, soft drinks and hand warmers for our ladies and babies.
Marine wives twice delivered doughnuts and coffee.
Traffic??? OMIGOSH!!! Not one negative gesture that I saw and while many did not acknowledge us preferring to look and keep driving … the MAJORITY of traffic was highly supportive. Horns were blowing, airhorns from passing 18wheelers were LOUD, we observed that many people came by numerous times with the windows down so their children could wave and cheer. A few energetic and expressive individuals were standing in the sunroof of their vehicles (passengers, not drivers) and waving flags, ooooRAH’ing, waving, shouting … it was a great day!!! One very impressive gesture came from an elderly gentleman with his wife in the passenger seat that pulled over to the side of the road (handicapped or DAV tags from what I was told), got out of his car and walked to the front and faced the line. He then snapped to attention and held a ramrod straight salute to the line. He then got back in his car and drove off, blowing the horn for the entire length of the line, his wife waving as they passed. Families as well as marines were driving slowly as they passed the line and holding cameras and video cams to take pictures that will be shared overseas and back at the base.
The day was overcast, wet and cold but the support from the community drove away any feelings of discomfort. About 1330 the sun tried its best to peek through the overcast … and the ensuing warmth was well received, no matter how short the comfort it provided. The spirit was warm enough for us today.
The signs: “SUPPORT AMERICA” and “Land of the Free, Because of the Brave”
Gallons of coffee, boxes of doughnuts.
This is the third unexpected delivery. This time by Marine wives.
More Photos by Bill Cook