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Where to Be Inspired
By Mark Strudas
We walked down the stairs and formed up in a column of two. Shoulder to shoulder we waited as the drum corps stepped in front of us. The crowd of people in our path parted like the Red Sea. The drums started rapping like machine gun fire. As we approached the rotunda, the crowd of thousands erupted with applause, cheers, and chants: "Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!" We took a moment to soak in the energy of the crowd.
A friend of mine, Todd Dennis (USN), was handed the microphone. "Hello everybody, my name is Todd, and I'm from Madison. I brought a bunch of my friends from Iraq Veterans Against the War." The cheering intensified and the volume was almost deafening. I never expected this level of support from a red state, but these red state workers held signs that said; "Stop the War on Workers," "War on Teachers," "War on Unions," "War on the Middle Class."
Before we walked in the door the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were like two giant elephants in the room that no one was willing to look at. I suppose it's a little taboo, especially in a mid-western state to criticize the war. As if addressing the subject would disgrace the American forces. But... it's not, and we're surely not bashful.
My brother, Vince Emanuele (USMC), put it best, "I think the time has long passed that we talk about these issues as if they were separate. There is nothing separate about spending $1,000,000,000,000 a year, on the military, to send us to wars that we never should have been to in the first place, when that money should have been right here. The workers here, the unions, the human rights groups, the minority groups, the anti-war groups, they have to work together. This fight does no stop tomorrow. This fight goes on forever..." As we left the rotunda, children, college students, mothers, firemen, and police officers all went out of their way to give us hugs and handshakes, high-fives and thanks. I knew then that I had justification for my actions. We were doing what was really good for the people.
Mark J Strudas was born and raised in Chesterton, IN. USMC 2003-2007. 0481 Landing Support Specialist. OIF/OEF Al Taqaddum in the Al Anbar province of Iraq, August 04-March 05 and August 05-March 06. Separated in 2007. Member of NW Indiana IVAW.