SCOTT RAAB, OUTREACH DIRECTOR
Move America Forward
“My Experiences at the Million Vet March at the WWII Memorial in Washington DC”
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I didn’t know what to expect when the day started, all I knew was that thousands of veterans and their families would soon gather and that we were going to do anything we could to make sure our veterans would not be blocked from this memorial again. The sun was barely up when we arrived and already hundreds of outraged people started to gather. These people would soon grow into an overwhelming crowd that spilled over into the street, completely covering the memorial and surrounding area. Police and other enforcement officials were also starting to assemble, perhaps the very same who only days prior, tried to prevent Honor Flights from seeing the memorial.
The first thing I saw was the gates that had been placed in front, and all around the memorial to block anyone from entering, including the very people it was built to honor. Almost immediately veterans of every kind began to take them down, piling them to the side and even carrying many to the White House itself. Everyone knew these barricades didn’t belong, and even the park officers who had orders to keep people out allowed the gates to be torn down.
I have seen groups of military assemble as an enlisted man in the Navy, but I never seen anything like this. Under each of the gigantic hanging wreaths, one for each state that had sent brave young men and women to fight, stood actual combat veterans from every major conflict our nation has faced since the greatest generation set foot on the shores of Normandy during Operation Overlord in 1944.
It’s hard to describe the feeling that I had seeing all of it unfold. First, Sarah Palin came out to the crowd and spoke to us, sharing a message that our veterans deserve better, that Washington needed to get their act together and that all of us stood for one voice.
After she was done speaking, Palin spent the next few hours just walking through the crowd talking to everyone she could.
Everyone was talking to everyone else, veterans and families alike everywhere were sharing stories of why they appreciate the military, where they had served and who they had lost.
Ted Cruz followed her and then other event organizers and veterans like myself addressed the crowd.
When it was my turn to speak on behalf of Move America Forward I told the crowd what everyone was thinking. How our veterans were being treated was unacceptable. How payments to those who earned them while in battle should never have to worry about our country making good on that contract. That I was just veteran like many of them and that means a lot. That I was going to do everything possible to make sure that Washington heard us that day. That thanks to them and our “march”, no one would be left behind.
That, as far as I am concerned, when you make a commitment to serve this nation in uniform, this country should always fill their end of the agreement. Taking care of those injured or the families that make the ultimate sacrifice.
Diana Nagy, MAF Singer, led the crown singing “God Bless America” and not a single person was silent. All veterans, families, and military supporters stood united, fed up with the political games that used our Veterans as pawns in legislative battles.
Soon truckers from all over the US pulled up to the memorial and police promptly barricaded the streets. They eventually left as the thousands of veterans and supporters surrounded them on the street. They would not be able to block our memorial on that day.
Before I realized the day had passed we saw an honor flight come to the memorial. With the streets blocked off everyone in attendance helped those WWII veterans get through and see the place that was built in their honor.
I felt united with every single person there, not only with my brothers in arms but also with the millions of people that couldn’t be there. All of you that only care about the well-being of our warriors and this great country. We received so many emails and letters demanding action from our politicians and I know they heard your voice.
The Million Vet March was the start. And I want to personally thank each and every one of you that have served and those who support the ones who do. The Veterans that could have lost their benefits at the end of the month, the veterans who were blocked from their memorial, and any others that felt used as political pawns, thank you for the support.
Our united voice is as overwhelming as the feeling I had helping take down those barricades with other veterans. God Bless our military and each and every one of you that will not allow anyone to be left behind.
OEF/OIF Combat Veteran
Move America Forward, Outreach Director
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