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A Gathering of Smeagols

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A Gathering of Smeagols


According to Michelle Malkin, citing National Park Service figures, upwards of 30,000 pro war demonstrators lined the streets of Washington, DC last Saturday to “protect” the Vietnam Memorial and to confront anti-war activists whose numbers they put at “between five and ten thousand”. 

Never mind that Bill Line, Communications & Tourism Officer for the National Park Service
issued the following statement:

 I am the spokesperson for the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. I never issued any statement of any kind about anything related to this past weekend’s events, let alone anything about crowd size. In fact, I was never asked that question by anyone.

Anyone who gives any crowd size number or figure for this past weekend is making the figure up and does not have any authorization whatsoever to attribute those figures to the National Park Service. Since I never issued any such statement nor was ever the question raised in the first place, it is impossible to attribute any figures to the National Park Service for this past weekend’s events.

Lastly, Congress prohibits the National Park Service from giving or providing any crowd estimate for any permitted event on the National Mall.

I hope this is of help and clarification for you.


The Associated Press coverage of the weekend activities estimated the anti-war group’s numbers at 100,000 and the Gathering of Eagles, the group sponsoring the pro war demo, at 1000. An online attendance pledge circulated by the Gathering of Eagles organization had garnered 1838 signatures as of September 17, two days after the event. Of course, they claim, the mainstream media refuses to acknowledge the real numbers. Mmmm.

Various media reports, including those in the mainstream, reported that the Gathering of Eagles was comprised largely of Vietnam veterans. Let’s see….8 million Vietnam- era veterans, one thousand Eagles. There were probably more anti-war Vietnam veterans there than Eagles. (I think the National Park Service said so.)

The Eagles were there, too, make certain that anti war protestors didn’t spit on today’s returning GI’s as they had been spit upon when returning from Vietnam. Some carried signs that read “No Spit Zone”. While the “myth” of spitting” has been largely debunked by Vietnam historians and researchers, these myths must have been thrown in for good measure with the rest of the group’s lies.

So, it seems, was the notion of having to “protect the Wall”. The cammie-bedecked protectors cited the mysterious appearance of an oil-like substance having been thrown at the Wall a few days prior to the weekend.  They weren’t buying the Park Service’s explanation that it was really granite cleaner that hadn’t been properly removed. Speaking of the protecting the Wall, I’d also wager that there are more than a few names of antiwar veterans inscribed in that stone slab.

Like much of the right wing rhetoric of the day, the so-called Gathering of Eagles bunch do not hesitate to make up whatever facts are necessary to get themselves riled up enough to, well, gather. They’ve learned well from the likes of Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly.

They still hate Jane Fonda. They still hate hippies when they can find one. They must hate peace. Love it or leave it and all that good stuff. In reality, I don’t think they ever outgrew their sadness over the end of the Vietnam War and the fact that the government (that they profess to love so much today) left them in the lurch when they came home. Hell, it took a private citizen, perhaps an anti-war one at that, to even get the ball rolling on a memorial to the soldiers who died in Vietnam.

It was seventy years ago on September 21, J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved novel The Hobbit was published followed some 17 years later by his monumental trilogy Lord of the Rings. In that work, Tolkien created a brilliantly obsessive character he called Smeagol, better known to readers as Gollum. Poor Gollum’s body and mind had been consumed by his desire to possess the Ring of Power. It took over his life, transformed him into something ugly and unrecognizable.  Tolkien described his affliction this way, “He hated it and loved it, as he hated and loved himself. He could not get rid of it. He had no will left in the matter.”

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Mark McVay has lived and taught school in Oregon, Michigan, California, and Colorado. He is a Vietnam veteran and served in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in South Vietnam in 1969-70. His wife is a retired USMC officer. McVay's writing has (more...)

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