Monthly Archives: September 2013

Revolution Against Tyranny Part One: Warriors of the First Degree Chapter Eleven

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Of all the people I had encountered since pulling out of my driveway early the previous morning, God had placed Mark in my life to spend the 12th anniversary of September 11. He had served six deployments overseas in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. I was afraid to ask if he had served anywhere else, lest he have to kill me. He spoke of those times off-handedly, without pride or an over inflated sense of accomplishment. I did not really appreciate the honor of being in this soldier’s company until days later when recuperating at home. I’m not really sure I have what it takes to comprehend the sacrifice he and so many others had made since our ancestors declared their independence from the British Empire over two centuries ago. When I take time to contemplate the true price of freedom, my mind can scarce take it in. I know my soul understands because the heart becomes so full of gratitude it overflows through my eyes. What other nation has sent its young men and women to the farthest reaches of the planet over and over again in the name of freedom against tyranny? We understand in the core of our being the words of Christ: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” All those who suffered under the oppression of despots, tyrants and dictators, all those who are denied their God given rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, all those who yearn to be free, THEY are our friends, THEY are our neighbors. The tragedy that took 3,000 lives on September 11, 2001 was because evil still existed, evil that despised freedom and the search of righteousness. We finally understood what so much of the world had been going through for so long. We had become citizens of the world in our grief and outrage, and finally realized that every American was now a soldier in the fight against the forces of darkness and hatred. Each and every one of us now had to be willing to lay down our life for our friends. In this context, Mark, myself and every lover of freedom were now deployed on the global stage, and we have to not only find the right weapon to fight with (our hands, our minds, our hearts, our words, our love), many of us must learn how to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11).

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Mark and I crossed Constitution and plodded west toward our transportation. It took every bit of effort on my part to keep up with his long strides, but like a good soldier I sucked it up and kept moving. Bikers still roared through the streets intermittently, filling the heat-packed air with an incessant growl. This day was not seceded to Muslims wanting only to cry about their rights being compromised. This day was not for anyone to complain about anything. There were 364 days of the year to do that. This day was to reflect and remember the precious lives that were brutally snuffed out twelve years ago, and to rededicate ourselves to making sure they had not died in vain. My body was on the cusp of collapsing and my mind was befuddled, but through the mist of my suffering I heard Cookie’s raspy voice: “My nephew was on the 103rd floor that day.” As long as there was breath in my body, as long as blood coursed through my veins, I would never forget his nephew, nor the other innocent victims trapped in the twin towers or their planes or the Pentagon, nor of the hundreds of first responders who gave their lives trying to save the lives of others. No, I would not forget September 11, 2001, not in all the days of my life.

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Eventually we parted ways. I thanked Mark profusely for the honor of his company and then watched as he walked on. He had given me strength enough to endure, but now I had to find it within myself if I ever hoped of making it back to my car and then to a few million gallons of ice water. I only had to ask two pedestrians how to get to the Reagan Building, and eventually stumbled into the Metro station. I stared at the map in my hands and the signs posted around the station and swayed as if listening to some sweet blues song as throngs of people buzzed around me. When I discovered where the train I needed was, I weaved my way there. At one point I came across an escalator that wasn’t working and began to ascend. I was grateful there were no others around because my going was slow. About halfway up my legs and arms started shaking with weakness, and I began to lose my grip and step, but a firm hand suddenly supported my back and proceeded to push me up. I thanked whoever it was, too afraid to take my eyes off my feet, and told them they couldn’t have timed that any better. My helper didn’t say a word but kept steady pressure on my back and supported me the rest of the way. Finally at the top, I turned around to face the Good Samaritan . . . and no one was there. I stood holding the top of the guard rail as the realization of this divine help struck my consciousness like a number 9 ball peen hammer. Had there been a bench or chair I’m sure I would have collapsed into it, but just the rushing sound of my train filled the cavernous station. I had to take my amazement and gratitude with me, although I wanted nothing more than to fall on my face, not from dehydration and heat exhaustion, but from absolute love for my Savior.

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The car I entered was almost empty, and I plopped into the first seat I could. The air was cool but I barely noticed, still in shock and awe. That unseen hand was on the hearts of all those who had lost their lives on 9/11, was on the hearts of every American that horrible day, telling us we were not alone, never had been and never will be. I bowed my head in absolute gratitude and worship.

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Eventually I arrived at the Metro station where my car was parked. I looked out over the sea of vehicles and completely forgot where I had parked my Focus, so I wandered through it until finding my car at last. Ah, the air conditioning was like a slice of Heaven! I let the cold slowly banish the thick heat emanating from my every pore. In time I drove out of the parking lot and searched for a store or gas station or restaurant that had water. My years of medical training  screamed at me that I was on the verge of heat stroke. It took every single bit of concentration to drive, but even then I recalled the hand on my back, and I found the strength to carry on. To my delight I soon found a Burger King. I practically crawled in and purchased a large drink and a Coke Icee, then proceeded to rehydrate. I didn’t notice the biker until he sat across from me and exclaimed “Hey, weren’t you there today?” My journey was certainly not over by a long shot.

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To be Continued…

 

Third and Last Photos Courtesy of Allin Gray

 

www.jaytharding.com

 

Revolution Against Tyranny Part One: Warriors of the First Degree Chapter Ten

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Had it not been for Mark I think I would have collapsed right there on that little triangle-sized oasis where Constitution Avenue, 3rd Street and Pennsylvania Avenue meet. I had been nursing my last bottle of water for the past half hour; it was hot and had a strange taste to it that I suspected was plastic leaching into it. Mark saved my life by simply being there and serving as both an anchor of normalcy and a failsafe had my stubbornness taken me too far. I refused to tell him I had stopped sweating, or that I was growing more and more confused, or that the ground under me had suddenly turned into a trampoline. I refused to tell him out of sheer obstinate pigheadedness. Had I not told him how I had endured the desert at White Sands, New Mexico? Had I not heard of his bravery in Kuwait, how he had voluntarily offered his life to preserve freedom and crush tyranny? Had our forefathers not probably stood in this very spot, twenty and thirty years our senior, on a day much like today, and watched the birth of a nation without the benefit of bottled water? My God, they carried primitive animal-skin pouches with them that leaked and made the water taste like goat testicles! Who was I to complain? Besides, imagine the trouble my collapsing would cause. While EMTs hooked me up to an IV a million bikers would be roaring past, thinking some weak-kneed Muslim had probably been deservedly shot. I would have come this whole way just to fail at the most crucial moment. Hell no! Heat stroke be damned! I would ride this crazy train all the way to the bottom before I gave up one moment of anticipation. After all, did I not want to do this gonzo-style? I hadn’t had to ingest any illegal substances to achieve this state of insanity. I wished I had worn longjohns and wool. Still, Mark’s cool demeanor and calm disposition was the Mecca of lucidity I would circumnavigate.

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It was half past noon and still no army of rolling thunder. I feverishly used my borrows tablet to film as much as I could, not realizing until much later that the sound recording capability of this device bordered on non-existent. The numbers of bikers riding together didn’t increase – they came in packs as small as two and really no larger than a dozen – but their frequency did. They rolled in from all directions, their deep-throated machines overriding the mundane sounds of traffic. This wasn’t a festive event, not at all. The riders all wore faces of serious determination, as if headed into battle. The occasional woman passenger held flags up as stoically as Lady Liberty held her torch. Had I been more cognizant, I would have realized that the bikers now outnumbered the other vehicles in traffic. The army was among us, just not all in regimented ranks.

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We heard sirens coming from the south on 3rd street, heard the unmistakable heavy growl of American-made motorcycle engines, and felt the ground tremble beneath our feet. Well, I had been feeling the ground shake under my feet for some time, partially from weakness and partially because the 3rd Street tunnel was just a few yards away to the east. Mark and I moved toward the sound and prepared to film the incoming horde. We spoke to each other in clipped bursts of expectancy. This had to be them.

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A Homeland Security van – perhaps even the same one I had seen in Fort Washington – sped around the corner from 3rd Street westbound to Constitution Avenue, followed by a couple of polished motorcycle cops riding side by side, and then came the bikers three wide and stretching beyond my line of sight. Touring bikes, choppers, trikes – every conceivable shape and size of motorcycle – followed the law in loose columns, revving their throttles as if straining to leap out of line. I did not count them, wasn’t really aware of anything else except keeping the tablet focused on them and not falling down. Up ahead a traffic light must have turned red because the battalion stopped momentarily, long enough for Mark to hustle out into the street into the midst of them for a photo. I thought about doing the same but decided that if I came out from under the protection of the shade it would be curtains for me.

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Then they began to move again, and the columns thinned down to two, and then became a single line that eventually morphed into a staccato of lone bikes. Mark estimated the count to be up to one hundred bikes, a mere fraction of the monstrous number we had anticipated. What had happened? I remember one biker saying he thought the police were checking everyone’s licenses and searching them for anything illegal. If that were the case it would take a Brigade of cops all day and night to go through two million bikes. Perhaps the bikers had been stopped and turned away. After all, they did not have a permit and could have been denied access to the National Mall as a single entity. Having driven a taxicab in that area decades ago, I knew there was no way anything short of a well organized army could effectively block all avenues to the Mall. However, if the bikers had somehow been broken up into small packs, it would not be surprising to have them coming from all directions as they were, like hornets that been stirred up. The streets of Washington DC were hopelessly confusing, also, so I imagined there would be riders literally everywhere, especially if they did not know their way around. Had the bikers been allowed to travel as one into the Capital, they would have literally brought it to a standstill.

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After the frequency of bikers returned to the sporadic lone wolf or two, I turned back to finish the rest of my water. I had laid my Jack bag (named after the bag Jack Baur carried with him on the TV thriller 24) on a large, square heating grill, and in my delirium I thought Mark had a bag as well, so when I saw only one bag I blurted out “Someone stole my stuff!” I took another few steps toward it and realized the bag was mine, and imagined Mark looking at me as if I were senile. We stood there for awhile watching the occasional motorcycle roar by and speculated. I secretly cheered and wept when Mark suggested we give up. We had yet to learn from the news and eyewitness accounts the actual reason why the event had not happened as planned. All I knew at the time was a mixture of disappointment, confusion and sadness, along with feverish anticipation of fresh, ice cold water and air conditioning. We trudged back toward Mark’s parking deck and my Metro station.

 

To Be Continued…

 

First Two and Last Two Photos Courtesy of Allin Gray

 

www.jaytharding.com

 

Following in Hitler’s Footsteps

My sister, Marty D’Arcy recently posted a sign on Google + that I found very disturbing. Here it is:

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At first I didn’t see the comparison. Didn’t want to, really. Not that I’ve ever been anywhere close to being a follower of Obama. I had just heard so many people and political parties being compared to Hitler and the Third Reich that I automatically hit the ‘snooze’ button. Also, I didn’t believe that half the population here in the U.S. blindly followed him. Well, ok, so maybe they did the first time he ran for President. But then he drove the dollar into the ground (blaming Bush the whole time) by bailing out everyone and their brother and sanctioning the Fed to crank out money from thin air, then sat back and watched as millions of Americans lost their jobs and went on the public teat in one way or another. After all, they were enslaved, right? Someone once said you don’t shoot Santa Claus, because who else would give you gifts?

But then I did a little digging, checked the facts of Hitler’s rise to power and compared it to Obama’s meteoric climb to the White House. What I found frightened the excrement out of me. You remember how the teacher would grade a multiple choice test by laying a special copy of the test that had all the correct answers punched with holes over the student’s test, and wherever there was a discrepancy, it was marked wrong. Well, Obama scores a perfect 100% when I place Hitler’s agenda over his. I found a website (you’ll learn this about me, I always cite my sources. That is so important in today’s world of info saturation) http://www.nowtheendbegins.com and within it a page where Hitler and Obama are compared. The site is Christian Conservative, so you’re not liable to find praise pieces on Nancy Pelosi. Here are some of the comparisons:

1. Both Hitler and Obama were great orators who spoke so passionately that people would break down in tears and faint. Even Chris Matthews had a thrill up his leg, whatever that is. Obama has the extra talent of altering his dialect depending on which audience is in front of him. I’m sure Hitler knew how to speak Low German as well as High German.

2. Both Hitler and Obama wrote autobiographies at the beginning of their rise to power. Hitler wrote Mein Kampf (My Struggle) and Obama wrote Dreams of My Father. Both men then penned a second book laying out their goals. Hitler wrote A New World Order (I know, scary, huh?) and Obama wrote The Audacity of Hope. I think someone else wrote Obama’s books for him, though, but Hitler probably used a ghost writer also.

3. Both Hitler and Obama were born with last names which they changed later in life. Hitler’s original last name was Schicklebruber and Obama’s was Soetoro. I’d change my name, too, if it were Schicklebruber. Obama should have changed his last name to Soros, Jr.

4. Both Hitler and Obama tried to hide their true identities, but not because they were superheroes (although they would argue the point). Hitler had Jewish roots and Obama’s family is Muslim. Obama likes to pull out the Muslim card from time to time when he’s courting those heathen terrorists. Too bad he doesn’t treat terrorism like Hitler tried to deal with the Jews.

5. Both Hitler and Obama have supporters who support them 1000% without having a clue as to why. At least one lady had the courage to proclaim her love for Obama because he gave her an Obama phone. You can get one, too, if you want. I call them NSA GPS devices.

6. Hitler destroyed his birth certificate. We still have not seen Obama’s long form.

7. Both Hitler and Obama used the youth of the country to create a mini army devoted to their ideals. Obama’s is called the Obama Youth Brigade. Watch the YouTube video I just gave you the link to. Scary is too mild a word.

8. Both Hitler and Obama ruled with little to no regard for the will of the people. Obamacare? The people say “Nein!” Obama says “Too bad, get used to it!” You could paper the house with measures Obama took that were contrary to the will of the people. To him, Congress is irrelevant.

9. Both Hitler and Obama would rather not have any Jews on the planet. Obama always sides with Muslims (the Muslim Brotherhood, for example). He just doesn’t want to get his hands dirty. Not yet.

10. Both Hitler and Obama advocated murder to control the population. Obama supports abortion, even third term abortion. Snip snip, chop chop, one less mouth to feed. Makes me want to vomit.

There are more similarities on the website if you care to read it. Now I know that the quote on the sign above is right on target. Obama is weaving a web of lies and deceptions as his true nature hides in plain sight so that he may enslave the minds and bodies of the population. We are only one crises away from a police state. Look what happened in Boston, how troops stormed into peoples’ homes without warrants. They can do that in your home, too. Half the population believe Obama is the Messiah. I think he wants to usher in a New World Order, a perverted Fourth Reich, and believe it or not, I think it’s working. If I were you, I’d start hording my food and water, getting as many rounds of ammo as possible and digging in. An Obamanation is rolling through the country, and if you don’t join the growing chorus you’ll be labeled a subversive terrorist. He’s Hitler 2.0 without the goofy mustache. For now.

 

www.jaytharding.com

Revolution Against Tyranny Part One: Warriors of the First Degree Chapter Nine

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Mark’s smartphone told us it was 96 degrees; my dumb phone was too hot to say anything. As we walked east on Constitution Avenue toward the Capital and hopefully to the rally point, I realized I hadn’t brought near enough water. From time to time an errant gust of wind would float past us, offering perhaps a second or two of relief from the grueling, harsh sun. Mark was at least fifteen years younger and had no body fat to speak of, so he weathered the march (at least seemed to) much better than I. We didn’t encounter many pedestrians, which I thought odd. There were, however sporadic bikers rumbling past, and some even stopped and rested on the curb. We came across a couple of riders parked in front of the National Museum of American History (such irony) who had travelled from Illinois to be part of the event. They hadn’t attended the Fort Washington rally and had no idea where everyone was suppose to gather on the Mall. As Mark and I cooled our heels and chatted with them, a bicycle helmet-wearing police officer on a Segway whizzed up to us and told the riders they had to move. The guys waved their hands at the cop and said ‘Yeah, ok,’ then watched as the cop rolled to the next illegally parked vehicle. It was so ridiculous no one said a word about it. I imagined a standoff between Segway cops and Hog riders and chuckled to myself.

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Soon Mark and I continued on toward the Capital, stopping whenever we heard sirens or the deep-throated sound of bikes. We talked about our time in the military and what we had done since. Mark had an easy-going nature and was a good listener, which was perfect, because I loved to talk. We trudged past the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History on the right. Across the street was the IRS building. I gave it a quick one fingered salute. Further on was the gargantuan Natural Gallery of Art, and then we came to an unusual intersection where 6th Street intersected Constitution as it hooked slightly north to join with Pennsylvania Avenue, forming a grassy triangular island in the middle surrounded by elm trees. It seemed like an oasis to me.

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It was now just after 11 A.M., and my understanding was that the ride would start at noon. We still saw bikers rolling down the wide streets, and I tried to capture them on video, not realizing until later that the tablet sucked at making videos. I cursed myself for the millionth time for not bringing my little Kodak but worked with what I had. We found another grassy traffic island as Constitution broke off again to run west of the Capital, which could be seen now.

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As we approached the final leg of our forced march (it had begun to feel like one – not as severe as the Bataan Death March, but in the same ball field), we came across some more bikers. We sat on the curb next to them and made sweat puddles with our butts. The biker closest to me was a real tough looking guy with his stone-faced look, sunglasses, gloves, leather vest and posture, leaning one arm against his Harley as if it were a horse. I asked him where he was from and he said Scranton, PA. I blurted out “Oh, that’s just a hop, skip and jump away!” The look he gave when he rolled his eyes at me reduced me to ash. I engaged his woman in conversation as she sat on the curb next to me, wearing more leather and patches than any three other guys. Her voice was deep and thick, as if from years of cigarettes and alcohol. I was so thirsty and hot I would have welcomed a stiff drink of anything.

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We rested there for almost half an hour, watching for the unseen Muslims and turning to look whenever a biker or more roared by. Eventually the fellow from Scranton and his small entourage moved on, following a group of about a dozen bikes. Mark and I continued to sit and sweat, and doubt our choice to come to the west lawn of the Capital. Noon came and went and still no army of motorcycles. It seemed that the bikers that were still rolling through had become squad sized, 10 or 12 at a time. Perhaps they had left Fort Washington at noon, and the sheer mass of them would take at least half an hour to get to us. For now, though, the little triangular oasis to our west beckoned me with promises of shade, and before long Mark and I decided that was going to be our final stand. It was still close enough to the Capital to see it, and it offered us a good view of Constitution Avenue all the way to the Washington Monument. It was the perfect place to see 2 million bikers invade and own the streets. We shuffled (at least I did – stumbled is more like it) back to the traffic island and waited with anticipation, continuing to take pictures as we went. The horde would be here any minute.

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To be Continued…

 

http://www.wnd.com/2013/09/2-million-bikers-roar-over-muslims-in-d-c/#ooid=dndGVmZToSwGAHiZN9WFwYx8eKAi1j-L

First and Last Two Photos Courtesy of Allin Gray

 

www.jaytharding.com

Revolution Against Tyranny Part One: Warriors of the First Degree Chapter Eight

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The Metro station was just a couple of miles away. I had wanted to stay and watch more of the opening ceremony but I had never been on the Metro transit system before and didn’t have a clue how long it would take or how close it would get me to the National Mall. I hadn’t driven the streets of DC in a quarter century, and really all I remembered was that it seemed the city’s avenues had to have been laid out by a drunken sailor. If you look at a map of Washington DC one of the first things that catches your eye is that the streets resemble the spokes of a wagon wheel. Try to drive through the city and you’ll discover how to curse in fourteen different languages. My only advantage was that I was going in on foot, which meant I could cut through courtyards if need be. How naive! Next time I’m taking a GPS, a map, a compass, a ball of string and bread crumbs.

The closest parking spot to the Metro Station was a half mile away (I kid you not). By the time I reached the station on foot I remembered the limitations of my congestive heart failure. The temperature at 10 A.M. had to be in the upper 80s already, and between toting the Jack bag with my electronics and water in it and the 100 pounds I had picked up since my heart attack, I was in the mood for love (loving me a hot shower and nap). A courteous Metro worker helped me get my ticket and told me how to use it, and I was off to the races. Before long I was in the bowels of a train car staring at all the sleepy, indifferent zombies around me. This mood was as different from the biker assembly as a funeral to a wedding (although some have tried to draw parallels), but the atoms in my body still vibrated to the throaty rumble of thousands upon thousands of motorcycles and despite my early fatigue I was completely jazzed to witness the blood-pumping thrill of all those machines and their riders rumbling through the Mall.

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One transfer and a half hour later I stepped out of the Metro cave and into the food court of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Had I been there as a tourist my awe would have started there: the surrounding buildings were easily two hundred feet tall and seemed to be crafted entirely out of marble. Doric columns larger than California sequoias followed the stupendously huge building as it formed a half circle. I looked down to see if the pavement was made of gold, for surely I had died and gone to heaven. What a fitting building for my favorite President.

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Being typically ill-prepared, I stared down at the only map I had of the area: the Metro station brochure. I determined which direction north was, prayed I was right and walked until I came to 14th Street. Good. My old cab driver senses and even older memory kicked in. To the right was Pershing Park and to the left was the National Mall. I fell in step with the well-dressed pedestrians carrying their briefcases and was soon at Constitution Avenue. I looked ahead and saw the Washington Monument surrounded in scaffolding. Even from this distance the monolith seemed enormous. I waited for the signal to cross (although I felt I could cross any street at any time and get away with it once – after all, I am Jay) and once on the edge of the Mall found a bench under a shady elm tree and parked my butt on it. Today was going to be a scorcher, and I scolded myself for not bringing more water.

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The now familiar sound of a Harley-Davidson rose to my ears and I looked to see a lone wolf on a beautiful Electra Glide rumbling down Constitution toward the distant Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. There had been talk among the riders in Fort Washington of a rally point in the Mall, but by the time I left there had not heard where it was. The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial was as good enough place as any to start, so I gathered my belongings to trudge west.

“Well, we meet again!” Mark walked up to me and shook my hand. He had been at the Harley-Davidson Dealership earlier that morning taking photos with a nice-looking Canon, and we had exchanged a few brief words around that stunning red Harley painted in tribute to the fallen firefighters of 9/11. He wore a white button up shirt, tan shorts and matching baseball cap (I would curse myself later for having on long blue jeans). His face was a little red from the sun and he seemed a bit frazzled around the edges. He explained that he had found room in a parking deck a few blocks away and had so far walked from the far side of the Washington Monument past the World War Two Memorial and over to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial looking for someone who knew where the rally point was. He said a truly crusty biker at the Vietnam Vet Memorial told him it would be somewhere between here and the Capital Building about a mile and a half further up Constitution Avenue. As we talked a few more bikers went by in a small group, but by the time I got my tablet out, turned it on and got ready they were long gone. I decided to keep the tablet in my hand from then on. We decided to walk toward the Capital together, but I warned him that I was out of shape, restricted by my congestive heart failure (and beta blocker – don’t think I mentioned that it kept my heart beating slow) and generally fat. Mark was ok with that (I hoped he wouldn’t soon regret it) and we were on our way.

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The sun blazed down upon us. My inner thermometer told me it was easily a zillion degrees, and after just a couple of blocks I started sipping on my water. I’m not sure if I offered any to Mark and if I didn’t I was a selfish, insensitive prick. He told me he had been in the first Gulf War, and we swapped desert stories. From time to time one, two or more bikers roared past us going in either direction, and we took pictures and short film clips of them. I kept one eye out for anyone dressed in traditional Muslim garb and saw none. We did witness a line of four men wearing tattered robes walking across the street while dragging life-sized wooden crosses. I had heard that among the many protests and rallies that day there was supposed to be a large group of Christians gathered to either counter the Muslims or pray for peace or protest Benghazi or any of the other eight dozen things the government had screwed up. It was now 11 A.M. as we marched to the Capital. The bikers were to be here in an hour, and I wanted to be in a good spot to witness it. I was glad Mark was with me. It was good to chat with a former veteran, especially on such a somber, historic day.

To be Continued…

First and Last Two Photos Courtesy of Allin Gray

www.jaytharding.com

Revolution Against Tyranny Part One: Warriors of the First Degree Chapter Seven

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Those of us with cars had to move to a bank parking lot next door. The yellow vested fellow that talked to me said that the owner of the property was being a dick and complaining that we were impeding his customers. I looked over at the businesses: a nail salon and a title loan company. God forbid we keep someone from signing their life away or getting that nice, sparkly pedicure (if that’s what they’re called). But today wasn’t for getting upset over trivial things (I’m sure it wasn’t trivial to the owner of the shops), so the Marine, myself and all the other four-wheelers moved over to the already seam-bulging bank parking lot. I suspected we’d have to move again soon (after all, people need to access the root of all evil)so I took my Focus to a supermarket parking lot further down and hoofed it back.

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On the way, I spotted a white utility truck with flashing red lights on the top and EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT – HOMELAND SECURITY emblazoned on the side. Great. Who invited them to the party? I imagined hiding it behind the 7-11 just for fun and wish I had bigger cojones. Just then I saw Belinda Bee, the woman who had put this whole shindig together. She was bouncing through the bank parking lot crowd like a featherweight boxer making it to the ring. I could tell even at this distance that she was a real firecracker, a genuine sparkplug, a woman who was used to handling the spotlight. She would hide the Homeland Security van in a heartbeat. I trailed behind her as she shook hands and joked with bikers, pausing long enough to check out the stuff at the merchandise table before wading through the real mass of leather and steel. It took her a good ten minutes to make it to the raised podium where a couple of fellows stood grinning from ear to ear waiting for her. I was glad there was a microphone, because it would have been utterly impossible to be heard over the thunderous noise of bikes and cheers of the horde. Still, the cheers tapered off as she faced the crowd, her face beaming with pride. I would have paid a couple hundred bucks to get on top of the Harley-Davidson roof and take photos right then, because from my spot on the ground I could see no end to the bikers and their rides.

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Just as Belinda began addressing the assembly, her arms raised and her voice clear and brave, I saw something unusual just on the other side of the podium. I shouldered my way toward it, noticing for the first time a contingency of policemen on my right trying to keep a single lane open for traffic. Eventually the object made itself known to me: strapped to the back of a flatbed trailer was a magnificent statue of the numbers ‘9-1-1’. The nine shimmered in highly polished silver, and if you looked closely at it you could make out the image of the American flag as if it reflected from another source. The ones, also burnished silver, were exact replicas of the World Trade Center towers. The statue was easily ten feet tall if resting on the ground, but on the flatbed it overlooked its surrounding. I’m including a couple of photos of it so you can see just how impressive it is. It belonged there that day.

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Belinda Bee began thanking everyone for being there, for all those who helped her pull the event off in those three short weeks, and for the overwhelming support and love that had sustained her through thick and thin. I heard her voice thicken with emotion and felt a lump rise in my own throat. The applause and love the bikers showered upon her was overwhelming to say the least. Imagine the tremendous effort it must have taken to handle the logistics of such a monsterous undertaking, and in less than a month. I joined my voice in thanking Belinda. We didn’t let up until she pumped her hands and arms up and down in the international symbol of “Ok, enough of that, I’ve got more to say.” She told us that everyone who was going to participate had to sign a waiver for their own safety as well as the event’s. Unfortunately, this is the way the world works now. Litigiousness demands everyone cover their ass. She then announced that every biker was going to get a sticker with the name of one of the victims of 9/11 so they could put it on their helmet or wherever they liked. Given the sheer number of bikers, I had a feeling those 3,000 names were going to be repeated many times over.

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I planned on taking the Metro downtown to the National Mall before the bikers rolled through so I could film it, and decided I’d better do it now before I had to take a detour into unknown territory. I hustled back to my car and snaked my way out of the area with the help of a platoon of police officers directing traffic. It took some effort to leave that scene; I’d spent 16 hours watching the birth of an army and rubbing shoulders with warriors of the first degree. As I crept my Focus through the narrow space created by orange cones and stone-faced cops, I rolled down my windows and gave a rebel yell as the cacophony washed over me like a non-stop tsunami. The next time I would see them they would be making their presence known in the halls of Congress, the deepest recesses of the White House, the Capital dome and the height of the Washington monument.

 

To be Continued…

 

First Second and Fifth Photos Courtesy of Allin Gray

 

www.jaytharding.com

Revolution Against Tyranny Part One: Warriors of the First Degree Chapter Six

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An opening ceremony was scheduled to begin at 8 A.M. at the raised podium in front of the Fort Washington Harley-Davidson dealership. I suspected that even though the number of bikers seemed to be doubling every ten minutes the ceremony would start pretty much on time, unlike the traditional half hour delay whenever the POTUS decided to address the nation. I had always been skeptical that there would be anything close to 2 million bikers, but here at 7:30 in the morning in front of the dealership my skepticism was being noisily blown away by the gargantuan showing. The ride was scheduled to begin in 4 and a half hours, but there were already enough bikes to choke traffic from here to Timbuktu. I could scarce believe my eyes.

Across the street a merchandise table was being hastily erected, and a line had already begun to form. I had never seen bikers forming a line as if they were quietly waiting for movie tickets. Actually, I had quite a few preconceptions about bikers that were being ground into the pavement this day. There were no beer bottles flying, no barbaric displays of anarchy and no fights breaking out despite my best efforts. At one point, desperate for a photo of mayhem, I shouted in the middle of the crowd “IT AIN’T A PARTY TIL SOMETHING GETS BROKEN!” This was greeted by a few scattered cheers but no dwarves being tossed. I moved through the crowd and came upon a group of good looking biker chicks lounging against the showcase wall. I yelled “FREE DEM PUPPIES!” and was promptly given a generous display of big, hairy bikers lifting their tee shirts for me. We all had a good laugh, but I made sure to escape in the crowd in case one of them didn’t find the request funny. So much for fomenting a riot.

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The line at the merchandise table showed no sign of shortening, and I had no desire to stand in line for something I probably couldn’t afford anyway. The 7-11 across the street reminded me that I needed to get an ample supply of bottled water for later, as it was supposed to be a scorcher, so I shouldered my way through the crowd and eventually arrived. Inside, the store was noisy, jovial and packed to the gills with bikers. The two little oriental girls behind the counter were wide-eyed and frantic, and the Sikh manager (complete with turban and beard) kept himself busy stuffing hotdogs in buns and dressing them or slithering his way through the mass of bikers to refill coffee urns and resupply cups and condiments. I grabbed two bottles of water (later I would wish it had been 4 bottles) and a 20 oz. Mountain Dew and found the end of the line. A young black woman dressed in scrubs filled up a personal coffee holder and then looked around, I’m sure calculating the time it would take for her to reach the cashier. To my amusement she ducked her head and made her way out the front door. Smart girl. A heavy-set and leather-bound biker with long greasy hair and an even longer beard yukked it up with whoever was next to him as he waited in line for coffee. Yes, there were lines within lines here, snaking around every aisle. If we had wanted to we could empty the store in three minutes flat, shelves and all. At one point the jolly biker pointed so someone about ten bodies behind me and told the guy to hold his spot in front of him, happily declaring a place halfway through the line. As we all shuffled toward the counter I caught the guy’s attention and invited him to step in front of me. His gratitude almost extended in a bear hug but I settled for a solid punch in the shoulder and a toothy thanks. Nobody seemed to be in a hurry. I think it was probably the most stress free line I’d ever known. Who would want to bitch about someone cutting the line with a zillion bikers all around?

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I finally paid for my drinks and returned to the car to deposit them in my Jack bag (named after the duffle bag Jack Baur always toted with him in the TV series ’24’). Parked next to me was a spotless, gleaming black Camaro SS with a retractable sunroof. A solidly built young man in an OD green tee shirt was busy polishing it with a towel. In retrospect, of all the names I heard that day, his was the one I most regret not remembering. He had been a Marine in Afghanistan, had served more than one tour and was one of those rare type of men who had so much love for his country and fellow Marines that he had to be dragged away even when he couldn’t fight any more. He pulled out a large American flag on a sturdy, thick pole that had to be put together like a pool cue. He proudly told me it was his unit’s standard. Our conversation turned to the battlefield but his mood did not waver. I told him that in my experience there was nothing scarier than feeling and hearing a round fly past my ear and how it had made me feel more alive than ever before. He smiled and told me about taking a round in the chest while wearing a flack jacket, and then the time a mortar round blew up right in front of him. He said had it not been for his Medic – whom the unit called Doc (having been a Medic myself I knew it was an honorable title) – he would have never left the engagement site alive. He told me that so much of his left leg was blown away he could see his femoral artery thumping. I told him that if that artery had even be nicked it would have been lights out for him, and he laughed. He said he died right there on the battlefield and was revived by his Doc, then flown to Germany where he died again and was saved, then flown to the States where he died a third time on the table but cheated death again. As he spoke I stood there thinking how ridiculous my ‘bullet-flying-by-my-ear’ story was and was at once humbled and awestruck at this living miracle before me. He said his Gunny told him he hadn’t died because he was never given permission to do so and as we chuckled over that, I thought my absolute love and respect for this brave warrior would make me swoon. Yes, I said swoon. It’s that feeling you get when you’re faced with the true understanding of Christ’s words: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Here before me was absolute courage, honor and duty. He had given his all and still wanted to give more. I watched as he put the standard through the sunroof and secured it into place. The flag responded to the wind as I surrendered to the moment, grateful beyond expression for having been in this patriot’s company. The photo below shows him holding his unit’s standard. If you can identify him, please let me know. His story should be told.

 

To Be Continued…

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www.jaytharding.com

 

Revolution Against Tyranny Part One: Warriors of the First Degree Chapter Five

 

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The day was upon us.

As soon as the sun peeked its head above the horizon they began arriving, a steady and deafening stream of bikes from all directions. It is almost sacrilegious to describe them as such, but as I stood on the sidewalk absorbing the growing legion, this came to my head and stuck like breakfast grits to the ribs: Morning Glories. Indeed, they were glorious to behold. Every type of motorcycle you can think of was there, although for every foreign bike there were 10 Harleys: Sleek Sportsters, thick-chested Fat Bob Superglides, comfortable Softail Classics, imposing Electra Glides and monsterous Road Kings, to name but a few. There were smatterings of Indians and Boss Hogs, Confederate and Iron Horse, a few British Triumphs, and of course, every conceivable Japanese bike on the market. There were trikes and Spyders and custom jobs that refused to stay in the envelope. They began parking in front of the Fort Washington Harley-Davidson dealership in neat rows and columns, indicative of military veterans, and when the store’s employees showed up and opened the gated fence on the north side of the building, motorcycles quickly filled up the perimeter.

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Many of the bikers were middle aged and looked as if they had been chiseled out of stone. They stood around in small clusters, admiring each others’ rides and talking about the day. Everywhere I turned I saw patches sewn on leather or denim with either military themes (82nd Airborne Devil with Baggy Pants, 103rd Airlift Wing, 2nd Battalion 7th Marines War Dogs, 29th Infantry Blue and Gray), combat veteran themes (POW/MIA, All Gave Some Some Gave All Vietnam War, Combat Action ribbon, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Bosnia Deliberate Force, Afghanistan Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom), biker sayings (American by Birth, Biker by Choice, Old Skool Biker, American Hawgs The Road is Ours, Lone Wolf No Club, Shut Up and Ride), all kinds of 9/11 patches (Never Forget, FDNY In Memory of our Fallen Heroes, Pentagon shaped with We Remember, God Bless the USA We Will Never Forget, PDNY FDNY Port Authority Fallen Heroes) and combinations of them all. When I walked among them I couldn’t take it all in. A reverence and seriousness permeated the crowd; no boisterous horseplay or bawdy laughter erupted among them. The air was filled with the sound of thousands of deep-throated bikes vibrating me to the bone. The rumble rose and fell like ocean waves, and I let the scene wash over me, stripping my mind to its guttural core, exposing something powerful and dangerous and primitive and essential and absolutely fearless.

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The bikes themselves were without exception, gleaming and clean. I saw intricate designs, mesmerizing acrylic paintings and colorful murals on gas tanks and hoods.  In the parking lot across the street I spotted a stunning red bike with a fantail of flags behind it like an Indian chief’s headdress, and it drew me like a magnet. The front of the windshield was emblazoned with a majestic eagle; its wings were American flags and they stretched out on either side as if coming in for a strike, the razor-sharp eagle’s claws splayed and ready to rend its victim. Over and behind the eagle’s fierce head were the World Trade Center towers standing bravely against a cloudy blue expanse. As I examined the bike closer it became evident that this was all a tribute to the rescue workers who died on 9/11. On the right side of the tank was an elaborate picture of two angels bowing down on either side of a firefighter who sat on a curb hunched over in fatigue and grief. I saw what I assumed to be the rider standing behind it. He was short and stocky and built like a cinder block, with a sleeveless jacket that displayed enough pins to qualify as body armor. He had a camouflage hat on his head, and wisps of white hair stuck out all over. He wore a badge of some sort around his neck attached to a long ribbon, the kind that distinguish event staff and security. Another man with a camera was crouched down taking photos of the bike, and he introduced himself as Mark Hicks, who had driven here in his car to be part of the rally. He told me that the rider of this spectacular machine was a retired NYC Fire Chief. I hoped that fellow was going to be in the front.

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I milled about, taking a few pictures but mainly just soaking in the growing sea of metal and leather. This was no longer just an event, no longer just a rally. It was becoming a living entity. It was becoming a single army of patriots brought together to pay tribute and honor the victims and heroes of 9/11. The Battle Hymn of the Republic began playing on someone’s stereo “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord / He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. / He hath loosed the faithful lightening of His terrible swift sword / His truth is marching on!” I fought to keep the tears from my eyes, here in this gigantic mass of soldiers, but failed. Sometimes my love for this country is so great I break down and cry.

To Be Continued…

 

Some Photos Courtesy of Allin Gray

www.jaytharding.com

Revolution Against Tyranny Part One: Warriors of the First Degree Chapter Four

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Even though I had driven almost 800 miles to get to the 2 Million Bikers to DC rally, I wasn’t the least bit sleepy. Perhaps it was the anticipation of the coming day, or the 14 kegs of caffeine I had shoved into my body on the way here. Or perhaps it was that I was in a bad neighborhood in the middle of the night all by myself. I knew I should have brought my handgun, although that would have been illegal in every state except the one I came from. The recent news coverage of random acts of black on white violence did nothing to appease my concerns, either. I trusted God would take care of me, but that didn’t mean I could go lay out on the hood of the car, so I locked the doors of my crimson Tide colored Ford Focus and let my seat go all the way back. Despite my obvious jitters, ancient military training kicked in and I was asleep within 5 minutes. Half an hour later I awoke to find the windows were completely fogged up. Great. Now I looked like a scene from Titanic. Not only would the passing thugs know someone was in here, they’d assume there were two of us bumping uglies. I turned the air on until the windows were clear, then cracked them enough to keep from steaming them up and tried to sleep again. Now my lizard brain kept nagging me that hoodlums could get in the car, so after another fitful hour I pulled out my eight inch pocket knife, opened it up and rested my hand on my chest while trying to doze. Now bad guys could see I was a sleeping old white man with a pocket knife. Yes. That should keep the gangs away.

I gave up around 2 A.M. (telling myself “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”), cooled the car down again and listened to some Coast to Coast and then a replayed broadcast of Mark Levin as the occasional baggy pants gangsta strolled by. I told myself that if one of them turned to approach me I would quickly pretend I was masturbating with a goofy look on my face. That works better at repelling trouble than a pocket knife flashing in the street light. From time to time one or two bikes roared by, their motors slicing through the still of the night like lightening in darkness.

A couple of motorcycles slowed down as they passed the Fort Washington Harley Davidson building, turned around in the street and circled around to the back. In a couple of minutes a pair of sleeveless, bandana wrapped bikers strolled out of the gloom from the side of the store and walked the length of the glassy showroom. They soon settled down by the wooden podium that had been erected the evening before. It looked like they were going to wait it out. My stress level immediately went through the floorboard. Who would mess with two mean-looking dudes in leather and chains? I saw another opportunity for an interview and exited the car, making sure I slammed the door loud enough for them to hear. Didn’t want to be confused with Jerry Garcia in case they hated the Grateful Dead.

As I approached them sitting there on the steps of the podium, the pale lights of the store outlining their bodies against the night, I smelled an old familiar sweet odor coming from their direction and felt the hippy in me do a backflip. I introduced myself and we passed handshakes around. They were both grizzled and grey, and as I glanced at the patches on their jackets I saw they were Vietnam vets. Tim had a deep bass voice that went to my bones, and the other man identified himself as Cookie. No, I didn’t ask, for fear of my life. Tim passed me the cigarette and I thanked him before filling my lungs a couple of times with the harsh smoke and then passed it on to Cookie. As we played Round Robin with the burning stick, I found out they were from some town on the outskirts of Bangor, Maine, and that they had indeed been in Vietnam but met through the local VA center and wanted to be a part of this event.

I spoke of the Muslims who were suppose to gather that day and shared my disgust for their feeble effort to hijack it to voice their own complaints. Cookie’s eyes, black and shiny in the pale light, fixed on me for a moment before speaking. “It’s not about those mother fuckers. No matter what happens, don’t forget it. It ain’t about them. It’s about honoring all those people who lost their lives on 9/11.” He turned around and showed me a large round patch in the center of his leather jacket. The twin towers stood against the New York skyline, and a huge eagle was superimposed behind it, wings outspread and claws extended. Below this were the words “ALWAYS REMEMBER” and encircling the patch was “2977,” “HEROS ALL” and “WE SHALL NEVER FORGET.”  Cookie’s voice sounded ghostly as he spoke with his back to me. “My nephew worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. He was working on the 103rd floor that day.” The silence that followed was thick with reflection and grief.

A large RV towing a trailer with two bikes on it slowly and carefully rolled into the parking lot across the street. It settled down at the far end, and we saw two figures and a dog emerge. I shook hands with Tim and Cookie again, thanked them for the honor of their company, and went to meet the newcomers, the buzz in my head pushing sleep farther away.

Mark and Lenard Moss (brothers with 20 years between them) and their old yellow lab Joe had driven from East St. Louis to participate. The lights from the parking lot turned everything a thin gray. They showed me their motorcycles – new looking, fully dressed Goldwings – and we all sat on the edge of the trailer with our feet dangling and swapped stories of the road. It was too dark to take notes, and my short term memory was shot from the herbal martini, so I don’t recall most of our conversation. I do remember that they were good, peaceful men who loved to travel and who had only decided two days prior to come to the rally here. Joe roamed around the parking lot and tree line to the north of us, his nose stuck to the ground, and whenever he strayed too far one of the men whistled and the dog came back, zig-zagging across the pavement. At one point I went across the street to the 7-11 and got coffee for us all, and we sat and talked about where we had been until the sky began to change colors in anticipation of the dawn. The somber day was upon us, and we were ready for it.

 

To be Continued…

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Top Photo Courtesy of Allin Gray

www.jaytharding.com

 

Revolution Against Tyranny Part One: Warriors of the First Degree, Chapter Three

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I had driven almost 800 miles to be part of history. Think about it. 2 MILLION bikers converging on one place to insure that the sanctity and solemnity of 9/11 be kept out of the hands of those who would try to dilute and pervert the memory of all those who had lost their lives that horrid day. One million Muslims were NOT going to stand in the shadow of our nation’s capital and complain that they have been treated unfairly. Let them try to burn the flag and they’ll find out what a biker’s boot feels like three feet up their ass. Even that would be fair. No, there weren’t going to be any Muslim protests on 9/11, here or anywhere else, not on American soil. From the moment I heard that 2 million bikers would descend on DC I knew I had to be there, to be the eyes and ears for those who might otherwise never know. Everyone knew the major news networks were going to ignore the event, because it didn’t fit in with the Progressive agenda. I had friends who were considered news hounds, and they hadn’t seen a single thing on CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN or FOX. Airing such stuff would threaten the vise-like grip the Regime had over the average citizen. Let one million Muslims parade through the streets of Washington DC, waving their jihad flag and burning effigies of Uncle Sam, and the State-run media would have wall to wall coverage, showing us in our living rooms how repressed and persecuted those poor Muslims were, how they were being unfairly treated, and how ok it was that they let off a little steam on what would otherwise be a Muslim hating day.

You know, I wasn’t really upset at the Muzzies who planned on protesting the next day. At least they were being true to themselves. At least we knew what to expect from them. Most dogs can’t fool you into thinking they’re a cat. The ones I had a major problem with were the evil bastards slinking around the halls of Congress and in the White House pretending to be good shepherds. There were wolves all up in the pasture because our politicians have sent flyers to every last wolf community saying there was a free buffet going on, just follow the spotlights rotating in the sky. The average sheeple on the street, ones who have had the wool pulled over their eyes, would gasp and recoil at such a notion. “Why, our leaders would never let anything bad happen to us! We have a government that’s FOR the people!” I’ve got news for you, sweet bleat.  The power players in DC want to OWN us, they want us to be good little lambs who will run to them at the first sign of trouble. They want to tell us what to eat, what to wear, what to drive, what to say, what to think, when to have babies and when not to, when to laugh and cry, where to go, who to vote for, who to like and who to hate. Babycakes, our own precious, innocent government will even let bad things happen – will even MAKE bad things happen – to us just so we can cower deeper into its all encompassing skirt. There are wolves in the pasture to distract us from the guys rebuilding the stable back home.

I thought about these things as I sat in my car across the street from the Fort Washington Harley-Davidson dealership. I had spoken to the manager and gotten permission to crash here for the night, but had to move from my spot beside the building as they had to rope it off in anticipation of the coming horde of bikers. I watched them tape off the perimeter of the building as the riders who had gotten there earlier scattered to motels and camp grounds throughout the area. Soon the showroom lights were off and the employees struck out for their homes to get some rest before the big day tomorrow. I sat there in my car and thought about things as the hot September sun slowly crept toward the horizon.

It was hard to imagine two million motorcycles in this parking lot, and harder still to imagine them rolling as one machine down Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House. This wasn’t going to be just a response to the Muslim protest, this was going to send a message to the cheating, lying, stealing sonsabitches cowering in their congressional offices that the PEOPLE are the ones with the power, and if we wanted to we could run every last one of their sorry asses out on a rail. As I sat there listening to the faint rumble of semis on the Beltline encircling DC and imagining what two million motorcycles would sound like (yes, just like rolling thunder!), it struck me. What would happen if two million TRUCKERS were to descend on the capital? What would happen to the corrupt engine of government if just for one day truckers refused to haul their loads, leaving their trailers on off-ramps and highways and warehouses and overpasses to drive to Washington DC and roll down Constitution Avenue with their airhorns blaring? Mix in a couple million bikers, a few hundred thousand disaffected and overtaxed taxi drivers, a smattering of dump trucks and every underpaid pizza delivery guy in a three state area, and THEN what would happen? The truckers alone, with or without their trailers, would absolutely paralyze commerce.

What if we all went on strike until the Constitution were restored, until the government once again represented the will OF THE PEOPLE, until those bastards lifted their grimy boots off our Bill of Rights, until they let capitalism work, until they left us ALONE? We can take care of each other until then if we had to because we would want to, because we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, because we’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. As darkness spread across the land, I sat in my car and imagined the possibilities. As if in answer to my ponderings, a line of semis rolled by me, rattling my windows and my conscience.

To be Continued…

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Photos Courtesy of Allin Gray

www.jaytharding.com