A crowd of more than a thousand people met alongside the Washington Monument Monday afternoon and marched to the White House in a demonstration of support for Ron Paul. With an “about face,” veterans and active duty service members turned their backs to the White House and sent a message to the President: Ron Paul is the choice of the troops.
Adam Kokesh, founder of Veterans for Ron Paul 2012 and a veteran of the Iraq war, said, while he couldn’t speak for everyone, a majority of the people at the event support the Texas congressman in his 2012 presidential campaign — especially for his foreign policy positions.
“It seems very clear to me that those of us who are willing to put our lives on the line to defend this country want a commander in chief who is going to be decisive, who’s going to put America’s security interests first, and who’s only going to send us into harms way with a clear mission,” Kokesh said. “Ron Paul is the only candidate that comes close to measuring up to that standard.”
Alex Schlegel, a Baltimore native and member of the Air Force, said he also agrees with Paul’s foreign policy ideals, as the U.S. hasn’t fought in a war constitutionally since World War II.
“I raised my right hand to defend the Constitution,” Schlegel said.
Standing at the gates of the White House, hundreds of veterans and active duty service members, including Schlegel, turned their backs. Together, they saluted one second for every service member who has committed suicide during Barack Obama’s presidency. After eight minutes of saluting, they observed a 21-minute silent prayer – one second for every service member who died abroad during President Obama’s term.
Kokesh said he believes the message sent by the “about face” is anything but unpatriotic. “It’s not about the office, it’s not about the building, it’s not about the White House,” he said. “It is a symbolic repudiation of Barack Obama’s foreign policy.”
In front of the formation, supporters watched and cheered as the demonstration finished. Grey Zachary from Knoxville, Tenn., was there with her husband in mind, as he’s been serving in Korea for two years. “I’m supporting the man that supports my man,” she said.
With three brothers also in the military, Zachary understands the strain it can put on a family. She supports Paul’s message of reducing troops, and agrees that we’re sending the wrong message by deploying troops around the world. “Why would I expect a country not to fight back if we were there first?” she asked.
Ultimately, Zachary said, it’s up to voters to bring about real change, from who they elect as representatives to who they elect as president. Her choice for president is Ron Paul, she said.
“To support any other candidate, I would lack integrity,” she said.
Overall, Kokesh was thrilled with the turnout and plans on continuing his efforts all the way to the Republican National Convention.
“If we have to march on the RNC we’re going to march on the RNC and we are going to make the Republican base listen to the troops that they claim to support,” he added