Unlike most of the 875 or so true American Patriots that showed up in Arizona to do what our government refuses to do, I was not particularly upset with the comment by George W. Bush that referred to the Minuteman Project volunteers as "Vigilantes." Considering Dubya’s well-documented problems with the English language, I thought it might be possible that ole George just did not want anyone on the border who might actually be vigilant. According to our government, and the 9/11 Commission, it was the lack of vigilance by a bloated, incompetent, 40-billion-dollars-per-year federal bureaucracy that led to the catastrophic events of 9/11. Where exactly would George W. Bush be without 9/11: A milquetoast wannabee dictator without the Patriot Act, Homeland Security and one dollar a gallon gasoline. Vigilance is a lose/lose proposition for this administration.
What I found in these courageous volunteers was truly inspiring:
An elderly couple who drove their van all the way from Utah to spend some time on the border trying to spot illegals coming into their country. The gentleman had recently lost a leg to cancer, but was totally committed to the task of protecting the America he grew up in, slipping away to those in this country illegally. He held many spellbound with his account of crime, lost hospital facilities, and tax money being spent on programs for these lawbreakers. Often these accounts were given to news agencies with tears streaming down a face of character, chiseled by years and experience. One cannot but wonder how much of the film of this Vigilante found its way to the editors’ floor?
Then there was the couple from Southern California: he a state-certified hospital facilities inspector, out of work for over two years because no new hospital facilities are being constructed. In fact, many hospital emergency rooms have been shut down in California because of the financial burden of treating illegal aliens without compensation. His wife, a most beautiful lady, a naturalized citizen of Philippine descent, told the story of her father joining the United States Navy and saving money for 10 years to be able to bring his family to America: legally. This lady is surpassingly proud of "her" America and all it means to her, and so upset with those who cross illegally and make a mockery of the sacrifices of her father.
There was the young lady who traveled all the way from Massachusetts to sit on the border for two days. She proudly presented her work visa along with her driver’s license as identification. She told of taking two and one half years to acquire the legal right to be in America from her home, the former Czechoslovakia. She described her experience of seeking INS advice on how to become a naturalized American citizen and of being advised to "marry some American guy." She was most indignant that thousands daily just walk across a mostly unprotected border, while she was forced to go through copious amounts of paperwork and a wait of two and one half years to do it legally.
There was the grandmother from Southern California who brought five of her grandchildren who were in their late teens or early twenties. They left California on a Friday after work and drove to Tombstone where they went through their 4-hour orientation and training and then took positions on the Huachuca line through Saturday afternoon and night and then left for home at 6 am on Sunday.
There was the Chief of Police from a university in Missouri, and his wife, who came to the border on their anniversary, even though a grandchild was expected any time. It was she who spotted 12 illegals, dressed all in black with large backpacks, coming through a culvert under Highway 92 (a heavy drug corridor) around 2 a.m. one morning. She called the Border Patrol, as directed by the Minuteman SOP, (standard operating procedure) but by the time the Border Patrol found eight of them, already asleep in a layover area near Herford Road, four of them, their backpacks and the contraband inside were already gone.
What if those who escaped were terrorists and the contraband explosives to be used against American citizens?
There was the gentleman who heard birds flying out of the brush on the Naco line in the earl morning hours and called the Border Patrol. Seventeen bundle of drugs, listed by the BP as "other than marijuana" and the illegals carrying them into America were apprehended due to his vigilance.
There was the elderly gentleman from the state of Washington who had driven his motor home a great distance to be a part of protecting his country. This man came to be known to us all as "Bill Bill," a moniker that derived from the need to differentiate him from a multitude of volunteers and workers called Bill. Bill Bill became an integral part of the operations of the Project. He was the hub of activities at the Palominas Trading Post and was to tell several of us that this was the defining moment of his life. Although a successful businessman, he felt he had done very little previously for this country that had provided him with such great opportunities. He was a man of strong emotions we all grew to love and respect.
There were the two brothers who drove all the way from Illinois to participate. It was one of them, using night vision equipment, who spotted a group of eleven illegals crossing in the Huachuca sector. Ironically, he was able to detect them because one of the illegals had his own night vision with IR and was scanning the area for the vigilant Minutemen before attempting to cross. Kind of hard to believe those who can afford state-of-the-art equipment such as night vision with infrared are actually coming to this country to mow grass or pick fruit.
There was the lady from Douglas, Arizona who came to one of our meetings to bring us copies of Mexican newspapers that depicted the Minutemen with crosshairs on their heads. All in that meeting were inspired with this lady, who, with a strong Hispanic accent said, "This is my country (America) and what these papers are saying is wrong."
There was the lady and her husband at the Palominas Trading Post who stopped at our table and thanked us for being there. She told us that for the first time in years she was able to sleep through the night without illegals crossing her property or banging on the door in the middle of the night. She was in tears when she told us that for the first time she was able to let her grandchildren play in the yard without having to watch them every minute.
Then there were the gallant men and women of the Border Patrol, the boots on the ground, not the butts in the seats. These folks performed most admirably during our duty on the border, as they do 24/7/365. They dared to challenge those in administrative positions who could do little more than parrot the positions of George W. Bush and Vicente Fox. They were rapid in their responses to all calls from the volunteers of the MMP. We were very proud of the statement issued by these courageous public servants in support of the Minutemen and women. This statement can be found at their union website, along with many other items of interest.
"MINUTEMAN PROJECT: We want to make it clear because we’ve had a lot of questions about this…we have not had one single complaint from a rank-and-file agent in this Sector about the Minutemen. Every report we’ve received indicates these people are very supportive of the rank-and-file agents, they’re courteous, many of them are retired firefighters, cops, and other professionals, and they’re not causing us any problems whatsoever. Reports of them causing “ground sensors” to go off are exaggerated because most of those are being set off by the ACLU sneaking around trying to find the Minutemen doing something wrong. The Minutemen have succeeded in shifting the bulk of the illegal alien traffic out of the Naco corridor. If only President Bush were so supportive of the rank-and-file agents. While President Bush hangs out thousands of miles away in the White House, these people are willing to give up their time and energy to actually do something. While President Bush entices millions of illegal aliens to keep coming with his amnesty proposals and his demoralizing statements that he doesn’t want Border Patrol agents chasing “good-hearted people just coming here to take jobs Americans won’t do” the Minutemen are trying to get our laws enforced. The Minutemen have made it very clear that they fully support rank-and-file Border Patrol agents. If only we had such support from the politicians we have to work for (aren’t we really supposed to be working for the citizens of this country anyway?)!"
Yes, Mr. President, there were vigilantes on the border. Perhaps, someday you and those in Washington may come to understand that they, not you and your cohorts, are the real face of America.
Michael Gaddy [send him mail], an Army veteran of Vietnam, Grenada, and Beirut, lives in the Four Corners area of the American Southwest.