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One Finger, your neighbor??


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You can criticize war and support U.S. troops

By Mike Norton

 

I'm an opinionated person. Always have been. I wrote my first letter to the editor when I was 13. I was raised to believe that one person not only can make a difference, he usually does.

 

After voting Republican my entire adult life, I shared my opinion of President Bush with everyone within earshot after I discovered that he wasn't quite the man of honor, intelligence and integrity I had thought he was.

 

I think my first clue came while watching the presidential debates. During one debate I turned to my wife and said, "Did he just call it the 'internets'? Since when is there more than one?"

 

Considering what we now know about Iraq and the lack of weapons of mass destruction, I was shocked when, after being asked to name a few mistakes he had learned from, President Bush couldn't think of any.

 

I yelled at the television, "What about Iraq, you idiot? Why are we in Iraq now that we know the truth?"

 

I did what every American adult has the right to do. I voted, not so much for John Kerry, but against Bush. However, with the Electoral College, my vote felt meaningless. No matter how I voted, Bush would easily carry Utah.

 

The next thing I did shocked and upset many neighbors in my conservative neighborhood. I made a 25- foot banner and put it in my front yard. It read, "Bush Won-USA Lost."

 

My intention was to leave it up for a couple of days, get my point across and then take it down. Someone else beat me to the punch. In the middle of the day on the second day of my front-yard protest, someone came onto my property and took my banner down.

 

I was furious. How dare they prevent me from exercising my First Amendment right of free speech? Now I vowed to put it back up and leave it up for a week. Almost every night my banner was torn down or vandalized. Every morning I would repair any damage and put it back up.

 

I decided that "Bush Won-USA Lost" didn't adequately get my feelings across. The thing I was upset the most about was the 1,000-plus Americans who had been killed in Iraq while Osama bin Laden was playing musical caves in Afghanistan.

 

It was time for a change.

 

I changed the banner to read, "Osama doesn't live in Iraq." I honestly thought for a moment that the hundreds of people who drive by my house every day would see my new sign and say, "Hey, he's got a valid point. Why are we focusing so much on Iraq while Osama bin Laden is planning his next attack?"

 

I discovered that common sense wasn't so common in the Beehive State. The vandalism and verbal attacks continued.

 

After a few days I made yet another change to my banner. This time it read, "1,138 Americans killed in Iraq." I left that one up for almost a week and would simply change the number every day as the death toll went up.

 

During the course of my front-yard political vigilantism, I've had at least two dozen people stop by my house to shake my hand. Most of them are veterans.

 

I've also had countless cowards drive past my home late at night and in the wee hours of the morning honking their horns and yelling obscenities. The cowards never stopped unless it was to deface or tear down my sign.

 

I've made one last change to my sign. I purchased some paint, wire and wood and have created a somewhat permanent memorial to those who have been killed and continue to die almost every day in Iraq.

 

It's much smaller than the banners, only 4 feet wide and 8 feet tall. But I've added a personal touch to this one. I've added a postage stamp-size photograph of every American who has died in Iraq. Feel free to stop by and look at it.

 

As of this writing there are 1,310 photos on the memorial. Sadly this number is growing.

 

People still stop by to discuss it. Some leave flowers. Others leave cards.

 

I even had the father of one of the 1,310 Americans killed in Iraq stop by for a visit. I showed him his son's photo on my memorial and, although he and I disagree slightly as to what should be done in Iraq, we both agreed that his son was a hero who died trying to bring freedom to those who've never had it.

 

I tell visitors to my home that it is possible to support the troops but not the war. Sadly I've had to install security cameras to protect my right to share that opinion. I'm used to it. After all, I live in Utah.

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>I'm an opinionated person. Always have been... I discovered that common sense wasn't so common in the Beehive State. The vandalism and verbal attacks continued... I tell visitors to my home that it is possible to support the troops but not the war. Sadly I've had to install security cameras to protect my right to share that opinion. I'm used to it. After all, I live in Utah.

 

He sounds like a lot of people I know. No doubt in my mind that he's a Utahn under attack for his opinions.

 

That's a shame.

 

Unfortunately, many people in Utah believe in blinding following, never questioning, and not making waves. x(

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