Gathering of Eagles
Gathering of Eagles (GoE), part of a pro-war lobby, was ostensibly a group set up to protect the Vietnam Veterans Memorial ("The Wall") and other war memorials, and functioned as a counter-protest group during the March 17, 2007, Washington D.C. March on the Pentagon rally against the war in Iraq.
GoE Targets IVAW Winter Soldier Hearings March 14, 15, 2008
GoE called its supporters to rally in Silver Springs, MD, to protest the Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan investigation of the Iraq Veterans Against the War and about forty people responded. Similar to Move America Forward, GoE paints IVAW and other opponents of the war as violent: "Have you had it with the left wing organizations demeaning and slandering our troops at every opportunity? Has the escalation in attacks against our recruiters across the nation, which progressed to the bombing of the Recruiter Station in Times Square last week, alerted you to the fact that we are fighting a REAL INSURGENCY in this country?"  Right wing pundit Michelle Malkin has also been commenting on and criticizing the Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan hearings. 
- GoE's video footage of their IVAW protest: http://gatheringofeagles.org/2008/03/16/video-from-dcs-winter-soldier-countermarch/
Media Contact  Kristinn Taylor of Free Republic: kristinn AT gatheringofeagles.org
Phone: 202 309-1589
Official Forum: http://gatheringofeagles.org/forum/
US Veteran Dispatch Forum: http://www.usvetdsp.com/eagle/
Related SourceWatch articles
- America First Foundation
- Carlos Arredondo
- Cindy Sheehan
- Eagles UP!
- Free Republic
- Freedom's Watch
- Move America Forward
- Pro-war lobby
- September 15 Coalition
- Swift Boat Veterans for Truth
- Kristinn Taylor
- Vets for Freedom
- Vets For The Truth
- Walter Reed Army Medical Center protests
- war propaganda
History of GOE
- "February, we were alerted by a few vets that the hard left, anti-American protesters organized around Cindy Sheehan, Jane Fonda, and their ilk planned to demonstrate in Washington on March 17, 2007, starting at the Vietnam War Memorial and marching on the Pentagon. Word spread via e-mail, and then by website.
- "Last time those barbarians marched not only did they protest, but they also vandalized the Capitol while the federal Park Police did virtually nothing. This time, they would do it to Our Wall. They will dishonor the memory of Our Fallen Brothers before beginning their trek to betray and dishonor Our Serving Sons. Forbid it Almighty God!! Even if no vandalism were to occur, to expropriate The Wall as a backdrop for such a protest would be a desecration. An obscenity."
- "Almost immediately veterans began to organize unofficially. ... By mid-week I learned that the Arlington Holiday Inn had made available a bloc of rooms at special discount. On February 8, I learned that ViperAsh, Colonel Harry Riley and Ted Sampley and a few others were cooperating. And we had a forum to discuss and coordinate our plans. And we had a name – Gathering of Eagles."
- "The Swift Boat Sailors Association is on board. Rolling Thunder (web) is organizing independently, but will be there in alliance. And the Freepers. And the 910 Group. And as word spreads, some of the veterans organizations may send delegations."
GoE was organized by "brave Vietnam veterans" Col. Harry G. Riley and Capt. Larry Bailey, who "realized that it was time to stop fretting and time to start acting," Move America Forward's Melanie Morgan wrote March 2, 2007. "They've organized an effort to wake up and mobilize pro-troop supporters around the nation," Morgan wrote.
Bailey, a retired U.S. Navy Captain, was president of Vietnam Vets for the Truth, "which attacked 2004 Democratic Presidential candidate Senator John Kerry's military record, on the heels of the more well-known" Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. 
Rurik also outlined the group's mission:
- "Our sole purpose in this encounter is to Defend The Wall. We may block and obstruct, or perhaps, if attacked may be forced to more active measures. Best of all will be if our sheer numbers and presence so overawe the barbarians that they sulk in impotent fury off to the side and go off to get themselves tear-gassed elsewhere. But however it happens, and whatever else happens, if we defend Our Wall, then we have won."
C.J. Raven wrote February 7, 2007, in Sampley's U.S. Veteran Dispatch:
- "Leftist activists who march to the Pentagon next month will discover that their path won't be as clear as it has been in the past ...
- "This time, however, protestors will see objectors if they spit on Iraqi veterans again, or throw paint on a war memorial. This time, they will encounter a buzz saw of Vietnam veterans and supporters who will gather to protect the Wall, and show their support for U.S. troops. The counter-protestors are calling themselves the Gathering of Eagles," C.J. Raven wrote.
"The Gathering of Eagles was designed to assist the United States Park Police in defending the Vietnam Wall and other monuments against similar vandalism," Tom Kovach explained March 21, 2007, in WorldNetDaily.
Task Force EAGLE
In September 2007, GoE plans to "support the troops in a more direct way—getting in Congress's face!" It is "going to gather on Capitol Hill on September 10th to put pressure on Congress to ignore the moonbats who will be coming in a riotous mode on the 15th in an attempt to coerce our elected officials to do that which they KNOW is wrong—to cut off funding to our troops in Iraq," GoE's Larry Bailey wrote July 8, 2007.
"This event, to be called 'Task Force EAGLE,' will not be a rally in the usual sense. We will have a gathering, to be sure, with appropriate speakers and entertainment, but we won’t be spending four hours under a hot September sun. We will be preparing ourselves, so to speak, for what comes next: a converging on Congressional offices by our Eagle Task Units from the various states," Bailey wrote.
"Eagles will congregate by state and will be identifiable by tee shirts or other regalia. Each state’s attendees will constitute a 'Task Unit,' like 'Task Unit New Jersey,' 'Task Unit New York,' 'Task Unit Maine,' and the like. After the gathering, each task unit will visit the offices of their senators and, if possible, appropriate representatives," Bailey wrote.
"Now, don’t think there won’t be opportunities to confront the moonbats! We will be strongly encouraging Eagles (and encourage ways for them) to participate in 'informal' counter-demonstrations in full view of those America-hating morons! As September approaches, we will publish the intelligence we have on the moonbats' intentions so as to maximize our effectiveness in getting in their faces.
"A.N.S.W.E.R. will be in DC on the 15th and over the weekend (and possibly the following week) of Sep. 28/29. They are talking about an encampment, just like that lawless, hatred-spouting encampment that was conducted in 1971. This time, though, they will not go unopposed!," Bailey wrote.
Not first time anti-war protesters assembled at the Wall
A.N.S.W.E.R. posted directions for where demonstrators were to assemble on March 17, 2007:
- "Tens of thousands of people will be gathering at Constitution Gardens near the Vietnam Memorial prior to the March on the Pentagon on Saturday March 17. This is the same location that ANSWER used for its mass anti-war rally on October 26, 2002."
Obviously, the March 17, 2007, demonstration is not the first time that anti-war demonstrators assembled at the Vietnam Veterans Wall.
ANSWER coordinated the October 26, 2002, anti-war rally in Washington, D.C. "that lasted more than three hours at Constitution Gardens, near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial," with the protesters' march beginning at 21st Street and Constitution Avenue, passing along 17th, H, 15th and E streets NW, and encircling the White House before returning to the starting point.
William Rivers Pitt wrote October 27, 2002, in truthout:
- "October 26, 2002, will be noted in history as a day when 250,000 Americans streamed into the nation's capitol to protest a war that has not truly begun. ...
- "Not far from where the speakers' podium had been erected in Washington's Constitution Park stood the Vietnam War Memorial. The obsidian darkness, etched with too many names, is polished to a high and mirrored shine. As you gaze at those names, as you consider the cost of ill-founded and poorly-waged war, you stare your own reflected image in the eye. Those who marched in Washington on Saturday, October 26th, paid obeisance to those names, and made a promise to the face they saw in that stone. Not in my name, they swore. Not this time. Not on my watch."
A "group of about 100 counter-protesters ... gathered at 17th Street and Constitution Avenue. Along with activists from the national group Free Republic, a group of Iraqi exiles chanted slogans against Saddam Hussein." 
Free Republic, including D.C. Chapter co-leader Kristinn Taylor , "took the corner of the grounds at Washington Memorial," Daryle Lamont Jenkins of One People's Project (web) wrote October 28, 2002.
It should be noted that news and blog reports make no mention of Vietnam Veterans among the prowar demonstrators, nor is there any mention of Vietnam Veterans or others protesting the assembly of anti-war demonstrators near the Wall.
Pro-war demonstrators also used military monuments and buildings for political purposes
A "Support the Troops Weekend" pro-war rally was held September 23-25, 2005, in Washington, D.C. sponsored by the D.C. Chapter of Free Republic, Free Republic, Protest Warrior, Move America Forward, and Military Families Voice of Victory (web), in response to the Washington, DC, Mass March and Anti-War Rally September 24, 2005.
- "While they believe that ordinarily, demonstrations are out of place at a hospital, they have done so because an antiwar group named Code Pink has been holding antiwar demonstrations at the main gate to Walter Reed on Friday evenings. We believe Code Pink is trying to hurt the morale of our soldiers and their families, so we will be joining the members of FreeRepublic.com in their show of support for our troops and their loved ones."
Note: The organizers failed to mention that Free Republic had been holding pro-war demonstrations at WRAMC at the same time.
On September 24, 2005, a rally sponsored by DefendTheWhiteHouse.org (web), RightMarch.com (web), and Protest Warrior, "in response to the antiwar rally at the ellipse", was held at the U.S. Navy Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue.
GoE launched its website GATHERINGOFEAGLES.ORG on February 10, 2007, Seth Gitell wrote in the New York Sun March 16, 2007. "Since that time, it has received more than 200,000 visitors. Organizers say the origin of the group stems from a January 27  anti-war demonstration at which a military recruiting station and other landmarks were vandalized. When planners learned that an anti-war protest might start at the site of the Vietnam Memorial, they snapped to action calling for an effort to 'stand silent guard over our nation's memorials, in honor of our fallen, and in solidarity with our armed forces in harm's way today.'"
The Gathering of Eagles mission statement includes that the GoE is non-partisan, "non-violent, non-confrontational", and "believe[s] that the war memorials are sacred ground; as such, we will not allow them to be desecrated, used as props for political statements, or treated with anything less than the solemn and heartfelt respect they–and the heroes they honor–deserve."
The mission statement is also clearly pro-war in Iraq, as GoE "vehemently oppose[s] the notion that it is possible to 'support the troops but not the war'" and is "opposed to those groups who would claim support for the troops yet engage in behavior that is demeaning and abusive to the men and women who wear our nation’s uniform."
Additionally, it "will accept nothing less than total, unqualified victory in the current conflict. Surrender is not an option, nor is defeat."
Vets For The Truth
ATTN: Gathering of Eagles
PO Box 291
Chocowinity, NC 27817
GoE Online Store
The GoE online store is hosted by FREEANDEASYFUNDRAISING.COM, which is registered to Sandy Raddue of Beaverton, Oregon, according to a WHOIS search.
It would appear that items being offered for sale in GoE's store are not only being produced by Raddue and her family through their business Striking Graphics in Beaverton, Oregon (web), but also sold via Raddue's fundraising website FREEANDEASYFUNDRAISING.COM.
According to the GoE homepage, the following are listed as "Allies":
- 12th Marine Artillery Regiment Association (web)
- 75th Infantry Rangers Association (web)
- American Protest (web)
- Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (web)
- Euphoric Reality (web)
- Firebase Network (web)
- Military Order of the Purple Heart (web)
- Move America Forward
- National Association for Uniformed Services (web)
- National Vietnam & Gulf War Veterans Coalition (web)
- Operation Helmet (web)
- The Hugs Project (web/Yahoo! Group)
- The Patriotic Pillow Project (web)
- United American Patriots (web)
- USA Cossacks (web)
- U.S. Army Ranger Association (web)
- Veterans for Victory
March 17, 2007 Anti- Anti-war Protest
Organizations who participated in the protest included but are not limited to:
- Free Republic
- Defend Our Freedom (web) 
- Military Order of the Purple Heart (web)
- Move America Forward
- Rolling Thunder (web)
- Veterans for Victory 
- "Sgt. Artie Muller, founder of Rolling Thunder, the POW/MIA advocacy group, has called on his 80-plus chartered chapters to turn out. Move America Forward, a grassroots, nonprofit, pro-military charity, is launching a caravan from California March 8 to join the Eagles and will bring flags from across the country for the event. The Nam Knights will be there, too. Bill Devereaux, a member of the South Jersey Viet Nam Vets Association, wrote to tell me he had 'appropriated a bus on which 40 of our members will be attending the event.'
- "Daniel McPeters, an Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veteran, emailed that 'at least a dozen of my brothers will be attending this vigil of necessity and representing those not able to be present. This has needed to happen for 30-plus years. Anyone that supports our troops and their cause should try to make it out, or contact their local Veterans post and spread the word. The silent ones need not be silent any more.'"
- "After viewing the anti-war website, marchonpentagon.org, and the plans for a March 17, 2007 demonstration in Washington, D.C., I became disturbed upon noticing they planned to rally in the vicinity of the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
- "Gathering of Eagles will consist of Americans of all persuasions and will be in Washington, D.C. on March 17 at the Vietnam Memorial Wall and other Memorials to protect our sacred ground and honor those lives that are represented there ... We will not tolerate any desecration, damage or dishonor of any fashion to our hallowed Memorials."
Through conservative blogs and other networks [see below], rumors of a threat to the Memorial produced a passionate response. A song printed on t-shirts to raise money for the group—sold here—expresses this in verse:
- You shout and scream all you want,
- On all that we'll give a pass;
- But you try some Wall-defacing stunt,
- And, son, I'm gonna kick your ass.
- Let us make it clear, we've all come here,
- To defend our long-dead brothers;
- And understand you ain't layin' a hand,
- On our Wall you leftie mothers.
Protecting the Memorial
However, the planners for the demonstration made no mention of the Vietnam Memorial Wall on its website, beyond using it as a point of reference for the starting point of the pre-march. In response to the rumors, GoE clarified stating "(We) will be gathering at Constitution Gardens near the Vietnam Memorial prior to the March on the Pentagon on Saturday March 17 ... we will leave Constitution Gardens and march on Constitution Ave. We will not be in the Vietnam Memorial and all speakers for amplified sound are turned away from the Memorial so as not to interfere with family members visiting the site" (as recorded February 14, 2007, on Google Groups).
"Park police do not allow protesters of any sort within a few hundred feet of the Vietnam memorial, or any others," Leo Shane III reported March 16, 2007, in Stars and Stripes. "'No demonstrators are allowed to march in restricted areas, regardless their issue,' said Bill Line, spokesman for the National Park Service."
Nevertheless, the perceived threat motivated many Vietnam veterans to attend, some of whom told the New York Times that they were there to protect the Vietnam Memorial from demonstrator's plans to deface it.
On March 18, 2007, Tevah Platt reported in New York's Staten Island Advance:
- "Though organizers of the peace demonstrations said they respected the Vietnam Memorial, the Eagles' national organizer, Kristinn Taylor, claimed he knew of threats indicating the site might be vandalized by radicals. That fear spread quickly among veterans' groups on the Internet and roused many to travel the Washington seeking to protect it."
Note that Taylor, Washington D.C. Chapter Co-Leader of the conservative group Free Republic, which not only supported this rally but also supports the Bush administration and "has held pro-troop rallies since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and counter-protests of anti-war demonstrations" , organized a similar pro-war in Iraq rally on the National Mall in August 2005. Although 20,000 participants were expected, only a few hundred were present. 
Gathering of Eagles quoted an "unofficial" National Park Service estimate of 30,000 counter-protestors, however estimates cited in the Washington Post, while noting that the counter-protest was larger than usual, were at least on order of magnitude lower than this.
On March 14, 2007, blogger Ragnar Danneskjold wrote in The Jawa Report that the Gathering of Eagles' online petition had received 1,722 signatures from those who actually planned to attend. Danneskjold wrote: "Be there, or suck. If you're going to be there, please let the organizers know by signing the petition." As of March 20, 2007, the petition included 1,826 Total Signatures.
On March 16, 2007, Kristinn Taylor said GoE's "permit application estimate[d] up to 20,000 attending." 
A second online petition was posted for those who were with GoE "in spirit", but who could not attend the March 17, 2007, D.C. rally.
See Michelle Malkin's March 17, 2007, "Blogburst: Gathering of Eagles--30,000 strong" and the March 21, 2007, "The Eagles Have Crash-Landed" posted by Gavin M. at Sadly, No! for updates on GoE's attendance claims.
Pro-troop rallies and a gathering of flags
"It all begins with a national patriotic and pro-troop caravan that is launched the morning of March 8  from San Francisco and then heads across this nation with 25 pro-troop rallies conducted at stops throughout America," Move America Forward's Melanie Morgan wrote March 2, 2007, in WorldNetDaily.
"A caravan of military supporters driving through 12 states collect[ed] flags for the Gathering of Eagles," Leo Shane III reported March 16, 2007, in Stars and Stripes.
"The flags [were to] be displayed in a giant, patriotic 'Flag City' in Washington, D.C., on March 17," Morgan wrote, "and then each flag will be sent to our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Attached to each flag will be a note explaining who donated the flag and how it flew in honor of our troops and in appreciation of their service and sacrifice."
Gavin M. of Sadly, No! provides an "Anatomy of a Conservative Sissy Attack" at Firedoglake.
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