By Christian Zerbel Herald writer
EVERETT — Honking cars roll past a band of flag-waving demonstrators on the north corners of Colby and Hewitt avenues.
They’ve been a downtown fixture for a decade. They first appeared as the nation headed toward war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Today marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the war, which was announced about 7:15 p.m. here.
Kevin Moeller, 59, president of the Evergreen Troop Support Group, said he hopes the Iraqi people take advantage of the chance they were given for a more free country.
“We got rid of Saddam, and given them (Iraqis) the opportunity to start over again,” said Moeller, a Snohomish contractor.
Since 2003, Moeller has shown-up nearly every Friday about noon to 1 p.m. to wave at passing cars. The days of loud demonstrations, and some scuffling, with those who held weekly anti-war protests at the intersection’s opposite corners are long over.
Those folks stopped showing up around the time President Barack Obama was elected, Moeller said. And it seems to him that his group doesn’t get flipped off as often by passersby anymore.
He guesses that most people who were upset with his group probably were frustrated with President George W. Bush’s policies in the Middle East, and those people were just taking it out on them.
And he doesn’t quite agree with the way the war was run, either.
The U.S. was just “going through the motions” instead of facing the enemy head-on, and the American forces were restricted by guidelines similar to those of the Vietnam War, he said.
He stresses that he and his group “don’t like war more than anybody else does.”
As for Iraq, “It drug on longer than it should have,” he said. “It wasn’t executed properly or it would have been dealt with better, the biggest problem now, is that war is politically incorrect, and we’re not allowed to be politically incorrect.”
As for the future of the Iraqi people, Moeller said he isn’t especially optimistic, but is hopeful that the newly formed Iraqi government can stand on its own.
He’ll keep demonstrating until he feels that U.S. troops overseas and at home aren’t being forgotten.
Moeller, who comes from a military family, said that when his brother returned from Vietnam he was spit upon at the airport.
He doesn’t want any troops coming home from war to be treated like that. “Whether we know it or not they are trying to protect our freedom,” he said.
Group members John McKee, 74,and his wife Audrey McKee, 75, meet at the corner for largely the same reason.
John McKee, an Air Force veteran, served in Vietnam twice. He remembers one time when he was out of the country, neighbors told his children that their father was a child killer.
“We’re here to let the GIs know that somebody cares about them,” he said.