The members of the Johnson family of Evington, Va., look nothing like the average demonstrators who frequently take to the streets of the District preaching everything from anarchy and socialism to free love.
Dressed in red, white and blue, the family of five carried flags instead of signs. Instead of chanting the now-familiar slogan “Who’s streets? Our streets,” they shouted three letters, “U-S-A.” The real difference? The Johnsons came to show support for the war in Iraq.
“We wanted to come out here and show our support for the troops and bring the kids out. They’ve never been to anything like this before,” said Darla Johnson, motioning to her three children, Josh, 13, Julie, 10, and Jamie, nine.
“We just kind of decided last night – I think it was around 10:00 – that we were going to come up,” Mrs. Johnson said, “and decided to look patriotic.”
“I think (the military action) is going great,” she said. “I think they’ve been doing exactly what they went to do and are proving that President Bush knows what he is doing.”
Her son, Josh, waved an American flag and said he was excited to attend a pro-war rally.
“I think it is awesome because (anti-war demonstrators) have a lot of protests and we have none,” Josh said. “So I think this is a good thing,”
He said he looked forward to hearing G. Gordon Liddy speak because he just finished reading his book, “When I was a Kid This was a Free Country.”
Josh said the war comes up a lot in his classes at his small Christian school in Evington. While he said all the students in his class support President George W. Bush, they debate about what would have happened if the country had not gone to war and the course of action Bush is taking in Iraq.
“A lot of people have different opinions,” Josh said. “We debate over it a lot.”
Josh’s father, Phil Johnson, said, like his son, that this was his first protest. He said he came out to “protest the protesters.”
“I believe that if we didn’t do something while the terrorism was going on, I think that it could happen again,” Mr. Johnson said, referring to September 11. “And whether (Saddam Hussein) was directly connected or not, he still had weapons of mass destruction.”
The Johnsons said they did not plan on checking out the anti-war protests taking place simultaneously only a few blocks away.
“I don’t think (the anti-war protesters) are unpatriotic,” he said. “It is all a matter of perspective. They are not looking at it the way most people do. They don’t see what is at stake – freedom.”