If you are a regular visitor to RocPic.Com, you already know that if there is a major public event happening outdoors in Rochester NY, chances are I will be there with my digital camera, you also know that I rarely include much text with my images, today I will.
After what seemed like near non stop snow for 120 days, the combination of a 68 degree Friday afternoon, and a very public show of Tensions between Mayor Johnson, Police Chief Duffy , and anti-war protesters, it was enough to cause me to plan on photographing last Friday's anti-war protest.
However, as 2 PM was approaching, and I was preparing to leave for my 30 minute walk to downtown Rochester and the Liberty Pole starting point for the anti-war protest, I had the radio tuned to 1180 AM WHAM, and heard local conservative talk show host, Bob Lonsberry, begrudgingly give a plug to a pro-troops rally to be held outside Rochester's Frontier Field baseball stadium. You might find it surprising that Bob did not want to give out the info, as there is no question that he is a true American patriot.
However, this day of politics, had a few political sub plots that would become apparent to me as the day quickly progressed. What do I know? Nobody wants to be painted with a brush that says they took the lead on organizing a pro-troops rally for political gain.
How do I know this? I heard WHAM's Bob Lonsberry, and later at the pro-troops rally, WCMF's Brother Wease both speak on the political implications, and the desire for there to be no political gain for the founders of the pro-troops rally. Throw in the stories I later read at the online edition of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, and you get some sense of the struggle that the media, and politicians face here at home due to the war.
I might add here, aside from the increased photo ops, part of the reason I walk around Rochester instead of driving, taking the bus, or riding a bike, is for the exercise it offers in my efforts at weight control, rehab of a battered body, and ensuring that I am able to stand on my own two feet and go where I want to when I want to. That said, I made my way down the beautifully sunny Monroe Ave where in less than 2 hours the anti-war protest would pass through, directly to the hot dog cart at the Liberty Pole on East Main St...
So I'm standing at the Liberty Pole, at the hot dog cart having a Zweigle's Red Hot.. just one, enjoying the smell, the downtown crowd, feeling the sun, living in America, and I'm digesting my situation... Do I want to cover the controversial, potentially tense, anti-war demonstration even though there are voices who say to ignore them, or do I want to follow this new information provided begrudgingly, by Bob Lonsberry and hoof it over to Frontier Field where people would be offering a show of support for American and allied troops who are paying with their lives in an effort to prosecute the war on terrorism...
Half way through my Zweigle's Red Hot with mustard, relish, and ketchup, my feet started heading to Frontier Field, taking a Main to State St. route, I end up walking past the Federal Building, center of the controversy surrounding the issue of the location for the anti-war protest.
I make my way past the house that Eastman built to the house that Ruth would have built, I am one of the first to arrive, soon the place is bustling with TV media and the gathering of pro-troops supporters. We hear from WCMF's Brother Wease, he acknowledges Bob Lonsberry and the need to keep it grass roots, later, over the protests of a local politician whose name I don't remember, Brother Wease mentions the politicians name...
A young lady leads us a cappella in the National Anthem after a band whose name I can't remember is unable to back her due to their contract... according to Brother Wease, I hope he was joking... The band leads the gathered crowd through a couple of songs then a local TV news anchor, Kevin Doran, invited any members of the gathered crowd with a family member fighting the war on terrorism to come forward if they would like to tell us about their loved ones.
One after another, men, women, entire families came forward to share their pride for those they love, and their hope for their safe return. Today, this is not a vocal crowd, yes occasional loud applause, but more could be heard in the quiet caring as families spoke of loved ones facing the dangerous realities of our world.
We heard from Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Gary B. Beikirch speak in part about why the anti-war movement has a negative impact on America and the allied effort in the war on terrorism... After Mr. Beikirch finished speaking, I wandered about the crowd snapping some pictures and sensing that I ought to get walking back to my side of town.
I had heard that the anti-war protest would start at 5 PM and stop at the shutdown Genesee Hospital just a few blocks from where I live, and sure enough, the protesters were just leaving to march up the sidewalks of Alexander St. when I reached the hospital.
So, I also shot the protest march, from Alexander St. up East Ave. and back to the Liberty Pole where the hot dog cart was no more, but I did find one lone man in blue jeans, and a U.S. Marine Corp jesrsey, standing tall, while bearing the U.S. Flag in one hand, and a framed picture of a U.S. Marine in the other.
There seems to be some sentiment that says we must be careful about what the troops see when they look back home... HERE are the two faces of Rochester NY that they will see, you judge, as they will, who is interested in peace, and who is looking for a fight.