12/10/2007 12:44 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Engaging The Other Side

This past weekend I attended an anti-war demonstration in West Chester, Pennsylvania. There were a couple stories written about it recently in the Philadelphia Inquirer that caught my attention. While I won't be a regular attendee I wanted to show my face there at least once to see what it is all about.

When I arrived the crowds were not separated. Anti-war and pro-war activists alike were commingled together on all four corners of the intersection -- making things very interesting.

I was immediately recognized by a protester who supports the war. He called me out by name in reference to a recent Philadelphia Daily News op-ed I wrote regarding my experience with well funded/high profile anti-war lobbying groups. He insisted that I go over to the anti-war folks and pontificate about my op-ed for what I guess would have been to his benefit. As I was telling him "no way" a girl came running across the street with a video camera and began filming me. I was accompanied by a Vietnam veteran who shares my anti-war views regarding Iraq. We both began to get bombarded with questions such as "why don't you want to win?" & "why don't you support our troops?" No matter how many answers we had given them none seemed sufficient enough to satisfy them. Big surprise.

I crossed the street in order to avoid any more dialogue with them when the most magical moments of the event took place. A man approached me and shouted directly in my face "you're a crazy MOONBAT." I was very tickled by the whole thing. I have heard the term "moonbat" before but never in that manner. I replied "excuse me sir?" when a former Marine, who was standing above me on a ledge waving a sizable Marine Corps flag, looked down at me and said "listen douche bag, you are traitor and a John Kerry deserter." I came very close to losing my cool when I noticed I was still being filmed. So I just laughed it off in addition to the previous remark.

It was almost as disgraceful as the 2004 Republican Convention when delegates mocked John Kerry's purple hearts by wearing purple bandages on their faces.

As time went on both sides began engaging each other in conversation. My question to most of the opposition was "why do you consider me a traitor when I fought a war you support?" You say support the troops "but what about troops who disagree?" "Are they all traitors in your eyes?" Of course the answers were "yes" mixed in with some expletives.

Towards the end of the demonstration, a younger man, who appeared to be in his early 20s, approached me and said "why do you want to pull out of Iraq, do you want to see another Vietnam?" "Is that your answer? , to just leave." Honestly, I did not know how to answer him. All I could think of was my wish for him to be in Iraq right at that moment.

I have always been resistant to the idea of bringing back the military draft, but I was so incensed that I wanted that kid to receive a draft card and to ship out immediately to start training for Iraq. If there was a draft there is no question that all of those smug little war supporters would all flip-flop over to my side and oppose the war.

Nowadays it seems to me that the people most supportive of war are the people who have never been near one. I guess with no draft and such an unshared sacrifice in this war it is simply convenient and affordable to have such a hawkish ideology.

I looked at the obnoxious former Marine as he continued waving his flag. I thought to myself that the troops really don't give a damn about his version of support -- at least I didn't when I was there. If you want to show the troops something go wave that flag in Fallujah or Baghdad.

Kind of like Mitt Romney's five sons who are serving this country by helping him get elected so he can continue the war -- right? His son Josh even bought the family Winnebago to campaign for him in Iowa. How about Josh driving that Winnebago through Iraq with his four brothers of military age with him? Now that is service !!

(Again check out my friend's website that relates to the idea of shared sacrifice.)

My message to supporters of the war in Iraq is this: If you support the war get your ass over there. Otherwise, don't call Iraq vets who disagree with your pro-war positions "traitors."

Let's hold that thought.

At the very end of the of this event I stood next to the war supporters as they had a group picture taken. I sarcastically asked (as an Iraq veteran) if I could get in the photo as well -- knowing the answer would be no. The former Marine looked at me and said "you sold out your brothers and sisters in arms." WOW -- a man of an extreme intellectual capacity.

After their photo was taken the leader of the group, who served in the Army, reached down from the ledge he was standing on and extended his hand to me. He said "I disagree with you on Iraq, but I thank and respect you for your service." Then another veteran with their group came over and said basically the same thing. Lastly, a woman came over and shook my hand and told me she is "happy that I made it home alive and thanked me for serving."

That was the very first time anything like that ever happened to me at one of these kinds of events. I was taken back, but very moved by their gestures. That concluded everything and we went on our merry ways.

As reluctant as I was to attend I am very glad that I did. Because I learned that as much as we disagree, and as divided we are, we don't always have to hate each other.

However, the struggle continues. Especially now as we wait for Congress to cave in any day now to Bush's demands for war funding with no strings attached. Democrats in Congress promised Bush would not get a blank check, but in the end, they will fold like cheap suits -- like they always do. Who knows? Maybe Bush will veto it anyway. It would not bother me so much if they didn't pledge to hold Bush accountable (all the time) just to do nothing about it.

If Congress wants to give up that is fine. They can answer to their constituencies. In the meantime the good people of America will continue the fight to end this war. That is a guarantee.