Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Invasion of Blaine

I read an interesting comment on one of the letters to the Editor in The Bellingham Herald. The commenter referred to an invasion of Blaine, Washington that took place in 1970.

On May 9, 1970, a group of (600) Canadian and ex patriot American war protesters stormed the U.S. Canadian border to protest U.S. military action in Vietnam, Cambodia and the death of students at Kent State on May 4th.

During the illegal entry, protesters vandalized storefronts, broke out windows, damaged cars, homes and a local memorial dedicated to Blaine men who had served and died during WW I, WW II and Korea.

This was the first invasion of the U.S. since the
War of 1812.

The protesters left after burning the flag at the U.S. Post Office and fighting with Blaine residents.

On their way back to Canada, the protesters vandalized the
Peace Arch, a symbol of peace between Canada and the United States of America.

The next day, the protesters marched on Blaine again -but were met at the border by Blaine residents determined to defend their homes and businesses.

Those residents, despite their personal political views on the Vietnam War, stood shoulder to shoulder along the U.S. Canadian border, blocking the invaders/rioters from entering the United States.

I was just a child when these incidents took place, but I can remember my mom describing the vandalism, broken windows, senseless attacks against innocent city residents and workers who were trying to escape the violence; and, finally, the story about the 21 year old Vietnam Veteran, a long time City of Bellingham employee, who attempted to take the burning flag away from the rioters.

The Canadian papers published photographs showing a protester attacking the vet with a knife.

I don't care what your political position is on Iraq/Afghanistan/Iran - just remember that the local surge of anti war sympathy does not justify unwarranted attacks on your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.

They have no more control over these issues than you do - and, if they so choose, they have a constitutionally protected right to disagree with you and be "safe" while doing so.

For a community that proudly proclaims it's "liberalism", I must admit, the hatred and intolerance expressed towards some members of our community will never cease to astound me. There's not much tolerance or open mindedness in this town.

Perhaps the community would be better served if members concentrate on future foreign policy,rather than that what has passed.

More information can be found on the City of Blaine's website:

(600) invaders: the number varies -depending on who you talk to. A number of the protesters did not follow invaders into Blaine. They remained at Peace Arch Park.

photo is of 1968 protest against Vietnam war.

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