Fort Dix, NJ – February 16, 2008. Saturday, February 16th, 6 members of Movement for a Democratic Society’s Staten Island chapter, made a trip to do outreach to the troops at Fort Dix, New Jersey. We had literature for the troops who were training on the base this weekend – and cookies and brownies too!
We arrived on base, literally at the front gate, at about 1:15 PM on Saturday. I went up to the Visitor’s Center, hoping to get on base, but it was closed. So back to our cars we went. After driving around the periphery of the enormous facility we returned to main entrance with a new plan: stand right out in front of the Ft. Dix sign on Route 68 – the main entrance to the base – and try to hand out what we had. We parked in a small welcoming lot behind the huge LED sign “WELCOME TO FT. DIX, US ARMY”, which also announced lots of family activities happening on base.
It was cold, windy and a really large intersection, with cars traveling at the speed of light. We made some makeshift signs on some manila folders I had in my trunk “SUPPORT OUR TROOPS, END THE WAR!” and hit the corner. Immediately, we started handing out our lit and goodie bags, some made by one of the MDS members, with chocolates, homemade cookies, DVD’s of “Sir, No Sir!” and literature which advertised the upcoming Winter Soldier event in Washington, D.C. We spoke with drivers when they paused for the red light and overall, they welcomed the stuff we gave them, and then turned into the base.
We were there about 20 minutes when 2 DoD Homeland Security SUV’s pulled up right in front of me. The officer rolled down his window and said “What’s up?” I said we were handing out literature for the troops, and home baked goodies. “Do you want one?” I asked. He smiled and said “Not right now.” He said we couldn’t stand where we were because it was “base property.” I asked where we could stand and he said “Oh, right on the other corner, no problem there.” I thought he was going to say go back to New York! So we gladly just crossed the street, and marked our new territory, directly across from the “Welcome to Ft. Dix” sign.
Then the 2 DoD vehicles saw our cars and called us over to move them. “Can’t be on base property.” I asked “Is there anywhere else we can park them?” figuring they would say in New York City, but he said “Oh, just across the street, pull up on the shoulder and the grass, no problem.” OK, done.
There we were for 2 more hours, handing out what we had, getting honks, thumbs up, support, and a few, just a few, signs of disapproval. We handed out, to traffic going on the base, about 100 packets and 25 DVD’s. One woman pulled over her van, got out and asked me if she could take one. Her son had just joined the Marines, and she was against it. She said she was confused because she thought it would be a patriotic thing for him to do, but knows that this war and this government is doing “the wrong thing.” I gave her what I had and she said she would make copies and give them out on the base and to her son and his friends!
We declared victory about 4:30 PM, cold and exhausted, and just as we packed up our stuff, a County Sheriff pulled up. He rolled down his window and asked “What’s going on? I received a call saying you were blocking traffic!” He laughed and smiled figuring that would be pretty hard since it was a huge intersection, with cars traveling at lightspeed. I said we weren’t blocking traffic, just handing out literature for the troops. He gladly took what we had, and told us “You can stay, just be careful of the traffic.” We told him we were just leaving since it was getting cold, and he said “Oh, I don’t mean to kick you out. Please, stay if you want to.” We all just looked at each other in amazement, befuddled and just smiled and said to him “Oh, well, that’s ok, we’ll be back.” He said ok, have a good night, and left!
Don’t let anyone say Staten Island is a forgotten borough, I don’t think Dix will forget us, and I wish I could have been a fly on the wall somewhere on that base Saturday night!