Last week, I left the comfort of home and drove 3,600 miles round trip to join more than 5,000 other U.S. military veterans at Standing Rock, North Dakota. We went to defend the rights of indigenous Native Americans in their on-going struggle to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline from destroying their water source, their sacred burial grounds and their way of life.
As a Vietnam veteran, I had taken an oath to defend the Constitution against enemies both foreign and domestic, so I could not sit idly by while water cannons, concussion grenades and other military weaponry was used against these prayerful and non-violent water protectors. We were prepared to follow the lead of the tribal elders and non-violently absorb whatever blows the police, National Guard and Tiger/Swan private security forces might inflict, but our march to the bridge on Dec. 5 – in sub-freezing blizzard conditions – was peaceful, prayerful and powerful.
The U.S. Army Corps has finally agreed to conduct a limited Environmental Impact Study, but despite its withholding of permits to continue construction, the pipeline company has vowed to continue drilling. Like the water protectors and the veterans, I urge everyone to take a stand.
Douglas H. Ryder