LEBANON, Tenn. (WKRN) — As protests against police brutality and inequality continue across the country, some have been followed by riots. When a group of veterans in Lebanon heard their county war memorial may be a target for possible riots, they picked up their rifles and assumed position.
“A show of force can be a very powerful deterrent. We’re not here to fight, unless we have to,” Veteran Keith Sikora told News 2.
“I’m not here to promote violence, I’m not here against any race whatsoever. I’m for all good people and all good things in this country and preserving them,” added Veteran Joe Hester.
Sikora and Hester both served in the United States Marine Corps and hold the Wilson County Veteran’s Memorial very near to their hearts.
“It’s a big target because who else gave more for this country than the ones who gave their life, and if youre on the other side and you hate this country, the way they’re portraying the way they hate it, this is the best target to hit,” Sikora said.
Sikora started his watch five days ago and others like Hester have joined since.
“What I’ve seen across the nation in certain cities, these violent thugs all in the name of being against racism, attacking innocent people, burning down cities, destroying communities and intimidating innocent people, has angered me so much that I’m tired of sitting back and talking about it,” Hester explained.
“I went and served this country for the country and everybody in it. My marines and I, we’re not black, were not white, Mexican, or Chinese. We all call each other green, different tone of green, but we’re all green. That’s how we were trained thats how we think, that’s the way we are now,” Sikora said. “We don’t stand against any particular race, we stand for them, all of them, unified, and equally. We stand behind the constitution that all men are created equal, and we wil fight and die for that.”
By nightfall Saturday evening, about a dozen people stood watch at the memorial, armed with weapons they said they did not intend to use, but hoped would send a message.
“These people aren’t coming here with just words,” Sikora said.” They are people who are trying to tear down this country, that’s what I stand against.”
They said they will be there until they know the memorial to their brothers and sisters is safe.