CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Will this single overheated moment seriously harm the anti-war movement? An Iraq War veteran who lost his right leg below the knee at Ramadi was heckling the large throngs of anti-war protesters marching Saturday in Washington. Apparently, things got boisterous and somebody spit towards the soldier, Joshua Sparling, who spit right back.
Today, reports of the incident are spreading rapidly among veterans groups because it conjures up ugly memories of the Vietnam era, when servicemen often were targets for verbal abuse and worse. [Ed Note: I was spit at in New Orleans in 1970 while in Army uniform on leave from Fort Polk, La. It landed near my shoulder, and was horrifying to a kid who had answered his draft notice. I was in the military because I had drawn No. 56 in the December 1969 draft lottery, the only lottery I ever won.]
Lest anybody think the spitting incident Saturday is Internet fiction, there is this account from Sunday's New York Times (page 20 National Edition), whose reporter Ian Urbina seems to have been a witness:
"There were a few tense moments, however, including an encounter involving Joshua Sparling, 25, who was on crutches and who said he was a corporal with the 82nd Airborne Division and lost his right leg below the knee in Ramadi, Iraq. Mr. Sparling, who was not scheduled to speak, addressed the counterprotesters to voice his support for the administration's policies in Iraq.
Later, an antiwar protester passed where he and his group were standing, words were exchanged and one of the antiwar protestors spit at the ground near Mr. Sparling; he spit back.
"Capital police made the antiwar protestors walk farther away from the counterprotesters.
"'These are not Americans as far as I'm concerned,' Mr. Sparling
I think the anti-war spitter was an incredible fool. Sparling had a right to express his opinion. I am no fan of President George W. Bush and his war policies. I will apologize to Corporal Sparling for what happened. And I salute his service and his sacrifice.