MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) – Just days after military recruiters were shot at a recruiting center in Tennessee, a group in York County says they won’t let it happen here.
They’re volunteering to be a line of defense here in the Midstate. The guards took up arms Monday morning outside the Armed Forces Career Center in Manchester Township.
Their numbers fluctuated throughout the day, but there were always at least a couple keeping watch.
“They deserve it, and we’re here to show it,” said James Fitzgerald, whose dad and brother both served in the military.
Fitzgerald said they weren’t there to frighten or bully anyone, simply to protect.
It comes after last week’s shooting at a Tennessee recruiting center that left four Marines and a sailor dead.
“We’re not going to back down,” said Fitzgerald. “This is our country. We’re not going to allow crazed people just to go around randomly shooting men and women for no reason.”
All day, local restaurants and supporters brought re-supplies of food and water to the guards. Mission BBQ in York County brought the group lunch.
“It’s what needs to be done,” said Mission BBQ’s Carrie Graff, who brought the group a cooler full of ice later in the day, too. “I would just love to see a bigger show of force down here protecting our men and women down here.”
“We’ve actually seen food, restaurants come, drop them off food and water,” said Joyce Worden. “We’ve seen lots of people ride by and wave.”
Worden owns Creations hair salon next door to the recruiting center. It’s where she met her husband, a Marine for 24 years who retired at the end of last year.
At her salon, she and her employees got a first-row seat to the day-long vigil.
“It’s really nice, you know. It’s really nice when people care,” Nicole McCauley, an assistant manager at Creations, said. “They don’t know any of the guys in that office. They’re just doing it because it’s what’s right.”
“Being out here is a show of force for the civilians of the United States,” said Donald Bradley. He served in the military during the beginning of the Vietnam era.
Bradley said it’s a show of force that’s long overdue.
“We’re not going to put up with it,” he said. “We’re not going to lay down and let it happen.”
Theirs is a popular crusade; most of the feedback, the group says, is positive. Now they’re trying to work out a schedule to keep guards there on a more regular basis.
“To the people who say that it’s not going to happen here,” Fitzgerald said, “the people in Tennessee said it wouldn’t happen here. The people in South Carolina, the church, said it would never happen here.”
For their part, the Armed Forces haven’t said much about the guards. In a statement, the Army’s Recruiting Battalion said they’re dedicating to defending the U.S. and our constitutional liberties, including the right to assemble and the right to bear arms.