About 20 people, including 26th District Democratic State Senatorial candidate April Moore, gathered at Front Royal’s Town Gazebo at noon on Wednesday, March 13, to join Len Sherp in marking the start of the third year of the Vigil for Democracy he began on March 8, 2017.
“We mark our calendar by Wednesdays – we started on the second Wednesday of March 2017 and it’s the second Wednesday of March 2019,” Sherp said of any date discrepancies.
On that second Wednesday of 2017 Sherp explained the impetus for his Vigil for Democracy to Royal Examiner: “This administration in eight weeks has shown that it doesn’t understand the rule of law; does not respect the separation of powers; and has a Republican Congress that for some reason refuses to stand up and be adult. There are threats to our democracy when our president lies every day. And I think there are some underlying issues – I’m holding a sign today that says ‘Show us the Tax Returns’. Every president, I believe since Eisenhower if not even earlier, has released their tax returns, so that we can see that they are not indebted to or beholding to other foreign powers.”
And for Sherp on March 13, 2019, not much has changed.
“At the time I told you that I thought we faced a crisis in our country that basic constitutional principals seemed to be ignored; and we were heading toward a path that I felt the future of our democratic-republican form of government was in peril. Nothing over the last two years has convinced me otherwise,” Sherp said.
“We still have disrespect from the highest office in the nation, the presidency of the United States, for the rule of law; disrespect for the separation of powers; disrespect for the truth; we have disrespect for a free press; we have disrespect for the hardworking members of the federal government; we have disrespect for our allies; and we have instead an affection for dictators and a wish from our president that perhaps he could be president for life like his friend, Comrade Xi (Xi Jinping, president of China).
“And he talks about ‘love letters’ with (North Korean Dictator) Kim Jung Un – and we stopped our annual or semi-annual military exercises with the Republic of South Korea, our strongest ally in the Far East – what did we get for that? Oh, we got a picture with Kim Jung Un.
“And I didn’t even mention the violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution and the violations of the ban against nepotism – I could go on and on,” Sherp said deciding to end the litany of reasons the Vigil for Democracy continues, and will continue beyond his pending move to Oregon. Sherp and his wife are moving west in several weeks to be close to their daughter.
Sherp pointed us toward other vigil participants for comments, including those who will be instrumental in continuing to see the Vigil for Democracy remains a viable expression of political dissent guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Long-time vigil participants Bob Hill and Jorge Amselle will share Vigil for Democracy organizational rolls after Sherp’s departure.
We asked Amselle why he, like Hill and others in the vigil trenches, has been there on Wednesday afternoons with Sherp for the bulk of two years.
“This is the only thing that keeps me sane; this is the only thing that gives me hope for our country – to be out here with people who recognize the danger that we’re in, who are like-minded. I believe I told you before, I used to be a conservative Republican for 30 years; for years I voted Republican. When Trump was running I kept telling my fellow Republicans ‘You can’t vote for this guy – he’s insane and a racist.’
“And when he won the nomination I decided that’s it, I’m out, I’m done. And I left the Republican Party and volunteered for the Hillary Clinton campaign and did everything I could to make sure Trump didn’t win.”
Over two years later Amselle is maintaining his commitment to make Americans, including Republicans, see what he sees in the 45th president – a would-be demagogue who puts self interest above the national interest.
Amselle pointed out how many congressional Republicans, Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz being prominent examples, were documented during the 2016 nominating campaign saying horrible things about Trump’s character; but now fall easily in line with the worst of the president’s policy initiatives or personal impulses.
“I think it’s just winning at all costs – nothing matters but winning, you know, no morals, no qualms about lying, cheating, stealing, pandering to white supremacists, empowering racism and other forms of bigotry; being inconsistent on all the things you ever preached. See, there used to be a competition between all different kinds of conservatives, your libertarians, your evangelicals, all different kinds of conservatives were there to argue and debate conservative ideologies.”
“Now that’s all gone, now it’s just Trump – the only ideology that matters is Trump,” Amselle observed of an apparent party-wide fear of not antagonizing Trump’s sizable base among Republican voters.
And when the cult of personality meets ideological intransience tempered with stereotypical vilification of minorities and outsiders you have a historically dangerous combination – a combination often found at the outset of the rise of state totalitarianism.
It is a trend another former Republican present at the March 13 vigil has noticed. April Moore is positioning herself for a Democratic challenge of 26th District State Senate Republican incumbent Mark Obenshain in the upcoming election. See her observations on the trend of Republicanism in the Trump era mentioned by Amselle in this linked story.
Of her presence in staunchly Republican Front Royal and Warren County for the March 13 Vigil for Democracy Moore said, “I’m impressed people here in Front Royal have been out here every week for the last two years protesting what the Republican Party has become and what it’s doing: this party that nominated, elected and now serves as accomplices to a president who lies to the public multiple times every day; and who is assaulting our rule of law; and even seems to be in some kind of strange cahoots with our most dangerous adversary.
“So part of why I’m running is the reason they’re out here,” Moore said of Vigil for Democracy participants.
Bob Hill, who with Jorge Amselle will continue the organizational impetus for the Vigil for Democracy in Sherp’s pending absence, sees a fundamental necessity for that continuation.
“I think the vigil has been an awakening for a lot of the people here in Front Royal that there is a two-party system and two parties make us stronger. Obviously if you have a one-party system you are heading away from democratic principals,” Hill observed of the role of political dissent in non-totalitarian nations.
Hill, who was a primary vigil player in establishing a dialogue with elements of the pro-Trump contingent across Chester Street, pointed to mutual concerns about local politics.
“My Trump friends over there,” he said gesturing toward Ralph and Michael Waller and their pro-Trump signs across Chester Street, “when I talk to them about what’s going on locally, about the EDA or about insurance policies (against abuses) they’ll say to me ‘Well, it’s the politicians’ and I’ll say ‘What politicians?’ and they’ll say ‘The ones we voted in’ – and I’ll ask ‘What party are they?’ And in staunchly-conservative Warren County and Front Royal the answer with few generally independent exceptions is Republican.
“Years ago my wife came home and said, ‘Look, I could be a Republican – I believe in smaller government except for one thing: smaller government would mean fewer people overseeing and making sure that I, as a Republican, don’t think of myself first and foremost.’
“Sure it’s smaller government, but it’s also corrupt government,” Hill said of an unmonitored economic system where the largest and wealthiest competitors are free to prey upon, not only smaller-positioned competitors, but the marketplace itself.
“Sometimes people just don’t see the forest for the trees,” Hill concluded with an age-old expression of the problem of seeing the bigger picture when you find yourself immersed in the middle of that picture.
And when one looks at the political picture being painted by the current occupant of the White House: from a general disregard for federal institutions from law enforcement to intelligence and the diplomatic wing of the State Department, coupled with the number of unfilled federal positions after two-plus years of the Trump presidency, as well as the conflicting professional interests of many who have been appointed to head oversight agencies like the EPA, Commerce and Interior, it would seem the core political issues that have brought Vigil for Democracy participants together for over two years are nowhere near a resolution.
So we imagine you will continue to see these anniversary reports, along with those coming across the Chester Street political divide, for at least another two years …
Gazebo Rally for your 2nd Amendment Rights
On a cold, dark and damp Monday night, more than 200 citizens gathered at the Gazebo in downtown Front Royal for a rally on 2nd Amendment rights. Ross McVey, Republican Chairman Steve Kurtz, Vice Chair Amber Morris, Warren County Supervisor Dan Murray, Virginia Delegate Michael Webert, representative from Congressman Ben Cline, Tyler Adams and Commonwealth Attorney elect John Bell all spoke at the rally. Comments were read from Town Councilmen Gary Gillespie and Jake Meza, and Delegate Todd Gilbert all in support of our 2nd Amendment rights. The Royal Examiner was there to capture the event.
In the wake of around one thousand people showing up for the Shenandoah County Board Public Hearing on a Resolution of Support for a municipal declaration as a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary Community, the Warren County Board of Supervisors’ Public Hearing has been moved to a Special Meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Warren County High School’s auditorium. The board’s regular meeting will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning at the Warren County Government Center.
See related story:
Operation Santa Claus
Ronald “Hoss” Feldhauser stopped by our studios to update us on “Operation Santa Claus” on a few other holiday events happening at the Front Royal Volunteer Fire Department.
The Volunteer Stations of Warren County Fire and Rescue will be conducting their annual “Operation Santa” Events by carrying Santa throughout their communities on the firetruck.
While every attempt is made to reach as many people possible in their community; unfortunately some homes will be unable to be reached. Below is information on each respective areas “Operation Santa” event,
During this event, please refrain from calling 911 or the Emergency Communications Centers non-emergency telephone number for information.
A few tips to ensure you see Santa on the fire truck:
– Listen for the sirens and be prepared. (crack a window or door to ensure you hear them coming)
– Have the children dressed and ready to “spring into action” for when Santa gets close.
– For the best possible viewing, take the children to the end of the driveway but stay clear of the roadway.
– Do not attempt to climb aboard the fire truck.
– Do not chase the fire truck.
Town of Front Royal Area
Will begin at 5:30pm on December 24th with 3 fire trucks carrying Santa through most of the Town of Front Royal Streets. For more information please contact the station at 540.636.3830.
Operation Santa Claus will be December 24th beginning at dark. We will give Santa a ride throughout our community. Please be watching for him. For more information please contact the station at 540.636.9704.
Bentonville and Browntown Areas
Unknown at this time
Linden Areas (3 dates)
December 22nd beginning at 6:00pm High Knob:
High Knob Rd., Left onto Massanutten Mountain Dr., Right onto Club House Rd., Salt Lick Rd., Right onto Deer Trail Rd., Left onto Alpine Dr., Right onto Shenandoah Valley Dr., Right onto Short Piece Lane, Right onto Skyline View Dr., Left onto Club House Rd. to 55.
December 23rd beginning at 6:00pm Blue Mountain/Skyline Estates:
Santa will be coming by the bus stop on High Top Rd. at 6:00pm. He will be there for about 15 minutes then he will head over to make a left onto Tomahawk Way, Right onto Old Linden, Left onto Tulip Poplar Drive, Right onto Old Linden, Left onto Hickory Nut Rd., Right onto May Apple Way, Left onto Tomahawk Way. We will now head over to Skyline Estates… Right onto Bifrost Way, Left onto Luchase Rd., Left onto Ulysses Way, Right onto Sunset Ln., Right onto Inca Rd., Left onto Shady Ln., Right onto Jericho Rd., Left onto Wilderness Rd., Left onto Khyber Pass Rd., Left onto Oregon Hollow back to the Fire Department.
December 24th beginning at 6:00pm Apple Mountain Lake and Apple Mountain West:
Starting at the Apple Mountain Bus Stop we will head up McIntosh, Left onto Granny Smith, Right onto Northern Spy, Right onto Wealthy Rd., Left onto Granny Smith, Left onto Delicious Rd., Right onto Granny Smith, Left onto Wealthy Rd., Right onto Jonathan Rd., Right onto McIntosh, Left onto Apple Orchard, Left onto Granny Smith, Left onto Rome Beauty, King David, Make a U-Turn at Star Ct., Left onto Grimes Golden, Left onto Black Twig, Left onto Oregon Hollow Rd., to Apple Mountain West: Right onto Appleseed Rd., Left onto Core Dr., Appleseed Rd to Applewood Dr., U-turn., head over to Gap Rd., to finish our night and let Santa finish up his deliveries. For more information please contact the station at 540.636.3473.
Shenandoah Shores Area
Will begin at dark on December 24th and travels the roads in the Shenandoah Shores Community, proceed out Shenandoah Shores Road to Loop Road and then proceed Happy Creek to the area of Larkin Ridge Road. For more information please contact the station at 540.635.7897.
Shenandoah Farms Area
Beginning at 6:00pm on December 24th at the intersection of Lions Lane and Howellsvile Road , from here we will proceed to the intersection of Manor Road , continue on Manor Road and turn right on Ridge Wood Lane , right on Valley Farms Road , left on Old Oak Lane. We will keep left and continue on Venus Branch Road , right on Drummer Hill Road , left on Mountain Lake Drive , right on Blue Mountain Road (back gate) , left on Farm View Road , right on Young’s Drive , right on Fellows Drive , left on Howellsville road , finish at Warren County Station 6. For more information, please contact the station at 540.837.1290.
Fortsmouth – Waterlick and Buckton Areas
Fortsmouth Station #8 will start at 6:30pm on December 24th and visit all the subdivisions and main roads in the Waterlick and Buckton areas. For more information please contact the station at 540.636.6983.
Chester Gap Areas
Will begin at 6:00pm on December 24th in the Chester Gap Community and proceed to Lake Front Royal and Point of Woods Subdivisions and then proceed to the area of Harmony Hollow. For more information please contact the station at 540.635.5482.
North Warren-Reliance and Rockland Areas
Will begin at 5pm on December 24th at the Riverton Commons and Crooked Run Shopping Centers and then will proceed to the residential areas. For more information please contact the station at 540.635.6759.
Riverton Church Symphonic Winds Christmas Concert
Do you want to travel to someplace warm?
During the winter months, we complain about the cold, but what can we do about it? Ginny Leser at Main Street Travel has some suggestions:
For more information about Main Street Travel, visit mainstreet-travel.com.
Valley Chorale of Front Royal annual Christmas Concert
The Valley Chorale of Front Royal (formerly the Front Royal Oratorio Society) held it’s annual Hometown Christmas Concert Sunday afternoon, December 8th, at the Front Royal Presbyterian Church. The Chorale has been bringing choral music to the northern Shenandoah Valley since 1965. As the area’s longest-established community chorus, their aim is to put great choral music at the heart of civic and community life and, in so doing, entertain, illuminate and uplift our families, friends and neighbors. The men, women and youth in their current roster of singers come from Frederick, Clarke, Warren, and Rappahannock counties.
This year the Chorale has a new Artistic Director, Dr. Ryan Keebaugh, at the helm. Noted for his “energetic, expressive, concise, insightful, and sensitive” conducting (The Washington Post), Ryan’s versatile and vibrant musicianship has distinguished him as a leading music educator and conductor.
At the end of the concert, two young ‘future members’ joined the chorale for the encore number. They welcomed Amanda Baldwin, age 10, and Stephanie Fultz, age 8, to join them on stage.
For more information on the Valley Choral of Front Royal, visit their website at: valleychoraleoffrontroyal.org.
The Royal Examiner was their and shares the concert with you: