With sunshine pouring down like liquid gold, veterans of Alpha bus continued their push south, making stops in Charlotte, NC, Greensboro, SC and Columbia, SC. News cameras and supporters welcomed the members of the Veterans for American Power Tour as they continued to encourage community leaders and citizens to support the development of clean energy technologies to make Americans more secure.
After boarding the bus yesterday in Greensboro, NC, the first stop was at the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial in Charlotte. In a secluded park shaded by tall oaks and elm trees, the veterans walked along a sloping wall of names of members of the area who gave their lives during the war.
"We are here giving testimony to those who served before us," said Army veteran Rafael Noboa. "We stand here together to bring an important message that will help reduce conflicts like these that cost the lives of so many patriotic Americans. Energy security is national security. We can build a clean energy economy that will reduce the threats our service members face abroad, and in the process create jobs and a cleaner environment for all Americans."
After interviews with local media, the veterans boarded their brilliant blue bus wrapped with the names of the more than 50 towns and cities they were visiting during the two week tour. Our sure-handed bus diver Ellis cranked up the engine, which can be powered by biodiesel fuel, and hit the highway to cross into the Palmetto State, South Carolina, the birthplace of Army vet Ed May, who has been with the tour since its start in Arkansas Oct.12th.
In Columbia, we were met by the mayor of the capital city, Robert Coble. Addressing a crowd at the American Legion Post 6, Mayor Coble strongly supported the veteran's efforts to bring a message of building a clean energy economy. Mayor Coble has been a leader in the region for promoting energy efficiency programs and helping build new clean energy industries such as fuel cell technologies to the area.
"These vets have an important message to tell," Mayor Coble told the crowd. "Energy independence is a national security issue and we need to encourage the development of new clean technologies to create new jobs in our community."
After the veterans addressed the assembled crowed and conducted several TV interviews, we once again boarded the bus and headed for Greenville, where we were met by another group of reporters and television cameras at the city's veteran's memorial park. It was a picture perfect day as the half dozen vets disembarked from the bus and lined up to talk about their mission. Nearby stood a large granite triangular wall etched with the names of service members killed in conflicts throughout the history of this proud southern city.
"I'm here because this is an important message to help protect my friends in the military and people here at home from the devastation of climate change," said Brian Van Riper, a Marine Corps vet. "These are difficult times for everyone but no one can dispute the fact that we need to prepare for the threats posed by a changing climate. The best way to do that is to create new clean energy jobs and become less dependent on fossil fuels. My buddies on the front lines are depending on it."
After a long series of interviews with local television crews and the Greenville News, the vets loaded up on the bus one last time and hit the road for a long 7 hour trek to Florida, the last state on their tour. When the bus pulled up to the hotel in Tallahassee, everyone grabbed their gear and headed for their rooms, tired, road weary, but content that their mission that day had been a success.
It was another long day for the Veterans for American Power Tour, but their objective had been met; more Americans were waking up to their message that a clean energy economy means greater security, more jobs and a healthier environment for all Americans. As former members of the military, all on board agreed there couldn't be a more important mission.