Silent Majority Discovered in Fallon, Nevada
By Dan Gougherty
On a recent trip to Fallon, Nevada, I had a brief but eye-opening
conversation at the local Wal-Mart.
Realizing I had left my shaving kit at home, I sauntered
over to the local Wal-Mart to pick up some toiletries after
finding no other local businesses that carried these items.
(I guess Wal-Mart ran those businesses out of town, but that's
As I made my way through the checkout line, I was served
by Barbara. Judging by her thinning gray hair and frail physique,
Barbara was well past standard retirement age. Wearing her
oversized Wal-Mart cashier's vest, I noticed two photos pinned
to each of the vest front panels. On the left side was a vintage
black and white WWII shot of a young solider. On the right
panel Barbara wore a color photo of a much younger soldier
that appeared to be brand new.
I asked Barbara who were the men in the photos. "This one
is my husband," she said, proudly pointing to the WWII photo.
"He served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam." I asked who
was in the other photo and she said somewhat more quietly
that it was her grandson. "He's in the Army and is serving
over in Iraq."
Being that Fallon is a politically conservative rural area
of northwest Nevada whose largest employer is the Fallon Naval
Air Station, the real home of the Navy's "Top Gun" school,
my guess was that Barbara and her husband probably retired
in the area to be close to the base to take advantage of the
services. Although our conversation was brief, I could see
that while Barbara was mentally sharp, my gut feeling was
that she was working out of necessity. Perhaps she was working
there to make ends meet; perhaps it was to help pay for medications.
What other reason could there be? I quietly thought.
"You must be very proud of both of them," I asked her. Barbara
said that she was indeed proud of both of them but then she
paused, looked around to make sure no one was within hearing
distance, like one of those characters we saw in grade school
films during the cold war about the evils of communism. After
allaying her fears, Barbara very quietly whispered to me,
with muted vigor, "I think it's a shame they have our boys
over there. I think they are sitting ducks. They need to come
home. We shouldn't be over there."
Given the setting, I was surprised - and pleased - to hear
this from Barbara. The fact that she had to whisper it to
me also speaks volumes about the environment that many people
find themselves in. It is obvious that Barbara and her family
have honorably served our country and yet, perhaps out of
fear of being labeled unpatriotic, she found it necessary
Leaving the store, Barbara reminded me of the Nixon's co-called
"Silent Majority." In his version, the silent majority opposed
civil rights, anti-war demonstrators and were reactionaries.
Today, I believe most Americans can now be classified as the
New Silent Majority. Specifically, there is a plurality of
people, like Barbara, who not only oppose the war in Iraq,
but the neo-con policies of the Bush administration as well.
They are out there and not only do they lack a forum to voice
their opposition, they are afraid to do so in public lest
they be labeled unpatriotic. They have been silenced.
So to Barbara, and all the others who are afraid of speaking
up against the flag wrapped extremist, don't be afraid. This
is exactly how they want you to behave.
Stand up and become the voice of the new Vocal Majority.