By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily
There was something about watching Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoke martial law last week to shut down the “Freedom Convoy” of truckers that hit a nerve with Kerry Eblen.
The fact that people didn’t stand up to oppose the measure she considered “draconian” struck the 73-year-old retired Sheridan teacher as sad and just plain “spooky.”
Call her old-fashioned, Eblen said, but as a Baby Boomer with a dad who served as a U.S. Marine in WWII, patriotism, freedom and pride in one’s country mean something to her.
She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do about it, she said, but she sure as heck didn’t want to sit around complacently watching as the same thing potentially happened in her own country.
After hearing truckers were organizing a similar “Freedom Convoy” in the United States with a planned stop in Wyoming on March 3, Eblen spent the weekend mucking out her live-in horse trailer and loading it with generators, batteries, tools and her electric bike.
“I’m all set and ready to roll,” she told Cowboy State Daily Wednesday.
Now retired from the Wyoming Girls School, Elben works part-time as a car detailer in Sheridan. She wasn’t quite sure how her young, millennial boss was going to respond to her request for time off, Eblen said, but as it turns out, she had no trouble giving her two to three weeks off to join the convoy.
Eblen has no idea what to expect as she joins the convoy traveling to Washington, D.C., but is eager to meet up with other like-minded people and share in the solidarity of celebrating freedoms and pushing back on government overreach.
She used to be so proud of her country and government as a young girl and has slowly watched money and authority erode the ethical and truthful administrations starting with the Clintons and stretching through to the current administration, she said.
“What I see now versus when I was younger makes me sad,” she said. “I don’t want to feel that way. I want to celebrate our country and freedoms and see America become great again.”
This is not a partisan issue, she stressed. In fact, she’s sick of the divisiveness on both sides of the aisle and just wants the country to come together under one flag, its residents listening to one another again.
“This is who we are and who we want America to be great again,” she said. “We want to come together again. Can we just to talk to each other? Not argue. Not fight. Just talk.”
Eblen has traveled extensively as a volunteer in third-world countries and sees the other side, particularly in post-communist nations where she experienced a “metaphorical darkness” that made her appreciate the life and freedoms back home, she said.
She is not afraid to be a woman traveling alone in the convoy, she said. In fact, if anything, she feels safe knowing she’s traveling in the company of military people who saw the same things that she did and understand what’s at stake if America’s freedoms are lost.
“I feel safe and united in all these people coming together for a common cause,” she said. “This is a convoy for freedom. Not just for truckers but for everyone to come together.”
She’s also just bought $200 worth of nickels that she plans to laminate and pass out to others in hopes of galvanizing the recipients around the phrase “In God We Trust.”
“People can believe it or not,” she said, “but I just want to pass them out as a reminder.”
Eblen will be joining up with truckers and drivers in Gillette on March 3. She estimated it’s going to cost about $1,000 in gas to get to Washington, D.C., and another $1,000 to get home again. She has no idea how long she might be gone but has asked her neighbor to care for her horses.
Truckers from all over the country are already on their way to convene in Washington, D.C. on March 5 for President Joe Biden’s “State of the Union” address.
On Feb. 21, convoy organizer and Maryland gubernatorial candidate Kyle Sefcik, issued a video statement to President Biden, reiterating that the “Freedom Convoy” will be a peaceful and transparent protest to ask him to end the state of emergency stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, along with all the mandates related to it.
“We just want government overreach to end on behalf of the Freedom Convoy,” Sefcik said. “Sir, the whole world is watching us because they know what’s happening in Canada happens to us here in the land of freedom, freedom as we know it is gone.”
He reiterated it will be a peaceful protest to object to the failures of the government to work for its people.
“You see, the government and our elected officials of both parties have failed us tremendously these last two years, and now it’s time for us, we, the people, to fix this.”
In advance, the Pentagon has approved requests by the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and U.S. Capitol Police for assistance from the National Guard to help with the demonstrations.
Details about the different routes being taken by truckers from different parts of the country are being revealed as the convoy progresses, Elben said, and she and others are not privy to where the truckers will finally meet up in the nation’s capital.
She also has no idea of how many people – if any – will be joining her from Sheridan or Wyoming. She’s ready to go with the flow and has stocked her refrigerator with plenty of ramen noodles, chips, water, coffee and beer.
Now, she’s just trying to figure out just where to put the extra gas cans.