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Armed veterans stand guard at memorial against 'violent thugs' who might try to destroy it

'A show of force can be a very powerful deterrent'

Image source: WKRN-TV video screenshot

In the wake of protesters topping statues and vandalizing monuments across the nation, a group of veterans decided to take matters into their own hands upon hearing rumblings that the same fate might be awaiting the Wilson County Veterans Memorial in Lebanon, Tennessee.

In short, the vets picked up their rifles and began standing guard, WKRN-TV reported.

Image source: WKRN-TV video screenshot

What are the details?

Keith Sikora started his watch a week ago and told the station "a show of force can be a very powerful deterrent" but that he and his fellow veterans won't "fight unless we have to."

Image source: WKRN-TV video screenshot

Veteran Joe Hester added to WKRN that he isn't standing guard "to promote violence, I'm not here against any race whatsoever. I'm for all good people and all good things in this country and preserving them."

Image source: WKRN-TV video screenshot

Sikora and Hester served in the United States Marine Corps and told the station the memorial is special to them.

Image source: WKRN-TV video screenshot

"It's a big target because who else gave more for this country than the ones who gave their life?" Sikora asked WKRN. "And if you're on the other side, and you hate this country — the way they're portraying the way they hate it — this is the best target to hit."

Image source: WKRN-TV video screenshot

'Violent thugs'

Hester told the station he's seen "violent thugs" in certain cities — "all in the name of being against racism" — have been "attacking innocent people, burning down cities, destroying communities and intimidating innocent people" and it's "angered me so much that I'm tired of sitting back and talking about it."

Image source: WKRN-TV video screenshot

"I went and served this country for the country and everybody in it," Sikora added to WKRN. "My Marines and I, we're not black, we're not white, Mexican, or Chinese. We all call each other green. ... That's how we were trained, that's how we think, that's the way we are now. We don't stand against any particular race; we stand for them, all of them, unified, and equally. We stand behind the Constitution that all men are created equal, and we will fight and die for that."

Image source: WKRN-TV video screenshot

The station reported that as night fell Saturday, about a dozen armed individuals were standing watch at the memorial and said they hoped their presence would send a message.

Sikora told WKRN that protesters "aren't coming here with just words. They are people who are trying to tear down this country. That's what I stand against."

The armed vets noted to the station that they intend to keep standing guard at the memorial until they know it's safe. Lebanon is about 25 miles east of downtown Nashville.

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