About 75 to 100 attendees had arrived by 11:30 a.m., 90 minutes into a "constitutional rally" at Crockett Park on Saturday, Feb. 29.
Almost a dozen speakers had addressed the gathering by then. The rally was scheduled to continue until 3 p.m. The “for the love of country” gathering was sponsored by American Life & Liberty, a new local political action committee.
Icy winds blew through the open field as state and local officials spoke on gun rights, abortion, undocumented immigrants and what they said is the urgent need to vote Democrats out of office.
State Sen. Jill Vogel, R-27th, of Fauquier County, said Virginians are "one legislative session away" from losing their rights. "Look at what's happening in Richmond right now," she said.
Virginia's House of Delegates, Senate and governor's mansion are all in the hands of Democrats this year for the first time in decades.
Vogel vowed to continue to fight for citizens' liberties. She asked those in attendance "to keep fighting" with her and reminded everyone to vote.
Fauquier County Supervisor Chris Butler, R-Lee, reminded the audience of the December Board of Supervisors meeting where 2,000 people showed up to advocate for gun rights as the board considered declaring Fauquier a "constitutional county."
The supervisors didn't vote that night but strengthened the language before finally approving a constitutional county resolution a few weeks later.
"I told my staff that night, I didn't want to give it teeth," Butler said of the resolution. "I wanted to give it ... barbed wire."
Butler also said he has deleted his personal Facebook page. "Facebook breeds hate," he said.
He said he was sorry to leave the platform because it helped him stay connected to his constituents, but remarked that Facebook no longer serves the purpose for which it was intended. He then shared his phone number and invited people to reach him there. He too, reminded people to vote.
D.J. Jordan, who ran and lost to Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-31st, in November, said he isn't sure whether he'll run again in 2021. But the Woodbridge resident said he would keep fighting to return Republicans to power in Virginia.
He joked that for Halloween, he had considered "dressing as Gov. Ralph Northam" in Northam's yearbook photo. Northam's 1984 medical school yearbook page, which contained a picture of two people -- one dressed in blackface and the other in a Ku Klux Klan robe -- surfaced in early 2019, prompting widespread and bipartisan calls for his resignation. After initially apologizing for the photo, Northam maintained he was not in the photograph. An outside investigation into the yearbook photo was inconclusive.
Referring to Northam, Jordan asked: "Can you believe he's still in office?"
Jordan expressed support for "equality of opportunities, not equality of outcomes" and said he believes the American dream is at risk in Virginia.
Jordan also stated that Democrats in office now "have no disregard (sic) for the dignity of human life," and asked those in attendance to help reelect President Donald Trump.
Of those attending the Saturday morning rally, some were from other counties. A group of men who were carrying guns and wearing Hawaiian shirts said they were from the Newport News and Virginia Beach areas. Why the luau attire? They said they called themselves the luau boys and were there to relax and have fun.
Rebecca Eaton and Christopher Cory said they learned about the rally from Instagram and other social media. They came to Midland from Prince William County to support gun rights. Eaton carried an AR-15 to the rally; she said she owns the rifle "for personal protection."
Cory carried an AK-47 to the rally. Both said they support the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. He said he wants people to know that "guns aren't scary, if you know how to use them, if you know how to respect them."
Corey said, "The two guns we have are the two most hated guns in America. They are also the most common rifles in America."
"Unfortunately, many of these guns are used in mass shootings, but that's because they are so common," he said.
Dirk Wyckoff was manning the Fauquier County Republican Committee tent. He said the rally presented an "opportunity for people to get together and share" their views.
American Life & Liberty is a political action committee incorporated last month by rally organizers Chris and Debbie Cloud. Fifteen individuals and two businesses have so far donated to the PAC, which has also received one in-kind donations, Debbie Cloud said.
The couple said that the push in late 2019 for a “Second Amendment sanctuary” resolution in Fauquier County was the immediate impetus for the PAC. They added, however, that the purpose of their organization and Saturday’s rally is “nowhere near exclusively” to promote gun rights.