Bart Tibbetts, Vietnam veteran, patriot
“As a patriot and as a veteran we want to protect our country and we want to protect our lands.”
Bart Tibbetts wears a camouflage jacket and a ball cap commemorating his service in Vietnam. For emphasis, he throws an American flag on a pole over his shoulder that is almost as long as he is tall.
“As a patriot and as a veteran we want to protect our country and we want to protect our lands,” said the 71-year-old Army veteran.
On Dec. 1, Tibbetts came to Salt Lake City, Utah to protest against any reductions to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bears Ears National Monument. He wove through the sprawling crowd on the steps and across the lawn beneath the domed capitol building, his flag flapping in a brisk Wasatch wind.
He said he had driven through Grand Staircase-Escalante, and hiked through Bears Ears, to better learn the landscapes. He found petroglyphs in each, and the ruins of ancient Puebloan dwellings in Bears Ears. It was, he said, “a mind-blowing experience.”
“It has to be protected,” he said.
Part of this education, he said, was learning “the spiritual connection” between the national monuments and tribes. He has pledged his service to them. That pledge led him in 2016 to travel with 10 other veterans from Utah to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota to protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
He said he considers the fight to keep Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in tact, to keep those lands from being invaded by coal mines and oil wells, as equal.
“Protect the sacred land, sacred water,” he said. “We have to.”