"We're missing a lot of football games. But we think it's important to protect our country."
Tom Williams leans back on his camp chair, perched atop the bed of his white Ford four-by-four pickup truck, scratches the back of his pet long-haired dachshund, Vigilante, and smiles as he looks across a farmer's field into the bright, mid-autumn sunshine.
It's a beautiful day in northwest Washington State, and the 65-year-old retired police counsellor and ex-Marine looks as though he couldn't be enjoying himself more. You'd never guess he was at war.
But on this day, Williams and a half-dozen of his colleagues do in fact consider themselves to be on the front lines of America's war against terrorism. And illegal immigrants. And drugs. And, for that matter, just about every other border-related infraction you can think of, this side of whether a certain word is pronounced "about" or "aboot." Williams is a member of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, a spit-and-polish volunteer army that took it upon itself last year to patrol the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada. "I couldn't feel any more patriotic," he says.
Williams agrees the southern boundary is where most of the action is. But he and his unarmed, four-dozen-strong band of compatriots spent the month of October taking turns deploying along a 36-mile stretch of farmland, just south of Vancouver.
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