Huge act of cowardice' stirs Burton

Armed and Ready

Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2001

''It's just unbelievable to me that people could be so vicious to use a public airline as a missile to destroy the World Trade Center and Pentagon.''

Ward Burton, NASCAR driver

ATLANTA -- If the world's war against terrorism is going to include battles in our own back yards, Ward Burton will be ready.

His guns are loaded, the scopes honed to perfection. He has the firepower and, most importantly, the willpower to defend the American way of life.

Burton was the top marksman on his high school skeet and rifle team at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. He graduated as a first lieutenant and has maintained a reverence for the military way: a chain of command and a sense of duty. If needed, Burton is more than willing to grab a rifle and stand a post.

''It was just a senseless act on civilians,'' he said. ''Our country has fought for people's freedom all over the world. How many countries could we have taken over if we wanted to? We were attacked by some group that has no regard for women, children or their families. As far as I'm concerned, it was a huge act of cowardice.

''It's just unbelievable to me that people could be so vicious to use a public airline as a missile to destroy the World Trade Center and Pentagon.''

The terrorist attacks in Washing ton, New York and western Penn sylvania on Sept. 11 prompted NASCAR to postpone last week's race at Loudon, N.H. Burton spent the rare weekend off working on his arsenal of guns and replenishing his cache of ammunition.

''My son, Jeb, is 9 and he asked me if I had enough guns,'' Burton said. ''I told him I hand plenty, and then we talked some. He got a flag, and he holds it out the window of the car when I take him to school. We've seen a lot of flags everywhere, and I think everybody is more united now than I've seen them in a long time.''

Burton, and the rest of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, will be at Dover (Del.) Downs International Speedway this weekend for the MBNA 400. He will race because it's his job. He will race because it's his passion. And he will race because it's his duty.

''We just can't let this alter our lifestyles,'' he said. ''If we do, we've let them win.''

Burton is an avid outdoorsman. He lived in a log cabin after attending college, hunting, fishing, trapping and living off the land for nearly two years. Since becoming a successful stock car driver, he's established the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation, which purchases tracts of land to protect and conserve wildlife habitats.

But deep down, there's plenty of soldier remaining in Burton.

''I have a passion for our military history,'' he said. ''I feel indebted to the people who from the Revolutionary War until now gave their lives or a big part of their lives for our freedom. I watched a lot of TV like everybody else to keep up with what's going on. I think you're going to see more and more patriotism. I've ordered an American flag and a Virginia flag for my office, and I'm going to fly them all the time from now on.

''I called a gun shop last week in Charlotte (N.C.). I wanted to get some mounts to go on the scope of my rifle. The guy who ran the place was so busy he couldn't come to the phone right away. He said he sold more ammunition from (last) Wednesday through Friday than he would normally sell in two months. I'm not sure those terrorists really knew what they were getting into.''

Burton half-heartedly suggested that racing and ground forces make a perfect pair.

''Maybe we need to get one of those (Dodge) Intrepids and put an M-50 on top of it and go take care of some unfinished business,'' Burton said.

''I think it will be good to get back to racing,'' he said. ''I think it will be good for everybody: the drivers and fans. Not that we're going to put any conclusion on what's happened, but I think it will be good to get back to what everybody does.''

And if that routine soon includes standing a post at the end of the neighborhood, Ward Burton is ready for that, too.

Subscribe to Peninsula Clarion

Trending this week:


© 2018. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us