Navy veteran David Smith could not believe his eyes on Sunday.
Smith, the founder of Continue to Serve, put out a call for volunteers to clean up the signs and stickers left on buildings in downtown Washington, D.C. in the wake of the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“We expected 10 or 15 volunteers,” he told Connecting Vets. “At 12:45 that afternoon, I looked up and there were 150. I didn’t think picking up trash would get this much attention,” he said.
The volunteers converged on McPherson Square, armed with trash bags, gloves and other cleaning items that they used to remove what, the rioters left behind Smith said.
“We demonstrated that we can come together as a community,” he stressed.
The event, dubbed Operation Clean Sweep, stood in stark contrast to the violence that rocked the Capitol just days earlier.
“Everyone was optimistic and positive,” said Smith. “It was nice to see that and feel that after what we just experienced. I think it was a very uplifting and empowering moment.”
Smith said the group, which is also supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement, wants to do more community service work in order to change how people think about and perceive the military.
Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com
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