We were each expressing our patriotism. We stood next to each other as I was singing My Country ‘Tis of Thee and she was singing America the Beautiful. I was there to demonstrate against George Bush and she was there to welcome him.

What was she doing caged behind the barriers with us demonstrators along Six Forks Road in Raleigh on Wednesday as we awaited our opportunity to flash our anti-war, anti-Bush signs to him and his motorcade on their way to a $25,000-a-plate fund-raising lunch? I had been there about 1 1/2 hours holding my sign (even though the wooden paint stick attached to it had been confiscated by the Raleigh police as a potential weapon), chanting “2-4-6-8–Come November we’ll celebrate” and sweating like crazy from the 90-plus degree heat.

Then she appeared with her two children, waving small U.S. flags and elbowing in next to me for front row positions at the barriers. I bent down to speak to the children, thanking them for being there. They gave me puzzled looks. Their mom said, “We’re not here to protest. We’re here to see the President. I want my children to see him.”

I never asked why she chose to be in the demonstrators’ cage instead of with the uncaged Bush supporters further down the road. But I know we were both expressing our patriotism through our singing–only I was singing “sweet land of liberty, let freedom ring,” while she and her kids were singing “America, America, God shed his grace on thee.”