Bicyclist Samuel H. Winstead talks about his family’s history with wars throughout the history of the nation during a stop at the Red Carpet Motel in Culpeper Wednesday.
It has been a long time coming.
At 86, the First Marines Division serviceman has had decades to think about his course of action decrying war since returning in the autumn of 1945 from the Pacific where he fought at the Battle of Okinawa and saw more than half of his comrades killed on the island of Peleliu. But it was Winstead’s grandson, Sam, about to embark on his third tour of duty, who lit the fire that took the North Carolina native on the road from Raleigh for an end to war once and for all.
His blue eyes tearing and the sweat still on his brow from the day’s rigorously hilly 60-some mile bike ride up U.S. 522 from Gum Spring, Winstead and his support crew stopped overnight in Culpeper Wednesday. Sitting at a picnic table outside Red Carpet Inn, the World War II veteran talked about the letter his grandson sent him that spurred him to action.
“Granddaddy, I’m in Iraq and really distressed. I don’t know why we are here. The Iraqis don’t want us here. My comrades are stressed and make such outlandish statements. I don’t trust them. We have destroyed this beautiful country along with the artifacts of the world’s oldest civilization. Is it true that America has placed my generation in a $15 trillion debt to tear the world apart?” said Winstead, recalling the correspondence. “He said, ‘I don’t understand it.’ So I just decided I believe I’ll do something, damn it, whether it’s right or wrong. Maybe if I decide to ride up to Washington I’ll get some attention.”