How the Beans of Egypt, Maine, Sprouted a Militia

Time.com's Christopher Ketcham catches a glimpse of enduring American spirit in a small Maine town in this Oct. 24 story.

"In early October, the Second Maine Militia opened its meeting with the traditional shooting of the televisions. The 50 or so 'members' (there are no rolls and no one pays dues) chatted quietly as the blasts rang out. A small cannon was fired into the woods, parting the trees and shaking the windows of the house nearb," he writes. "But no real televisions were harmed. The sets were just cardboard boxes painted with inane smiley faces and decorated with slogans like 'Feel good!' 'Proud to be USA!' 'Safe in the homeland!' The aluminum-foil antennas, however, did collapse miserably from the real gunfire.

"The purpose of the annual meeting," Ketchm continues, "the same as it has been since the militia started in 1995, was to bring together the politics of left and right over speeches, food, live music, and, of course, live ammo. The attendees were a wildly diverse group: young activists and anarchists in black, old beat-up Maine woodsmen with beards to their bellies, retired white-haired college professors, Second Amendment zealots, conservatives, libertarians, Marxists. But they all shared the belief that the U.S. government has lost its moral authority, that both political parties had 'degenerated,' as one attendee put it, 'into whores for wealth and arbiters of empire ...'"