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The ominous columns on Dailey's website no longer represent what the Appleseed Project is about, Midkiff says. "This was [his] brainchild, but although he's still very involved, it's grown beyond one man's capability," Midkiff says. "Like anything else, as we get more media attention and exposure, we try to keep things as noncontroversial as we can. We want to keep the program growing on its current pace."
Dailey says he regrets some opinions he expressed in the past. "At some of the early Appleseeds, I probably made a couple comments that I would not make now," he says. "I'm much more conscious that being nonpolitical is a key part of the program."
Growth also requires being media-savvy, and the Appleseed Project is trying to take control of its image. When The New York Times recently published a story about the group, a rebuttal was posted on the Appleseed website within 48 hours.
"Appleseed does not see our government as an enemy or force of arms as a solution," the rebuttal read. "Rather, our enemies are laziness, ignorance and apathy. Appleseed sees education and lived history as the means to get people to the real solution: Personal involvement in civic processes to ensure a better future for our nation."
Instructors are told to shut down discussions of politics when they arise, Midkiff says. "The only political parties we talk about are the Tories and the Whigs, and if you're talking about anything more modern than that, you don't belong at Appleseed," Midkiff says. "We do see it from time to time, and it's discouraged."
The group does not run background checks on its participants. If an extremist comes to a shoot, Midkiff says, he hopes they'd leave with the impression that political involvement is a better alternative to violence. "We're not training you so that you can use your skills to take out your least-favorite politician," he says.
The second day of Lady Seed draws a lighter crowd than the first. Several women haven't returned. The sun feels hotter than the previous day. Dinky urges everyone to keep drinking water.
Around noon, it's Mama Bear's turn to tell the story of the "second strike" at Concord. She gets nervous before speaking in front of groups — in the past, the anxiety was so strong, it made her puke. So when she's out of earshot, Dinky encourages the group to be especially attentive and to clap when Mama Bear finishes.
Her speech is tearful, more serious and emotive than Dinky's was. "The sight of the Regulars (British regiment) was a breathtaking spectacle," she says, quoting a historical text from memory. "They looked like a ribbon of scarlet and white winding through the bright-green countryside, and their bayonets were glistening in the early morning sun."
Like Dinky and Cookie Lady, she talks about how lucky Americans are, how our forefathers fought and died for our right to play Xbox — or to own weapons. But the instructors also seem wistful, jealous even, that they'll never be asked to fight — like, with guns — for something as important as the birth of a nation.
Later in the afternoon, when the time to be tested on the Army Qualification Test is imminent, a few women announce that they're leaving. "I've never left early before," the Midkiffs' daughter, Kim, says. "But we're tired, and we have homework."