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Rallies support troops, not always war

July 08, 2007|From the Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — With a son-in-law in Iraq and a son who served in Afghanistan, Kathy Johnston says she wants to make sure her five grandchildren know that it's important to support U.S. troops, no matter how they feel about the war.

That's why she, her daughter and daughter-in-law took them Saturday afternoon to a rally, part of Operation America Rising, described as a nonpartisan way to express appreciation for the job that U.S. soldiers are doing.

Similar rallies -- some with hundreds of participants, others with a handful -- took place in cities and towns across the United States, including Ford City, Pa.; Baton Rouge, La.; Bristol, Conn.; and Denver.

The Oklahoma event, held at State Capitol Park, included three speakers and six bands. "It's not antiwar. It's not pro-war," said Ren Schuffman, lead singer for Oklahoma City band StoneWater and one of the event's organizers. "It has nothing to do with war."

In Colorado, about 60 people attended a four-hour event at a park south of Denver, with musicians and speakers.

In Bristol, several hundred people milled under tents, ate picnic food and listened to bands on a school lawn.

"We're here to support the troops; that's the bottom line," said Kevin Martin, coordinator of Connecticut's Operation America Rising.

At least 100 people gathered in Baton Rouge next to the plaza where the battleship Kidd, now a veterans memorial, is docked.

Organizer Janet Broussard described the event as "speeches, music; just a good-time kind of get-together visit with our veterans."

The names of the 182 Pennsylvania service members who died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan were read aloud to a silent crowd in Ford City. The Veterans of Foreign Wars honor guard then fired a 21-gun salute.

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