War Supporters' Day to Rally
Monday, September 26, 2005
The last time Robert Young participated in a demonstration, he was protesting the Vietnam War as it wound down.
It took more than 30 years to make it happen again, but yesterday Young joined hundreds of others on the Mall to support the nation's troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, among them his son, Croft, 32.
"I'm a quiet person," said Young, 65, who traveled from Atlanta toting a full-size Marine Corps flag. "I don't really believe in demonstrations, but I wanted to come here to support my son," a Marine who left Camp Pendleton, Calif., on Wednesday for Fallujah, Iraq.
The afternoon rally was tiny in comparison with Saturday's antiwar demonstration, for which D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey gave a crowd estimate of at least 100,000. But undeterred participants waved flags and placards adorned with such slogans as "Keep the Promise to Iraq" and cheered for the dozens of speakers, many of whom denounced antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq.
Deborah Johns, the mother of an Iraq war veteran, has been traveling across the country speaking in support of the war. She directed some of her comments yesterday at Sheehan, saying that she speaks neither for Johns nor the American people.
After praising President Bush, Johns said she knew what she'd like to do with Sheehan and the antiwar protesters who descended on Washington on Saturday: "I'd like to ship them to Iran." The comment earned applause.
The rally was largely peaceful, punctuated by a few small clashes with antiwar protesters, one of whom wore a T-shirt that read: "Wanted for Mass Murder: The Bush Regime."
Rally-goers asked police to remove the man, who went limp as officers came to escort him away.
"Saddam Hussein is a moron, and you're a moron!" came a voice from the crowd.
"I'm a patriot," responded the protester, who peacefully followed police off the Mall sipping from a Starbucks coffee cup. "Look what's happening. I'm being taken from a public park because of a T-shirt."
By 1 p.m., a small band of antiwar demonstrators had lined up behind the rally stage to deliver such chants as "Hey, Bush, whaddaya say? How many kids have you killed today?"