Hundreds of people rallied yesterday in cities around the nation for and against a possible war with Iraq. But leaders of one group, demonstrating in biker boots and chaps, insisted they were not taking sides.
"This isn't pro-war, this isn't antiwar. It's just 100 percent support for the troops," said Amy Miller, an employee of Cycle Source Magazine, a national motorcycling publication that helped sponsor a rally in Pittsburgh's Point State Park.
The crowd, estimated by police at 1,500 and by organizers at 2,500, waved flags, sang anthems and mixed in red, white and blue with all the leather.
Robert Bootay, 53, joined in support of his son, Army Spec. Glen Bootay, who is in Kuwait with the 3rd Infantry Division.
"They're a little disheartened with some of the [antiwar] reaction they're seeing through the media, but they're ready," Bootay said.
In spite of windy, cold weather, a crowd estimated at 5,000 by organizer KFAB radio attended a rally in Omaha, where former senator Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) urged them to support U.S. troops.
"If it becomes necessary for our commander in chief to order our sons and daughters into war, my belief is that America will come together as one nation and honor the commitment that our sons and daughters are making for us," said Kerrey, a former governor and Vietnam veteran who is president of New School University in New York.
"No one is here today because they like war," he added.
Nearly 300 people lined a neighborhood street in Columbus, Ohio, in an antiwar demonstration. Organizer Mira Molnar said she started it by knocking on neighbors' doors.
"What started with nine families five weeks ago turned into 150 people the next week and it has grown ever since," she said as the demonstrators waved signs, chanted antiwar slogans and urged passing motorists to honk in a show of support.