A Sept. 10 Metro article incorrectly said that a pro-military rally on Fourth Street NW along the Mall would be held Sept. 24. It was Sept. 25. (Published 9/27/2005)
They were on the phones late into the night, planning, arguing, debating whether they should do it and how they could pull it off in just two weeks.
About 2 a.m. yesterday, a coalition of conservative groups launched its official Web site, www.supportthetroopsweekend.org, cementing in cyberspace plans for a counter-protest that they hope will rival the antiwar rally planned for Sept. 24.
"We didn't want their rally to go unanswered," said William Greene, president of RightMarch.com, a local conservative organization. "We've been getting interest from thousands and thousands of people. . . . We look forward to standing with other patriotic families, a majority that has been silent in the past."
That weekend, the coalition will gather together military families, a Nashville band, war veterans, politicians, a caravan of supporters from across the country and others, Greene said.
The coalition's activities are about backing the troops abroad and giving a voice to those who support the global war on terror, a war that is "every bit as serious as World War II and the stakes are just as high," said Kristinn Taylor, head of the local chapter of FreeRepublic.com and one of the event's organizers.
At a news conference announcing the events, Greene said that "these are nonpartisan activities." But on the RightMarch.com Web site, Greene had a less-tempered message to supporters: "We've had it with these radicals on the Left and their "poster girl" Cindy Sheehan, who are just encouraging the terrorists, endangering our men and women in uniform, and lowering troop morale with their antics."
For months, antiwar groups have planned the demonstration for Sept. 24, a Saturday, and they hope to draw 100,000 supporters. In response, opponents of the antiwar movement have come up with an ambitious roster of events.
Move America Forward supporters, many of whom traveled from California to Crawford, Tex., to counter Cindy Sheehan's protest outside President Bush's ranch, decided on another trip across the country, said the group's chairman, Melanie Morgan.
Over the weekend, there will be a pro-troop rally Sept. 23 at Walter Reed Medical Center, a counter-demonstration Sept. 24 along the route of the antiwar march and a rally Sept. 25 to honor military families, Taylor said.
He said the group had a difficult time finding a place to protest because antiwar groups blanketed much of the Mall area with permits for their demonstrations.
The group found a spot on Fourth Street NW along the Mall, where it plans to rally Sept. 24. The permit application is for 1,000 people, but Taylor hopes to have more. "This could easily attract 10,000 people," he said.