Thursday, March 13, 2003

Support our troops, says Fountain Square crowd

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Thousands of people came to the SOS (Support Our Soldiers) rally at noon Wednesday on Fountain Square. A number of them said they had relatives serving in the military.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/GLENN HARTONG

Fountain Square was a sea of red, white and blue at the noon hour Wednesday, as about 2,000 flag-waving people crammed the square for an enthusiastic and sometimes tearful tribute to American troops.

Elderly men in VFW and American Legion caps, young women pushing strollers, parents of service men and women clutching framed photographs of their uniformed children to their chests - all gathered for an hour tribute in song and speech to honor those who will fight a war with Iraq, if and when it comes.

WKRC Radio sponsored the Support Our Soldiers rally and vowed to send a videotape of the hourlong event to some of the more than 250,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen in the Middle East.

About half a dozen opponents of war with Iraq stood on the wall at the south end of Fountain Square. After the rally, several dozen of those supporting the war stood for a few minutes arguing with them and chanting "USA, USA."

Some at Wednesday's rally had a more personal stake in the well-being of the troops overseas than others.

Dana Magly of Cleves sang "God Bless America" as she waved over her head a sign fashioned out of the lid of a cardboard storage box. "Lance Corporal Tasha Smith, United States Marine Corps, we love and miss you, Semper Fi,'' the sign read.

The corporal is Magly's daughter; she entered the Marine Corps shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. She is serving with a Marine communications company at Camp Fox in the Kuwait desert.

"She has been able to call home some," Magly said. "I was talking to her the other day when that big dust storm hit the camp and we got cut off right in the middle."

"I'm very proud of her," Magly said. "I'm proud of all of them. They're the best."

Linda Prince of Mason stood with some Mason friends and their small children. Her neighbor and friend, Wendy Faulkner, was among those killed in the World Trade Center.

"She was a dear, dear lady; a peaceful person who hated violence," Prince said. "She wouldn't even watch a violent movie."

Wendy Faulkner, Prince said, "is the reason I am here today. I support our troops."

Prince carried signs showing her displeasure with the French government's opposition to war with Iraq - one that said "French Whine" and another that showed the Eiffel Tower.

"If it had been the Eiffel Tower that had been hit," she said, "we would have been there for them."


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