ORLANDO, Fla. – Thousands rallied Saturday in support of President Bush and U.S. troops in a possible war against Iraq, turning their criticism to anti-war protesters and France's opposition to military force.
About 2,000 people turned out at an Orlando rally that featured a reading of the Gettysburg Address, while another 1,000 prayed and marched in Pensacola.
"I was so saddened to see so many in our nation not supporting our troops and our country," said Naval Warrant Officer David Wolff, a Desert Storm veteran who arrived at the Pensacola rally in uniform. "This is very uplifting."
Rallies were also held in Indianapolis and Washington state, where more than 2,000 people gathered for a pro-war rally in Bremerton, home to a naval station where the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Carl Vinson departed last month.
Anger against last weekend's protests, which drew millions worldwide, was apparent. Echoing a slogan from the 1960s, one placard in Orlando read: "America -- Love It or Leave It."
"The anti-war protesters last weekend are aiding and abetting Saddam," said Sherri Tabb, who attended that rally. "Saddam has gotten emboldened, he is not cooperating. War is the only solution."
Some who turned out at the rally did not advocate
"We don't want to have to fight," said John Newman, an Indiana National Guard member who was among 500 people rallying in Indianapolis. "But if we do, we want to let them know we love them."
Another target was France, which has stood in the way of a U.N. resolution authorizing force against Iraq. "Use your emergency duct tape to gag (French President) Jacques Chirac," said one sign at the Orlando rally.
Retired Air Force Col. George "Bud" Day received loud applause when he told Pensacola rallygoers: "Terrorists thought they could bring war on us, intimidate us and cow us. When we show them American power they'll take off like a bunch of scared rats."