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Americans on Both Sides Take to the Streets

With the possibility of a war with Iraq drawing ever nearer, demonstrators across the nation again hit the streets Sunday to show their support for peace, as others gathered to support U.S. troops.

War protesters also crammed Chicago's Daley Plaza on Sunday to join religious, labor and community leaders in opposing an invasion of Iraq. Police, who did not immediately provide a crowd estimate, said there were no early reports of arrests.

In Pennsylvania, a police-estimated crowd of 6,000 attended the "Rally for America," held on a field near Valley Forge National Historical Park.

Rick Moody, 57, of Souderton, Pa., said he hopes American troops preparing for war with Iraq will get more public appreciation and support than troops did during the protest-filled Vietnam War.

His son, Todd, is serving with the Army reserves in Bosnia -- and he said he'll support him and other troops wherever they go.

"If and when hostilities start, we should be unified as a country," Moody said. "And we're the most anti-war people you can get."

Rally-goers sang patriotic songs and helped raise a gigantic American flag before reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Chicago protesters also hoisted American flags, along with placards reading, "Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld. The real axis of evil."

"We are concerned with all of God's children. And for all of those who question our patriotism: We love America because America is a place where when things are out of order, people can disagree and protest," said the Rev. Calvin Morris of Chicago's Community Renewal Society.

"It's just sad that Bush isn't paying attention to anyone," said Janine Jurkowski, 30, of Chicago. "He isn't listening to his own people. Hopefully this will show the world that not all Americans agree with him."

The Chicago and Valley Forge rallies capped a weekend of nation- and worldwide protests, including one in Washington that park officials permitted for 20,000 people and appeared larger than that. Protesters in Portland held a rally of similar proportions.

Other smaller protests across the country on Sunday:

-- In Detroit, a crowd of about 2,000 gathered at a church and listened to religious leaders call a war with Iraq "an affront to God and a crime against humanity."

-- In Los Angeles, about 300 protesters marched through downtown to demand federal spending on health care and education, not war.

-- In Louisville, Ky., hundreds stopped by a booth in suburban Louisville on Saturday for free signs supporting President Bush and U.S. troops overseas, while about 200 peace activists opposing a possible war with Iraq marched alongside protesters seeking change in the city's police department.

-- In Pittsburgh, several hundred anti-war protesters gathered in a park to protest any military strike on Iraq.

-- In St. Paul, Minn., about 1,200 people led by Christian and Muslim clergy staged a mock funeral at the Cathedral of St. Paul for those who would die if the United States wages war with Iraq.

-- In Providence, R.I., veterans and families of military personnel stationed in the Middle East were among hundreds of protesters who marched through the downtown area to oppose a possible war with Iraq.

-- In Oklahoma City, Okla., nearly 400 people lined the downtown streets in a prayerful plea for peace.

-- In Mountain Home, Ark., about 200 residents gathered Sunday to show support for an Arkansas National Guard company scheduled to leave Monday for the Middle East.

-- In Columbia, S.C., about 200 people gathered to protest expected war in Iraq at Martin Luther King Park.