Pro-War Demonstrators Show Support for U.S. Troops

A day after massive anti-war rallies attracted thousands across the nation -- including more than 100,000 people in a march down Broadway -- hundreds of people gathered in Times Square and other cities Sunday to show support for the war in Iraq.

About 600 people waved American flags and chanted "U-S-A! "U-S-A!" at the Times Square demonstration.

"Thank God we have a president who is a real global leader, protecting our liberty and security, relentless in his pursuit of justice and not bending to the appeasers," said Republican activist Michael Benjamin, who is considering a run for U.S. Senate against Charles Schumer in 2004.

"The entire world community has said time and again that Saddam Hussein is a danger and that he must be disarmed," said former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler. "But it is the United States and the coalition of the willing which has finally been willing to stand up and say, 'What must be done, let it be done now."'

On Saturday, a throng 30 city blocks long had marched down Broadway to oppose the war. Organizers put the crowd at 250,000; police said it was 125,000 strong. Police said 91 people were arrested, and 16 officers were hospitalized after they were sprayed with an unknown substance.

Near Richmond, Va., on Sunday, police said more than 5,000 people showed up to show their support for the war -- something veterans Terry Steer said they could have used during Vietnam.

"I'm here to support the troops because I know what it was like when people didn't," said Steer, 55, who fought during the 1968 Tet Offensive with the 1st Air Calvary Division of the Army. "That can't happen again."

Forrest Winks, a 14-year-old corporal in his high school's Junior Army ROTC program, said he sees the soldiers on television and hears duty calling.

"I really wish I could be out there with them taking part, but it's very scary, too. I know that," Forrest said, in his dark green dress uniform and black beret. "I'm stuck here, at home."

Onstage at the outdoor pavilion, a historical reenactor recited Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" speech. Supporters sang the national anthem, removed their hats and bowed their heads in prayer.

In Washington, about 300 activists turned out for a pro-military rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, waving signs saying "God bless our troops" and "Freedom is not free." Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa said all Americans -- even the ones opposing the war -- need to stand behind the troops now that the war is underway, and that some protesters have been displaying "un-American values."

On a day when pro-war supporters made the most noise, anti-war demonstrators still made themselves heard. In Providence, R.I., about 200 people gathered on the Statehouse lawn, holding snapshots of Iraqi families to symbolize the suffering of those impacted by the war.

"This is the face of collateral damage," Karina Wood of Rhode Island Peace Action said of the pictures.

About 60 peace activists marched to city hall in Melbourne, Fla., including 9-year-old Ayasia Telesca-Whipple, who led them, carrying a neon pink poster declaring "Save Iraq's kids."

"There are lots of kids in Iraq just like us, and they shouldn't get bombed," said Telesca-Whipple, who came with her mother and 6-year-old brother.

More than 200 people joined a demonstration in downtown Gainesville, Fla., where the sound of drums and anti-war chants rang through the streets.

"We're defying the United Nations, we are told, in order to enforce the will of the United Nations," said Pierce Butler, a member of the group Veterans for Peace. "Everything is turned upside down."