- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 2, 2003

Several hundred demonstrators gathered on the snow-covered grounds of the Mall yesterday to show their support for President George W. Bush and U.S. troops being sent overseas in the fight against international terrorism.
With the Washington Monument serving as a dramatic backdrop, the flag-waving crowd attending "Patriots Rally for America IV" listened to speeches by representatives of groups supporting current U.S. foreign policy regarding Iraq, including Aziz Altaee, chairman of the Iraqi American Council and Kevin Martin of the African-American Leadership Council and Veterans for Constitutional Renewal. Former Rep. Robert K. Dornan, California Republican and U.S. Air Force veteran, also addressed the crowd.
There were repeated cheers for American solders throughout the four-hour rally organized by Free Republic, a conservative grass-roots organization based in the District.
"This is a pro-American rally to support the troops. We're not pro-war. We have values and we know how important life is. We just recognize that sometimes force is necessary, and if it is, you have to go into it to win," said Kathryn Wood, one of the leaders of the 5-year-old group.
"My husband served in Vietnam, so I come from the perspective of 'been there, done that.' The men and women overseas are doing their duty and what their country has asked of them. We need to be supportive," Mrs. Wood said.
Mr. Dornan energized listeners by assuring them it would be "an amazing year in American history."
"This will be the month of freedom and liberation for the Iraqi people," he said in thunderous tones that resonated throughout the Mall grounds.
Tiffany Myers, 20, of Brandywine didn't mind the freezing cold or having to stand on snow if the troops can withstand the brutal elements, so could she. Mrs. Myers came out to cheer on the troops and one soldier in particular: her new husband, Marine Lance Cpl. James Myers. The couple were married in October.
"He was deployed in February, and I came to the rally to support him," Mrs. Myers said, adding that it must be "devastating" for those in the armed forces to hear that people are protesting against the war back home. "My husband and other troops are over there fighting for our rights," she said, "and for those who don't have any."
Another demonstrator, Heather Welsh of Manassas, has a boyfriend stationed in Rome. She said she felt compelled to attend the rally to support him and other U.S. military personnel
"Freedom isn't free. It's not just our men paying the price wives and children pay dearly and they're willing to do that because they believe in what they're doing." Ms. Welsh, 32, said.
Mr. Altaee, one of the keynote speakers, said it was important for him and a delegation of 20 Iraqi Americans to attend the rally for a number of reasons. Gratitude to America topped the list.
"There are a lot of Americans being misled about the facts behind the current war against Saddam Hussein. This is a war for humanity against brutality. … I'm here to tell the facts about people who lived inside Saddam's large prisons," he said.
After September 11, he noted, many Iraqi Americans were unfairly scrutinized or even shunned by their fellow citizens.
"We could face a backlash if the war starts. Iraqi Americans are neighbors and have contributed positively to this society," Mr. Altaee said.
Steve Rosenthal, 54, said that firm action against Iraq will not only serve the cause of anti-terrorism, but will benefit the Iraqi people as well.
"Saddam Hussein has to go. His ministers have to go. His underlings have to go. Everyone who supports him must go," Mr. Rosenthal said. "When they're gone, the people of Iraq will have a decent leader and a proper form of government."

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