- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Americans visiting monuments in Washington showed their patriotism by buying little flags, Lady Liberty jewelry pins, military bumper stickers and buttons that exhort U.S.-led coalition forces to win the war against Iraq.
"I'm just about out of my flag stickers," said Donna Long, clerk at the veterans souvenir stand at the Lincoln Memorial.
A hot seller are buttons reading, "Go Marines, Beat Iraq," "Go Army, Beat Iraq," and the already sold out "Go Navy, Beat Iraq."
One buyer, Marine Sgt. Patrick Triplett, 27, who is stationed at Quantico, Va., walked arm-in-arm with his mother, Mona, of Alabama, who said, "I'm very proud." Nearby, his father, Gary, 52, an ex-Army sergeant recalled sad memories while looking at names of friends inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall.
Merchants, many who sell flags, banners and other patriotic items wholesale, said tourists are still buying T-shirts emblazoned with "Washington, D.C.," but also want the symbols of the United States.
"Most people already have their flags since September 11," said Lena Hamidh at the Flag Shop in Potomac Mills mall in Prince William County.
And thousands of those flags still can be seen fluttering outside homes throughout the metropolitan area.
"We're proud to be Americans. We've been planning to come here for weeks and wouldn't let the war keep us away," said Michael Gettelfinger, 48, an optometrist from New Albany, Ind.
Mr. Gettelfinger; his wife, Jan; daughters Megan, 19, and Paige, 18; and son Alex, 16, stood in line under the flags that circle the base of the Washington Monument.
"We're in favor of what [President] Bush is doing," Mr. Gettelfinger said. "I think it was necessary. We hope it's over soon."
The Gettelfinger family believes it is important that Americans continue life as usual, have fun and fully experience the liberty and freedoms available in this country. The family plans to head to New York City in a couple of days.
Roy Rich, 55, a Army veteran and cabinetmaker from Knoxville, Tenn., was a couple of blocks away looking over the T-shirts and other souvenir memorabilia at Sam Jun's stand near the White House.
"I'm a Vietnam vet," Mr. Rich said. "I have some reservations about the war. I have mixed emotions," but "[Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein] has to be removed."
The vendor, Mr. Jun, who was born 50 years ago in South Korea, has been selling U.S. memorabilia for 30 years.
"I like peace. People don't like the war," Mr. Jun said. "We have to get Saddam Hussein. Iraq don't have freedom."
Seniors among the 270 girls from Beth Jacobs School in Brooklyn, N.Y., were the first of the students to visit the National Museum of American History yesterday. The photographs of September 11 impressed them most.
"I feel very sad," said Miriam Safier, 18. "I understand it better."
Jennifer Perlstein, 17, had tried to see the World Trade Towers on September 11, 2001, after they were destroyed by terrorists, so the photos were especially emotional for her.
"I couldn't see anything [on September 11]. It was all blocked," she said. Now, with the war on Iraq, she said, "I wish [the coalition] all the luck."
Lolly Lamm, mother of, Debbi, a 17-year-old junior at Beth Jacobs, said "That's why we're here" to get a better understanding of the meaning of America.
Tourists at the Lincoln Memorial got an unexpected encounter with American history as Fred Priebe, sporting a beard, and wife, Bonnie, wearing the full-length dress of earlier times, portrayed President Abraham Lincoln and his wife.
Inspiring memories of American history is part of their reason for looking as much like the famous president and first lady as possible, said Mr. Priebe, of Belleville, Mich., handing out calling cards reading "President and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln."
At the nearby veterans souvenir stand, Mrs. Long said even veterans and tourists who are opposed to the war in Iraq stop to look and buy patriotic symbols.
"None of them have been disrespectful," said Mrs. Long, whose father was a World War II Seabee, whose husband, a Marine, fought in Vietnam and whose two sons were in the 1991 Persian Gulf war.
Nearby, former Marine Delano Cummings, 57, of Lumberton, N.C., was selling his book, "Moon Dash Warriors," named after his Vietnam War cadre of eight.
"I agree with what we are doing right now," said Mr. Cummings, wearing a cap that indicated he was wounded in combat and received a Purple Heart medal.
"See what Saddam Hussein has done to his own people," Mr. Cummings said. "If he stays in power, he's going to get us. I wish I could go over there."

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