Skip to comments.5,000+ show support for U.S. at USA Stadium in Millington
Posted on 03/22/2003 3:08:09 PM PST by GailA
5,000+ show support for U.S. at USA Stadium in Millington
By Woody Baird The Associated Press March 22, 2003
MILLINGTON, Tenn. Ricky Hunt held a poster with an 8-by-10 photograph of a young Marine and carried a large Marine Corps flag over his shoulder as he stood at the entrance to USA Stadium Saturday for a pro-military rally.
Hunt, who lives in nearby Bartlett, said he spent seven years coaching baseball for the soldier, Lance Cpl. Brandon Thornton, an 18-year-old reservist called to duty in the 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Division, which is now guarding prisoners in Iraq.
Hunt said with tears in his eyes that Thornton is a "just a great guy," but added that "we came out for all our boys.
"We're really tired of all the protesters. I don't understand them. I think they ought to remember where they got their freedom," Hunt said.
By the end of the rally, the poster was covered with signatures and it will be given to Thornton when he returns home.
The event at the baseball stadium was coordinated by American Legion Post 252 and Memphis, Tenn., radio station WREC. Organizers passed out free small American flags and collected donations for the post's "Military Family Support Network." The beginning of the program was delayed about 45 minutes because of a traffic jam on the two-lane highway leading to the stadium. The bleachers, which seat 5,000, were packed with several hundred people standing in the grass.
(THIS IS ME) Organizer Gail Keasling of Millington told the crowd that even though many countries and people within the U.S. opposed the war, they should support the troops.
"America is not perfect, folks, but she's darned near perfect," Keasling said, adding that "freedom is not free. It's paid for by the blood of our military."
Fifteen American flags were lined up on each side of the field parallel to the first and third base lines, another flag flew from the light pole in centerfield, and there were American and Tennessee flags at second base.
A green C-130 military plane made periodic passes over the field, and the crowd broke out into several spontaneous chants of "USA, USA, USA."
Veterans of World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and the first Gulf War spoke at the rally, where the parking lot was filling with vehicles sporting American flags on bumpers, windows and attached to the backs of pickup trucks.
On one car, a sticker read: "If you love your freedom, thank a vet." A shoe polish message on the window of a van said: "Support our troops, they keep us free."
Brian Styer, a former Navy medic who has been in a wheelchair since the nerves in his legs began deteriorating after the Gulf War, spoke on behalf of disabled veterans.
"All these folks that are out there protesting, they need to realize that if they didn't have men and women willing to sacrifice their blood, their health and their lives, they wouldn't even have that right to protest," he said.
Walter Hollyfield, a pilot during Vietnam who now lives in nearby Atoka, said the troops are in Iraq now "to try to keep war from coming here."
Millington, a town of 10,500 about 10 miles north of Memphis, is home to a military base called the Naval Support Activity Mid-South, which includes a personnel and recruiting command and a manpower analysis center.
About 1,600 military personnel and 2,200 civilian employees work on the base.
Until 1993, the base was called the Memphis Naval Air Station and housed a technical school for young sailors being trained for aircraft maintenance and air traffic control.
Millington is the only Memphis suburb with a sizable military presence and has long prided itself as a center for pro-USA attitudes.
The baseball stadium is a former training site for the U.S. Olympic team that is currently used for high school and college tournaments. Last year, the U.S. team of junior college All-Stars defeated the Chinese national team in a five-game series.
As Fred Thompson said the other day, "Isn't it time to support our troops? Were it not for the brave, there'd be no Land of the Free."
May I paraphrase something Tony Lopez said:
Studies show only 13% of American high school graduates can even identify where Iraq is on a map.
Unfortunately for Iraq, all of them are on their way to Baghdad right now in the U.S. Army and Marines.
Now you know the rest of the story, why this woman is praying for Mr Bush.
You could see the cars lined up in both lanes, backed up THREE miles going BOTH North and South, and down Navy Rd.
NOT ONE protester.
We had THANK YOU posters for people to sign and all 6 of them were filled. Kids brought cards and letters to the troops.
Mike Fleming our after noon WREC 600 talk host co-MC'd the even with Craig Robbins the morning drive host.
Lots of patriotic music. The AM Legion passed out small American flags, Yellow Ribbons, literature, gave out rally flyers as keep sakes.
Took up donations to support their Vet programs.
It was a sunny day, perfect temps mid 60's. I made it through my speech with out a problem (Thank you Jesus). Every speech was good. Especially Col Lopez's he had some none to kind words for the French. Some for slick willie's administration, and the protesters.
It was a Barn Burner. I could listen to him speak all day. We had a Bag Piper who played Amazing Grace when the Chaplain opened with prayer and closed with prayer. He played America the Beautiful when they Retired the Colors.
WREC and Champion T Shirt Co had Rally T shirts for sale. I got one.
It was something to see all those motor cycles roll in.
There are not enough words to tell you how my heart swelled with pride at that sea of Red, White and Blue. The crowd was PUMPED, and stayed PUMPED the entire time.
There was only one small hitch in the entire program. Someone got the Branch of service wrong on Cheryl Abel..she is USA..but they played the Anchor's Away. Oh, did I forget to say that as each speaker was intro'ed they played the Service Song for the branch of the military they were in. The only difference was Col. Lopez, he got the USAF song coming and going.
When I closed my speech with God Bless America, God Bless our Military and GOD Bless George W Bush the crowd went wild!
Parents brought in photos on poster board with their son's photos who were in the various services and we signed them. One mom was in tears over the Support Our Troop Rally.
Master of Ceremonies Mike Fleming, Craig Robbins
Posting the colors
Millington High School Jr. ROTC
Opening prayer: American Legion Chaplain Dave Alfrey
Pledge of allegiance Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts
Anthem Victoria Metheny
Recognition of VIPs (POLITICALS, and Babe Howard who donated the Stadium's use)
Five minute speeches:
Civilian Population * Mrs. Gail Keasling
WWII Veteran * Jesse Vowell, USN
Korea Veteran * Walter Hollyfield, USAF & USN
Viet Nam Veteran * George Berthelson, USMC
Gulf War Veterans * Cheryl Abel, USA
Disabled Veteran - Brian Styer, USN
Col. Antonio Lopez, USAF (ret.)(the Col is a personal friend to GW)
Closing Blessing American Legion Chaplain Dave Alfrey
Retire the Colors
Millington High School Jr. ROTC
Carolyn Mathis, CT - Certified Interpreter for the Deaf
Bag Piper Gordon Abernathy
My dad Frank Guy Arrigo, a WW2 Veteran, he was a member of the 503rd paratroopers. He was a T/5, when the 503rd re-took Corregidor, and when he jumped that day; he carried the US flag with him. While under sniper fire on Feb 16, 1945, my dad and PFC Clyde Bates climbed a flagpole to hoist our flag on Corregidor. The original flag had been burned prior to the surrender of Corregidor to the Japanese on May 6th 1942.
My husbands Uncle Ralph Keasling was a member of the famous Merrills Marauders, who fought their way through the jungles and mountains of Burma. My husband Dennis, roaming around out there taking photos, did his 4-year stint in the Air Force, doing A & E on the Mace Missile system, on Okinawa during the Vietnam War. As you can see we have a proud history of fine military men in our family.
We are here today to honor and thank the men and women of our military, who love their country dearly. They endure all the hardships of war when they are called into harms way, to defend our way of life, under conditions you or I would find horrendous. From the frozen Arctic; to humid jungles; to arid deserts, they go to defend our liberty and freedom whenever duty calls them.
Many of them make less than minimum wage, some are even on food stamps. Yet they go into harms way when their country calls, because they love America.
Some come back from war mentally damaged, others come back disabled, some return in flag draped coffins, some dont come home at all, because there isn't enough left of them to be found, still others are buried at sea. Many of these brave souls dont come back home at all, because they lie in hallowed graves of foreign lands, in countries they went to free like France.
When our Fathers and Grandfathers came back from WWII we welcomed them home as heroes. When our fathers came back from Vietnam, we sat silent while the so- called Peace Marchers spit at them, threw, blood, urine and feces on them. Called them Baby Killers and all kind of horrid vile names. Sir Edmund Burke said, All that is necessary for the triumph of evil-- is that good men do nothing.
Will we sit silent and watch as our sons and daughters come back from Iraq to the same sort of treatment from the so called Peace Marchers? ---------I dont think so.
Sam Adams said, If you love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.
Our Forefathers at Valley Forge fought and shed their blood that we could be FREE of tyranny. We have sent our men and women to war, repeatedly to free other repressed and brutalized people. People who are being killed and tortured by their governments for daring to dream of the Freedoms that are found only in America.
America is the greatest nation on earth. Through our free capitalistic society, we have become a very wealthy nation, despite being OVER TAXED by our own government.
AMERICA hasn't been stingy with her wealth either. When famine and disease decimate other countries, America is almost always the first - and sometimes the only - nation in the world to provide aid. America leads the world in shipping food, medicine, doctors, and medical equipment in to countries ravaged by their own civil wars.
Time after time, America has called upon her Sons and Daughters to help free nations like France from the heels of ruthless brutal dictators like Adolph Hitler. She is once again calling on them to keep not only our own people safe but to help free the Iraqi people from the brutal, barbaric dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.
After all weve done to help other nations less fortunate, we are still called selfish, arrogant and BULLIES by other nations, dictatorships and rogue states around the world.
America is not perfect. BUT she is DARN near perfect. No where on the face of Gods green earth, can you speak as freely as you can in America. No where else, can you dream big dreams, and make them come true, with hard work and determination.
John Wayne once said "Sure I wave the American flag. Do you know a better flag to wave? Sure I love my country with all her faults. I'm not ashamed of that, never have been, never will be."
And neither should we.
Remember FREEDOM ISNT FREE, it is paid for with the blood of our men and women in our Armed Forces. Keep them in your prayers.
And before the 9th Circus Court of Appeals can totally ban GOD .
GOD BLESS AMERICA, GOD BLESS our Military and GOD BLESS George W BUSH!
If we can rev up a rally in Daytona, I'd love to read it to the gang! We're out every Tuesday, supporting our troops against the peace weenies, but that's not really the forum for speeches!