Skip to comments.More on the Cranston, R.I. "Patriot Rally" from rally last night!
Posted on 03/25/2003 10:17:28 AM PST by ItsOurTimeNow
Hundreds rally to show support
"Our troops need to see this," says Maj. Gen. Reginald Centracchio, commander of the Rhode Island National Guard.
BY BARBARA POLICHETTI Journal Staff Writer
CRANSTON -- When members of Auburn American Legion Post 20, working with the leaders of the American Legion Department of Rhode Island, decided to hold a rally in support of U.S. troops yesterday they had modest expectations.
"We just want to show the troops and their families that there are people who care," said Dennis Ratcliffe, post commander, as he watched people gather at the war memorial at the juncture of Park and Pontiac Avenues as daylight faded. "We hope to get at least 100 people."
They got that and a lot more.
"We're here to send the simple message that we are with you every step of the way," said Sen. Jack Reed, who was joined by Representatives James Langevin and Patrick Kennedy. "I am very proud of my fellow Cranston citizens today. "We will support [our troops] without question for the duration."
The crowd was also addressed by Cranston Mayor Stephen P. Laffey and Maj. Gen. Reginald Centracchio, adjutant general of Rhode Island and commander of the Rhode Island National Guard.
"Our troops need to see this," said Centracchio, who received the most rousing round of applause from the crowd. "This is what America is all about. . . God bless each of you, God bless the United States and God bless our troops."
Before the rally began at about 5:30 p.m., many people took the time to write messages on a giant sheet of paper that had been draped over several folding tables. Centracchio said that the goodwill missives will be delivered later this week to soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J.
Rally participants ranged in age from World War II veterans to high school students and, in addition to affixing small yellow ribbons to their lapels, weren't afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves.
"I support our soldiers and I support my president," said Camille Bruno who stayed to the rear of the crowd with Toby, her small Yorkshire terrier who was attired in red, white and blue -- from his belted blanket to the small visor shielding his eyes.
Many people had family members in the military, and they traveled to Cranston from parts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts yesterday saying that they were glad to have a counterpart to some of the antiwar protests that took place across the country over the weekend.
"Support our troops now -- Save your protests for the voting booth," read the large sign carried by Rob Snyder of Ashaway, who said he showed up because his 27-year-old brother, Christopher, is a sergeant in the Army. "Right now he's in Fort Campbell [Ky.]," said Snyder, who waved a large American flag that he had removed from the front of his house. "It's only a matter of days or weeks before he is shipped out."
John Horton, 24, is a first lieutenant with an Army tank division that is en route to the Middle East from Germany. His parents, grandfather and aunt and uncle traveled from North Dighton, Mass., to join the rally and show support for the West Point graduate and his fellow soldiers.
His mother, Paula, held up a T-shirt inscribed with the words, "My son is a tanker," as she and others urged passing motorists to honk their horns as a show of support.
There was no lack of enthusiasm from evening commuters who created an unceasing symphony of blaring horns as they passed through the busy intersection.
The mayor read a proclamation that declared yesterday an official day of "recognition and support of Operation Iraqi Freedom."
One of the most poignant messages was a silent one -- part of a prayer that Ratcliffe had found on the Internet and copied onto a piece of cardboard that was taped to the stone base that holds the cannon at the Park Avenue war memorial.
In read, in part, "Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us."
"Now that's some funky freepin'!"
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