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Next rally supports troops

With war appearing imminent, Republicans throughout the area want to get together in this Navy town and show their support for the military.

Republicans from the five counties that make up the Second Congressional District will descend on Oak Harbor’s City Beach Park near the A-6 airplane display for a “Support our Troops” rally Saturday, Feb. 15.

Mary Jane Aurdal, spokesperson for the Island County Republican Party, said that the rally will send a message that there are people who will publicly show their support of American troops. She hopes Saturday’s rally will drown out recent messages against war.

“I think the negative message the U.S. is sending to the military on foreign shores is atrocious,” said Aurdal, a Clinton resident.

After gathering at the park, people will then march up Highway 20 to the K-mart parking lot.

The planned rally will occur approximately one month after anti-war protesters came to Oak Harbor to speak out against military involvement in Iraq. The Jan. 18 protest brought out people for and against military involvement in Iraq.

Marianne Edain, who participated in last month’s protest, said Friday that she does support soldiers as human beings but she doesn’t support the situation that they may be sent into Iraq.

Grethe Cammermeyer, chair of the Island County Democratic Party, said Friday, “I think it’s a great thing to support American troops.” She participated in the Oak Harbor rally which largely consisted of members of the Island County Democratic Party, many from South Whidbey.

She added that there is a misunderstanding about why many Democrats are cautious about going into a war that she says doesn’t have a well-defined mission or the full support of American allies.

Cammermeyer is a retired Army colonel who served as a nurse in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive. She said she doesn’t want to see American troops today in a similar situation. “I took care of too many of them to see them betrayed,” Cammermeyer said.

Island County Republican Chair Andy Valrosa said the recent protest in Oak Harbor sparked the idea for Saturday’s event.

“I don’t think it’s good to do (the anti-war protest) in front of the wives and children of people who are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice,” Valrosa said. “I found it a little offensive.”

He added that he doesn’t consider the upcoming rally an exclusively Republican affair, and anyone can participate.

He hopes that people who have been silent during recent weeks will come forward to voice support for the president and American troops.

He added he hopes news of the rally will reach Whidbey Island sailors stationed abroad and provide some sort of comfort. The Feb. 15 rally is scheduled to begin at noon.

You can reach News-Times reporter Nathan Whalen at nwhalen@whidbeynewstimes.com or 675-6611.

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