News

Troop boosters march again

Kaytie Henson and Samantha Bowling sit on the curb during a support the troops rally along with hundreds of people.  - Nathan Whalen
Kaytie Henson and Samantha Bowling sit on the curb during a support the troops rally along with hundreds of people.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen

Driving down Highway 20 Saturday at noon, the typical sprinkling of pro-troops and anti-war protesters were missing alongside the road. Replacing them were hundreds of people rallying in support of the troops and President Bush.

The rally was a familiar sight as people again donned their red, white and blue and broke out the flags and posters to march from City Beach Park to the busy corner of Highway 20 and Whidbey Avenue.

Upon reaching the corner, throngs of people spilled out over each corner. They spent about an hour waving flags and drumming up support as well-wishers sped by honking their horns.

The peaceful participants were escorted by the police to ensure their safety.

Troop supporters marched in similar numbers in February and since then elements have been seen in small groups on corners —often across the street from anti-war protesters.

With all of the patriotic support evident Saturday, any anti-war protesters that may have been around must have decided to protest another day.

People attending the rally had various reasons for participating, ranging from thanking the troop who are fighting in the Middle East to remembering loved ones who are overseas or who will soon be deployed. Others participated to counter the anti-war protests that many think dominate the media. As with February’s rally, Saturday’s event was led by Andy Valrosa, chair of the Island County Republican Party.

At the beginning of the rally, Valrosa grabbed a bullhorn and wound up the crowd, saying that the participants weren’t represented “by the morons in Hollywood and peaceniks that spew anti-war rhetoric that is really anti-Americanism and anti-Bushism.”

He continued, “Terrorists are like a malignant tumor. You can’t remove part of it, you have to remove the whole thing.”

Valrosa added that people should take pride in service men and women, in the president and in being an American.

His words were echoed by others attending.

“You see all anti-war protests and the media never covers the pro,” said Oak Harbor resident Michael Davies. “Hopefully some of this makes it to the troops over there.”

Bonnie Yadon of Oak Harbor explained the presence of the crowd by saying, “They believe in the war and believe that Saddam has to go down.”

Another sees the Iraqi regime as a threat to the United States.

“We should have done it sooner,” said Terry Garey of Oak Harbor. “If we didn’t do it to him, he would have done it to us.”

At the beginning of the rally, State Representatives Barry Sehlin and Barbara Bailey said a few words along with Island County Commissioner Mac McDowell.

“We are all here to say thank you and it is as simple as that,” Sehlin said.

Valrosa said that people have already requested another rally. He added that the earliest one could be put together would be next month.

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

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