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War foes pleased by turnout in Madison
Wisconsin State Journal
ELIZABETH WACHOWSKI email@example.com 608-252-6120
September 4, 2005
A group of veterans and military families spoke Sunday night before a crowd of Madisonians opposed to the war in Iraq, spreading their message that supporting the troops doesn't necessarily mean supporting the war.
The "Bring Them Home Now Tour," an offshoot of military mom Cindy Sheehan's monthlong protest in front of President Bush's ranch in Texas, attracted a near-capacity crowd to the Barrymore.
Tour speaker Stacy Bannerman, whose husband served an extended tour of duty in Iraq, said she wasn't surprised by the attendance, noting that Madison has a history in the anti- war movement dating back to Vietnam.
"You folks kind of showed the rest of the nation how it's done," she told the audience. "Whoever thought you'd be doing it again?"
Bannerman said she was participating in the tour because her husband "was not the man I married" after returning from Iraq.
She added that critics who say the protestors are disrespecting the troops do not understand that she and others like her are protesting the war, not the soldiers involved.
"When you speak out, they say 'You're not supporting the troops,'" Bannerman said. "To which I say, 'Our families are the troops.'"
Sherry Glover, whose daughter and son-in-law served in Iraq, said she thought protests like Sheehan's were a way for anti-war military families to reach out to the nation.
Many of the attendees said they were inspired by Sheehan's vigil outside Bush's ranch.
"I think what she's doing is great," said UW-Madison student Stephanie Jung. "It helps to stimulate a dormant anti- war movement."
Stay-at-home mom Linda Kloosterboer said that, like Bannerman, she was angered by the idea that opposing the war means opposing the troops.
"I grew up here in Madison and we learned during Vietnam that you can support the troops and still want them to come home," Kloosterboer said.
She added that she hopes rallies like the one in Madison and protests like Sheehan's would help get Americans angry about the war.
"I want people to get pissed off," she said. "I want people to see what's going on and get angry and demand change."
Many of the speakers mentioned that the war in Iraq was taking up troops and resources that could be used to help ease the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.
This resonated with Nevenah Smith, a taxi driver formerly of New Orleans who is staying with family in Madison.
"If Bush hadn't diverted all that money from the Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans wouldn't be underwater and I could be going home," she said.
Earlier Sunday, a much smaller group gathered to show their support for the war in Iraq
About 10 members of the Families United for Our Troops and Their Mission met at the Gold Star Mothers' Sundial on the UW-Madison campus at Allen Centennial Gardens.
Dodge County Sheriff Todd Nehls, who came home August 2 from a tour in Iraq as a colonel in the Army National Guard, on the Sheehan Anti- War tour, wanted to show his support for the war, but didn't want to be involved in a counter-protest at the Barrymore.
"I would not lower myself to the standard where I would actually physically go out and protest a movement that shouldn't be protesting at all," he said. "I think it's a disgrace."
Jim Karlson, whose son, Staff Sgt. Warren Hansen of Clintonville, died in a helicopter collision in Iraq on Nov. 15, 2003, also was upset by the anti-war tour.
"I guess maybe they think supporting the troops is a little different than what we think."
- Ben Fischer contributed to this report.