Hundreds Turn Out In Fayetteville In Show Of Support For Troops
Posted March 10, 2003 9:11 a.m. EST
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — A military spouse in Cumberland County who does not want the controversy of war to overshadow the work of soldiers found a way to show servicemembers to know how much support they have at home.
More than 1,800 people showed up at the Support Our Troops rally at the Rowan Street Park Saturday.
The grassroots event was organized by JoAnne Jones.
"I care about the morale of all soldiers because my husband could be over there," she said.
Jones has been married to her Army husband for nearly 19 years. He was deployed during Operation Enduring Freedom, but is now back at home.
After seeing all the antiwar protests on TV, Jones wanted to make it very clear to all deployed soldiers that they have support at home.
"I had to do something, especially here in Fayetteville, at Fort Bragg," she said.
In just two weeks, word of the rally spread across the state and beyond.
Jones' grassroots effort caught the attention of city leaders. Some councilmembers wrote checks out of their personal accounts to rent the park.
The state's VFW Commander has also asked all veterans to rally behind the cause.
"We've been there, done that. So we know the signs, symptoms to use for encouragement -- not only for the troops, but for support of their families," said Saundra Clagett, VFW District Commander.
Jones received written support from Gov. Mike Easley and several lawmakers, including senators Elizabeth Dole and John Edwards.
Jones said the rally was not about being for or against war. It was about being there for the servicemembers fighting for our freedom.
"None of us want to go to war. We all want our children to be very old people. But we do support our troops, support our soldiers," said Duckie Yates, an Army mom.
Soldiers who attended said the rally was a real morale boost for troops, some of whom are already wondering if they are supported at home.
"I've seen the ups and downs of perceived support for the military. The young guys getting in today, shipping out over to possibly fight a war. I think it's good for them. For their morale and their parents also," said Maj. Jay Carlson of the U.S. Army.
"The morale of our troops is very important. They've got to know that they're doing something and risking their lives. They want to know that they're supported," Jones said.
Fayetteville police said a small group of war protestors showed up at the rally, but did not stay for long.