Area residents gather to show support for soldiers in Mideast

Marguerite and Bob Williams didn’t walk to the Loy E. Pavilion wrapped in the flag, but they cuddled up in one pretty soon after they got there and sat down.

Their blanket, a queen-sized depiction of Old Glory, warded against the chill during the Friday evening ceremony in Manassas where about 200 people came to light candles and remember the troops in Iraq and other places far away and dangerous.

“I’m too old to fight, so I thought I’d just come out to give support through prayer …” said Bob Williams, a 78-year-old WWII veteran, as his wife completed his thought.

“… To our boys and young women over seas … to whoever’s in the service,” Marguerite Williams, 72, said as the crowd sang “God Bless America” at the end of the ceremony.

“We’re Christian people and we want to support our troops,” Bob Williams said.

Donna Dailey and Maureen Wood told the people gathered at the pavilion that they organized the ceremony and asked several civic leaders, so that America’s fighting men and women would know that not everyone was protesting the war.

Patti Purser’s, husband, U. S. Air Force Capt. William Purser, is deployed to the war. Purser said she attended the ceremony because she too wearied of seeing war protests.

“I’m tired of seeing all the protests on T.V. and I want the troops to know that there are people back here that do support them,” Purser said.

Stuart Hubbard, a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy who recently returned from the war, spoke at the ceremony.

“What we’re doing over there is worthwhile,” Hubbard said to the crowd and then backed up his statement with a story about a conversation he had with a young Marine.

“In Kuwait, I ran into a young 19-year-old corporal and you can tell the guys coming in from the field because they’re filthy. They’re filthy and they’re tanned and they’re strong,” said Hubbard, a medical support officer assigned to the Marine Corps.

“I said, ‘How are you doing?'” Hubbard continued the story.

“Sir, I’m doing great,” was the young Marine’s reply.

“I said, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know the Marine Corps line, but how are you doing?'” Hubbard said.

“He said, ‘No sir, really, I have never been better,'” Hubbard said.

“To make small talk, I asked him, ‘Are we winning?'” Hubbard continued with his tale.

“The 19-year-old Marine said, ‘No sir, they are.’

“They who!'” Hubbard said he asked the Marine.

“The people of Iraq,” the corporal answered.

Hubbard explained why he thought the Marine felt as he did.

“We were there, and glad that we were, so that somebody else’s children can grow up and somebody else’s parents can sit outside on a cold winter’s night, like we’re doing here tonight,” Hubbard said.

“The Iraqi people want what we want. They want a nice place for their children to grow up. They want nice elementary schools,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard thanked those who attended the ceremony.

“We do need to hear this and we do need to know you’re behind us,” he said.

The crowd stood and applauded when Hubbard finished.

Hubbard accepted the ovation with grace and aplomb, but seemed a little surprised when a woman asked him to autograph her yellow program.

Staff writer Keith Walker can be reached at (703) 878-8063.

Similar Posts