From the pages of
Volume 3, Number 1 - April 3, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Rallying for our troops in Operation Iraqi Freedom
At the Marbleton rally, Esjae Eiden recited the poem "The Soldier," and Jennifer Shafer recited "Our Flag." These poems were recited at the Pinedale rally by Phillip Loftus and Michelle Pape as well.
by Rhonda Swain and Cat Urbigkit
Tears flowed on both ends of the county Saturday afternoon as citizens gathered to honor and support those in the American military who so honorably serve this country, past and present service included.
Rallies in Pinedale and Marbleton were organized by the Sublette County Republican Party and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4801. Each rally began with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer. Local veterans of past conflicts, and families of those currently serving, took turns at the podium, humbly telling their heartfelt stories.
VFW Post 4801 Commander and Sublette County Sheriff Hank Ruland told the story of many Vietnam veterans, such as himself, returning to the United States and being cautioned not to wear their military uniforms in public because of the anti-war sentiment. Rather than being greeted as heroes on their return from an international conflict, the soldiers were shamefully, and hatefully, called baby-killers and assaulted with ketchup, said to represent blood.
Jenny Clark, whose son Trevor Daniel is serving in Iraq, gives a glimpse into Trevor's life with a poster she created with photos of her young Marine.
"We can never, ever, let that happen again," Ruland said. "We need to honor them as the heroes they are."
Ruland said of Operation Iraqi Freedom, "The rest of the world will be safe as a result of this."
Also on the program were several residents who have served in the military and have family members serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom - some with multiple family members either serving now or facing that possibility.
Sublette County Undersheriff Henry Schmidt, who served in Vietnam, has both a son and a son-in-law serving in the currently Iraqi conflict.
Through patriotic songs like the "Star Spangled Banner," "America the Beautiful" and "God Bless America," Crystal Updyke and Diane Heeney provided support at the Pinedale rally.
"If you're not willing to stand up for our country, then get the hell out of it," Schmidt said of war protesters.
Schmidt said those in the military "are doing the things they know are right, to defend our freedoms."
Lisa Hueckstaedt, whose husband is currently serving, tearfully said she simply doesn't understand how protesters can say "they support our troops, but not our president. I don't know how they can say that."
Care of American Troops organizer Steven Wight said there are more than 40 people from Sublette County, or who are related to people from Sublette County, that are are his list of those currently serving in the Middle East.
As the Marbleton rally ended, emcee Lee Shafer reminded everyone: "It is very important for all of us to honor our soldiers. We will be praying for their safe and speedy return."
The Pinedale rally drew approximately 60 supporters to the VFW Saturday afternoon. The VFW's back room was decorated by Reggie and Don Moritsch, who had their children at the rally with them.
Items the Wyoming National Guard needs for our troops in Iraq. Please send only TRAVEL SIZE personal items
• Disposable razors
• Shower Gel
• Baby wipes
• Hand lotion
• Lip balm
• Cotton Swabs
• Sewing kits
• Playing cards and board games
Justin and Trista Hays brought their children, Falon and Yancy, to the Marbleton rally.
• Compact discs
• Current movies on DVD
• Crossword puzzle books
• Disposable cameras
• Pre-paid global calling cards
• Stationary and journals
• Small footballs, softballs
• CD/DVD cases with zipper
• Individually wrapped snack items
• Shoe polish kits
(Supporters can send gift packs through the USO for $25. Make checks payable to the USO World Headquarters. For information, contact Lee Shafer at 307-276-3526 or Garry Eiden Jr. at 307-276-3693.)
The Marbleton rally drew young and old alike to support American troops and the allied effort. Lee Shafer urges those who would like to contribute needed personal items for American troops to contribute to the USO or COAT programs.
C.O.A.T. suggested items to donate
• Baby wipes
• Toilet paper/Kleenex
• Shaving cream
• Jock itch powder
• Sunglasses (goggle-type)
• Gum, hard candy, mints
• Beef jerky
• Individually wrapped snacks
• Smaller meals in Styrofoam cups or pop-open cans (soups, ravioli etc.)
• Chips and dip
• Eye drops
• Chap Stick
Sublette County Christian School student Phillip Loftus recites "Our Flag" during the Pinedale rally at VFW Post 4801.
• Foot powder
• Pain and cold relievers
• Throat lozenges
• Nasal spray
• Sun block
• Batteries (AA, AAA, C)
• Reading material
• Paper and envelopes
• Phone Calling Cards
Items that cannot be sent
• Pork and pork by-products
Undersheriff Henry Schmidt told supporters he would "do it again tomorrow in a heartbeat," referring to defending our country during a military conflict, as he told those assembled about having two family members serving.
• Nudity (including things like magazines that may have pictures with girls in a bikini, etc)
• Alcohol (read ingredients)
• Aerosol products
(Recited by Phillip Loftus & Jennifer Shafer)
You may call it an old piece of bunting;
You may call it an old tattered rag;
But thousands have die for its honor
And shed their best blood for the flag.
You may call in an old piece of bunting;
You may call it an old tattered rag;
But Freedom has made it majestic,
And Time has ennobled Our Flag.
– Author Unknown
(Recited by Michelle Pape & Esjae Eiden)
It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us "freedom of press."
It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us "freedom of speech."
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the "freedom to demonstrate."
It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the "right to a fair trial."
It is the soldier
Who salutes the flag
Who serves under the flag
Whose coffin is draped by the flag
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.
– Author Unknown
(Jenny Clark wrote this letter to her son, Trevor Daniel, who is serving in Iraq.)
Today we were notified that you were attacked by soldiers dressed as civilians waving a white flag in a place called Nazariyah. We don't know if you are alive, if you have been injured or captured. I am helpless to protect you - keep you out of harm's way. My heart is breaking into a million pieces. I love you so much.
I find myself unable to turn away from the TV, hating what I am seeing, yet unable to shut it off. Every time the phone rings, we jump, startled, begging for news, yet afraid of hearing it. I have to warn your sisters. Kadi, now six months pregnant, reacts predictably. When you were born and Kadi was six, she was thrilled - she had a real live doll. She packed you around, playing with you - mothering you. I don't tell her to be strong, not to cry. I know how very much she cares for you; we both cry. Kara is angry. Isabella has just turned eight months old, but Kara is ready to take up arms and go after Saddam.
I find myself clinging to precious memories. I remember when you were three, telling me you were going to be a Marine like Dad and Grandpa. I thought it was cute. When you were six, I bought you Marine fatigues - you wore it everywhere - I could hardly get them off you to wash them. You had them on when we went camping - remember you and I hiked clear up Mount Baldy. Dianne and Lisa didn't want you to go - you would slow us down. You begged until I gave in. We made that hike and you and I finished before my athletic sisters. I was so proud of you, but not as proud of you as you were of yourself. I have pictures of that day, but I don't need them to be reminded of that look on your face. You were my little buddy!
I remember taking you fishing on Horse Creek - you must have been about three - you were so excited, but what a fit you pitched when you found out you couldn't keep it as a pet. You weren't so cute then.
There are so many precious memories ...
I remember not long ago overhearing you tell how I was the one who played catch with you, teaching you to throw a ball - yet my abilities are so lacking. I did not know what you would be facing today, nor how I could have helped prepare you. As a parent, I have many failings - I laughed with you more than I lectured you. I know the Marine Corps has trained you - but how can anyone be prepared for this?
I am so very proud of you and I believe in what you are doing. Don't be disheartened when you hear negative remarks about our president. Many great leaders, including Abe Lincoln, faced the same criticism pursuing freedom. Unlike the enemy, we don't cut out people's tongues, letting them bleed to death, when we don't like what we hear. Not since Hitler have we heard of such cruelty to innocent people. Four-hundred-thousand children under the age of four were allowed to starve to death. Can you imagine Summer and Isabella starving when you had the power to save them? The battle you are fighting is an honorable one and you will win it!
I know you and Tina have made a great sacrifice but, God willing, you and she will have that honeymoon you promised her.
Well, little buddy (I know it bugs you when I say that since you're now six foot one, but you'll always be my little buddy), I have never been more proud of you. God bless you and our troops!
Photo credits: Cat Urbigkit, Rhonda Swain
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