(by Gary Emerling, Sept. 25, 2005, WashingtonTimes.com) – Diane Ibbotson came to the District amid yesterday’s anti-war protest to support U.S. efforts in Iraq and say her enlisted son died for a worthy cause.
“I know the loss. I know the grief,” Mrs. Ibbotson said.
Her son, Army Cpl. Forest Jostes, 21, was killed in Iraq alongside the son of Cindy Sheehan, the California woman whom the media has made a recognizable face of the anti-war movement.
“But,” Mrs. Ibbotson said, “a mother’s grief, as deep as it goes, does not justify undermining the morale of the United States armed forces while we are at war.”
Mrs. Ibbotson and her husband, Von, of Albion, Ill., gathered at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Northwest with nearly 50 other family members of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of a counterprotest to the weekend’s anti-war and anti-President Bush activities.
Many who showed up to support Mr. Bush and U.S. troops, and to question the war protesters, fought back tears while clutching pictures of friends and family members killed in battle.
“The loss we feel is with us every moment we are awake,” said Mike Broomhead of Phoenix, Ariz., whose brother, Tom, was killed in Fallujah on Memorial Day 2003. “The fact that you can march down the streets of our nation’s capital and not wear a flak jacket, you owe that to the men and women in uniform.”
Several other groups in support of the war also held events throughout the day, including Elections Count, which helped organize a rally at the U.S. Navy Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue in Northwest.
“I’m really tired of listening to one side,” said Mary Porteus of Laurel,whose daughter, Brooke Tilley, is an ensign on the USS Kearsarge, which just returned from the Middle East. “I feel really strongly about what my country and what my government is doing. I wouldn’t have let my daughter go otherwise.”
Andrius Vaitekunas of Centreville had painted his face and head with the colors of the U.S. flag and wore a “Commies Aren’t Cool” T-shirt.
“I’m here to show absolute support and solidarity for my friends in the military, knowing full well they’d do the exact same thing for me,” said Mr. Vaitekunas, 27.
Steve Golding, who survived the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, was among those who spoke at the memorial.
“Thank God we have a president who has the resolve to say, ‘Either you are with us or you are against us,’ ” he told a crowd of about 250. “Cindy, go home. You don’t speak for me.”
Jesse Kaveh, 19, an Iraq native and student at George Washington University, said he arrived in the United States in 1990 after his parents were killed by Saddam Hussein’s regime. Those demonstrating against the war are “exploiting the Iraqi people,” he said.
“They’re here saying we need to leave Iraq, but everyone knows Iraq will fall” if U.S. soldiers pull out, Mr. Kaveh said.
The speeches occasionally were interrupted by anti-war demonstrators shouting “Kill more Iraqis” and “That’s a lie.”
Organizers of the rally at the memorial, including RightMarch.com and Protest Warrior, lined the march route later in the day to confront the protesters.
“I fought for your right to hate your country,” one man shouted.
Other supporters of the war such as Move America Forward, Freerepublic.com and Military Families Voice of Victory planned a major rally for today at noon on the Mall at Fourth Street in Northwest, near the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Mark Coyle of Families United for Our Troops and Their Mission, which sponsored the rally at the Hyatt, said the Ibbotsons and other families are expected to attend today’s rally, but did not join others yesterday along the march route.
“They wanted to be with each other,” he said. “They wanted to get to know each other.”
Copyright 2005 News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of the Washington Times. This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization. Visit the website at www.washingtontimes.com
1. Who is Diane Ibbotson? For what reason did she go to Washington D.C. this weekend? How many other family members of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan joined Mrs. Ibbotson in Washington?
For what reason did these families form the group Families United for Our Troops and Their Mission?
2. For photos of the anti-war protest and also the pro-troops rally click here. How would you describe each: the anti-war and the pro-troops groups?
3. The majority of families support the military’s missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
-Cindy Sheehan lost a son in Iraq and opposes the war vocally.
-Gary Qualls is a father who lost his son in Iraq. He removed a cross with his son’s name on it from Cindy’s “Camp Casey” in Crawford Texas near President Bush’s ranch.
-The anti-war protesters replaced it two more times.
-Other parents and spouses who support the troops’ mission have repeatedly told Ms. -Sheehan’s group to leave their deceased son’s/husband’s name out of the protests and were ignored.
*Why do you think that the media (mainstream media) chooses to focus on Cindy Sheehan’s anti-war group and gives very little coverage to the majority of military families?
*To check the number of reports on Cindy Sheehan vs. Gary Qualls, google each name in ” “. How many results come up for each name?
4. Mr. Qualls has set up a memorial fund for his son Louis. What adjectives would you use to describe Louis Qualls? What characteristics does Mr. Qualls display?
6. For what reasons do each of the following people “support the troops and their mission”? Mike Broomhead, Andrius Vaitekunas, Steve Golding, Jesse Kaveh.
What can you do to support the troops? (See some examples below.)