Troubling question confronts those at rally

March 21, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - David Hartman was wrestling with a question that many Americans face today: How can you support the U.S. troops fighting the war against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and be opposed to the war at the same time?

Hartman, 60, of Chambersburg, was among a dozen people at a peace rally on Chambersburg's Public Square at noon Thursday. They held signs protesting the war against Iraq, which began Wednesday night.

"The call by the (U.S.) government to Americans is to support our troops, but that's just a screen," Hartman said. "Most Americans would not say we do not support our troops in battle. That would be unpatriotic.


"I do support our troops who are in a foreign country in harm's way, but if supporting the troops means that I support the whole scenario ... then I can't support that," he said. "The most patriotic act a citizen can do is to protest even when it's not popular."

It was the second anti-war rally in Franklin County in less than a week.

Alanna Hartzok of Fayetteville, Pa., a leader in the area's peace movement, said on Saturday that about 80 protesters showed up for an anti-war rally on the Public Square in Chambersburg, 30 more protested in Waynesboro, Pa., and 30 in Shippensburg, Pa.

"This is a Franklin County-wide movement," Hartzok said. She was wearing black clothes and her head and face were covered with a long black veil to represent mourning over the deaths that the war will cause, she said.

Hartzok said a large peace rally sponsored by six peace groups in southcentral Pennsylvania will be held Saturday morning in Harrisburg.

Enid Madaras arrived on the square a few minutes past noon. She apologized for being late. She covered her muddy farm clothes with street clothes before joining the demonstrators.

"I just left the barn," she said.

She wore a badge that read: "Another Mother for Peace."

Madaras has two children, ages 9 and 10.

"I consider all children my responsibility. I don't care what their country or religion is," she said.

She said she joined the march in Washington, D.C., in January and the mothers' march there two weeks ago.

She said declaring war on Iraq will create powerlessness, terror and hate among the Iraqi people.

"That's what we're fostering in Iraq and that's what this war will lead to. It won't stop terrorism like George Bush says."

She said her daughter, Sylvia, 9, wrote to President Bush and told him that for the first time she is embarrassed to be an American.

Chuck Lantz, 48, of Shippensburg was also on the square.

"I'm here because I don't like killing," he said. "I still don't understand the justification for this war."

Tara Leeking, 22, was carrying her 2-year-old daughter in a backpack. She held a large umbrella over their heads.

"This war is wrong," she said. "There has to be a more peaceful solution than blowing people up."

Robert Wheeler stood across the street from the square holding his sign. His interests in the war were more practical and weather-related.

He yelled to his colleagues across the way: "Call the president and tell him it's cold out here and it's hot in the desert. Bring our troops home, then we can go home."

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