American and U.S. military flags waved furiously in the wind at a rally Saturday at South Park to show support for allied troops in the Persian Gulf.
The gathering was a demonstration of support, not a pro-war rally, said John Musgrave, a Vietnam veteran who was one of the event's featured speakers.
"Don't confuse the war with the warrior," Musgrave said.
Janice Nesler-Loux, founder of Kansans in Support and organizer of the event, said she wanted the rally to dispel the common misconception that support organizations have no platform.
"We each have a definite opinion, but as a group we just want to show total support," said Nesler-Loux, a Lawrence resident.
Despite a turnout of only about 40 people Saturday, Nesler-Loux said she plans to hold monthly meetings until the war is over.
"The very last rally, when they finally come home, will be one big party," she said.
THE PROGRAM included a speech by Dick Mulally on the benefits veterans can expect to receive upon their return home from the Middle East.
John Dixon, a Vietnam veteran, spoke on the importance of supporting the troops and avoiding the problems encountered by soldiers returning home from the war in Vietnam.
Kris Caylor, Kansas University junior, and Dwayne DeSylvia, a KU senior, spoke as representatives of Support our Soldiers, a campus group with a focus similar to that of Kansans in Support.
"We're here to show our support and get people rallied," DeSylvia said.
Musgrave, a Baldwin resident who has permanent disabilities from injuries he received in Vietnam, was a rifleman in the Marines. He said U.S. citizens had a duty to give full support to the men and women fighting in the gulf, and to protest for or against the war but not against the troops.
"If you protest the war, then protest the government and politicians, not those who fight," he said.
MUSGRAVE said he believes in the right to protest against the war and said that right is what he fought for in Vietname from 1967 to 1968.
Another speaker, Jay Van Velszen of Baldwin, said he attended the rally "to support the troops." He is also a veteran of Vietnam and went through Marine basic training with Musgrave.
His message addressed the realities of war.
"There's going to be a lot of good young men and women who will lose their lives," Van Velszen said. "It's important they knew we supported them."