Flags waving in the Oklahoma wind. Smiling faces. Patriotic signs and posters. Patriotism.
Each of these things was present at the Rally Around the Troops and Families Monday, March 31, 2003, at the 101 Centre in Woodward.
Organized with the intention of supporting troops fighting around the world and their families left behind, the rally did just that. Numerous legislative dignitaries sent their warm wishes and support for the soldiers and their families.
Sen. Don Nickles, via a recorded telephone call, expressed his thankfulness for the work troops are doing.
"I just wanted to call and express what I felt," Nickles said. "I feel good knowing we have this kind of support in the state and across the country."
Nickles reminded the crowd of up to 2,000 supporters to be thankful for the job that the soldiers are doing overseas to protect their freedoms here.
"They are doing a great job, you need to stand up and show support for them," Nickles said.
Sin. Jim Inhofe expressed his support through a video message, as well as his disdain for Saddam Hussein.
"There is not terrorist alive worse than Saddam Hussein." Inhofe said, "No one is as bad as this guy."
Inhofe is grateful for the work the troops are doing, he said, and believes Americans are truly blessed because of it.
U. S. Rep. Frank Lucas also provided a recorded message.
"They proudly defend the things you and I care about." Lucas said. They deserve our support."
Gov. Brad Henry sent Secretary of Veteran's Affairs Norman Lamb to speak on his behalf. Lamb compared Iraq's leader with Adolf Hitler.
"Today as you and I stand here there is another modern day Hitler," Lamb said. "Saddam Hussein has plans and would very much knock on your door and destroy you and me. We can't tolerate another Hitler."
Lamb read a letter from Henry.
"I give my heartfelt thanks to those family members who remain," Henry wrote. "Pray for their swift and safe return."
L. Gov. Mary Fallin sent a letter as well.
"Oklahoma appreciates the sacrifices each of them made by leaving their families behind." Fallin said of the state's soldiers. "Thank you for being brave, and thank you for making us proud."
Officers from William S. Key Correctional Center presented flags to families of three Key employees fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
State Sen. Owen Laughlin thanked the rally crowd for its support, and pointed out, quoting Colin Powell, that America has never fought to take anyone's land.
"America has never fought to take away anyone's land, but instead make them free, " Laughlin said.
"America has never asked for any land. Only enough land to bury their dead."
State Rep. Elmer Maddux told the flag-waving crowd he was at a meeting Saturday at which General Norman Schwartzkopf was speaking.
"He said that being a leader is doing the right thing", Maddux said. "What our president and our people are doing over there is right."
Rep. Clay Pope agreed.
"Words cannot say right now and our actions pale in comparison to what the people are doing over there", Pope said. "I can't adequately express my gratitude."
Monday's rally included presentations by the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Woodward County Sheriff's Department Honor Guard. Woodward High School's band and vocal students performed, along with others from the area. Police blocked off Downs Avenue and monitored busy U.S. 270 as rally-goers spilled over into the streets.
Behind the scenes, the Woodward Masonic Lodge was collecting funds to use to help military personnel's families at home, with a pledge to match the first $1,000 in donations, and counselors were on hand to talk with military families.
Woodward radio station K101 was instrumental in pulling the rally together, assembling a planning committee whose members represented business, civic and veteran's groups, government and area law enforcement. Some Woodward business closed at 3:00 p. m. Monday to allow their employees to attend the rally.
Woodward News, April 1, 2003
By Kylene Orebaugh
There were posters with soldier's pictures on them with words of encouragement for the troops who are serving their country and defending their freedom.
The words on the posters read "We love you." "Thank you troops." "God Bless America", Support the troops" - anything to know they support the men and women that are risking their lives for their country.
"You can't put it into words," said Pam Phillips.
Her son, Brian Vogelsong, 24, of Cherokee, is a member of the 179th Infantry Army National Guard and is in Iraq.
Phillips said her son has been gone since Jan. 3 ad she has not talked to him in almost three and a half weeks. But the rally is something she needed - to feel comforted while her son is gone.
"It is good to know all these people care about our soldiers." Phillips said.
Many of the family members who have soldiers in Kuwait and Iraq held posters with pictures of their loved ones.
Sarah Christensen, the fiance of Adam Cold of Gage, made a poster in honor of her soon-to-be husband. Not only did the poster have a picture of Cole, but it also had pictures of some of his fellow soldiers.
"This is the quality of young men that are over there," said Shirley Dixon, Cole's grandmother.
Cole, 23, is a member of the Army National Guard 179th Infantry and has been for almost six years.
By Jocelyn Corley
Note: Driving around town, I have seen the day to day display of support for our troops. There are yellow ribbons, red, white and blue ribbons, large bows, small bows, tied around trees, mail box posts, fence posts, doorways, porch pillars, staircase railings, car antennas. Flags are flying at businesses, private homes and on cars. God Bless America and the troops who have fought for freedom!
To all the men and women who have worn, are wearing, will wear the uniform of the United States Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force, Reserves and National Guard, Coast Guard, at home and on foreign soil, in times of war and times of peace.
Words expressed on pages found on this website and linked from home page were mostly written by others. No copyright infringement intended. If those who wrote those words do not want them to appear on this website, they may contact me to have them removed.
Most photographs by unknown photographers.