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Thousands in U.S. Rally For, Against War

March 17, 2003

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. (AP) _ Across the nation, the voices for and against a U.S. military strike on Iraq grew louder as thousands of people rallied _ some calling for peace and others in support for American troops.

Some 6,000 people gathered Sunday on a field near Valley Forge National Historical Park for the ``Rally for America,″ organized by syndicated radio host Glenn Beck, police said.

Waving flags and holding signs, the crowd sang patriotic songs and helped to raise a gigantic American flag before reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Martin Zak said he thinks the Iraqi people are suffering and that Saddam Hussein has become far too dangerous to the rest of the world. He said he thinks war is the only answer.

``My feeling is that it has come to a head,″ Zak said.

In Chicago Sunday, the loudest voices rang out in opposition to war.

Organizers said an estimated 10,000 people crammed Chicago’s Daley Plaza to join religious, labor and community leaders and hoist American flags and placards with slogans such as: ``Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld. The real axis of evil.″

``We are concerned with all of God’s children. And for all of those who question our patriotism,″ said the Rev. Calvin Morris of Chicago’s Community Renewal Society. ``We love America because America is a place where when things are out of order, people can disagree and protest.″

The rallies capped a weekend of nation- and worldwide protests, including one in Washington that park officials permitted for 20,000 people. Protesters in Portland held a rally of similar proportions.

In many states and cities, multiple events were held by groups with varying views.

In Mobile, Ala., the organizer of a rally in support of U.S. troops stressed that the group was not supporting war, but unity.

``We’re not pro-war by any means,″ said Barna Goff. ``Regardless of how you feel about war, you have to stand together.″

Other protests across the country on Sunday included:

_ In Detroit, a crowd of about 2,000 gathered at a church and listened to religious leaders call a war with Iraq ``an affront to God and a crime against humanity.″

_ In St. Paul, Minn., about 1,200 people led by Christian and Muslim clergy staged a mock funeral at the Cathedral of St. Paul for those who would die if the United States wages war with Iraq.

_ In Albuquerque, N.M., 300 or more people held candles in the rain at a park, singing and carrying a placards opposing war against Iraq.

_ In Los Angeles, about 300 protesters marched through downtown to demand federal spending on health care and education, not war.

_ In Pittsburgh, several hundred anti-war protesters gathered in a park to protest any military strike on Iraq.

_ In Providence, R.I., veterans and families of military personnel stationed in the Middle East were among hundreds of protesters who marched downtown to oppose war.

_ In Oklahoma City, Okla., nearly 400 people lined the downtown streets in a prayerful plea for peace.

_ In Hartford, Conn., more than 300 people rallied at a park, carrying candles and singing anti-war and patriotic songs. Hundreds came together at other locations throughout the state.

_ In Milwaukee, Wis., more than 200 people lined several blocks of a street in an East Side neighborhood to hold a candlelight vigil for peace.

_ In Mountain Home, Ark., about 200 residents gathered Sunday to show support for an Arkansas National Guard company scheduled to leave Monday for the Middle East.

_ In Columbia, S.C., about 200 people gathered to protest war in Iraq at Martin Luther King Park.

_ In Davenport, Iowa, about 100 demonstrators stood in front of the federal building, many holding candles and singing peace songs.

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