Pro-War Supporters Take to the Streets

Cindy is a middle-aged woman with a son in the military. She visits the army's Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington each week to speak with wounded troops returning from the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Monday she stood at the side of the road leading to Arlington National Cemetery holding signs voicing her support for the troops. Under the oppressively hot July sun, she stood for hours wearing a t-shirt with a heart-shaped American flag in the center and "Honor Our Troops" written proudly across the chest.

A Battle for American Hearts and Minds

She was not alone, however. Cindy was one of a group of pro-war protestors waging an ideological counterattack to the anti-war supporters also set up on the street.

Opponents of the war "helped to defeat American in Vietnam, and we're not going to let them do that in Iraq," she explained.

Cindy's passionate support for the Iraq war and the service men and woman in harm's way in Iraq and Afghanistan is evident to anyone who speaks with her.

A single question about the war posed to Cindy envokes an intense emotional response. She will speak passionately about the sacrifices being made by US troops completing reconstruction work in Iraq or explain the serious threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

Cindy is, in short, an American who is righteously using her first amendment rights.

On the opposite side of the street stood another Cindy, one notorious for her opposition to the war.

Activist and anti-war leader Cindy Sheehan spoke to a group of some two hundred war protestors on Monday, equally devoted and passionate in their calls to end the war and bring the troops home.

A National Question

Central to the debate over the war are questions as basic as the fate of American troops, the legacy of the Bush administration, and national security.

The majority of the American public -- 59 percent -- now favors an eventual withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post.

In another sign of the public's growing disconent with the war, that same ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 78 percent of Americans now believe that the president is "not willing enough" to change policy on Iraq.

Even among Republicans 55 percent consider the president too rigid on his war policy.

Still, that leaves 45 percent of Republicans who support the war. Among those are people like Cindy who fear that unless they counter the anti-war message disseminated by the left, their voices will be drowned out, and the war will end unsuccessfully.

The Minority

The group of war supporters who arranged a counter-protest at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday is part of a national minority who still maintain their support for the Iraq war.

With bullhorns amplifying their voices, the two dozen supporters were a vocal presence at the rally, even if their size was only a tenth that of the other side.

Asked why they had assembled to support a cause that is increasingly unpopular, Kristinn Taylor of Free Republic, a conservative Internet forum, explained that her main reason for being on hand was to honor "those who gave their lives" fighting for victory and to "support their mission" through to the end.

There was also a political dimension to the gathering said Taylor. "Cindy Sheehan doesn't belong here at Arlington National" because Sheehan was turning a military issue into a chance to grandstand for her probable political ambitions, she said.

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