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.

Sheehan announced earlier in the month that she is considering a run against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Cali, and repeated that message at Monday's rally, saying that she would run unless Pelosi returned the possibility of executive impeachment to the table.

The entire 2008 Democratic presidential field has sharply criticized the president hoping to use the public's disconent with the war to force President Bush to change course in Iraq. .

Cindy told ABC News that she was countering those on the antiwar liberals because it is not right to bring US troops home in disgrace and defeat.

She explained that troops were not being needlessly sacrificed beacuse as "soldiers, they chose their vocation." Their work in Iraq has been devoted to reconstruction and helping "moderate Muslims in Iraq to have for the first time their own democratic society."

She blamed the anti-war left's protests for increased violence against American troops in Iraq, citing a sharp increase in violence after the protest movement began to pick up steam in 2004.

They "embolden the terrorists" Cindy explained, "Their lies cost our guys" and the "blood of our soldiers is on their hands."

Raul Deming is also supporter of the war who participated in the counter-protest at Arlington National Cemetery. Deming was critical of the way the media has covered events in Iraq and even more so of the anti-war message.

He expressed concern that those opposed to the Iraq war are returning to a Vietnam-era mentality where Americans are portrayed as the invading force inflicting harm on a civilian population.

And while reports, including numbers released by the United Nations indicate a high rate of death and casualties among Iraqi civilians, Deming blames that on Al Qaeda forces, not American ones.

On Cindy Sheehan, Deming believes she is "in the hands of a cult right now," a leftist political machine that has indoctrinated, validated, and isolated her.

Final Hours?

With poll numbers falling for President Bush, even among his political base, a growing public weariness toward the war, and persistent violence in Iraq, it may only a matter of time before the Congress.

For supporters like Cindy and others, that does not have to be an inevitable reality. While grassroots pro-war support may not be as strong as its anti-war counterpart, war supporters are countering a progressive message with their own brand of activist campaigning.

"Our military…fights to win" said Cindy, before she walked away. It is victory and an honorable mission for troops that she and other war supporters are seeking, and a withdrawal of forces is an unwelcome possibility.