View Full Version : Vets, military families join support troops rally

03-14-2007, 07:56 PM
:clap: :salute:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 03/15/07

Jan Johnson of Lyerly, in northwest Georgia, knows better than most mothers the true cost of war.

Her youngest son, Justin, was killed in Iraq nearly three years ago.

Her sole surviving son, Joshua, is serving in Afghanistan.

And her husband, Joe, spent eight months in Iraq with the Georgia Army National Guard's 48th Brigade Combat Team.

Despite the sacrifices she and her family have made, Johnson is something of an anti-Cindy Sheehan; an unabashed supporter of President Bush and the war in Iraq.

"I feel good about speaking out for the soldiers because they can't speak for themselves," Johnson said Wednesday during a support-the-troops rally at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park.

"I can kind of do the opposite [of Sheehan] and try to boost the morale of the troops," she added.

Jan and Joe Johnson were among about 60 people who showed up at dawn Wednesday to participate in the latest stop on a cross-country caravan designed to promote support for troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The caravan, which was organized by the nonprofit group Move America Forward, will culminate in Washington this weekend, where organizers hope to attract more than 10,000 people.

The rally will be a counterpoint to the January anti-war demonstration on the National Mall in Washington in which Jane Fonda and others spoke out against the war, said Deborah Johns of Granite Bay, Calif. Johns helped organize what is being called the "These Colors Don't Run" caravan, which is making stops in 25 cities.

"We don't want to see the same things that happened to the Vietnam vets happen to the Iraq war vets," said Johns, the mother of a Marine sergeant on his third tour in Iraq.

Organizers are collecting American flags en route and hope eventually to have enough to send one to each service member in Iraq and Afghanistan. About 100 flags were collected Wednesday and will be taken to Washington where a "Flag City" will be constructed on the mall for the rally there.

The crowd for the Atlanta rally was made up of a mixture of Vietnam veterans including members of the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association parents with children serving in the military, families who have lost someone in Iraq or Afghanistan and members of the Patriot Guard, a group of motorcycle-riding veterans who frequently show up at funerals of service members to keep protesters at bay.

Retired Marine Sgt. Maj. David Tainsh of Midland, near Columbus, was among those who have lost a son who spoke at the Atlanta rally. Army Sgt. Patrick Tainsh was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad in 2004.

David Tainsh, a combat veteran of Vietnam and the 1991 Gulf War, criticized politicians in Washington and the media for pursuing a "cut and run" policy in Iraq. "I don't want my son to have died in vain," Tainsh said. "It hurts deep in my heart that the American people won't stand behind the president."

Joe Johnson said that as a combat veteran of Iraq he has a better understanding of the situation there than those who protest against it. He said he originally went to Iraq to kill terrorists in retaliation for his son's death, but instead found a desire for peace among the Iraqis he met.

"I understand why we need to be there. I see the good being done," he said.

Jan Johnson said the American public needs to be more vocal about its support for those fighting overseas.

"You may not agree with everything politically, but you need to let the troops know that we support them and that's why we are here," she said.

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