Runcible Blog

Not Quite, Tim.

The mini-protest made today's paper:

In addition to people supporting the troops, some antiwar protesters turned out at a North Andover rally yesterday. Holding signs are Masood Sheikh (left) of North Andover and Dave St.Germain of Lawrence. (photo by Tim Wacker)

Sunday, April 6, 2003
Local rally backs troops

By Tim Wacker
Staff Writer


For about 30 people gathered outside Town Hall yesterday, braving the rain, snow and sleet was a small sacrifice to show support for American troops in Iraq who are braving much worse.

"It's snowing out, and so what?" said rally organizer Debbie Boda clutching an American flag in her right hand. "Look at what they are doing to sacrifice for us .... I am behind Bush, but I have people close to me who disagree."

If those who joined Boda yesterday are any indication, many more people agree with her these days. Few at the rally carried umbrellas, everyone carried a flag and many carried placards proclaiming in red white and blue their support for the American troops in Iraq.

North Andover 12-year-old, Katie Sullivan, kicked off the rally at 10:14 a.m. with the national anthem. Before she sang, the St. Michael's School seventh-grader said she loved both, singing and her country.

"I think, if there's definitely a reason to be there, then we should be there," she said. "I'm not exactly sure what I feel about it, but if the president said there is a reason, then I guess we should be there."

Similar sentiments were spoken by many adults in attendance. Cynthia Sibeleski, a North Andover resident whose son, Michael, is serving in the war effort overseas, said she wanted him home. She also said her son believed in what he was doing, so she did too.

"I never gave up my son to go to Iraq," she said. "But he wouldn't have it any other way so I wouldn't have it any other way."

Methuen resident Gayle Andrews said she supported the war effort early on, even though her son Eric, 28, has been serving with the Marines in Iraq since January 28.

"I didn't feel good about it but, yeah, I supported it," Andrews said. "It's started, so now, I've got to support it."

For most spoken with yesterday, the reason for the rally was as regrettable as the weather that set the somber tone, which followed it through three hours. The scraping of snowplows and the supportive horn blasts from passersby occasionally drowned out a short speech given by Edward Mitchell, North Andover's director of veterans services.

Mitchell presented Sibeleski with a Blue Star Banner, one of 18 that have been handed out to North Andover families with sons or daughters serving in the war effort. Mitchell then read off the names of those 18 service people and Sullivan then sang "America the Beautiful."

The formalities over, a bone-aching damp, cold and sometimes driving frozen rain did little to chill the spirits of supporters of all ages who lingered behind. World War II veteran, Jim Cassidy, the commander of the American Legion Post 219 in North Andover, said he supported the war before it got started and now it is time others joined in.

"We've got one young man right here in Dracut who got killed," he said, referring to Matthew Boule, 22, who died in a helicopter crash near the Iraqi city of Karbala Wednesday. "We're losing lives over there, so it's important that the citizens of the United States unite."

Across Main Street from Town Hall, two men with white cardboard signs disagreed. One sign said "Don't Believe the Lies." The other said "End War, Wage Peace."

North Andover resident and rally attendant Ralph Wilbur spent about 20 minutes trying to convert one of the two men.

"He doesn't support our troops," Wilbur said as he abandoned his conversation with war opponent Dave St. Germain of Lawrence. "I don't support our troops over there," St. Germain replied. "I'll support our troops when they are over here."

Joining St. Germain, Masood Sheikh, was blunt. " We are colonizing (Iraq); we are taking their oil," Sheikh said. "There is no reason for us to be over there. This is Bush and Cheney's war. ... We're here to support our troops. Bring them home."

Both men seemed indifferent to the glares leveled at them from those on the other side of the street. But there were no ill feelings spoken toward the two men who stood out in stark opposition to the cause that so many felt so passionately about just 30 feet away.

"That's why we are fighting over there. So they can do that," Wilbur said, pointing to St. Germain and Sheikh. "That's what it's all about."

A larger, similar rally scheduled to start at 11 a.m. the same day in Lawrence was called off because of the weather. Organizer James Stokes said it would be rescheduled for next weekend.


First of all, I don't remember saying that exact quote. Second, Mr.Wilbur didn't spend 20 minutes trying to "convert" me. And most importantly, there were plenty of ill feelings spoken toward us. See my previous entry. But I shouldn't expect fair reporting from The Eagle Tribune. They've been blatantly pro-war from the start. Since I work at the Tribune, maybe I'll find Tim Wacker and give him a piece of my mind.

(updated with better picture and text from Eagle Tribune Online)