Tying a yellow banner at Legion post in HarfordAn American...

DESERT STORM -- Notes from the home front

February 20, 1991

Tying a yellow banner at Legion post in Harford

An American Legion post in Harford County has gone the anonymous yellow ribbon one better.

Slate Ridge American Legion Post 182 in Whiteford is displaying 3-foot-long, 4-inch-wide yellow canvas banners that bear the names of residents serving in the gulf war.

Most of the 70 banners -- each with a soldier's name in stenciling -- are hanging from a rope between the two flagpoles outside the Legion hall. The rest hang from ropes extending from the poles to a pair of cannons on the ground, says Harold Plude, a post official.

"People have been stopping by and taking pictures" of the display, Plude adds.

Relatives of the soldiers listed on the banners have been snapping photos and mailing them to their loved ones in the gulf.

"When the soldiers come back, we'll have them take their own banners down, make a ceremony out of it," he says.

So far, the post has spent about $200 on making the banners, according to Plude. The stitching and stenciling has been provided gratis by his wife, Lorene, of the post's ladies' auxiliary, and auxiliary president Pauline Leftwich.

GOD ON 'OUR SIDE'?

What are people's motives when they pray for "our troops" or ask God to be on "our side" during a war?

A Maryland pastor pondered these and other questions in an essay he wrote for the Feb. 15 edition of the Baltimore Conference Connection, a publication of the local office of the United Methodist Church.

The Rev. Harry Kiely of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Laytonsville, Montgomery County, wondered if, by asking God to be on "our side" in a war, Christians implicitly wish harm for the people of the opposing nation. If so, he argued, then perhaps these Christians are missing the point of their faith.

Amid all the "furor" over war, Kiely wrote, "some sane voices are needed to quietly remind us that both George Bush and Saddam Hussein, U.S. soldiers and Iraqi soldiers, are still human beings. They are children of God, like the rest of us.

"The Christian peacemaker is called to be such a voice. The Christian peacemaker refuses to allow any government, any political leader, any media pundit or popular opinion to define who shall be his 'enemy.'

"Rather, the Christian peacemaker, taking his or her cue from Jesus, redefines 'enemy' as neighbor. And being reconcilers by calling, Christians engage in the most war-resisting act of all: praying for our 'enemy'/neighbor.

"The gods of nationalism are enraged by such talk, but that is the risk of following Jesus."

We might do well, Kiely suggests, to remember Abraham Lincoln's words: "I can only pray that we are on God's side."

ART SUPPORT

A group that uses art therapy to help people work through their stress has been meeting at the Greater Laurel Beltsville Hospital to assist people with relatives and friends in the gulf.

Susan VanGieson, a certified art therapist, leads the group, which includes adults and children and focuses on issues such as separation from family and friends. Program participants can talk with each other or express themselves through art work.

For more information, call 497-7980.

WAR WEAR

Wearhouse Inc. of Beltsville recently ran an ad in USA Today for T-shirts and sweat shirts emblazoned, variously, with the U.S. flag, the bald eagle and slogans such as "MADE IN THE USA" and "OPERATION DESERT STORM/SUPPORT OUR TROOPS."

The "O" in "STORM" is a gun sight with cross hairs.

The T-shirts sell for $10.95 each, the sweat shirts for $19.95 apiece (plus $2.75 for shipping, handling and insurance per order).

If you know of an interesting story about how the war is affecting life on the home front, please call 332-6478.

PERSIAN GULF SHOWDOWN

Patrick Ercolano and Monica Norton contributed to this report.

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