Hail to Mrs. Chief: Barbara Bush stopping in Dundalk, Fort 0) Meade
First lady Barbara Bush stopped in Baltimore County today to open the local warehouse operation of the International Book Bank, a private, non-profit group that sends books to Third World nations.
Bush was joined by Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke for ceremonial ribbon-cutting to celebrate the company's move to new quarters close to the city line in Dundalk.
She also noted the grant of $48,000 from the U.S. Information Agency that will enable the book bank to send 120,000 books this year to Eastern Europe.
Schaefer, Schmoke and Bush each helped pack one box of books destined for Eastern Europe, Africa and the Caribbean.
"I like the president," Schaefer said. "I support the president 100 percent . . . I got a dose of pride I haven't had in a long time" today as the Persian Gulf war drew to a halt.
Bush was scheduled to visit Fort Meade later today to meet with families of military personnel serving in the gulf area.
During the past four Christmas seasons, the students of Sandy Plains Elementary School in Dundalk have painted Yuletide displays on the windows of a 7-Eleven store at 7901 Wise Ave.
A few weeks ago, store manager Michael Catron decided to ask the students to decorate his windows with a painted patriotic design to show support for the war effort.
First the students had to agree on a design. Under the guidance of Sandy Plains art teacher Barbara Segall, about 200 fourth- and fifth-graders made preliminary drawings of various images of war and peace.
"The boys wanted to do a lot of war images," she says. "Fighter jets, people being blown up. We all decided that wasn't the kind of thing people wanted to see while walking into a convenience store."
Segall and her students eventually decided on a collection of images that included the U.S. flag, a yellow bow, a peace symbol, three soldiers saluting the flag and the slogan "Support our troops."
Catron says he will leave the display up for about a month.
"The only drawback is getting the paint off my windows," he says. "It's a water-based paint, but it's still tough to get off."
BANNER FOR POW
Lt. Jeffrey Zaun, U.S. Naval Academy class of 1984, is a prisoner of war in Iraq. But he has not been forgotten by the midshipmen at his alma mater in Annapolis.
Shortly after Zaun's capture last month, the mids sent his family in Cherry Hill, N.J., a large banner with handwritten messages of support.
Zaun's mother, Marjorie, responded with a letter of thanks to the midshipmen, which ran in a recent edition of the Trident, the academy's newspaper. The letter read in part:
"It is difficult to put in words how much [my daughter] Linda, my husband [Calvin] and I treasure the banner which [the] midshipman presented to us on Jan. 24. It was such a comfort and inspiration to read the many messages for Jeffrey and for us. It will take some time, but we plan to read every message that is on the banner. We wish we could thank everyone who wrote, but that isn't possible . . . The entire Brigade [has] our heartfelt thanks for such a thoughtful and generous gift. We thank you all for your prayers and good wishes and pray that this war will end soon and all our brave men and women serving in the gulf will return to us safely. We are looking forward to a great homecoming at Annapolis for Jeff. I know he will be touched by the outpouring of love and support for him and his family. God bless you all."
Rallies to support the Persian Gulf troops will be held this weekend at the following times and places:
* 1 p.m. Sunday at Cox Point Park, on Riverside Drive in Essex. The event will include entertainment, patriotic displays and refreshments. Those attending will be able to sign a giant greeting card that will be sent to a Maryland unit serving in the gulf. Proceeds from the sale of food and other items will be donated to the United Service Organizations.
* 2 p.m. Sunday at the Old Court subway station, on Old Court Road just west of Reisterstown Road in Pikesville. State Comptroller Louis Goldstein is the honorary chairman and state Sen. Paula Hollinger will serve as moderator. U.S. Sens. Paul Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulski, Reps. Helen Bentley, R-2nd, and Benjamin Cardin, D-3rd, Baltimore County Executive Roger Hayden and other elected officials are expected to attend. A 21-piece military band will perform.
* 2 p.m. Sunday at the Inner Harbor's Rash Field, "Baltimore's Tribute to the Men and Women in Uniform." Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is expected to be on hand.
AUTO SHOW STALLS
Recent auto shows across the country, including one last month in Baltimore, have seen fewer people in search of new cars, and organizers are blaming the gulf war and the recession for the attendance slide.
"We were unfortunate with that war hitting right in the middle," said Jim Donahue, vice president of the Baltimore International Auto Show, which ran Jan. 12-21. "We felt a little bit of the recession business and the negative talk [about the war]."
Donahue refused to release specific figures but said attendance was down 8 to 10 percent from last year.
Patrick Ercolano and Monica Norton contributed to this report.
If you know of an interesting story about how events in the Persian Gulf area are affecting life on the home front, please call 332-6478.