Md. celebrates for troops still overseas Hundreds attend end-of-war rallies WAR IN THE GULF

March 04, 1991|By Thom Loverro Reporters Ann LoLordo, Ginger Thompson and Peter Hermann contributed to this article.

The Sun misspelled the last name of Arthur M. Wheatcraft, 44, of Middle River yesterday in an article about several local rallies supporting U.S. troops who fought in the Persian Gulf war.

The Sun regrets the error.

Stephanie Hoehn stood on top of a picnic table at Cox Point Park yesterday, a monument to a new age of patriotism and unabashed support for the American military.

Overlooking the crowd at the "Support the Troops" rally, she wore a sign that was nearly as long as her 6-year-old body, declaring her pride in her brother, a U.S. Marine serving in the Persian Gulf.


"I think it's real nice that all these people came out here today," she said. A photo of her 19-year-old brother, Pfc. William Taylor, was pasted on the sign.

The park was filled with similar shows of national pride and patriotism, as about 1,000 people turned out for the rally sponsored by the Essex Recreation Council and by private citizens.

Yellow ribbons were tied on trees, poles and people, who also carried signs and flags and wore shirts declaring their support for the troops.

The rally at Cox Point Park was one of several held throughout the day, as area residents came out to express feelings of pride and relief over the successful military operation in the Persian Gulf.

At the Essex rally, Representative Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md.-2nd, one of the speakers, said the displays of support for U.S. troops set an example for children like Stephanie.

"This shows our young people that they should not be embarrassed to be patriotic," Mrs. Bentley said.

Parkside resident Cecilia R. Hoehn, the mother of Private Taylor, said people should continue thinking of the troops. "They're not home yet," she said. "They still need our support, our letters and our prayers."

For Arthur M. Wheatcroft, 44, of Middle River, the rallying around the troops had a bittersweet taste. A disabled Vietnam veteran, he was glad to see such support. "I think it's great, but I'm upset that we didn't get the support these fellows are getting," he said.

Rash Field was only half-filled with people as rain kept many away from Baltimore's peace celebration, hosted by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. But all those who did attend demonstrated enthusiastic support for the men and women who served in the Persian Gulf War.

As color guards from various branches of military service marched before the crowd, Staff Sgt. Francis Trageser, a reservist serving at Dover Air Force Base, stood saluting. He's been working 12-hour night shifts since the war started and gave up valuable sleep to attend the celebration.

"Last night, 42 soldiers' [bodies] flew into my base," said the Edgewood resident. "And I feel it's my duty to be here today -- as much as it is for me to report for work."

Jim Meany said he wished his two brothers serving in the Persian Gulf could hear the cheers of the crowd at yesterday's event.

"One of my brothers told me that he wants to have the biggest beer bash ever when he gets back, and I'm going to do everything in the world to make sure it happens," said Mr. Meany, a Vietnam vet from Essex. At the Old Court Metro Station in Pikesville, about 75 people paid tribute to the soldiers they hope will be coming home soon.

For some, like Chris Teague and Kelly Doby, the return of the troops means their husband and fiance will be back home. Mrs. Teague's husband, James, and Ms. Doby's fiance, Aaron Henderson, both serve in the Towson-based 290th Military Police Battalion.

"I just talked to Aaron last night," said Ms. Doby, who lives in Columbia. "He said, 'Don't write too many letters because I'm going to be home soon.' "

In the Guilford home of Ed and Barbara Brody, a meeting of the support group they founded in November for parents of soldiers in the Persian Gulf became a celebration, with no need for the scheduled talks on chemical warfare and casualties.

At other meetings over the past 16 weeks, mothers and fathers sat around a banquet-sized mahogany table in the couple's dining room, choked with emotion, struggling for words to express the pain, confusion and frustration they felt as the war unfolded.

Yesterday, that same room was transformed. The table was covered with silver trays piled high with strawberries and sweet cakes and cookies decorated with smiling faces and American flags.

Above the din of conversation could be heard the pops of champagne corks as these same parents celebrated the end of the war. "Here is a toast to all of us and all of our children," said Mr. Brody, raising a plastic glass filled with champagne. "God bless America."

The Brodys' son, Stephen, a 23-year-old Army lieutenant in the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division, is on duty in Saudi Arabia. All of the 178 parents in the group, representing 115 area families, sent sons or daughters to the war.

And, despite their exuberance, they decided to continue the monthly meetings, realizing that there will be another kind of support needed as their soldiers return home.

"These are not the same children that left you," cautioned Jesse Harris, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work who has been meeting with the parents. "They will return truly as men and women, men and women to be proud of."

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