MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Every day for two months, Andrew Stevens awoke to a "Say No to War With Iraq" sign staring at him from his neighbor's yard.
Fed up, Stevens ordered a sign of his own. His model, the brainchild of a local Gulf War veteran, reads: "Liberate Iraq: Support Our Troops."
"I want to support the people we are sending over there instead of selling them out," said Stevens, 23.
In Minnesota, the nation's deep division over a possible war is easily seen in the proliferating, and competing, lawn signs that dot the landscape in the Twin Cities and some smaller towns.
The anti-war signs arrived first, in October, and are more numerous -- some 12,000 have been handed out since the project was launched by a group of church women.
But the "Liberate Iraq" movement is gaining momentum -- 9,000 of the signs were handed out last month alone. Many people picking up the signs say they've grown tired of media coverage of anti-war protesters and the sea of "Say No to War With Iraq" signs.
"Apparently, we've touched a nerve," said Joe Repya, the retired Army lieutenant colonel who created the "Liberate Iraq" signs and began distributing them last month. The signs are free, though Repya accepts $5 donations from people who want to help cover his costs.
Asked his motivation for the signs, Repya tells of working to get two Iraq refugees out of that country after his service in Desert Storm. A year later, he says, Iraqi secret police killed one of the refugees' wife and 5-year-old son in front of family members "to make a point that they were still in control."
"Liberate Iraq is a statement that my wife and I meant to make that basically says if there is a nation anywhere in this world ... that deserves liberation, Iraq is one of those nations," Repya said.
Repya plans to hand out 2,500 more signs this week in Mankato, St. Cloud, Rochester and at the state Capitol.
The anti-war signs were launched by a group of women at Minneapolis' St. Joan of Arc Church. They initially ordered only 100, worried that they wouldn't recoup their $1,000 investment.
But the signs sold out immediately at $10 each, and the women -- joined by Women Against Military Madness -- began ordering by the thousands.
Marie Braun, one of the church organizers, said they wanted to voice their frustration with the Bush administration while at the same time letting their neighbors know their beliefs. "This is an opportunity for people to speak in a way that's different than the way they usually do," Braun said.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.