A group of area veterans, armed with U.S. flags and steaming cups of hot coffee to stave off the bitter cold weather Thursday afternoon, stood in front of the military recruitment offices on West Washington Street in support of their country, a counterprotest to war protesters who were protesting there against military recruitment.
Members of two area peace groups had planned to protest at the recruitment offices from 3-5 p.m. When a group of veterans who meet for breakfast every Thursday morning read in the Dispatch that the war protesters were planning to be there, they decided they would be there, too. The 371 Diner group includes veterans from all wars, including the current war in Iraq. About eight veterans and other supporters were at the protest, representing nearly 100 years of military service.
"We read about it in the paper that these knotheads were going to be down here," said Roland Monasmith, who served for 25 years in the Army. "They're protesting people who want to be serving our country. These people, instead of standing here in the cold, should be at home packing gifts for the soldiers serving in Iraq."
Fritz Marheine, a retired U.S. marine, said he was disappointed that people would protest young adults who want to volunteer and serve in the military.
"I want to stand up for my country," said Marheine. "They have the right to stand up and protest and I have the right to stand up for my country."
About 15 war protesters stood with signs and marched in protest in front of the recruitment offices.
"I think it's kind of neat they feel strongly about it to be out here expressing their feelings," said Pat Scott, a member of the Brainerd Area Coalition for Peace, about the veterans. "That's what our country is all about."
Stephen B. Long, also a coalition member, held up an "Army Lies To Kids" sign in front of the recruitment offices.
"We are supporting our youth," said Long. "We think the recruiters lie to the young people on what they're getting into. They're saying they'll provide college when they are providing coffins. We want to prevent more Americans and Iraqis being killed in an unnecessary war. We're out to prevent more casualties. These vets don't see that."
JODIE TWEED can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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