Demonstrators gather outside MacDill AFB
For more than an hour Wednesday morning, Ellen Rosser stood alone, holding a sign that said, “Thou Shall Not Kill.”
“I have spent 11 years in the holy land trying to end war, and I have protested every war in the United States since Vietnam, all of which could have been negotiated,” Rosser, 66, said.
Supporters and protesters gathered for President George W. Bush’s visit at MacDill Air Force Base displaying American flags and signs.
More than 50 supporters lined the right side of the Dale Mabry entrance yelling and chanting, “God bless our troops.”
Rosser, who was later joined by five more protesters, said she opposes the troops fighting in Iraq but supports all human beings.
“God doesn’t want to kill them. That is why they need to come home,” Rosser said.
Supporter Gail Rymal, who has two nephews in the military, said she decided to support the sacrifice all the troops are making.
“This is the way to show our troops that we love and support them,” Rymal, 50, said. “(The president) visiting gives this part of the military a boost in morale because the last couple of days have been rough.”
When the president started his speech in a hangar inside MacDill, supporters held up a portable radio to listen.
Kevin Konrady from Tampa held his megaphone in front of the radio to enhance the volume for the crowd. Konrady said both sides have the right to express their opinions, but he thinks protesters don’t understand the real meaning of protesting.
“People don’t understand that our forefathers died for us to voice our opinions,” Konrady said. “I don’t want war. No one wants war. But you have to support our troops.”
However, first-time protester Theresa Veder from Sarasota said she feels the Bush administration is in breach of U.N. resolution 1441, and the United States is not allowing the U.N. Security Council to disarm Iraq peacefully.
“The administration is escalating tensions with pre-emptive war,” Veder said. “Look at the troops that have died so far, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. I’m praying for the United States and for God to give us a miracle.”
Other Tampa Bay residents joined the efforts of supporting and protesting the president along Bayshore Boulevard. Tampa police said the demonstrations were peaceful and nothing escalated between the two groups.