BOWLING GREEN - Wartime emotions ran deep in separate rallies here yesterday with one caveat: unusual respect for opposing viewpoints.
Some 250 people who marched in opposition to the war were followed by 50 people who marched in support of the troops. Both crowds assembled on the Bowling Green State University campus and disbanded in the downtown area, a half-hour apart.
Sure, a few people privately muttered disparaging comments about each other's rally, but nobody caused a disturbance. Nobody tried to shout down the other side. For the most part, everyone demonstrated with passion, vigor, and - well - politeness.
In his public service announcements and flyers, pro-troop organizer Jim Rose said he would not tolerate derogatory comments about anti-war demonstrators.
The former Army military police officer, now a 30-year-old BGSU graduate student, admitted some of the anti-war protesters are his friends. He said he didn't organize the pro-troop rally to promote his personal views about the war; in fact, he declined to share them. He said he merely wanted an event focused on the troops, while respecting divergent points of view.
Mr. Rose speculated that his decision to emphasize respect for all may have discouraged some would-be demonstrators from attending his rally, although it was actually a rather impromptu event: He did not start putting it together until Tuesday, after hearing about plans for the anti-war march. Even so, he said it accomplished its goal.
Two other BGSU graduate students, Robert Albanese, 24, and Marty Coggin, 28, were among the primary organizers of the anti-war march. Both questioned the Bush administration's decision to fund the war with so many needs in the United States and the country's economy in disarray.
“The objective is to let other people in America know we don't want to be silent about this,” Mr. Albanese said.
“All great peace movements take time and commitment. We're just exercising our First Amendment rights,” Mr. Coggin said.
North Toledo's Anthony Colomboro, 41, said he and his wife, Laura, were inspired to have their children, Lauren, 13, and Anthony, 10, participate in the pro-troop march “to show them what patriotism is all about.” He said he comes from a family with generational ties to the military, including a nephew who is now serving overseas.
Ohio Army National Guard 2nd Lt. Larry Cousineau, who also is a graduate student at BGSU, said he just notified his modern American history class it will be getting a new teacher because he is to report to active duty April 14.
Mr. Cousineau carried a Union Jack flag in the pro-troop march, to recognize Britain's alliance with the United States. The Dayton native has no ties to England; he said he just wanted people to see a flag from that country held among the American flags that others were carrying.
“Peace is a prize you gain through diplomacy and, when that fails, through war. It's not something that's handed to you,” he said.
The pro-troop march was stopped twice by Mr. Rose for moments of silence, first in honor of soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq and second for those who have been reported as prisoners of war or missing in action.
In Perrysburg, 100 relatives of deployed Marines gathered at the home of Natalie Ginter yesterday afternoon. “Everyone wanted to talk and be around each other,” according to Mrs. Ginter, mother of Brad Brettschneider, a Marine corporal who was deployed Jan. 24.