The first pro-war rally Wednesday featured an Iraqi physician who thanked the United States for its efforts in her country.
"Thank you for making the dream come true," said Eaman Al-Gobory.
She was one of several speakers at a morning rally outside the south entrance of the Salt Palace, site of the American Legion's 88th annual national convention. A Legion official estimated the rally crowd at about 1,500.
The dream of many Iraqis was to rid their country of the old regime under Saddam Hussein, according to Gobory. She recalled an incident where she was attacked by insurgents and how security in her country has changed.
"I feel really safe in my country," Gobory said. She thanked soldiers for making history in Iraq and for their sacrifice.
The rally began with American Legion National Commander Tom Bock repeating advice to war protesters that he has given several times since the convention began Aug. 25.
Protest responsibly, he urged, in an effort to avoid undermining the morale and safety of troops. And there is no separating the war from the warrior, he added.
"A country divided cannot stand for long," Bock said.
Several Iraq war veterans took turns at a podium to thank Legionnaires, who served during past wars, for their service to the country.
"Support matters, morale matters," said Air Force Reserve Chief Master Sgt. Glenn Brault, who has been deployed twice in Iraq.Comment on this story
Brault echoed a recurring theme among Legionnaires and speakers at their convention, which is to say the media has not done enough to report the positive stories out of Iraq. The Iraqis Brault encountered were "thrilled" to finally have a job, even if the pay wasn't much.
"It was more than they had seen in 30 years," he said.
Parents of two soldiers who died in Iraq thanked veterans and warned that protests could "fuel" the enemy.Paul "Chief Wiggles" Holton, also spoke at what would be his first of two rallies Wednesday. Holton, who served as an interrogator in Iraq for the National Guard, invited Gobory to speak at the rally.