Hundreds of Utahns gathered on the steps of the Capitol Saturday afternoon to wave the flag and rally support for the troops in the Persian Gulf.
Keynoting the event, Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, said the troops are doing a fantastic job and that they are the world's best-equipped and finest-trained military team. But all of the technology in the world won't make a difference if the troops don't know that the people of America support them, he cautioned.Hansen's short speech was interrupted several times by applause. "When the analogy comes up that compares Hussein with Hitler - that's a great comparison," he said as the crowd showed its agreement with cheers and applause.
Hansen said Saddam Hussein, during a CNN interview, told reporters he is grateful for the anti-war protests and hopes they will continue. This hurts U.S. troops' morale, he said, thanking those who showed their support.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars presented the colors and led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The rally was organized by various individuals and groups. There was a Valentine's Day card to sign, a petition circulating in support of the war, and a woman seeking pen pals for the servicemen and women.
Most of those attending have family members or friends in the gulf. During the "Star Spangled Banner," one man held his son's picture high.
Chris Olsen asked the children in the audience to join her in singing "God Bless the U.S.A." One woman asked Hansen to help her get mail to her daughter.
"Thank you for coming," said Ann Deeben, one of the organizers. "This has been a dream of mine and now it's snowballing."
Members of the audience crowded around the Valentine's Day card addressed to the troops to write messages of support and appreciation.