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Attempting to combat images of anti-war protest on the homefront, about 40 students gathered Saturday for a noontime rally on College Green to support U.S. troops fighting in the Middle East. Participants decorated Benjamin Franklin's statue with American flags and held up signs and banners in support of United States troops in the Persian Gulf. While organizers presented prepared speeches, students added their signatures to a poster "in support of the troops and the President," and to a signup sheet for blood donations. College sophomore Jon Held presented the first speech, reiterating President Bush's well-publicized reasons for starting the war. Held also questioned the motives and reasoning of protesters at recent rallies against the war in the Persian Gulf. Students in the crowd were also given a chance to speak. College freshman Chris Schulten criticized ongoing anti-war protests, calling some of the protesters "North Vietnam and Saddam Hussein's greatest weapons." "Now is the time to support these troops," Schulten said. "Now is the time to support the battle of good over evil." The rally ended with a recitation of the "Pledge of Allegiance" when organizers realized no one remembered the lyrics to "God Bless America." There was little counterprotest during the rally. One passerby yelled that she wanted troops home alive, while a student at the rally asked whether participants would fight in the Persian Gulf themselves. Most participants, however, agreed with the speakers' views and the purpose of the meeting. "I thought it was good," said College freshman Sarah O'Herron, who was also interviewed by one of two local television stations at the rally. "I wished that more people were here." College senior Marc Alberts said he suspected many signs advertising the rally had been torn down. Although organizers said the gathering was a success, they added that they would schedule future rallies on weekdays to attract more people.

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