By Amy Sacks March 31, 2003
Waving American flags and singing the national anthem, 200 people gathered at Ground Zero yesterday in a peaceful rally to support U.S. troops in Iraq.
Among the demonstrators bearing yellow ribbons were 9/11 victims’ loved ones, veterans and firefighters, who braved wind and rain at the site where many believe the war began.
” We stand here by the World Trade Center, which marks the first casualties in the War on Terror,” said Michelle Boryczewski, of Hoboken, N.J., whose brother, Martin, 29, was killed in the twin towers attacks.
” When we are long gone, our leaders and our troops should be remembered forever because they are writing history,” she said.
Al Santora carried a large photograph of his son, Christopher, a firefighter with Engine 54, who was killed Sept. 11, 2001.
Santora – joined by six members of his family – also was there to show support for his daughter, Kathleen Montali, 21, and her husband, Christopher, 23, who are both in the Army.
The couple is stationed in Germany, awaiting deployment to Kuwait.
” It’s discouraging for them and the rest of the troops,” Santora said. “They said they’re only hearing news of anti-war protests.”
Rally organizer Jill Pall said the gathering was neither to support nor protest the war.
” It’s to support our troops past, present and future,” said Pall, founder of Adam’s Angels, the group named after Firefighter Adam Rand, who was killed in the terror attacks.
Members of the Manhattan Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America said they want to ensure that troops fighting in Iraq get the recognition the Vietnam vets never got.
” We know what it’s like to eat dirt and dodge bullets” said veteran Tom Fox, now president of the New York Water Taxi. “We had support from our family and friends, but the general public mixed up the warrior with the war. When we came home, we were disrespected.”
Fox added: “We want to be able to say to the troops what all veterans say when they see each other: ‘Welcome Home!'”