[originally in The Hartford Courant]

Yale students hold rally in support of war effort
March 26, 2003
Associated Press

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Yale University students who support the war in Iraq rallied Wednesday, calling the demonstration a counterbalance to anti-war protests that have become a fixture in New Haven.

About 200 students gathered on campus carrying signs that read, "Support Our Troops," "Freedom 4 Iraq," and "Earth to Protesters: the 1960's Are Over."

"Today we affirm that Saddam Hussein has lost," Yale junior Michael Anastasio told flag-waving supporters.

Anastasio said U.S. troops need to know the country is behind them. Failing to send that message would only strengthen Iraqi resistance, he said.

"The most likely result will be a lengthening of the war and an increase in the number of civilian and military casualties," Anastasio said.

The rally also drew a large group of demonstrators opposed to the U.S.-led effort. Several anti-war protesters carried signs encouraging war supporters to enlist in the military.

"If this war is worth other people risking their lives, then why shouldn't they risk theirs?" said Ryan Crewe, 25, a graduate student in history.

"It's not the Yalies that are fighting this war - it's the people five blocks down there," Crewe said, pointing down Dixwell Avenue, toward one of the city's poorest neighborhoods.

Several times during the hour-long event the two sides shouted slogans at one another. But the rally remained orderly, at times taking on the character of a debate.

Periodically the crowd broke into the chant "U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A."

"This isn't a sporting event," an anti-war demonstrator yelled back.

After a moment of silence that was preceded by a reading of the names of U.S. service personnel killed in the fighting, another protester shouted: "How many were killed in `friendly fire?"'

"I think it's very disrespectful for people to shout like that after a moment of silence," said Yale freshman James Kirchick. "I fully support what we're doing in Iraq."

Kirchick said he and others who back the war would "go tomorrow" if the United States were to reinstate the draft.

"And I think there are lots of others who would go, too," he said. "But I'm here now to get an education. That was the choice I made. Other people made different choices and they enlisted."


(c) Yale College Students for Democracy 2003