South Shore rallies for troops, peace
March 24, 2003
A sign at the “Y” read: “Honk if you support our troops ousting Saddam Hussein.”
At El Dorado Beach, the other end of South Lake Tahoe, a sign stated: “Patriots for peace: Unite for peace not oil.”
With American bombs pounding Baghdad, the Gulf War stirred enough emotion in about 100 South Shore residents on Friday to send them out to wave signs on street corners that either show support for the troops or their disdain for the war.
“I think we should go kill Saddam Hussein,” said Jake Guthrie, 12, of South Lake Tahoe, who joined the support rally after he spotted it on his bike. “Because he’s cruel and he ranks up there with Hitler.”
The support rally held at Runnels Automotive, at the “Y” on the corner of Lake Tahoe Boulevard and Emerald Bay Road, was attended by about 40 people.
About 60 people attended the peace rally, organized by South Lake Tahoe resident Hillary Dembroff, who hosted a similar gathering in October.
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“We’re getting tons of support — only one finger so far,” said Joy Rothschild, 54, of South Lake Tahoe.
“I think we need to bring (our troops) home now,” Rothschild said. “It’s a preemptive strike, destroying Iraq. I’d like to see us continue with the United Nations process. This is 2003. We have horrible, horrible weapons; this could start something we can’t stop.”
Dembroff stressed that she is in support of our troops and that citizens can be patriotic and still be against the war.
“I think its very important to show right now that very patriotic people choose to question our government’s actions,” Dembroff, 49, said. “I do not support the Bush Administration in this war, but I do support or troops unequivocally.”
Dembroff at first announced her rally would be held in a parking lot at the “Y” across from Runnels Automotive. But after hearing from police that the parking lot is private property, Dembroff switched the location to a stretch of grass next to Highway 50 and El Dorado Beach.
“I think we we’re blessed with the change,” said Dembroff, looking out to the lake. “The peace of Lake Tahoe surrounds us.”
Hearing about a peace rally to be held across the street from his automotive shop, John Runnels came up with the idea to organize a rally to support the troops. His son, who serves in the Army and is stationed in Germany, also helped him recognize the opportunity.
“He said, ‘Dad, all I see on CNN are war protests. Is this really what’s going on over there?'” said Runnels, recalling a phone conversation with his son, Travis, 20.
“It was never my intention to interfere with the opposing view’s right to protest,” said Runnels, as horns blared from passing cars. “They have a right to protest; we just want to show our troops that the majority is behind them.”
Lou Magnotti, 39, of Zephyr Cove, attended the support rally in part to honor his best friend, a firefighter who died when the Twin Towers collapsed on Sept. 11.
“It has to do with attacking this country,” said Magnotti, wearing a New York Fire Department jacket. “The attacks taking place now — yeah, there will be lives lost — but not anything compared to what would happen if Saddam’s regime gets a nuclear weapon. We need to deal with it today.”
— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at email@example.com