City in Oklahoma Plans 'America Supports You' Rally
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 28, 2005 Officials in Enid, Okla., are planning a citywide rally March 31 to kick off the city's partnership with the Defense Department's "America Supports You" program.
Enid is the first community to officially join the program, which recognizes citizens' support for the men and women of the armed forces and communicate that support to servicemembers at home and abroad. The northwestern Oklahoma city of 47,000 joins various entertainers, companies and individual citizens who have formed America Supports You partnerships.
The rally is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Mark Price Arena. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Allison Barber, as well as state and local officials, will attend.
Enid businessman Greg Allen recently attended a Pentagon meeting in which Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz offered details of the program. With a major military installation in their town -- Vance Air Force Base -- community leaders decided Enid would be an ideal location for the first citywide rally connected to the America Supports You program, officials said. Enid Mayor Ernie Currier recently issued a proclamation in support of the effort.
"This is grassroots support at its finest," Currier said. "Everyone looks for things they can do to support our troops, and this initiative offers many ways to do that. For the sacrifices they are making, our military men and women deserve the support.
"Enid is proud to be able to host this event and launch this initiative," the mayor continued. "When we learned of this program, we couldn't think of a better place than Enid to get involved." Currier emphasized the effort takes no position on the war, but is an effort to show appreciation for the troops.
The city will adopt two military units on which to focus their support in the coming months, officials said: the 71st Security Forces Squadron from Vance Air Force Base and the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, from Fort Lewis, Wash., currently deployed in Mosul, Iraq.
The goal is to recruit 20,000 Enid residents to join the effort in a number of ways, officials said, including sending supportive e-mails, books, magazines, DVDs and other items to the members of these units.
The town also will join in a flag-swapping ceremony with the two units. On July 4, the flags will be reunited with signatures from community members in Enid and soldiers overseas pledging their support for American troops serving around the world.
"We hope Enid can show the nation how a community of this or any size can rally and support the troops in new and impressive ways", said Allen, Advance Food Company's chief executive officer. "We hope for unprecedented support from the community."
The rally will include music, entertainment and messages from national, state and local officials.
The America Supports You Web site gives Americans access to materials and ideas to show troop support. It includes downloadable artwork, facts sheets, celebrity messages and other materials. Special dog tags are available for those wishing to show their support. The site also includes responses from the troops who appreciate the support they are getting.
(From a Saxum Communications news release.)