The rallyers met in front of the Statehouse just after Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey and the British Consul General spoke at a ceremony honoring dead and missing coalition soldiers.
As the rallyers lined up along Beacon Street in the dismal rain, about five Northeastern students passed out posters that read “Down With Saddam” in red letters. During a lull in the drizzle, some rallyers began to sing “God Bless America.”
The crowd cheered as cars honked and riders on a Boston tour bus waved.
A few hundred feet away, an antiwar demonstration of roughly the same size was gathering at the bottom of Park Street.
The two groups exchanged taunts, but remained separate as the rallyers for the troops boarded the subway to continue their demonstration in Harvard Square.
“At this point, everyone should be attending a support the troops rally,” said Mark T. Silvestri ’05, secretary of the Harvard Republican Club.
The club’s treasurer, Jefferey P. Clemens ’05 and its president, Josh M. Mendelsohn ’05, were the only other undergraduates who attended the rally, which was organized by the College Republicans of Northeastern University.
But Silvestri said they represented a “silent majority” of Harvard students who are in support of the war.
“There’s a vocal group opposed to the war that has been very high profile,” Mendelsohn said. “But many students are definitely support of U.S. troops and action in Iraq.”
According to a Crimson poll conducted on March 20, a majority of students opposed the U.S. military action in Iraq.
Mendelsohn said that student supporters of the war may be less inclined to demonstrate because they are more “conservative” by nature.
“We don’t rally,” he said. “It’s almost a club policy.”
First-year Harvard Law School (HLS) student Brett T. Joshpe is the founder of a group he calls “Students for Protecting America.” He came to the rally with about eight supporters from the law and divinity schools.
Joshpe said that while the rally was organized to show support for American troops, he came “to support both my troops and the policies my country is pursuing.”
“Everybody has the right to disagree and express an opinion,” Joshpe said, “but for a lot of people, it must be discouraging to see antiwar demonstrations. I think it’s important rather than seeing protests at home, the troops can see American flags and support.”