Oklahomans are showing their support for the military

Thursday, April 10th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ It's not yet the Fourth of July, but flags, patriotic music and speeches can be heard around the state.

Rallies in support of the troops in the Middle East are springing up faster than daffodils.

In Ponca City residents will show support in an aerial photograph of participants who will form the words, ``Ponca City, Oklahoma Supports Our Troops.'' Copies of the photograph will be sent to local members of the military.

Danielle Behar, an organizer for the event said she is expecting about 1,000 people to be at the Marland Mansion grounds at 1 p.m. Saturday to take part in the event.

Along with the photograph, participants can listen to patriotic music, take part in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and release red, white and blue balloons with the names of soldiers written on them.

``I heard on TV that the troops were tired of seeing anti-war demonstrations and wanted pictures of support so I thought this was something the (Ponca City) Christian Academy could do. But I think big so now it is something for the whole community,'' Behar said.

Recently a church in Mustang, located just west of Oklahoma City, held a rally for the troops.

``I have several former members of the military and retired military that wanted to have a support the troops rally and they were the ones that organized it,'' said Randy Hodgson, pastor of Mustang United Methodist Church.

There were speeches, a reading of the names of soldiers killed in Iraq, then everyone was encouraged to take their flags and go out to the highway and wave them at passing motorists, he said.

In the western Oklahoma community of Cordell, the high school band, gospel groups and others will perform during the afternoon on the courthouse lawn April 16. There will be a candle light service in remembrance of the troops that evening.

``We have a whole lot of folks over there from Washita County and all the civic organizations just wanted to pitch in and honor them,'' said Claudia Gray executive secretary, Cordell Chamber of Commerce.

In the southeastern part of the state, organizers have set an April 19 date for their rally in Atoka. Singers from the Choctaw Nation will perform in their native language and area state legislatures will speak.

The group plans to have a moment of silence for the victims of the April 19, 1995, Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing.

A rally with a moment of silence for slain Marine Lance Cpl. Thomas Blair is set for 3 p.m. April 16 in the gymnasium courtyard of Broken Arrow Senior High School.

Blair was killed in fighting near An Nasiriyah March 23.

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