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Yellow Ribbon Week will honor men and women in the military

Yellow Ribbon Week will honor men and women in the military

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2003/May/09/local/stories/05local.htm

May 9, 2003
By JONDI GUMZ
Sentinel staff writer

SCOTTS VALLEY — Twice last month, Ann Wright put up ribbons to show her support for American troops deployed in Iraq. But each time, they were taken down, the yellow ones as well as the red, white and blue.

When she went to City Hall, she found out her ribbons were considered a "public nuisance" under city regulations. So she asked the City Council if they would follow the example set by Burlingame, and declare a Yellow Ribbon Week to honor the men and women serving in the military.

"Freedom isn’t free," said Wright, 72, a petite and perky blonde whose son is a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force. "You have to work for it."

She had hoped to tie yellow ribbons on traffic light poles, but City Attorney Robert Logan advised against it, citing the recent federal court decision against Caltrans.

Caltrans had allowed the American flag on overpasses but took down other banners, and the judge ruled that Caltrans had to give both forms of speech equal access.

But council members had no problem supporting Yellow Ribbon Week, which will be the first in Santa Cruz County since U.S. forces arrived in Iraq.

Mayor Randy Johnson issued a proclamation to begin the observation Saturday and Councilman Stephany Aguilar offered to put a yellow ribbon in front of her house.

Wright already has her plans laid out. She has arranged for a march and a rally Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Her friends, Bob and Priest Owens, both Air Force veterans, are helping her. They will meet at the lawn next to Walgreen’s on Mount Hermon Road, with their two teenagers.

"We’ll tie a yellow ribbon around everyone’s arm and sing ‘This Land Is Your Land,’" Wright said.

The march will make its way to Skypark on Kings Village Road, then to City Hall, off Scotts Valley Drive, where Priest will lead the group in singing "God Bless America."

People of all ages are invited.

"This is not political, it’s a tribute," said Wright. "One doesn’t have to support the war or the president, military people are doing what they are told to do."

Wright’s son, John, graduated in 1975 from Harbor High School and earned his college degree from Brigham Young University. He trained at Laughlin Air Force Base and has been flying for 20 years.

"He loves the B52s," his mom said. "He told me "I can’t believe I’m being paid to do something I love.’"

Married and the father of a teenage son, he is stationed in Louisiana. With 18 years in the military, he has moved around a lot, from Guam and Sacramento to South Dakota and Virginia. A decade ago, he was sent to Middle East for Operation Desert Storm.

His mom kept the voice message he left when he was deployed in February. Two weeks ago, she got an e-mail wishing her a happy Mother’s Day.

She remembers how veterans were treated when the Vietnam War ended and doesn’t want history to repeat itself for the veterans sent to Iraq.

"They deserve and need our support," she said.
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Contact Jondi Gumz at jgumz@santa-cruz.com

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