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Candles light the way to freedom

"POULSBO - It was a small gathering, but Old Glory may have never flown so proudly as it did Thursday night in Poulsbo. Singing patriotic tunes and praying for the nation, members of the local American Legion made their way from the Armory to Kvelstad Pavilion to remember those who perished in the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks and to look forward to an uncertain future. I appreciate your patriotism, Post 245 Commander Fred Reitmeyer told a group of 20 people who had gathered with candles and flags for the solemn occasion. Reitmeyer urged those in attendance to pray not only for the nation's students and soldiers during this time of conflict, but for the terrorists as well. May they have a change of heart, he remarked. Reitmeyer summed up something that was on everyone's mind as well, pointing out that despite last Tuesday's tragedies in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., there was a positive movement growing among American citizens. I've seen more patriotism in the United States in the past two weeks than I've seen in the last 47 years, he commented, pausing to survey the small crowd of flag bearers. Others were invited to share their feelings, concerns and prayers. Ray Dupree of Poulsbo said he felt this particular battle would not be won on the traditional front lines, rather victory would be determined by the resolve of citizens on the home front. We must maintain our resolve and support our troops, Dupree said. Vic Schiavone of Post 245 took a more hardlined approach, noting that over 5,000 innocent people died last week. Schiavone urged that people not view the terrorists as mad men or cowards. They are brutal, ruthless murderers, he explained. They've wounded America. But every time America is wounded we fight back - and we win. While the group was small, the message was enormous: To overcome terrorism, the country must continue its resolve to be united and indivisible. With a stirring rendition of God Bless America, the ceremony concluded but as many present agreed America's truest test of patriotism is just beginning. "

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