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Statewide tour aims to show support for Vermont troops

MONTPELIER — A statewide tour and rally is being organized to show support for Vermonters serving in the military.

David Ayer of Barre, is organizing the tour. It begins Tuesday in Chester at the American Legion Post #67 at 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by stops in Bennington on Wednesday at American Legion Post #13 at 8 p.m.; in Burlington on Friday at VFW Post #782 at 6 p.m.; in Newport on Friday at American Legion Post #21 at 6 p.m., in Montpelier on May 5 at VFW Post #792 and in Rutlandon May 6 forr several events as part of the annual Loyalty Day, including the parade at 2 p.m. and rally at 5 p.m.

"Our purpose is to send a positive message to our troops and their families that their service and sacrifices will not go unrecognized,” Ayers said.

Vermont has recently hit the national stage with becoming the first legislative body to call for the impeachment of Pres. George W. Bush and Vice Pres. Dick Cheney, and earlier this year the Legislature passed a resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Separately, Gov. Jim Douglas will be publicly signing two proclamations declaring "May is Military Appreciation Month" on Wednesday in his ceremonial office at the State House, tour organizers noted.

The Vermont Supports Our Troops tour and rally speakers will include: Marion Gray of Families of Vermont Fallen, Brenda Cruickshank of the Vermont VFW, a representative of the Vermont American Legion; and feature guest speaker, LTC (Ret) Steve Russell, founder and chairman of Vets4Victory.com.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Russell commanded the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry 'Regulars' and conducted combat in Tikrit, Iraq; his unit was a central player in the search and capture of Saddam Hussein.

"I am excited to return to Vermont at the behest of the wonderful folks that have not lost their sense of commitment to our nation and are willing to listen to soldiers that have been there,” said Russell.

Russell testified before a Senate committee earlier this year as it debated the troop withdrawal resolution. That measure passed both chambers.

Posted April 27, 2007

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