Cooking up a celebration

Area residents turn out to recognize Moffat County's armed services members, veterans and their families

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A chain email received days prior to coalition strikes on Iraq upset Cynthia Lynch, triggering events that brought the Kremmling resident to Craig this weekend.

The online petition -- urging peace over war with Saddam Hussein's regime -- pleaded for signatures to stand against President Bush's impending "slaughter of Iraqi children."

It was too much to bear for the 51-year-old mother of two Marines -- among them Allan Miller, a sergeant attached to an amphibious assault battalion who would soon see action and eventually ride into Baghdad hours before Saddam's statue was toppled.

Lynch crafted a reply to all receiving the message.

"Any peace message should be sent to Saddam ... my son's ready to die for the freedom of Iraqi children," wrote Lynch, who was waiting for food Saturday at Craig City Park as the community gathered to honor service members, veterans and their families.

"I thought I was going to get hammered," Lynch said.

Instead, she found online friends, one of whom -- Betty Scranton of Glenwood Springs -- she had hoped to finally meet Saturday.

While Scranton couldn't attend, a mission borne out of the chain emails shared by the two women remains alive.

"We want to have banners put up in all Western Slope towns welcoming the troops, unlike the Vietnam vets, " Lynch said.

Lynch said she's secured permission from Kremmling officials to display the banners, while Scranton has pursued similar guarantees in Glenwood Springs and Rifle.

Lynch said residents in respective communities must place orders for the 40-by-4-foot banners -- along with bumper stickers or buttons.

Proceeds will be divided among returned Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans for gifts, such as ski passes, according to Lynch, who was optimistic about finding support in Craig.

"I passed through three towns driving here, and you've got more flags flying," she laughed.

Flags dotted the city park Saturday, the air thick with a waft of fried hamburgers.

More than 400 burgers were served in a three-hour community picnic, which was organized by the Craig Daily Press and sponsored by the Craig Lions Club, the Cedar Mountain Lions Club, the Elks Club, the VFW and VFW Ladies Auxiliary, KRAI, City Market, Kmart, Coca Cola and the Yampa Valley Electric Association.

"The line has been going steady since 11 a.m.," said Saed Tayyara, among the day's Lions Club hamburger cookers. "Despite everything else going on, we've done superb."

Craig's Byron Noland was

among the numerous veterans who attended while

pondering freedom's cost.

"It's the best place in the world to live ... people got it too easy here," said Noland, who served in the U.S. Navy in the first Persian Gulf War on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham

Lincoln.

A colleague attached to his division was shot down over Iraq in a bombing mission -- memories, he said, woken in the latest conflict with the images of captured American servicemen and women.

"Just knowing what they'd have to see and go through ... scary," Noland said.

Many too young to know the fears still recalled sacrifices made by mothers and fathers.

"I wanted to hear the pledge and get some cheeseburgers," said Sammy Penrose, 11, slurping Vanilla Coke while noting his father's service stories.

"He fought for our safety and country."

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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