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Utahns show their colors

At Kenny Carter's Salt Lake home, patriotism for the troops on the front lines in Iraq is out in the front yard for everyone to see.

Carter's patriotism begins with his father, who fought in World War II as a tail gunner.

Since just after the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, Carter has had a huge sign in his yard that reads, "Land of the Free, Land of the Brave." It evokes honks from passersby, some of whom stop for pictures. The sign will stay up during this war.

"People in oppressed countries, they've never had a taste of freedom," he says. "It's almost like a human right to be free. I think the people of Iraq deserve that opportunity too."

Carter says he loves this country — and so does Paul Wilson, who chooses to show his patriotism by protesting the war effort.

Wilson, 25, is a protest organizer with the group People for Peace and Justice of Utah, which continues to hold 24-hour vigils at the Bennett Federal Building on State Street.

"I do consider myself patriotic," he says. "Protesting war is an act of patriotism." The war, he adds, is betraying the ideals of America.

Not everyone agrees with Wilson's idea of patriotism and some have lashed out at protesters here. Wilson says some have thrown eggs and other food and have yelled things like, "Get a life," and "What are you doing standing here? We're fighting for freedom."

Wilson sees their side, people who are "hurt" because protesters don't appear to be supporting America's military. "I can understand when people have an angry response. It's such a volatile issue."

Wilson and others will be out again this weekend, continuing their protest through this war.

Down at The Snack and Flag Shop, 602 S. 300 West, patriotic items from 3-by-5-foot flags to small pins are "flying" out the door.

"It's really nice to see people are supporting people over in Iraq," says shop manager Jackie Zaragosa.

Flags that stick or cling to windows or bumpers, military flags, flags that say, "We Honor Those Who Serve" — they're all selling. "We're getting wiped out." One order was for 100 4-by-6-inch American flags.

From big signs to little stickers, patriotism is taking several forms.

Calls to the local Red Cross have increased this week. Not a dramatic increase, but "it's more than a trickle," says spokesman Jared Wood.

People are wanting to know what kind of goods they can donate to military service members.

The Red Cross' "Quality of Life" program accepts care and comfort items such as batteries, sunscreen, comic books, paperbacks, blank greeting cards and lotion.


E-MAIL: sspeckman@desnews.com