City hosting rally for troops on Saturday

NASHUA – Every time an Iraqi child looks him in the eye, Jim Ceurvels knows he’s fighting for a reason, his wife said.

Ceurvels, a member of the New Hampshire Army National Guard who was deployed in February, is proud of what he’s doing. He and his fellow soldiers hope the American people support them even if they don’t support the war.

“The things they’re doing over there are positive things,” said his wife, Jackie Ceurvels.

On Saturday at 1 p.m., hundreds of people are expected to join Gov. Craig Benson and Mayor Bernie Streeter in celebrating the sacrifices of soldiers like Ceurvels at a rally in support of the troops in Greeley Park.

Members of a support group for families of New Hampshire Army National Guard soldiers in the 3rd Platoon of the 172nd Field Artillery nized the event to honor people from all branches of military service who have been deployed. The platoon is made up of about 35 men and women who were stationed in Nashua but are currently on a security mission in Iraq.

Jackie Ceurvels helped the group organize the rally to inform people that they have neighbors who are fighting overseas.

“We didn’t think there was enough public awareness in Nashua,” Ceurvels said. “We just wanted to support them (the troops).”

Mayor Bernie Streeter said the rally has a dual purpose – to show that Nashua cares about the troops, and to tell families of men and women in Iraq that the community thinks of their relatives every day.

“It’s to show the public that we care about our deployed troops,” Streeter said.

Granite Rock, the 39th Army Band, will play the national anthem and other patriotic songs at the beginning of the rally and continue with jazz music until about 2:15 p.m.

While the band plays, the crowd will be able to fill out postcards to send to troops in Iraq and look at antique military vehicles on display. Visitors will also be able to leave a video message for a soldier. Face painting and popcorn will be provided for children.

At 2:15, a short ceremony will be held featuring Benson, Streeter and several other speakers, including New Hampshire National Guard Brig. Gen. John Weeden.

New Hampshire National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Rice, who will attend the rally, said several soldiers on leave from Iraq will be present and appreciate the support of their community.

“When they do come home, the things they see here, whether it be yellow ribbons or anything, lends a tremendous amount to their overall morale,” Rice said.