Red Fridays support U.S. troops in Iraq

Thursday, July 29, 2004

People are seeing red when visiting the Chaffee, Mo., post office on Fridays.

But not because of slow service or lost mail. Four postal employees are showing their support for American soldiers.

Through a grass-roots movement that has spread by e-mail, individuals across the country are donning red every Friday to support the troops. Linda Welter is one of the Chaffee postal employees taking part in the movement.

"Everybody that doesn't have to wear postal uniforms wears red," said Welter, who began wearing red on her rural mail route July 9 to support her son, Jonathan Welter. He is a member of the 1140th Engineer Battalion's Company C, and is stationed at Tallil Air Base, southwest of Nasiriyah in Iraq. The engineer's group home base is Sikeston, Mo.

Michelle Standridge of Jackson, family readiness leader for the 1140th, told Welter about the movement.

"Everyone is big in supporting the troops, anything we can do," Standridge said.

So, when the company's family readiness group needed new shirts this summer, there was no hesitation on what color to choose.

After telling her son of the movement, Welter said it does provide encouragement to the troops.

"He told me that things like that mean so much to them, just little signs that show the American people support them," Welter said.

While the red clothes are meant to boost the spirits of the American troops, Welter said it also helps the families here.

"It also means so much to me and others as families to know that people are thinking of them as well," Welter said.

Even with wearing red to support them, Standridge said the families at home have other ways of keeping the troops' spirits high, such as sending patriotic plaques. Family members attach letters to the plaques.

"They have a wall of love over there," Standridge said. "They get a real kick out of reading each other's letters."

jwachter@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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