Greek immigrants sponsor rally backing U.S. troops PERSIAN GULF SHOWDOWN


Michael Mamalis and his wife, Katina, came to the United States from Greece 15 years ago. Like many immigrants before them, the Mamalises worked hard and built a business.

Now their new homeland is at war. To give something back to the country that has given them so much, they helped organize a rally in support of the U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf.

The rally took place Sunday in front of the Mamalises' Original Philadelphia Style Pizza shop at 8224 Philadelphia Road in Rosedale. Keith Roberts, the shop's manager and a rally organizer, said the event drew about 500.

Among those attending and making brief comments were Rep. Helen D. Bentley, Baltimore County Executive Roger Hayden and members of the Baltimore County Council and the Maryland legislature.

"A few weeks ago, we were watching the news on TV and we saw these people protesting and burning flags. It made us angry, so we decided to do something positive for the troops. Not a pro-war rally, just something to let the troops know there are people back home who support them," Roberts said.

Before the rally, members of the Rosedale Community Association tied yellow ribbons to more than 150 telephone poles on both sides of Philadelphia Road from the city line to Rosedale. The group also attached red, white and blue balloons to some of the poles.

Two pro-troops T-shirts were given to Bentley, who promised she would deliver them to President and Mrs. Bush.


Although the Christian Peacemaker Team didn't prevent the war in the Persian Gulf area, its members still feel they accomplished something.

That's the message Bill Keim, assistant head of the Sandy Spring Friends School in Montgomery County, has been bringing to Maryland congregations since his return from Baghdad in December.

Keim journeyed to Iraq with a delegation of Historic Peace Churches, including the Brethren, Mennonites and Quakers. Now, when he talks about his group's effort to bring a peaceful solution to the gulf crisis, the most frequently asked question is: "Do you feel the team accomplished anything?"

Definitely, Keim said. Two of the group's primary goals were establishing a dialogue between the United States and Iraq; and getting the release of the foreign hostages. Both happened shortly after the delegation's departure from Baghdad.

Keim credits prayer from the group and others back in the United States. He said, "Supported by the prayers of thousands of Christians at home, our discussions with Iraqi leaders seemed charged with a transcendent power."

Laura Lippman, Patrick Ercolano, Drew Bailey and Mark Bomster contributed to this report.

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