Sunday, July 4, 2004

Clermont County efforts connect with sacrifices of U.S. soldiers



By Liz Oakes
Enquirer staff writer

UNION TOWNSHIP - Instead of grilling hot dogs or relaxing in the backyard, more than 300 people spent Saturday at a coffee shop in Matt Maupin's hometown making thousands of yellow-ribbon lapel pins and bows to support American troops.

Several said volunteering part of their holiday weekend to make 100,000 ribbons was little compared with what troops faced on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We are so thankful for everything they are doing for us," said Nikki Marksberry, 24, of Mount Washington. "The sacrifices (the soldiers) have made are unreal.

"To give up one day - it's so worth it. And it's America's birthday. What better gift to give than that of support?"

Marksberry, whose family has "adopted" U.S. soldiers with letters and care packages since the first Gulf War, spent much of the day at Eastgate Starbucks making large yellow bows.

"I had to stop because my hand cramped up," she said.

Dallas Howard, 32, of Batavia, coordinated the event. He launched a Web site to support American soldiers - clermontyellowribbon.com - in April. Howard said he has long wanted to organize a ribbon-making rally and hopes to hold another one.

"These are our friends and family that we're behind, regardless of the politics of being over there," he said.

Howard said the April kidnapping of Army Reserve Spc. Keith "Matt" Maupin, 20, brought home for him the sacrifices some make.

"Sometimes we get complacent until it hits home," he said. "It's one of our own. We have a connection to these guys whether we know it or not."

Clermont County is also honoring another native son at a prayer vigil 7 p.m. Monday for Sgt. Charles Kiser. The 37-year-old Amelia native was killed in Iraq last week when his convoy was attacked. The vigil will be at Clermont County Courthouse, 270 E. Main St., Batavia.

E-mail loakes@enquirer.com




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