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Feature: Celebrity yellow ribbons

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   April 9, 2003 at 6:08 PM   |   Comments

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., April 9 (UPI) -- Four blocks of a tree-lined Beverly Hills street are bedecked with yellow ribbons, put there by Hollywood celebrities to show support for U.S. troops in Iraq.

Beverly Hills Mayor Tom Levyne and families of men and women serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom took part in the event in Will Rogers Park -- organized by entertainer Lorna Luft and actress Alana Stewart.

Luft -- whose best-selling memoir "Me and My Shadows: Life with Judy Garland" was made into an Emmy-winning TV movie -- told United Press International she and Stewart were concerned that the troops in the field were not seeing enough support from the folks back home.

"My view is that before the boys and women were sent in, if you wanted to protest the war, go ahead that's your right," said Luft. "Once they're there, it's over. You've go to support them."

Luft said she was also jolted into action when she heard a TV talk show host accuse Hollywood figures of being "backstabbing Americans."

Raquel Welch and Nancy Sinatra also took part in the event, along with Nicolette Sheridan ("Knot's Landing"), Ann Turkel ("Deep Space") and Ed O'Ross ("Six Feet Under"). Lainie Kazan, one of the stars of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," was scheduled to participate but had to cancel due to illness.

Kazan told UPI she supports the troops but remains opposed to the war.

"I don't believe in this war," she said. "I don't believe in any war. I hate the idea that we're over there. But yes, I support the troops. I don't want them to come back and think they were fighting for nothing."

Luft said one of the things that make America great is that people can "hang a yellow ribbon on their home and then go to a peace demonstration." She said the main idea behind the yellow ribbon event was to let the troops and their families know that "we care about them and we want them to come home safe and soon."

Like most Americans, Luft said she has been following the war extensively on TV.

"The war didn't have a face for me until Jessica Lynch (the rescued prisoner of war)," she said. "I have a 19-year-old son. He's got some friends over there. How can I not support those kids and those mothers?"

Kazan said she wasn't watching that much war coverage -- just enough to be depressed by it.

"I turn on 10 minutes of war every day," she said. "It makes my heart heavy. It's very depressing. I'm depressed about the general state of our country. They're romanticizing this war."

Luft said she has come to accept that the war was necessary.

"At first I was really, really confused," she said. "Nobody wants this. Nobody wants to lose lives over there. Then again, you think about, you want another 9-11? I don't. Let's face it, this guy (Saddam Hussein) will be in the record books with all of the other mass killers. Would he have used chemical and biological on us if he had the wherewithal? I felt he would absolutely do it."

Luft said she felt as though Sunday's event made a difference, if only to those present who have family in the war.

"There was one wife who runs a support group for a lot of wives," said Luft. "I said, 'How're you doing?' She said, 'I'm surviving minute by minute.'"

Before it was over, said Luft, every tree on both sides of Beverly Drive from Sunset Boulevard to Santa Monica Boulevard had a yellow ribbon tied around it.

"I couldn't find any more trees," she said.

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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