By Tippi Rasp Staff Writer



Enid Mayor Ernie Currier will oversee the exchange of flags of two adopted military units during this year's Fourth of July celebration at Meadowlake Park.

The flags are being returned with signatures from community members in Enid and soldiers overseas pledging their support for American troops serving around the world. The exchange is the culmination of events from the Enid, America Sup-ports You campaign, designed to send 20,000 e-mails to the troops through the www.americasupportsyou.mil Web site and raise money for gifts for two adopted units.

The city adopted 71st Security Forces Squadron at Vance Air Force Base and the Army's 1st Battalion 24th Infantry Regiment from Fort Lewis, Wash. Representatives from the Army battalion and Vance will be on hand for the exchange.

"We're just really excited about that," Currier said.

The flag exchange will take place about 8:15 p.m. Fireworks accompanied by patriotic selections from Enid Symphony Orchestra will be around 9 p.m. at Meadowlake Park.

Anyone still interested in signing the flag may do so this week at Security National Bank, 201 W. Broadway.

"We got tons of signatures," said April Danahy, one of the volunteers who organized the Enid, America Supports You campaign.

Organizers, however, are not able to get an accurate count of e-mails sent to troops. The Web site shows 26,000 e-mails sent to troops nationwide with about 2 percent coming from Enid residents, Currier said.

"Obviously, we've gotten a great amount," Currier said. "Their system just isn't working that well."

Another Enid, America Supports You volunteer, Brian Hayden, said the fact Enid residents' e-mails represent 2 percent of the entire country's e-mails, is "real impressive."

Hayden said he is sure not all e-mails have been tallied because he is aware of several that have been sent but not posted. He doesn't know if the e-mails cycle out, or if there is a glitch in the system.

Hayden said the recognition Enid received from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the amount of support troops received in e-mails and well wishes made the promotion a success.

"The real (goals were) to try to help the Department of Defense and getting the word out about the Web site and showing support for the troops," Hayden said.

Currier said the campaign went well and will continue. He said the adopted army battalion isn't scheduled to return from Iraq until September so the project is ongoing. Volunteers for the Enid, America Supports You campaign will have buckets available on the Fourth to collect donations, he said.

Currier noted a number of groups have sent support in other ways. One group of women gave 1,500 "hugs" or cool neck wraps. Other groups donated money to buy the gifts. Organizers have collected about $5,000 so far.

"We've had many groups do things for this," Currier said. "We've achieved (much) toward our goal."

Advance Food Co. President Greg Allen brought the idea home to Enid and quickly helped organize the local rally held in late March.

Mayor's Youth Advisory Council will give away snow cones and popcorn during Fourth of July events at Meadowlake in return for donations for Enid, America Supports You.

Other events celebrating the holiday include the return of the Meadowlake fishing derby after a three-year hiatus. Liberty Federal Savings will sponsor the event and have Meadowlake Lake stocked with 450 channel catfish, bluegill and bass.

To show support for troops via the Enid America Supports You campaign, go to www.americasupportsyou.mil Web site and send an e-mail to the troops.



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