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Call for higher help dominates support rally

There’s only so much a group of Demopolis citizens can do for a local Army National Guard unit deployed in the war against Iraq. Prayer happens to be one of those things &045;&045; and was it ever done Monday.

At a family support rally hosted by U.S. Rep. Artur Davis at the Demopolis armory, ministers from across the county, along with city and county officials, offered a litany of prayers for local soldiers taking part in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Father Jose Maliekal of St. Leo’s Catholic Church read from Matthew 5 and asked God for world peace. He also prayed specifically for the soldiers: "Let their faith and trust never weaken," Maliekal said.

Rev. Art Luckie, of First United Methodist Church, reminded the 100 or so gathered that "we are our brother’s keeper."

Rev. Fred Moore, of Christian Chapel Baptist Church, cited the scriptural promise of God &045;&045; that He "will never leave us nor forsake us."

And ministers weren’t the only ones offering prayers. Freddie Armstead, representing Marengo County, said he understands that all people may not support the way.

U.S. Rep. Davis didn’t veer from the tone of Monday’s gathering when he took the podium, either, reminding citizens that God’s "rod and staff will comfort thee."

In somewhat of a surprise appearance, Maj. Gen. Mark Bowen &045;&045; head of the Alabama National Guard &045;&045; was flown in to Demopolis early Monday to take part in the ceremony.

Demopolis Mayor Austin Caldwell didn’t say any prayers, but he encouraged families of military personnel and offered the city’s assistance in any way possible.