As a U.S. Navy veteran, Joseph Williams knows what it means to serve his country. As a Vietnam veteran he knows about war.

He also knows what it’s like to lose a son on the battlefields of Iraq.

Marine Lance Cpl. Michael Williams was 31 when his company was ambushed near Nasiriyah in the opening days of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He and 13 others died.

His father isn’t bitter.

“I was happy for him when he joined,” Williams said. “I’m tired of hearing Cindy Sheehan trashing America.”

As Sheehan, an anti-war activist whose son died in Iraq, continues to gain media attention since camping outside President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, the nonprofit group Move America Forward is staging support-the-troop rallies around the country.

Williams, of Vacaville, Calif., was one of a dozen members of Move America Forward who brought their message of support to Shanksville on Saturday.

They paid homage to Flight 93 victims, offered words of support, sang patriotic songs and laid flowers and scattered seeds at the foot of an angel erected by Jennerstown artist Lei Hennessy Owen.

The group has been traveling since Monday with other military families.

They are bound for a war rally with other conservative groups today in Washington, where Sheehan and thousands of anti-war protesters are expected.

Sheehan makes them bristle.

“Nobody is saying Cindy Sheehan doesn’t have the right to her freedom of speech,” said Deborah Johns, whose son, William, is a Marine returning to Iraq for his third tour of duty. “But she needs to be mindful that her hurtful, hateful, anti-military, anti-American comments cause the insurgency and terrorists to fight another day.”

Her words brought sporadic applause Saturday from more than 75 onlookers, some waving flags.

Against the backdrop of the Flight 93 temporary memorial, Johns said the troops are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq so this nation will not have another event such as the Sept. 11 attacks.

She lashed out at what she called Sheehan’s anti-American rhetoric. Johns said Sheehan has called the terrorists in Iraq “freedom fighters” and has accused military mothers of being “brainwashed.”

“My son is a hero, and I’m angry when Cindy Sheehan refers to our military as the ultimate terrorists,” Johns said, her voice choked with emotion. “She needs to visit this memorial or she needs to pack her bags and go home.”

Many visitors in Shanksville supported Johns, a resident of Roseville, Calif.

“I agree with what she said,” said Mary Ann Mapes of Johnstown. “I have a son in the Army National Guard.”

Carol Cieslo of Johnstown said she wants more positive coverage of the war in Iraq.

“You never hear the positive side of what’s going on,” she said. “It’s negative and its not needed.”

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