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NY rallies at Ground Zero for troops

NY rally
Union workers hold American flags in support of the U.S. military efforts in Iraq, Thursday, during a rally near Ground Zero in New York.

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A Ground Zero pro-troop rally attracts thousands in New York. CNN's Maria Hinojosa reports (April 10)
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Thousands of labor union workers crowded along the western edge of Ground Zero Thursday to show their support for U.S. troops and the war against Iraq.

Police said 25,000 people, including electrical workers, carpenters, ironworkers, firefighters and police officers, attended the gathering.

Some in the crowd carried photographs of friends and relatives killed in the World Trade Center attacks. Others wore yellow ribbons and chanted "U-S-A! U-S-A!"

New York Gov. George Pataki praised the U.S. troops in Iraq.

"Some of you may have seen yesterday in Baghdad a picture of a statue of that evil dictator being toppled and dragged through the streets by Iraqis," Pataki said to the cheering crowd.

"Let's melt it down. Let's bring it to New York and let's put it in one of the girders that's going to rise over here as a symbol of the rebuilding of New York and the rebuilding of America."

Construction worker William Sekzer's son, Jason, died September 11. He attended the rally because he believes the terrorist attack is connected to the war on Iraq.

"What do you want as proof?" Sekzer asked. "Do you want Saddam Hussein shaking hands with Osama bin Laden?"

Ironworker Kevin Crowley said, "We want them (U.S. troops) to kick some serious ass and then come back."

New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange Dick Grasso and former Sens. Alfonse D'Amato and Bob Dole also attended.

Dole said: "Now we have liberated the people of Iraq from the strutting psychopath, the statues are coming down. No more torture chambers, no more acid baths. I'd call Saddam's a gangster's regime, but that'd be an insult to gangsters."

The rally was sponsored by the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.

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