RENO - Hundreds of anti-war protesters took to the streets Saturday in Reno and Las Vegas to mark the first anniversary of the war in Iraq.
Like their counterparts at about 250 other anti-war rallies across the country, Nevada demonstrators called on President Bush to remove American troops from Iraq.
"I'm here because I'm tired of seeing people my age come home in body bags," said Marisa Lorbeer, a University of Nevada, Reno freshman. "We shouldn't have been in Iraq in the first place."
The rallies, held outside federal courthouses, drew about 260 people in Reno and 100 people in Las Vegas. Both events were peaceful, unlike a year ago when about 200 pro-military demonstrators crashed an anti-war vigil in Reno.
About a dozen counter-demonstrators turned out Saturday for the Reno rally but kept a distance from anti-war protesters.
"This (anti-war protest) is a total sign of disrespect for people serving our country," said Tom Barnes, 38, a Sparks building engineer. "Not one person here remembers 9-11. They were smoking pot that day or eating sprout sandwiches."
Both the Las Vegas and Reno groups were diverse - moms with strollers marched alongside senior citizens, and business professionals wearing collared shirts chanted with student activists.
Mary Anne Goormastic and her daughter Cheri Brillhart joined the Las Vegas march, carrying signs that read "Bush Lied" and "Support Our Troops, Bring Them Home."
"I feel Bush has done more harm to our country and our world than any other president," said Goormastic, 79. "And I've been around for a long time."
Her counterparts in Reno waved placards that read "Bush the Great World Polarizer" and "Bomb Texas - They Have Oil Too."
"Bush has his head in the sand," said Pat Patera, 51, a Reno-area Libertarian. "He won't even notice the protests. If anything good comes out of this, voters will kick Bush out of office in November."
Protesters drew varied reactions from people in passing vehicles. "Communists!" yelled a man in Las Vegas. "Get rid of George W!" screamed a woman in Reno.
Organizers said the response was much better than a year ago when protesters faced profanity and obscene gestures. They cited national polls that suggest the American public now is divided on Iraq.
"I think a lot of people are pensive about this (Iraq)," said Reno organizer John Hadder. "Some supported the war initially, but don't know what to do now."
But counter-demonstrator Steve Furman, a Gulf War veteran, said he thinks most Americans support the U.S. role in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I'm here to educate the poor people and tell them where they're going wrong," said Furman, 40, of Sparks. "If we didn't get involved, thousands more would have died."
In a speech at the Reno rally, fellow Army veteran Audrey Burns, 22, of Reno, called for Bush's impeachment.
"If a president can be impeached for lying about an extra-marital affair, then Bush can definitely be impeached for lying about (weapons of mass destruction) to start an illegal war," Burns said.
AP staff writer Christina Almeida in Las Vegas contributed to this report.