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Residents of Columbus, Ga., decorate downtown with yellow ribbons

COLUMBUS, Ga.—The people of Columbus are reviving a tradition: tying yellow ribbons around oak trees, lampposts and anything else that doesn't move as a salute to members of the military who are overseas.

The campaign, in the community that is home to the Army's Fort Benning, recalls a practice that was popular during the Iran hostage crisis two decades ago. The practice sparked a revival of the 1970s song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree."

"I hope you'll be seeing nothing but yellow in the days to come," April Ducote, marketing manager for the city's Business Improvement District, said Wednesday.

The idea stemmed from a meeting of Columbus officials last week at which they discussed "Support Our Troops" suggestions from the Association of the U.S. Army, which represents GIs. In 1991, the association began a similar campaign in Fort Benning housing areas and encouraged area residents to don yellow ribbons until troops returned from Operation Desert Storm.

"This isn't necessarily something that shows our support for the war, but it is a way of telling the soldiers that we support them," said Chuck Hunsaker, president of the local AUSA chapter.

The effort started well Wednesday, but by early afternoon, just a couple of blocks into the "yellowing" of the 47-block downtown area, the supply of ribbons had been diminished.

Organizers will find more, starting Thursday.

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(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

PHOTO (from KRT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): USIRAQ-RIBBON

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