A few hundred feet from where President Bush would soon promote his antiterrorism record, one woman dissented.
Melodie Homer visited the landscaped spot in Marlton between a playground and a soccer field that serves as memorial to her husband, Leroy W. Homer Jr., copilot of United Airlines Flight 93. On Sept. 11, 2001, passengers and crew on his plane fought off terrorists, causing it to crash into a field near Shanksville, Pa., before it could reach an apparent target in Washington - perhaps the White House or the Capitol.
Homer, a Canadian citizen, cannot vote in the presidential election, but she has clear feelings about Bush's record on terrorism.
Melodie Homer and daughter, Laurel Nicole (Photo/Tech. Sgt. Jim Varhegyi)
"I do believe that the President and his administration were responsible for Sept. 11," said Homer, who lives in Evesham.
While Homer has campaigned for more information about 9/11, she had not spoken out so strongly and publicly against Bush before yesterday.
As Homer spoke while walking to the memorial - which police let her visit although it was otherwise off-limits to the public - crowds of Bush supporters and a handful of Kerry supporters exchanged chants and angry words.
Homer said she thought families of soldiers were losing their loved ones in Iraq for no good reason.
"I could understand what someone feels when they lose someone there," said Homer, who was not a fan of Bush's before he was elected.
She said her husband, an Air Force veteran of Operation Desert Storm, was a reservist and a Democrat.
Homer said the report of the 9/11 commission and Bush's actions since the first days after the attacks had led her to place the blame for her husband's death on the President.
She said she was especially troubled when the President appeared on the deck of an aircraft carrier last year before a banner that read "Mission Accomplished." While the banner raised the hackles of many Bush opponents, what troubled Homer most was what Bush was wearing.
"My husband is a major. He has the right to wear the flight suit," she said. Bush, however, "was wearing it like a costume."
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