Mary Kay Craig says she loves her country and considers marching with other peace activists in this weekend's large Fourth of July parade in Butte a show of patriotism.
Craig expects to be joined by dozens of peace activists from around the state in Sunday's parade, featuring banners and showing a float including a Statue of Liberty flashing the peace sign.
Their message, the Butte woman says, is simple: "Peace is Patriotic."
And though the situation in Iraq remains on many peoples' minds and invites debate, Craig said there will be no explicit mention of it on signs carried by peace advocates as the groups take their place in the parade. It also will feature musicians, veterans, political candidates and others who traditionally participate in the Independence Day parade.
"This is a happy time; it's a celebration," said Craig, who is helping organize activists in the parade. She is also coordinator for the group Taking Action for Peaceful Solutions.
"We said we don't want to say anything other than 'peace is patriotic,'" she said, "because we want a positive message, one that nobody can disagree with."
How that message is received is unclear. Some local veterans like Neil Neary say the activists' participation bothers them but acknowledge their right to do so.
"I think it would bother any of the veterans. But there ain't much you can do about it," he said. "Live and let live, I guess."
Marko Lucich, executive director of the chamber of commerce, points to participation by politicians of different parties when he says he expects no problems at the parade.
The parade is considered the largest in Montana over the holiday, said Mollie Kirk, president of Butte Celebrations, which puts on the parade.
"Butte during this parade is very accepting of appropriate behaviors," he said. "No matter what a person's cause is, I see no problems if the behavior is appropriate."
Craig said proclaiming their message doesn't seem as scary to her as it did two months ago. More people are questioning the war now and are ready to hear their message, she said.
Although activists don't want to say anything about the war in Iraq during the parade, she doubts some of the participants would show up if not for the conflict.
"What we need to do is say, `The flag does not belong to war. The flag belongs to our country, and we love our country,'" she said.
Kemp Roberts, who made a career in naval service and isn't with the groups, said he sees the day as a time to recall the sacrifices made for the country and to "thank our forefathers for what's been handed down to us.