"No matter what happened, she deserves every good thing she can get," Mr. Szabo, a chef at a local restaurant, said. "We just love her."
The local Burger Barn set up a streetside grill. The market hawked compact discs featuring songs about Private Lynch recorded by one of its employees. And a man wearing a black Vietnam veterans cap peddled American, P.O.W.-M.I.A. and Confederate flags on the street.
"She embodies the small-town image of the person who does the right thing," said one of those people, Virgene Robinson, who drove in this morning from nearby Marietta, Ohio. "She gives every small-town resident something to cheer about."
Bill Bonan, a retired city councilman from nearby Parkersburg who came to snap Lynch's picture, said he was not surprised by discrepancies in the story of what happened to Lynch. "We did what we needed to make somebody a hero," Bonan says. "She had nothing to do with it. We all needed somebody to be a hero, to boost morale."
"My family could tell me where they were when John F. Kennedy was shot," said Jennifer Carty of nearby Mineral Wells, who brought her son and two daughters to see Lynch. "I thought, if I'm this close to something this dramatic, ... I need to bring my children so they can say, 'I was there when she came home.' "
Some who celebrated Lynch's homecoming said they wished other soldiers, particularly those who had been held prisoner, could have received the same attention.
Carty wondered about another woman who was captured and released, Spc. Shoshana Johnson, 30, of El Paso, a member of Lynch's unit.
"I wonder if we're overdoing (the celebration) of one more than the other," she said. "I'm proud of Jessica because she made it through, but it doesn't make me less proud of the other woman."Posted by tstubbs at July 23, 2003 01:47 PM