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March on Washington


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9/24/05 We attended the weekend to “End the War” in Washington, DC. The estimated protesters numbered between 300,000 (organizer's estimates) and 600,000 (C-Span). When we crossed the finish line, people were still starting the march. We were impressed with how many young people were there – how many families with young children in strollers attended. Wide streets, with 20 or more people across, carried signs and protests for more than 25 blocks. The route took at least three hours to walk. In addition, many people lined the streets voicing their support. The veterans groups against the war were also very prominent – Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace – as was Camp Casey and Cindy Sheehan. It was energizing to be with people from across the country all saying “Get Out Now.” We met people from Wisconsin had traveled 24+ hours by bus to attend the march. Others, from California, Oregon and Washington state were there.

Tents were set up on the Washington Monument grounds that provided information and resources as well as placed for us to meet others working on similar issues across the country. We attended a Sunday morning workshops on Counter-Recruitment 101 and Counter-Recruitment Strategy. Both provided helpful information and suggestions. Suggestions from youth were particularly helpful . . . “Don't call us kids! That feels demeaning. Call us students. . . Talk with student newspaper editors or supportive teachers. . . Have college kids join with you . . . Don't use words we don't understand or talk down to us.”

Sunday afternoon there was a strategy session for meeting with our Congressional reps and Senators. Members from the Center for Policy Studies were especially helpful. The purpose was to have a unified voice on capitol hill -- “Get out of Iraq now, don't fund any more supplemental budgets for the war, provide compensation for the damage caused by the war, prohibit the construction of permanent US military bases, and require parents to “opt-in” rather than to opt-out.

An Interfaith Service was sponsored by Clergy and Laity Concerned about Iraq (CLCI), along with Faith Voices for the Common Good and other organizations. The gathering of religious people from many faith traditions was inspiring, especially as they quoted from each others' sacred writings, traditions and beliefs. A Buddhist monk sang “Go Down Moses.” Cornell West, Honorary Co-Chair of CLCI, greeted him with hands folded, bowing in a “namaste” greeting – I honor the divine within you. It was a special moment. Muslim, Jewish, feminist and Christian clergy and lay people were passionate in their call to end the war. It was a hopeful sign that faithful people are speaking out. It's about time!

Four members of Marty Meehan's district, representing Lawrence, Concord and Acton, met with a staff assistant in his office. We thanked him for co-sponsoring several important bills related to the war. We pushed him hard about co-sponsoring legislation to prohibit the construction of permanent US military bases in Iraq. We urged him not to vote for any more supplemental budget requests for the war, but to provide funding to Iraq as compensation for the damage our country has caused. The aide said Meehan has another white paper to be published in November. Our fifteen minutes was all too short!

A group of 45 people from Massachusetts met with staffers from both Kennedy and Kerry's office. At Kennedy's office we acknowledge his past and present resistance to the war but said it was not enough. We pleaded for him to use his influence to call senators into his office and use the current anti-war momentum to take a strong stand as a group against the war. We also pleaded with him to provide a forum for returning veterans and veteran's families to voice their concerns about this war. We suggested that he bring in Lakoff as a consultant to help the democrats re-frame the questions surrounding the war. We learned while there, that bunker buster legislation had just been defeated.

The group then met with a Kerry aide in charge of Defense and Foreign Policy. We asked him to convey to Senator Kerry our appreciation for his work on nuclear legislation. The group was, however, angry and voiced that anger loudly and clearly to Kerry's pro-war stances. Kerry will not call for withdrawal. He will continue to support funding for the war effort. He will not support removal of bases being built. He will not support the Feingold amendment, calling for a time table for troop withdrawal. Many people felt betrayed. The aide reported that the Senator would not change his position because of his deeply held beliefs. We asked, "where is the aide who is in charge of Peace and Foreign Policy?" Some of the comments were: “If this war is illegal, how can Kerry be part of this crime?" . . . “I wish we had a liberal in this office who would stand up!” . . . "We have a democratic Bush supporter." . . . " It's time to say we've made a terrible mistake and we're not going to go on killing – not our own soldiers or the Iraqi people!” . . . “I'm tired of hearing Kerry say it is incredible frustrating and complicated! We get out by getting out! Period!” (applause) . . . “We represent the best part of America. Please tell Senator Kerry to find that young man inside himself! He is the one that is sending the last person to die for a mistake.” . . . “Many of us worked in Kerry's campaign, we telephoned, we gave money, we went door to door to get him elected. We feel betrayed. We will not support him again. In fact, we will do all in our power to defeat him.” We were frustrated and discouraged. Senator Kerry will not step forward and provide leadership against this war. Please voice your opinion to him in writing or with a phone call!

We return exhausted and energized for the work ahead. The tide is turning. We are all part of the solution.


Click for highlights in 2002 - 2003,  for 2004


Merrimack Valley People for Peace meets monthly, on the fourth Tuesday,
at 7:30 pm,
at North Parish Church, North Andover.

Contact Merrimack Valley People for Peace       (978) 685-1389
            P.O. Box 573
            North Andover, MA 01845

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