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.
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.
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!
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
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.