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Marching for Peace

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Unbelievable! Last evening, on a day when the US death count in Iraq passed the 2,400 mark, George Bush spoke at the White House Correspondents' Dinner and said, "I'm feeling chipper tonight. I survived the White House shakeup." April has been the bloodiest month of 2006 with 70 troops killed, but the president, whose lies have caused endless pain, was feeling chipper. Has the man no shame?

Earlier on Saturday during his radio address, Bush said there will be "more days of sacrifice and struggle."

That was around the time I headed over for the NYC Peace March. It was huge with organizers estimating 300,000 people, not to mention those on the sidewalks giving us a thumbs-up. I saw no signs in support of George Bush.

Cindy Sheehan, who galvanized the antiwar movement when she traveled to Crawford to ask George the question heard round the world (for what noble cause did my son Casey die?) took the front line all the way down Broadway. With her were Susan Sarandon, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Faiza Al-Araji, a member of the Iraqi Women's Delegation, and several Iraq Veterans Against the War . Prior to the long walk, each spoke against the Bush presidency and demanded immediate troop withdrawal.

The Raging Grannies were there, definitely a force with which to be reckoned as they celebrated their recent acquittal from charges of "disorderly conduct." They were arrested in October after attempting to enlist in the armed services to take the place of our young. And they were ready to rumble at the march, giving Bush a piece of their wisdom in song and tongue-lashings.

An event like this evokes many emotions. There's exhilaration from gathering with thousands who share a demand for peace and justice.


But there's also great pain. And it's nowhere more evident than in the eyes and hearts of those who are mourning the death of a loved one.

I met a family whose nephew died in the 9/11 attack. They belong to Military Families Speak Out. With two nephews in Iraq now, they want an end to war. They've suffered enough.

I recognized Carlos Arredondo, having just read an article about him in which he was pictured. He held high a poster with a large photograph of his son Alexander in dress blue uniform, lying in an open coffin. A small American flag was secured to the top of the poster. Carlos also carried his son's boots.

Carlos' eyes hold the same pain I see in my brother's. Both men have lost a son. My nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase Comley, died in Iraq on August 6, 2005. Alexander, also a marine, died the same month a year before.

Less than two months after the invasion of Iraq, Carlos saw George Bush land on the USS Abraham Lincoln and announce and "end to major combat" underneath a "Mission Accomplished" banner. He was elated, thinking the war was over and Alexander would be safe. When a military van stopped in front of his house more than a year later, Carlos rushed outside, certain that Alexander would step out of the vehicle. Instead, the messengers of death told him that his son was dead. Distraught, Carlos ran to the back of his house, picked up a can of gasoline, ran back to the van and torched it. He was badly burned and had to be hospitalized. This injury was nothing compared to the pain of losing his child. Carlos is now a member of Gold Star Families for Peace, an organization which my brother, sister, parents, and I have joined.

I met others who have found support in GSFP. We embraced and exchanged information. And we marched. We marched to end this war so that no more people will hear, "We regret to inform you..."

At one point when security stopped our movement for a couple of minutes, we turned and looked back.
The crowd behind us was massive. All the way up Broadway, we could see people, shoulder to shoulder, a throng of antiwar protesters, united in a clarion call to the Bush Regime: Peace now.

 

Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a (more...)
 
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