We arrived just in time to join about five hundred other people for the Support Cindy rally at Tonkawa Park at noon. Afterwards, we joined the six-mile-long caravan of cars that paraded from the rally to Camp Casey to join the other anti-war activists.
Watching what seemed like an endless parade of cars coming to support Cindy and the peace movement was a deeply emotional sight. Cindy Sheehan and others compared the sight to the last scene in the movie "Field of Dreams, " with cars backed up for several miles. Cindy told a friend: "You would not believe it, there's a line of cars down a five-mile road and hundreds of them are going by. Ah, this is just crazy. . . . It 's like an outpouring of love. I can 't believe it. "
[Jason Dearen, "Mother's stand becomes a movement, " Inside Bay Area, The Daily Review, August 14, 2005, http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_2942162?rss]
Cars had to be parked off of the road surface, so many of us spent a half hour maneuvering dangerously close to ditches. My own car found peace at a 45 degree tilt to the right, and I'm still offering thanks to the heavens for not sending rain, in spite of the one hundred degree heat.
But people didn't seem to care much whether the ditches consumed their cars or the hot sun blistered their faces. This is, after all, an anti-war movement, not a summer weekend picnic. And no matter what our views are, this anti-war movement has a different feel to it than the anti-war movement of the 1960s. Back in those days the movement was led mostly by young men and women with lots of pent-up energy and youthful angst, but without much experience in dealing with opponents in a civil manner. As much as moderates might have agreed with the anti-war demonstrators back then, moderates also were embarrassed by the excesses of youth.
Today's anti-war demonstrators are, in general, much older and more experienced in the world of work and juggling household budgets. Many are retired from good-paying jobs. The majority seem to be middle-aged baby-boomers, many still raising families. These people have learned to tolerate various points of view. They know that respect and dialogue are necessary to achieve a larger goal.
Today's anti-war leadership is made up of people who have more authority to speak out because of their own personal losses and experiences. Many of the Vietnam era anti-war leaders of the sixties were stereotyped, rightly or wrongly, as "draft-dodgers. " Many of today's leaders are parents of servicemen and women killed in Iraq and veterans who served in Vietnam.
Today 's anti-war leaders are people I trust wholeheartedly. Their voices carry absolute moral and emotional credibility. If we are to gain enough national support to convince our political leaders to end the war, we must promote, support, and follow the leadership of organizations such as the Gold Star Families for Peace, CodePink: Women for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, and Veterans for Peace.
Beyond their personal suffering for lost loved ones, members of these groups are asking questions that we all should be asking. What is the point of a policy that encourages terrorists to open training camps in other nations? By occupying Muslim territory, Americans are inviting the people there to cooperate with terrorists to fight a foreign army.
What is this administration 's real motive? Can it be as simple as controlling the flow of oil? Why don't we demand an end to the platitudes about fighting for Iraqi democracy and freedom and be honest about our foreign policy? As the reality of rival Iraqi groups sets in, the Bush administration continues to scale down its demands for an Iraqi constitution. What next? A new Bush-definition of democracy? Compromise on women 's rights? Freedom of the press? A coalition with the Shi 'ite conservatives in Iran?
We 've asked young Americans to risk their lives as soldiers, but for what? Could we ask some old-timer from the British colonial office? Iraq is their creation. Let's try the ghost of T. E. Lawrence, who wrote in 1920:
We say we are in Mesopotamia [Iraq] to develop it for the benefit of the world. [A]ll experts say that the labour supply is the ruling factor in its development. How far will the killing of ten thousand villagers and townspeople this summer hinder the production of wheat, cotton, and oil? How long will we permit millions of . . . [dollars], thousands of . . . troops, and tens of thousands of Arabs to be sacrificed on behalf of . . . [an] administration which can benefit nobody but its administrators?
[T. E. Lawrence, "A Report on Mesopotamia,The Sunday Times [London], August 22, 1920, World War I Document Archive, February 10, 1996, http://www.lib.byu.edu/~rdh/wwi/1918p/mesopo.html]
Tony Zurlo is a writer/educator living in Arlington, TX. Currently he teaches writing and African/Asian culture at Tarrant County College. He has also taught in schools in Nigeria, China, and many parts of the U.S. My Op-eds, essays, and reviews have appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Democrats.US, Peace Corps Writers, Writers Against War, and other journals and newspapers. He has also published non fiction books on Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Japanese Americans, West Africa, Algeria, and soon Syria. His poetry and short fiction have appeared in more than sixty-five journals, magazines, and anthologies.