Getting off the subway and up to the streets I looked about and an elderly couple were doing the same to get orientated. We walked together toward the rallying intersections and discussed where we had come from. We were from out of town, upstate New York. We both had progressive congressmen who opposed the war. They soon joined up with friends and I continued downtown to the sound of speakers addressing the crowd. The streets were disappointingly empty with the light rain and showers threatening. I was anxious to join up with the veterans' contingent and found them at the head of the march crowd.
The usual grouping of older Vietnam and Korean vets were there and a group of amazingly young Iraq Vets Against the War and their friends. One of them went up to the platform and spoke to the gathering marchers. He brought out the racial aspect of this war. African-American recruitment is at an all time low even with high unemployment, and bonuses promised. The recruiters are targeting immigrants with promises of citizenship if they enlist and go to Iraq. They are also in our schools under the provisions of No Child Left Behind.
As usual there were way too many speakers and the crowd was getting restless in what was now a pouring rain. Finally we got underway marching downtown along Broadway. Next to me was a frail looking older gent with a walker with wheels you might see in a nursing home. As he marched along I could see he was indeed weakening. When we stopped for intersections, he leaned on his walker with slight trembling. While his body was weak, his will was strong. He picked up again as the march continued. This might obviously be his last march against the war, and he was determined to go the whole way. We had a chance to look back at one intersection stop and see that Broadway was indeed full of peace marchers for a good distance, which made it worth while. The vets called out to people on the streets who were startled from their usual shopping, with calls to Wake Up, and Join Us.
Finally we reached Foley Square where all the groups had tents set up. The amazingly spirited Code Pink Ladies came in marching and chanting. A large contingent of Students against the War were bubbling and very wet. There were even Grannies against the War. Even though we were wet and tired, the energy was high as people met friends and caught up with what they were doing. I sat on a wet park bench to have a bite to eat next to a clutch of middle aged women who all knew each other. Up strode a women with flaming red hair and a look of intensity about her. She excused herself for interrupting the ladies and addressed them with the following barrage. There are no media here. If you have a TV , throw it out. If you buy a newspaper, don't. If you listen to radio news, don't. The ladies were taken aback by her intensity and remained silent. She abruptly turned around and left and they resumed their chat.
We all came on this march in the rain for our own personal reasons, but what unifies us is our opposition to war. Marching together brought us to be part of a national and worldwide awakening that war is obsolete and a new mindset must start with each and everyone of us.