Now Playing: WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 -- Tens of thousands of protesters converged on the National Mall
"When we voted it was a directive to bring our troops home NOW"
...said the Rev. Graylan S. Hagler of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, referring to the November elections when Democrats won control of Congress.
Today was a big day for the good guys in this country. We would like to have been there with them.
Protest Focuses on Troop Increase for Iraq
by Ian Urbina
WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 -- Tens of thousands of protesters converged on the National Mall on Saturday to oppose President Bush's plan for a troop increase in Iraq in what organizers hoped would be one of the largest shows of antiwar sentiment in the nation's capital since the war began.
When Lietta was on the Bring Them Home Now Bus Tour that culminated with the mass demonstration in Washington D.C. in September, 2005, media and official estimates put the crowd at 200,000 - 300,000 people. In reality, the number was closer to 600,000.
At least today they are admitting to 400,000 for starters.
|'BRING MY HUSBAND HOME NOW!'|
The unidentified wife of an Army Ranger serving in Iraq holds a sign near the U.S. Capitol during a protest against the war in Iraq Saturday, Jan. 27, 2007 in Washington.(AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
The event drew demonstrators from across the country, and many said that in addition to taking their discontent to the streets they planned to press members of Congress to oppose the war.
"When we voted it was a directive to bring our troops home now," said the Rev. Graylan S. Hagler of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, referring to the November elections when Democrats won control of Congress.
So how many of those Americans described as supportive by the Bush/McCain/Lieberman propaganda team went to D.C. to counteract the effect of 400,000 rejections of a sitting president, his war-toady heir apparent and whistle-past-the-graveyard Holy Joe?
The article answers that question with its final paragraphs.
"Many intend to stay and press members of Congress to oppose the war."
Maybe they'll go after some of those Republican Senators hanging around waiting to drop more amendments on to the minimum wage bill
|SURGING ON THE CAPITOL|
Marchers parade down Independence Ave. near the U.S. capitol during a protest against the war in Iraq Saturday, Jan. 27, 2007 in Washington.Organizers said that over 400,000 marched.(AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
"I grew up during the Vietnam War, but I never protested it and never had my lottery number called to go fight," said David Quinly, a 54-year-old carpenter from Prairie Village, Kan., who arrived here Friday night with about 50 others after a 23-hour bus ride.
"In my view, this one is a war of choice and a war for profit against a culture and people we don't understand," Mr. Quinly said. "I knew I had to speak up this time."
"I've got a son who just got out of the military and another still in," said Jackie Smith, 65, from Sunapee, N.H., whose sign read "Bush Bin Lyin." "And I'm here because this is all I can do to try to help them."
And there's a lot more of us baby-boomers - many of whom sat out the domestic fight in this country last time who flat out aren't going to make the same mistake twice ...not this time. Our kids deserve a hell of a lot more than tha!
Tassi McKee, from Bastrop, La., who said she was a staff sergeant in the Air Force, was among a small contingent of about 20 active-duty service members who turned out. "I believe this has become a civil war, and we are being hurt and making matters worse by staying in the middle of it," Sergeant McKee said.
She said that it was not illegal for active-duty members to attend protests but that it was strongly discouraged.
I suspect there are more Watada's out there just needing encouragement
Veterans were more numerous among the crowd.
Dressed in the olive green, military-issued flight jacket that he said he wore during the invasion of Iraq while serving as a Marine sergeant, Jack Teller, 26, said he joined a caravan from Greenville, N.C., because he felt that it was his duty.
"I don't like wearing the jacket because it reminds me that I participated in an immoral and illegal war," said Mr. Teller, who had "Iraq Veterans Against the War" stenciled on the back of his jacket. "But it's important to make a political statement."
Fernando Braga, a 24-year-old Bronx native who is a member of the Army National Guard, said that he was skeptical of the war before it started. Mr. Braga said his views hardened into opposition while he served in Iraq from March 2004 through January 2005.
"My own commander told us when we arrived that if we thought we were there for any reason other than oil then we had another think coming," he said. "I realized even commanding officers were against it but following orders."
How about some active duty opinions from the Ocupation in Iraq?
President Bush, who often spends weekends at Camp David, was in Washington on Saturday but had no public events scheduled. He spent part of the morning on his weekly bicycle ride at a Secret Service training facility in Beltsville, Md.
With nothing to say ... and only a White House spokesman to recognize the right of assembly, free speech and an appeal for redress ... all of which Mr. Bush pedallingly ignored. I'm betting he pedaled nowhere near anyone willing to carry out a citizen's arrest, eh?
Counterprotesters also converged on the mall in smaller numbers, but the antiwar demonstration was largely peaceful.
There were a few tense moments, however, including an encounter involving Joshua Sparling, 25, who was on crutches and who said he was a corporal with the 82nd Airborne Division and lost his right leg below the knee in Ramadi, Iraq. Mr. Sparling spoke at a smaller rally held earlier in the day at the United States Navy Memorial, and voiced his support for the administration's policies in Iraq.
Later, as antiwar protesters passed where he and his group were standing, words were exchanged and one of the antiwar protestors spit at the ground near Mr. Sparling; he spit back.
Capitol police made the antiwar protestors walk farther away from the counterprotesters.
"These are not Americans as far as I'm concerned," Mr. Sparling said.
Another counterprotester, Larry Stark, 71, a retired Navy officer who fought in Vietnam for five years and was a prisoner of war, said, "We never lost a battle in Vietnam but we lost the war, and the same is going to be true in Iraq if these protesters have their way."
The protesters on Saturday were undermining troop morale, Mr. Stark said, and increasing the likelihood of a premature withdrawal.
"It's like we never learn from the past," he said.
Another commentary on what happens when feelings run high enough to get people off their bottoms and into the streets to rally for both sides of an issue.
... and isn't that what freedom of speech and assembly is all about?