FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

150,000 March for Peace in Washington, DC

WASHINGTON. It was a frigid 20 degrees, but, mercifully, calm and sunny, as high-spirited, sign-waving, and slogan-chanting protesters, estimated at over 150,000, from 200 cities and 48 states, arrived in the nation’s capital, on Saturday morning, Jan. 18, 2003. Their passionate message to the Bush-Cheney Gang was simple and direct: “No War On Iraq!”

With a January 27th UN’s weapons inspection reporting deadline hovering over the event, this might be the last chance for activists to vent their rage at the lies and propaganda of the War Party, dominated by chicken hawks, like Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and the repulsive Richard Perle. With 60,000 U.S. troops already in the Persian Gulf, and another 30,000 being mobilized by the Pentagon, time is of the essence.

The protest, according to the International A.N.S.W.E.R (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) coalition, which helped to organize it, was dovetailed to fall on the weekend holiday commemorating the birthday of the martyred Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. It was also the 12th anniversary of Gulf War I, (1991), from which over 160,000 U.S. veterans have returned home with service-related medical disabilities from the effects of depleted uranium and other toxic chemicals. The west end of the U.S. Capitol was the starting point for the massive event, peopled by young and old alike.

Liz McAlister, widow of Phil Berrigan, the legendary anti-Nuke Movement leader, was one of the 30-plus speakers to address the crowd. She said that under the War Party, “Our military is ready to strike any where, at any time, and at any place around the world that it chooses.” Tyne Daley, popular Hollywood actress, and a member of the Screen Actors Guild, said, “This is the place to be, protesting, until we find a solution that does not include the idea of war. War is an obsolete idea.” Fred Mason, President of the Maryland’s AFL-CIO said, “We want jobs built on an economy of peace and not built on an economy of war.”

Ron Kovic, Vietnam War veteran, and author of “Born on the Fourth of July,” a book later made into a celebrated film starring Tom Cruise, moved the audience with his comments. He said, “There will be a rebirth in this, the winter of your struggles. You will endure through this and you will find strength as I did, when I lost three-fourths of my body [war related injuries in Vietnam]. You will be part of an extraordinary moment in history. This is your destiny. You were born to be here. You were born to reclaim this land. You will not abandon it. You were born to take this country back. You not only will stop this war, but you will change the priorities of this nation and return it to the people. You will do this because it is your sacred responsibility as Americans, and as citizens of the world.”

On the speakers’ agenda were also individuals representing groups, like the Free Palestine Alliance, Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, Black Voices for Peace, Global Exchange, Mexico Solidarity Network, Muslim Student Association, and the Not in Our Name Project.

British MP, (Labour), Jeremy Corbyn, roused the crowd, too, when he stated, “In Britain, there is overwhelming public opposition to Bush’s war over Iraq. Four hundred thousand marched in the streets of London against the war on Sept. 28. This is a war with no support, no public recognition for it. And, I think the leaders, President Bush and P.M. Tony Blair, are going to have to recognize that they are on their own. This is a war about oil, where the main beneficiary will be the arms manufacturers, who have made ‘so much,’ out of so much misery for so long. A world at peace can only be achieved if we are a world based on social justice.” A recent poll in the UK showed that only 17% of the country are in favor of a war with Iraq.

Inez Daniel, from Camden, Maine, told me: “The media says Bush is doing a good job, and that he is up in the polls. Well, we know that none of that is true. People are very concerned about what he is up too, and the changes he wants to bring. We want him to, at least, hear us.” Traveling up from Charleston, S.C. was Joan Looney. She said, “I’m here because I’m not in favor of the U.S. going to war with Iraq. I feel that war just escalates and that so many innocent people are going to get killed. So, I think it is just against the gospel.” Bernie Strub from Waterford, New Jersey, wanted to know: “Why? No one has ever given me, a satisfactory answer of ‘why’ the U.S., the mightiest power on earth, a nation of 285 million, is going to go to war against Iraq, a country of 23 million.” He added, “It doesn’t make any sense. I think it’s just another scalp for Bush to hang on to his belt, when he goes up for reelection again.”

James Harrington of New Hampshire said, “Let’s face it. We’ve been at war with Iraq, since 1991. The economic sanctions that we imposed on it, along with Britain, are killing tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi children every year. And, things will only get worse, too, for the Palestinians, if we invade Iraq again. Our government right now is giving carte blanche to Israel’s Ariel Sharon, and he is nothing but a butcher.”

After the speeches, the march proceeded, with banners and placards waving in the wind, to the Washington Navy Yard, a huge military installation, located in a working class area of the city, about 1.5 miles from from the Capitol. The parade, accompanied by music makers and activists in colorful costumes, made its way via Independence and Pennsylvania Avenues, then south on 8th to M Street, (between 1st and 11st, S.E.).

At the Navy Yard, the rally, a success by any standard, came to a close, after a mock request for an examination of weapons of mass destruction was demanded by self-appointed “peace inspectors.”

WILLIAM HUGHES is the author of “Baltimore Iconoclast” (Writer’s Showcase), which is available online. He can be reached at liamhughes@mindspring.com.

(C) WILLIAM HUGHES 2003

Click here to see CounterPuncher Kurt Nimmo’s photos of Saturday’s peace vigil in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

More articles by:

December 19, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russophobia and the Specter of War
Jonathan Cook
American Public’s Backing for One-State Solution Falls on Deaf Ears
Daniel Warner
1968: The Year That Will Not Go Away
Arshad Khan
Developing Country Issues at COP24 … and a Bit of Good News for Solar Power and Carbon Capture
Kenneth Surin
Trump’s African Pivot: Another Swipe at China
Patrick Bond
South Africa Searches for a Financial Parachute, Now That a $170 Billion Foreign Debt Cliff Looms
Tom Clifford
Trade for Hostages? Trump’s New Approach to China
Binoy Kampmark
May Days in Britain
John Feffer
Globalists Really Are Ruining Your Life
John O'Kane
Drops and the Dropped: Diversity and the Midterm Elections
December 18, 2018
Charles Pierson
Where No Corn Has Grown Before: Better Living Through Climate Change?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Waters of American Democracy
Patrick Cockburn
Will Anger in Washington Over the Murder of Khashoggi End the War in Yemen?
George Ochenski
Trump is on the Ropes, But the Pillage of Natural Resources Continues
Farzana Versey
Tribals, Missionaries and Hindutva
Robert Hunziker
Is COP24 One More Big Bust?
David Macaray
The Truth About Nursing Homes
Nino Pagliccia
Have the Russian Military Aircrafts in Venezuela Breached the Door to “America’s Backyard”?
Paul Edwards
Make America Grate Again
David Rosnick
The Impact of OPEC on Climate Change
Binoy Kampmark
The Kosovo Blunder: Moving Towards a Standing Army
Andrew Stewart
Shine a Light for Immigration Rights in Providence
December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Vacy Vlanza
The Australian Prime Minister’s Rapture for Jerusalem
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail