Below you will find a first hand report from a local Houston activist, Mr. Stan Merriman, who attended the anti-war protest in Washington on Sept. 24. Thanks for attending and keeping us informed Stan! Needless to say, many of us here were distracted for a few days with Rita... Some folks are still chilling their jets in far flung parts of Texas, too, waiting for fuel and freeway space. LS
A REPORT FROM THE ANTI-WAR PROTEST
FRONT LINES IN D.C. SEPT. 24
Believe it. There were a MINIMUM of 300,000 people
there according to the Park Police…..more likely
500,000. And that was with all the trains from the
NYC area 3 hours late due to “repairs” !
Some stunning moments: we saw a crowd of demonstrators
surrounding a young marine in full dress uniform at
the pre-march rally who said he was there to lend his
voice. As the march formed to step out about an hour
late due to the crush of people making organization
difficult, leading the march were Cindy Sheehan, Jesse
Jackson Jr., Julian Bond and a host of other activist
leaders. In the front ranks were the Gold Star
Mothers for Peace, followed by Military Families Speak
Out and then my group, the Veterans for Peace. I was
so proud to be in the ranks of this superb group and
it was huge. Naturally, we did outstanding cadence
marches and chants sure to burn the Bushites. Behind
us, a Native group all the way from Alaska with their
drums and ritual dancing and another group from the
Lakota Nation who gave Cindy Sheenan a beautiful
hand-made quilt with their Star of Bravery design at
the concert later in the day. As the march
progressed, snaking around Pennsylvania avenue and
adjoining streets, we passed in front of the White
House and rendered appropriate middle finger salutes.
Yea I know, the Bushies were off directing the Rita
relief effort (yea, right) but the snipers on top of
the White House saw us and got the idea.
Huge crowds all along the route especially applauded
our Mothers and Veterans sections of the march.
Virtually every state was represented with massive
numbers, 5 times more than the United For Peace and
Justice leaders had hoped for.
Cops were benign and unlike our Houston Police, bent
on redeeming their earlier suppression of free
assembly by cutting us much slack. The signs and
costumed groups as well as drumming corps were awesome
and the most creative I have seen. I bought a car
magnet that says: “Ok, let’s pretend everything is
all right”. The size of the march was so huge we
were packed in like sardines for most of the route and
the snaking procession went on for hours, even after
the speeches and entertainment started later in the
day at the Washington monument. Counter demonstrators?
Oh, maybe 50. Media, Oh, maybe none. I heard Arron
Brown, CNN say “ I am getting furious email…..but
people have to understand that THE story is the gulf
coast” ! Yea, we know, CNN has turned into a one
story pony since Turner retired. Washington Post and
New York Times did give us good front page coverage
and acknowledged the massive turnout of 500,000.
At the rally later in the afternoon, with a massive
sound stage we heard speakers like Cindy, Jim
Hightower and Jesse Jackson. And marvelous protest
music from, among others Joan Baez and Steve Earle.
The Merriman’s left at around dinner time, exhilarated
and exhausted and so grateful to be in the company of
fellow Americans who love our country enough to once
again get out in front of our leaders, including
fellow Democrats to end yet another unjust and immoral
war waged in our name.
The present state of America is truly alarming
to every man who is capable of reflexion.
Thomas Paine 1776
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