At 5:30 on a frigid Brooklyn morning, over 300 people waited on the dark sidewalks alongside the borough's Central Library. Sipping free coffee (courtesy of our neighborhood coffee shop, Prospect Perk), they stood shivering, chatting and waiting for the buses that soon arrived and which they quickly boarded. That scene was repeated in many neighborhoods throughout the city and in many cities throughout the country. Citizens were preparing to gather in their nation's capitol. Their aim -- to demand that the new Congress, elected in a historical vote in November, respect and act on the results of that election. The people had spoken in November, loud and clear. They wanted out of the nightmare that their foolish President and his cabal of extremists had deceived them into in Iraq.
Enough! The people had spoken and now they wanted their elected servants to listen! And so, hundreds of thousands were descending on Washington D.C. to make sure that November's election was not forgotten just a few months later in January.
What started out as a frigid morning quickly changed to a glorious, sunny and warm day in Washington and the protesters' mood matched the weather. Like the sun, people were shining from the warmth of their purpose and the unity with each other that they felt as they marched through the streets. In our six buses from Brooklyn, the fruit of many weeks of intense activity on the streets of our communities, were a cross section of Americans. There were parents and grandparents, who had marched in many peace parades, bringing their children, some of whom were on their very first peace march. There were clergy from various Brooklyn churches as well as Christians, Jews and Muslims, united in their desire for peace. There were students from a local high school brought along by their teachers. There were African-American veterans from Black Veterans For Social Justice, a Brooklyn group that helps returned soldiers who have fought in war and know, firsthand, the terrible toll it takes. There were people of all colors and nationalities and ages and it was a beautiful thing.
An early morning break for coffee and bathrooms in Maryland.
The Metro entrance was jammed with people arriving for the demonstation.
We've arrived! Here, one of six buses organized by Brooklyn Parents For Peace arrives in Greenbelt, MD and prepares to board the Metro for the half-hour ride to downtown Washington.
There's an old saying that's emblematic of these times:
"The people shall lead and the leaders shall follow."We had an election and pro-war office holders were swept from office. Anti-war candidates were elected. However, no sooner then they took office did they begin to back pedal. We were told by an assortment of Democrats that "impeachment is off the table," and "cutting the funding for the war is not an option."
In the face of Bush's proposed escalation of the war, an action opposed by a huge majority of Americans, it is simply incredible that the Congress can only manage to come up with timid non-binding resolutions as if they were scolding a naughty child. What's needed, in fact, are bold actions to hold the Bush gang responsible for the terrible crimes they've committed over the last six years. The question begs to be asked: "If not now, then when?" Congressional inaction only sets the stage for more high crimes down the road. It's breathtaking to view the damage that this administration has caused:
- Launched a war, based on lies, that has killed and maimed thousands of American soldiers and untold numbers of innocent Iraqi citizens.
- Broken or ignored numerous international treaties to slow global warming and protect the environment.
- Abrogated treaties that were written and signed to slow the nuclear arms race.
- Subjected prisoners to horrible torture and degrading treatment, outlawed by the Geneva accords.
- Held citizens and non-citizens in jail for years without charging them or allowing them access to judicial system.
- Kidnapped innocent people and had them sent to other countries to be tortured on behalf of the United States in order to extract information for Bush's so-called war on terror.
- Spied on American citizens and others without court orders, in direct violation of our constitution.
If our representatives don't consider these crimes against our democracy and constitution for which the culprits must be held accountable then they need a drastic refresher course in the basic laws and principles on which our republic was founded. To ignore those crimes is a crime in itself as our elected officials are sworn to uphold the Constitution.
That is precisely why the protesters came to Washington - They were pushing Congress to act to end this illegal and immoral war. And more - they want Congress to defend our democracy and to demand accountability for the misdeeds that have been done. Accountability -- A simple demand but nothing is more important if our freedom is to survive. Indeed, the dramatic action unfolding before our eyes daily in Congress is a result of the people leading and the leaders following. The lesson to be learned? There can be no progress without struggle. Pressure must be brought on those in power if we want to change our world.
Code Pink, the creative women's peace group, was there and set up a very moving exhibit featuring thousands of shoes and boots that symbolized the many people, American and Iraqi, lost to Bush's war.
The Brooklyn Parents For Peace contingent was very spirited and represented a wonderful cross-section of Brooklynites marching together for peace. They were often greeted by applause as they marched up Constitution Avenue.
Our congressman, Major Owens (now retired), marched most of the way with the Brooklyn contingent...and we were very proud to have him by our side!
A fabulous slice of Brooklyn marched in the Brooklyn Parents for Peace contingent.
Thousands came to demand action to end the war now.
Special mention and deep gratitude goes to the many members of Brooklyn Parents For Peace who worked for weeks to make our participation in this national action a huge success.