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News :: Human Rights
Boston Unites for Peace
20 Mar 2008
On March 19, 2008, about 150 Bostonians gathered at Park Street, in the Common to “celebrate” (to quote John Kerry) a Birthday: March 19th marked the 5-year anniversary of the Iraq War -the one which mission we are supposed to have won over 4 years ago.

WATCH VIDEO (by Michael Borkson):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfIP-3EZCv0
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Photos by John Johnstone
The afternoon started with 5 arrests: One for each year in this war. A group staged a die-in, right in front of the number 141- the Armed Force Career Center of Boston. ( See article and photos “Boston Residents Shut Down Tremont Military Recruiting Station”). While the police lead them away, people inside the recruiting center could be seen laughing and pointing fingers at them… And along the sidewalks, passer-byes could be seen giving the 5 men thumbs up, encouraging and applauding the protesters.

At around 5 pm, United for Justice and Peace asked for a moment of silence to remember the 3990 American deaths and the 89,751 Iraqi ones reported by www.iraqbodycount.org. Shortly after, a man stood up to read the names of Massachusetts’s soldiers who had died in combat, as well as those of Iraqi children who had been killed. One of those names included the 14 year-old grandson of Saddam Hussein. Another name he had to read? “My 20-year-old son Alxander Arrendondo...” Placed in front of the microphone, a pair of combat Boots and tags that belonged to him, and little pink sandals.

One of the goals of today was to let the government know it does not have the support of the country (similar protests were taking place all over the nation.) Adlin Poole, a member of Veterans for Peace since WWII, stood in the rain, holding a sign urging to end the war: “We’ve bombed 21 countries since WWII in order to “save democracy?” We’re big bullies who pick on little countries.” Standing next to him, his wife Janet simply added: “We come to these rally because we feel we have to. If one person changes their mind, it’s worth it.”

Quietly standing in a corner next to them was a woman with her 2 small children and a sign: “Army wives against the war.” Her husband, a member of the army for over 7 years, is currently in training to go to Iraq. They are hoping for a discharge, but this is not something the army hands out easily. She came today not only to give support to other families, but to receive some as well: “I don’t get a chance to let people know that it’s not just the wives: a lot of soldiers are against this war. It’s good to be able to speak out and it’s good to see all the support.”

Some people, like Laura Gaza, came specifically for the troops- “I feel we need to withdraw immediately from Iraq simply because I don’t think the US can do anything there that will help the country.” Some, like Chuck Williams, a Vietnam Veteran for Peace, were here to protest the war: “Killing is wrong, it’s as simple as that.” And others, like Meredith, had stumbled upon the rally walking through the Park: “You need a lot of people to change someone’s mind. So I decided to stay.”

The other goal of the rally was to support the “Winter Soldier” hearing in DC. Winter Soldier refers to the members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, who on January 31, 1971, met for three days and gave testimonies of the atrocities (rape, arson, torture, murder) they had committed or witnessed during the war, under orders! From March 13 until March 16, 2008, U.S. Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan did the same, with a modern twist (the fight for veteran’s health benefits and support) proving that sadly, History does constantly repeat itself. As Angela Kelly puts it, “we need to highlight and support the veterans struggle to speak out against the war. Everyone is focusing on the election and the war in Iraq no longer seems a priority in the media.” Angela and other members of Mass. Peace Action then handed out black armbands (a symbol to mourn the dead) with the number 5 on it.

As the church bells rang 6 pm and people started to go home, a homeless man named Derek approached me to tell me he had been inspired by the crowd to write a poem: “It is time to do the right thing: don’t let them die but help them rise up and live.”
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See also:
http://www.iraqbodycount.org
http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/204054/index.php

This work is in the public domain.
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