Military Families rally against the war in Columbus
Thursday September 8th at 1:30pm
The rising stars of the peace movement came to Columbus this Thursday as the "Bring Them Home Now" tour held a rally at the State House. These are people that met at the "Camp Casey" protests Cindy Sheehan started outside of the President's ranch in Crawford, Texas. The tour is joined by locals who have family serving in the military and are ready to speak out against the war. Their message is simple, "We want our troops home now". They proclaim that this war is immoral and illegal and that the country was deceived about the reasons for entering into it. They are outraged because the President has put their children at harm's way because as quoted "We don't want to send the wrong political message to our enemies".
Outside of the statehouse the rally was being set-up. Protesters lined the streets holding placards and giving peace signs to passerbys who would frequently honk and throw up peace signs in approval of those speaking out against the war. Behind the backdrop of the podium veterans were holding flags representing our traditional colors, red, white and blue. A number of empty combat boots were laid out in memorial to the soldiers who didn't come home. Reporters casually milled around photographing the protest and interviewing people. A lone police van sat around the corner in front of the Bank One building just in case something were to break out at this peace demonstration.
The speakers were passionate and authentic as they passionately let the crowd know why they were against this war and why we needed to bring the troops home as soon as possible. Bill Mitchell of California lost his son Sgt. Mike Mitchell in Iraq on the same day 04/04/04 that Casey Sheehan was killed in Sadr City. He was a humvee mechanic and had spent 11 months in Iraq and was merely 1 week away from Kuwait, 2 weeks from Germany and 3 months from his wedding. Now Bill is traveling the country, a dedicated voice of the peace movement attempting to do whatever he can to convince the leadership of America that we need to call this war off and bring home our troops. Many of the speakers had children who joined the reserve with no intention of engaging in foreign wars or the invasion of another country. They just wanted to have some help in terms of financing college and helping out in the cases of national emergencies and disasters. Now they point out how bad things have been in Lousiana and point out that many of the reservists and their equipment are so tied up in Iraq that they couldn't help when disaster struck the homeland.
Their voices and the media attention that has followed them has been a breath of fresh air for a anti-war movement that has struggled to maintain a strong presence in a political climate in which corporate media seldcom covers political dissent. The international limelight that one woman standing up and simply asking to talk to the President has brought was able to bring together military families under the idea that this war should be over. In response to question from the crowd about how we should pull out of Iraq without causing undue harm to the Iraqi people. The MFSO members responded that the continued occupation of Iraq is producing friction in the political climate of Iraq, it's making our troops targets and the focus for the insurgents and that the Iraqi people in many international polls have said they want the American troops to leave. The saying they used to explain it was the Iraqi's said "Thank you for getting rid of Saddam, but don't forget to leave.". These families are the people who are bearing the burden of the war in Iraq nervously watching the phone hoping that it doesn't ring with someone telling them their loved one has been lost in Iraq. The gold star families for peace, who have lost loved ones say they don't want their numbers to grow any larger, they want this war over.
Now these families are heading to Washington DC on September 24th to participate in what may be the largest mobilization against the war since the invasion of Iraq started. The general idea behind their mobilization is that they will get people to lobby their congressmen and their will be political action to end this war. They speak of hope as they connect with supporters around the country. But there is also a sense of desperation as they continue to be ignored by this administration and more blood continues to be shed in Iraq. The struggle is in their bones as they fight for their families and they won't stop until the troops are home and taken care of. They want to empower people to speak out against the war by giving the human cost of the war a face.
After the rally during the day they held an informal debriefing press session in which Indymedia was the only press to show up. There was a potluck dinner at the Columbus Mennonite church followed by speakers. They told the very human stories of losing loved ones to a war they feel our leaders started. Afterwards there was a candle light vigil in front of the United Methodist church. They left for Cleveland after a morning breakfast at the Unitarian Universalist church. During the breakfast there were informal conversations among various activists and attendees heared a passionate cry from a Muslim woman that not only would they continue the struggle until the troops are home. But she wanted everyone working against the war to promise that they wouldn't drop the ball and that we hold President Bush and his regime accountable after the troops are home. The breakfast ended with a circle as everyone held hands and wished them the best in their mission to end this war.
Click Here to read the interview with Hart Viges, Iraq Veteran and member of the Bring Them Home Now tour.