I want to take an opportunity to show you the faces of soldiers who have served our nation in Iraq and who do not agree with the Bush administration's policy on Iraq. Nothing phony about these men and women. Nope. They're the real deal. Their courage was a virtual magnet that drew thousands to a September 29th march in Syracuse, N.Y. where soldiers and citizens denounced the Iraq War.
The people in our Upstate New York communities support these (very real) servicemen and women. I want to take an opportunity to show you some (very real) photos of (very real) citizens from diverse walks of (very real) community life in Syracuse and Upstate New York who took a Saturday afternoon on a halcyon September day to tell George W. Bush what they think of his administration's (all-too real and disastrous) Iraq policy.
The Bring the Troops Home Now rally in Syracuse was a booming success for those diverse community groups who'd worked hard to organize it. Three thousand people filled the plaza behind the Everson Museum in downtown Syracuse where they rallied and filled the streets as far as the eye could see, marching together over a mile to Walnut park near the Syracuse University area.
They were there to support Iraq vets who are conscientiously courageous enough to face their communties and tell the citizens back home why they think this war is morally and legally wrong. Bringing about a pivotal moment - a tipping point for campus/community-protest of the Iraq war, there was, for the first time, active-duty military presence from Fort Drum (near Watertown, N.Y.) in the Syracuse march.
The day's events culminated in a gathering for a discussion panel/Q & A at Hendricks Chapel on the Syracuse University campus with Scott Ritter (Former Marine and UN Weapons Inspector), Jimmy Massey (IVAW), and Dahlia Wasfi (an anti-war activist who was born in Iraq and has visited her native country twice since the invasion). I'll blog more about what took place during the Discussion Panel in other diaries.
3000 people. For a city the size of Syracuse, that was a remarkable turnout. Signs everywhere.
The sounds of chanting, rallying, drumming, and music.
There were skateboarders for peace.
There were poets for peace. (This poet is Arthur Flowers, Syracuse University professor).
There were musicians and citizens of faith for peace. (Singer Colleen Kattau of Truxton, N.Y. and activist Magda Bayoumi of Syracuse).
Citizens for peace.
(The woman in the black t-shirt on the end (right) is a Gold Star mother, Lorene Davey, who lost her son Cpl Seamus Davey in Iraq. Onstage at the post-march rally in Walnut Park, Seamus' father Derek Davey, who wore a T-shirt that said "Honor the Warrior - Not the War", watched his wife with a palpable and heart-wrenching sense of love and pride as she read a poem she'd written in honor of their own fallen warrior:
Closing excerpt from My Baby Boy
(Cannot post poem in its entirety due to copyright. See entire poem at gsfso.org)
"I love you ,Mom, and I’m alright,
But I have to go back tonight."
He swung me round, embrace so tight,
His smile so wide, his eyes so bright.
Then came my friend in his dress blues
Bringing me the dreaded news.
I should have recognized the clues
But, we believe the things we choose.
A hero you say, he always was
And honor is as honor does
And I will speak the truth because
He was my baby boy
Copyright 2006 All Rights Reserved
When I took the photo of the parents of Cpl Seamus Davey, I could barely see them through the lens but for the tears that were flowing from my eyes.
I'd say this was a healing form of comic relief if this whole (very real) disaster wasn't so damned shameful for our nation.
There was certainly no shortage of citizens of faith at this rally. It's great to see representatives of our community churches speaking out.
The college campuses were also well-represented. Here are just a few of the schools whose students were speaking publicly against the war:
RIT (with the amazing Adriano C. on the bullhorn).
Labor had a solid presence at the rally. Here are some SEIU-1199 members with their message (Healthcare / Not Warfare):
One rally-theme that rang out for me was the suffering of our own domestic front for the hundreds of billions of dollars misspent on the Iraq War.
When I saw our veterans and active-duty troops passing rundown homes, the message hit me as it never did before.
While we squandered the world's trust and blew through so much national treasure (not to mention the staggering and unnecessary loss of life we've brought about in Iraq), the people on my own city's streets have been suffering....waiting..wondering why their country abandoned them.
What's happened to the America where the People were represented by their government? When did it become acceptable for the government to ignore the will of the People?
The answer is that it has never..and will never... become acceptable for the U.S. government to ignore the will of the People!
The older generation's will must be heard.
The younger generation's will must be heard.
Every generation was represented at the Syracuse rally and march.
Most every faith..every ethnicity...
Soldiers' mothers and fathers....
A perfect relection of what the majority of America is feeling like at this very moment in time. The familiar rally-chant rings out:
"Show me what democracy looks like."
"This is what democracy looks like!"
The harmonious face of our entire community was shown to us... beautifully vocal...one in purpose.
I want to commend the Syracuse Police Department for keeping marchers safe and doing their part to extend the spirit of mutual respect and cooperation at the rally.
Here's Iraq vet Matt Howard (IVAW) enjoying the Mother McCrees at Walnut Park after the march.
Activist Dahlia Wasfi said that, up intil now, her most memorable moment in her own personal history of anti-war activism was standing up onstage with those IVAW soldiers. She hopes to take them back as part of a peace delegation to her native Iraq someday, people-to-people, to heal some of the the resulting wounds of a failed U.S. policy.
All photographs in this diary are the copyrighted product and property of Jude Nagurney Camwell, all rights reserved.