essays

Marching for Peace -- Again

protestsign1It helps that I now live just one mile away from the Greenbelt Metro Station but  I would have come from far away just to be a part of the war protest in Washington this past January.  Thousands of college age students carrying musical instruments and appearing to have almost too much fun in their outspoken signs…. End Bush’s War, Impeach Cheney and Bush, Stand Against War and Racism, Make Hip Hop Not War, Stop Torture, Power to the Peaceful, Peace Is Patriotic,  Moms Say No to War, Raging Grannies, Make Levees Not War, We Said Stop, and a plethora of other imaginative slogans that I had not necessarily considered before taking my place behind them in the march.  My sole purpose for being in this protest was to proudly carry the sloppily made sign that called for our administration to Send Our Soldiers Home and punctuated with a Peace Sign.  It was the only sign that read “soldiers” and that got me wondering, as did protestsign2my use of “our,” leaving me to question whose soldiers are they? 
           
College students were hardly the dominant demographic that made its way up the hill toward the Capital’s stark white dome.  Baby boomers, throngs of them, proudly graying, marched this time to end a war that cast a shadow over  their sons and daughters.  Many in the crowd had sons and daughters they did not want to be in Iraq or Afganistan. Some of these boomers were accompanied by their younger children, middle and high-schoolers getting a civic lesson like nothing they had ever experienced in a classroom. Maybe their teachers and protestsign3classmates back home went shopping or to a movie on that bright, sunny day, but the kids who came to Washington participated in a great demonstration (literally) of what it means to live in a true democracy. Will they have memories of this march for peace some forty years from now, when their own hair is thinning, graying or both?

These protesters came prepared, endowed with water bottles, jackets, signs, hats, drums, sunglasses, eyeglasses, practical shoes, friends, and an enduring vision, carried over from their last march, decades ago, and an admirable will to get out there and do it again.  Imagine, do it again!  But as one devout anti-war rally veteran admitted, “the only good thing about the Bush Administration is that it makes me feel young again.”  What a dreadful and deadly price to pay for this unexpected return to youth.

Julia Gillern loves to travel in addition to shaping minds for future service to America.

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