Monday, May 19, 2008

Protesting: Reflections After One Year...

It was a year ago today, May 19 2007, that we first first took to the street, all six or seven of us. We didn't know what kind of reaction we would get, or if people would be interested in joining us, but we figured there was only one way to find out. Saturday, noon to one - be there. Here we are (above right) that first week. The second week was when I painted the big sign with the number of American fatalities in Iraq, and printed off stickers with the number to pass out to everyone, and I've updated the number every week since. Sadly, not one single time did it remain the same from one week to the next.

Slowly we grew, and along the way we've met a lot of wonderful people. We've had military moms and dads stop by to thank us, and some who stand with us every week. One young man came to tell us that he had been in Iraq and expected to go back soon, and would we please keep standing up for him. We've received gifts of pizzas, donuts, and even cash donations from passersby just wanting to show their support. Been written up a few times in the local paper and gotten a few shout-outs from progressive radio talker Peter Werbe, who joined us once, and they tell me we were mentioned one time on the local news. One of the most well known and powerful members of Congress, John Conyers, is a regular, and we've had a presidential candidate, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, roll up in his campaign bus and address a crowd of 200 of us. We've had visitors from Texas, California, and from as far away as the UK. Other peace and justice groups have joined with us, and it's a great feeling to stand in solidarity with others who are as committed as we are to putting an end to our presence in Iraq.

We've watched all the seasons go by, from the sweltering heat of summer to blizzards and frostbite in the dead of winter. For most of us, life has gone on. When we started a year ago, we had just welcomed our grandson into the world, and now we have a brand new niece and a granddaughter. In fact, we have documented evidence that a girl can protest on Saturday and give birth on Sunday without missing a beat.

We lost two of our own members this past year, two men I was so honored to know, and who I will continue to stand for in their absence. Birth and death, and everything in between, the cycle of life continues. And we, the protesters, view it all through the prism of Iraq, where the death toll keeps mounting and the Iraq "problem" seems to be off the table along with impeachment. I can't believe we've been doing this for a year - it saddens and frustrates me that we are where we are, but it also gives me hope that we have sustained a presence every single Saturday for 52 weeks. I know deep in my heart that I am not alone in this, and that together we will continue the fight. Until every one comes home.

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