Luke Melia


January 19, 2003

1/19/03, 11:30 pm – We March With Hope

I had two hats, four layers on top, long underwear, and two pairs of socks. It was still quite chilly as the afternoon rolled around in Washington, DC Saturday, but it was warm enough to do what needed to be done.

We marched against the brewing U.S. war on Iraq. Jeanhee stood in the cold draped under a blanket that said “win w/o war” in masking tape. (Grandmothers for a Just World outdid us in the “blanket-as-protest” category…). [More pictures from the protest…]

We heard speakers and marched through the streets. We made up our own silly chants:

Bush wants to bomb Iraq to hell / We’re gonna stop him with a cow bell / [ring cowbell] / Dubya’s got a big old missle / We’re gonna stop him with our little whistle / [blow whistle]

My sister Jessica was there with her friends, and after saying hello in the morning, we happened upon each other in the afternoon march. We watched two young performers box each other blindly in a crowd, each covering their eyes and wearing a sign that said Bush one side and Hussein on the other. They accidentally punched a few marchers in the process.

The protest had a hopeful feeling to it. As many marchers sang, The ain’t no power like the power of the people, cuz the power of the people don’t stop. On the weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, we remembered the progress he helped create and we strengthened our own belief that we can create change in the world.

In the weeks before the protest, I had been hesitant to go. I had concerns about the causes that the organizers, International ANSWER, support. I wanted an event that would send this message to the worl: there is a large and growing percentage of the American people who see war a last resort and support a nonviolent approach to problem of Iraq. But on top of that, ANSWER’s goals include ending racism, ending Israeli occupation, as well freeing Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier, etc., etc. etc. I won’t comment on each of their specific goals. Some I feel strongly about, some I don’t.

I decided in the days before the protest, though, that a march on Washington would send one message — the one I most cared about: these throngs, in their hats and gloves, with their signs and drums, think the rush to war on Iraq is bad and should be stopped, and they each represent hundreds of others who feel similarly. The press coverage so far has validated that decision and I’m very glad I made the trip.

4 Responses to “1/19/03, 11:30 pm – We March With Hope”

  1. Luke chimed in:

    The protest spawned this NY Times Editorial.

  2. Mike Melia chimed in:

    Lukester, Proud to have my offspring standing up (and marching) for what they think is right. You’ll never agree with every one’s opinion, but marching for peace, for safe energy, to express dis-satisfaction is a healthy expression of our freedoms. Also, I think it is key to remember that although Nixon didn’t like to listen to the protestors, the American action in Viet Nam was curtailed in no small part due to the public opinion that came from the war being televised and the people in the streets. The anti-nuclear forces in this country also had a lot to do with making the cost of nuclear energy prohibitive.
    The peace movement is vital. Recommended reading: Daybreak by Joan Baez – a short book on pacifism.

  3. Luke chimed in:

    This Wired article reminded me of a funny sign at the rally. It read: “Who Would Jesus Bomb?”

  4. Mike Melia chimed in:

    I’m reading “Saddam Hussein – the Politics of Revenge” and it talks about Saddam’s early life – his formative years – and how British colonialism/imperialism shaped his political ideas and philosophies. Interesting fact: Chemical warfare was first waged in Iraq by the British in 1921.

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