Protests come in all shapes and sizes, and Saturdayâ€™s rally and march around the Capitol was definitely massive. On assignment for TNS to conduct interviews to use in an audio collage, I arrived on the National Mall around 10:30 a.m. to find thousands of people assembling before a stage. The grounds filled up quickly and by 11:00 a.m. the increasing density made for slow navigation through the diverse crowd.
People came by bicycle, bus and caravan from places as far as Texas, Illinois, Florida and Vermont. Families, faith-based groups, youth, veterans, couples, co-workers, immigrants, labor groups, and relatives of troops serving overseas were some of people in attendance. Out of more than 30 people who I approached, most eagerly wanted to share where they were from and why they came.
Helen from Frederick, Maryland met up with her twin sister Marian from Ashville, North Carolina.
"Iâ€™m here because I want to get the troops out of Iraq in a good way and increase diplomacy so we that can have a diplomatic solution," said Helen.
"I have 11 grandchildren and Iâ€™m here because we have to learn to talk instead of fighting," added Marian.
"Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam," read a sign held by Jed, an Apache and Navajo who also came from North Carolina. "Itâ€™s getting almost to that situation where itâ€™s going to be history repeating itself again," said Jed, adding, "Whatâ€™s cool about killing people in the first place?"
George Mueller came up from St. Petersburg, Florida with a chapter of Veteranâ€™s for Peace. "I was recently retired, I was over in Saudi Arabia and Oman," said Meuller. "[Iâ€™m] trying to get Bush to get us out of Iraq and stop the funding. I want Congress to stop the funding and get the troops home."
"I believe our country is being disassembled. Our Constitution is being stomped on and destroyed," said Dan, a Chicago resident.
Carrying a bouquet of white roses to bring to the Vietnam Memorial, Tressa Taylor came with her husband, a veteran of that war who said he became an anti-war activist while he was a GI.
"I would really love to get the media involved in thisâ€¦ and Iâ€™m talking about mainstream media," said Taylor. "During the Vietnam War, it was the protestors and the GIs who caused the end. They put pressure on the administration. Unfortunately during the Vietnam protests they didnâ€™t get noticed or recognized until there was violence on the street. I donâ€™t want to see that this time. I want the media to step up and take responsibility."