By Sarah Rose-Jensen
Despite how long it took my feet to thaw out when I got home, I'm very happy that I was able to attend yesterday's ANSWER March. We kicked the morning off with some songs and chants, which got us fired up to make our way through the counter-protesters. The Gathering of Eagles, as they called themselves, brought angry people, most of them men, from all over the country together to heap abuse on peaceful demonstrators like CODEPINK. It was rather upsetting, because we got physically very close to the counter-protestors, and the police did not seem to be doing much in the way of keeping us separated. The CODEPINK women handled themselves with the upmost grace though, singing "All we are saying is give peace a chance," while making our way to the main march.
The counter-demonstrators continued to be a presence throughout the march, periodically grouping along the route to scream more. As always though, we out numbered them. Following along in the footsteps of the Vietnam War protesters was both empowering and saddening. It made me feel good to know what we were not alone in history, and that another group of peace-loving folks had come before us and stopped the war machine. At the same time, I was sad that our country is involved in another pointless, racist war that is killing our young people while sucking up huge portions of the budget that should be spent here, improving schools, providing healthcare, and making certain that all Americans can live safe and happy lives. It's a shame it had to happen again.
The Vietnam protesters fought the actual draft, while today we fight the system of broken schools and limited opportunities that creates a draft by making the military seem like the only feasible option. Each time I got too bogged down in the past and the present wars, I looked around me, and I felt better again. Here were tens of thousands of people who knew this war was wrong, and who were willing to help tell the world. I marched with grandmothers, students, Catholic priests, veterans, and all the rest of an amazing cross section of America. I hope that all of them were able to go home feeling as good as I did, but also knowing how much more we have to do. Marching on the weekend is one thing, but there is work to be done during the week too. This week all Americans who oppose the war should take time to call their Representatives and tell them that voting NO on the supplemental funding bill is the fastest and most direct way to end the war right now. Hopefully some will even be able to join CODEPINK in the hall of Congress this week as they remind Congress that the people of America don't want this war, don't want to pay for this war, and don't want them to vote to continue funding this war.