Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Seattle Times Thousands rally to protest Iraq war

March 19, 2005; 2nd anniversary of war in Iraq with upwards of 750 rallys and protests held across the world...or so that is what is reported. For our local area, Seattle, the article below reports on the rally held at Seattle Center. And yes, that is us being referred to in the interview. We were invited to be guest speakers representing Military Families Speak Out, Pacific Northwest.

We got a last minute call on Thursday evening and had one day to pull together our resources and prepare for our presentation. There was some confusion about the amount of time we were alloted to speak, it went from 10 minutes to 5 minutes to 8 minutes total for the both of us combined. We carved down our pepared speeches to meet the time alloted, yet even that was was shortened to about 6 minutes total as prior speakers ran over their allotted time... considerably.

We were scheduled to speak at 1:15pm and as other speeches ran long we didn't actually speak until 2:30pm. By then the feeder marchers from a variety of other meetings and rallys had arrived at the Seattle Center for the convergence of one large march and were justifiably impatient to get started. I didn't get to deliver my brief prepared speech with 3 items I wanted to call to attention, but I was able to make mention of 2 of the items and particularly to call attention to the Resolutions already presented to both Oregon Governor Kulongoski and Washington Governor Gregoire to call home the National Guard for their respective states.

As my last statement I got to mention that copies of the Resolution for Washington Governor Gregoire were available at our table (Military Families Speak Out) to take and freely distribute. I asked that people sign and put address on the Resolution and mail in to Governor Gregoire's office.

Despite the delay in the planned tight time schedule and the eagerness of folks to get the march started, the lines formed immediately to obtain copy of the Resolution. This intrigued me because it seemed to demonstrate that people Want to take action steps beyond rallying to protest when actions are made available to take and I will be most curious to see where the Resolution goes.

We are grateful to some significant people among the event organizers who made this opportunity possible for us to share our personal message on behalf of our deployed loved ones and on behalf of the troops. We are particularly grateful to Mike of the Major Visibility Project, Seattle, who shepherded the representation and visibility of our MFSO organization amongst the many groups represented at the rally. With the help of many Friends our last minute invitation which left us inadequately prepared gave us what amounted to an opportunity to not only share our voices, but more importantly to give yet another avenue for many to act to make their voices heard.

Here is the Seattle Times news article reporting on the Cost of War, Bring the Troops Home Now rally at Seattle Center, March 19, 2005.

Thousands rally to protest Iraq war

By Tan Vinh
Seattle Times staff reporter

As military families go, Lietta Ruger said, she is as red, white and blue as any proud mother.

But how could she reconcile her loyalty to the armed forces with her disdain for the Iraq war?

For months, she kept silent — until her son-in law faced mortar attacks every night at his Baghdad compound. That's when the Episcopal preacher in her came out.

Ruger, 53, of Bay Center, Pacific County, spoke out against the war on PBS' "The NewsHour" with Jim Lehrer last fall and to her congregation at St. John's Episcopal Church in South Bend, Pacific County.

And again yesterday: On the second anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, she gave an impassioned speech explaining why she believes the war in Iraq is unjust, before a crowd of anti-war protesters at Seattle Center. Organizers put the number of participants at 5,000.

The Seattle protest, put together by the Church Council of Greater Seattle, Washington State Jobs with Justice and Sound Nonviolent Opponents of War, was part of a worldwide movement designed to place pressure on the military and get attention from Washington, D.C.

More than 700 marches, rallies, peace vigils and protests were held in communities from California to Illinois to New York, twice the number as last year, according to national organizers.

Thousands joined similar protests in European cities — 45,000 in London, according to The Associated Press. On both sides of the Atlantic, the protests were passionate but largely peaceful. Seattle police made no arrests.

In Seattle, Ruger, whose son-in-law and nephew are about to serve their second tour in Iraq, and who herself was raised in a military family, addressed the crowd knowing that "a lot of military [families] are not very happy with my message."

But, she said, "You should not let someone else define patriotism for you."

After the rally, the crowd marched in the rain from Seattle Center to Westlake Park and back. Several groups of students and political activists who had rallied elsewhere earlier in the day joined in the 90-minute march.

Among the marchers were church groups, labor unions and campus clubs, veterans and military spouses, organizers said.

There were protesters such as retired Lt. John Oliveira, 39, of Darrington, who told the Seattle Center crowd that he resigned from the Navy last year because he didn't want to continue pitching a war he didn't believe in.

Two years ago, Oliveira said, he looked into the cameras of several television networks and "sold this war as a war on terrorism, removing weapons of mass destruction and the Iraqi nuclear threat.

"Well, we have found out that that was the biggest lie ever perpetrated on the American people," he said.

Ruger feels more at peace now that she is expressing her displeasure over the war and what it is doing to her family, she said. While her son-in-law served 15 months in Iraq, she had to console her daughter and help out by baby-sitting her three grandchildren.

Ruger declined to give her son-in-law's name but said "He will do his mission, but his preference is to be home." He is a 25-year old Army sergeant. "If I could do it, I would go in his place," she said.

The woman who once stayed silent now lobbies Olympia lawmakers to get the Washington National Guard out of Iraq and has joined a military-family group against the war.

Ruger, who grew up on a military base in Japan and 11 years ago married a Vietnam veteran, Arthur Ruger, 57, said, "I have absolute pride in the military."

Her husband also gave the crowd some advice: "You can be against the war, you can disagree with Bush and still be a patriot."

The Seattle Times: Local News: Thousands rally to protest Iraq war

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President George W. Bush's statement in March 2006 after 3 yrs of war "a future President will have to resolve war in Iraq"


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