What is shaping up to be a massive anti-war march will take place in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 24, and thanks to the Chester County Peace Movement and other local organizations, the region will be wellrepresented.The march will be part of a weekend full of activities organized by groups such as United for Peace and Justice, the A.N.S.W.E.R (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition and the Bring Them Home Now Tour.
The message to the White House and Congress will be clear: the war in Iraq must end, and the troops must be brought home. Individuals and groups from all over the country are expected to gather in a show of solidarity for peace, including three busloads from the Chester County Peace Movement that is based right here in West Chester.
The weekend in Washington will feature an all-day Peace and Justice Festival on Saturday and a rally to kick off the march, culminating with a concert and another rally. On Sunday, there will be an interfaith religious service and a day of grassroots training, and on Monday there’s what is expected to be another huge event: a mass nonviolent civil disobedience and largescale grassroots lobbying effort.
Saturday afternoon’s rally will feature Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, who has brought an extraordinary amount of new focus on the war and the need to withdraw from Iraq.
Sheehan set up a vigil in front of President Bush’s Texas ranch during the month of August, after the president refused to meet with her. Sheehan wants a meeting with Bush to have her questions answered, particularly, she wants to know what exactly her son died for, and does not accept Bush’s response that he died for “a noble cause.”
Sheehan’s vigil took the name Camp Casey in honor of her fallen son and captured the attention of thousands of Americans and drew a new focus back to the war. After the month-long vigil, the Bring Them Home Now Tour kicked off with three different groups of military families and veterans of the Iraq war and previous wars traveling via bus on different routes around the country to speak out against the war. The busses will meet on Saturday as the tour ends with this massive rally and march in Washington.
The movement takes on even more meaning in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which “has really motivated people even more; they are fed up with the Bush administration’s devastating ‘war of choice’ in Iraq and ignorance to the growing poverty in this country,” said Karen Porter, founder of the Chester County Peace Movement.
“Many people were simply unaware of the extent of poverty in this country, and now they see that we could ill afford a war for oil and power in the Middle East. This country faces rising deficits, monumental warcosts and now the job of rebuilding New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
The Bush era is at its end, and we will march in Washington on Sept. 24 to send out that message loud and clear.”
The CCPM was founded in 2002 as a coalition of Pennsylvanians to support all efforts for world peace and specifically, to oppose the war in Iraq. The group quickly came to represent more than 1000 Chester County residents of all political parties, occupations and faiths, all of whom share a common goal of liberty, peace and justice for all.
The CCPM has held vigilsevery Saturday at the Courthouse through rain, sun, and snow. There have also been a variety of educational speakers, films and participation in many rallies and festivals promoting peace. To find out more about the movement and how to get involved, visit www.ccpeacemovement.org.
To learn more about the Cindy Sheehan and the tour, go to www.bringthemhomenowtour.org, and for further information about the march and protest on Saturday, visit www.unitedforpeace.org or www.answercoalition.org. Everyone who shares the goal of world peace and is united under the flag of justice is encouraged to attend. More voices equal a stronger message and the best way to promote change is to take action.