Tuesday, March 23, 2010

After Action Report - Wash D.C., March 19-20, 2010

Ed Note: This letter was first posted on the VVAW Contact list serve, by Carol Rawert Trainer, VVAW Kentucky Contact.  I asked her if she would let us share it here on our pages, and she said, "of course...", so here it is...WH

WHAT A WEEK!!!!! A triple whammy!

I just wanted to let you know about our (Harold, aka Harry, and my) trip to DC. We have been here since 3/16 and leave tomorrow. Wow! What a weekend! We stopped by Cindy Sheehan's 'Camp Out Now' by the Washington Monument where they were busy planning the week's events and setting up a memorial of the casulties of the Iraq War, "Arlington West."  The 'cemetery' was very impressive and I have to hand it to those who did so much to make it happen. The group plans to have someone 'camp out' every night til the war is over.

On Saturday we represented the Vietnam Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace at the ANSWER coordinated anti war rally and march. We joined the various groups from around the country to bring an end to the wars. As usual it started very late but once we got going it was impressive. It was a bit disheartening that there were so many fewer people there this year than at past anniversary marches (about 5-8,000 instead of the 50,000 + in the past few years!) Cardboard 'caskets' draped in US and Iraqand Afghan flags were made and dropped off at various sites of prganizations who have had a hand in the war: The Washington Times, Halliburton, VA, and others. Then we returned to the front of the Whitehouse (where we started) and dropped off more caskets. Then about 8 people did civil disobedience by lying down on the sidewalk in front of theWhite House by the caskets. They were eventually handcuffed and taken away after ignoring the warnings that it was against the law. Cindy Sheehan was handcuffed and taken away early on.

Then today we decided to go to the Capitol to see what was happening on healthcare. There were a group of Tea Baggers but their number was dwarfed by the huge number of noisy (yeah!) Hispanics and supporters who assembled and were marching from all points of the Capitol to converge at t point below where the Tea Baggers were. While I was following one of their groups and taking pictures, Harry told me that he overheard that a group of Catholics for Healthcare were assembling across from the tea Baggers at the street where the Congress people were entering the Capitol from the street. So we joined them for 2 hours and were literally face to face and hand to hand with our Congress people. 

Many thanked us for being there to 'cover their backs.' They said they thought they had no support and only saw the teabaggers. They were very grateful for the support which unfortunately had not been planned but just a few days ahead of time. No one really knew about it, but it was great. Pax Christi seemed to be coordinating the effort. I did not know some but did recogize Barney Frank, Conyers, and others. Much news coverage and evenEugene Robinson came over to talk to us. Then a group of Dems came marching in the gate all at once with Nancy Pelosi at the middle and Harry told me to take a picture so I'm not sure who is on the picture yet. Haven't had time to go over it all yet. I called Sr. Miriam from there to tell her we were there and she told me about Maureen Dowd's excellent and much needed opinion column (New York Times, 3/21) about the Catholic nuns who spoke out against the Catholic Bishops' group to support healthcare. I tried to thank her but emails to the NYT had been closed down since she had received 429 comments so soon. Have to email her to thank her.

We wish you could all have been here and were thinking of you. I have a "gardner's tan since it was sunny and in the 70's. I'm calling it an "activist's tan" after this weekend. Better than the past few years here when it was freezing cold, breezy and raining. I'll take sun any day!!! I know your thoughts were with us for this  commemoration of the 7th year of war in the mid-east. Seeing those years stacked up on the courthouse steps is certainly shocking and memorable. Can you believe we have done this 7 years?????

It has been a rewarding week but a tiring one also and it will be good to get back and rest on the good KY soil!!!

And thanks to all the VVAW members who showed up to lend their support to end the wars. In particularly, thanks to the hard work of Ward Reilly and Bill Perry to make things happen! Wish I had their energy and total commitment to the cause.
Photos: Bill Perry, VVAW