We heard speaker after speaker demanding an end to a war based on lies. Ralph Nader, Jessica Lange, George Galloway (a member of British Parliament), Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney, California Rep. Maxine Waters, Ramsey Clark (Lyndon Johnson's attorney general), and of course, Cindy Sheehan, whose son's death in Iraq consumed her with so much grief and anger that she galvanized the country to question the legitimacy of this dishonorable war. Each one emphasized that there was no connection between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein, no weapons of mass destruction, that we were not presented flowers for liberating the Iraqis, and that we are seen as occupiers. In other words, the Bush administration manufactured reasons to invade Iraq and sold the war to an American public, hurling accusations that anyone opposed was and still is unpatriotic. Some spoke to the number of innocent Iraqis we've killed, a figure underestimated as much as the attendance at peace rallies. One person said that most of these Iraqis are women and children. All said, "Shame on you, Mr. Bush."
We met a man who traveled from Oregon. He told us he chose between financing the trip to Washington and heating his house this winter. He did what he thought was important. So many people saw our shirts and approached. They hugged us and cried. We cried too. Especially when Joan Baez sang "Where have all the Flowers Gone?" and Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall." When she sang Dylan's words, "Where have you gone my blue-eyed son; where have you gone my darlin' young one?" we looked at each other and sobbed. Our handsome, brave, honorable soldier and beloved nephew Chase had blue eyes. It was as if this song had been written for him. We know, though, that it represents all our troops, all the dedicated men and women who have died serving their countries throughout history.
We believe in our heroes, and Chase was one. But we don't believe in this war and in an administration that betrays its military and their families. Therefore, we say to George W. Bush, whose advisers said Iraq would be a cakewalk: If you think the next three years of your presidency will be a piece of cake, think again. You handled Katrina the same way you're handling Iraq: with no exit strategy.
The death toll continues to climb, Mr. Bush. Chase's number was somewhere around 1,830. Today's count is over 1,900. If one sign we saw is accurate - "Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam" - then will 57,000 more have to die before you admit your colossal failure?
Our mother wrote in her journal that she knows Chase is proud of us for participating in an event which may bring his buddies home alive. Our father is proud of us for honoring his 86th birthday request by marching for peace on his behalf. Our brother Mark was with us in our hearts, as was Chase. And as we left, we saw a huge banner with the face of another young, brave soldier and the words "George Bush sent our son home in a body bag."
Think of Cindy Sheehan's anguish. She is every dead soldier's mother and father. Her grief should be the grief of our nation. Please unite with us to end this war so that no more families hear those words which change their lives forever.