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One of the Best Days of My Life

Saturday's anti-war protest was the most enormous gathering of people I've ever seen, and most certainly the biggest and most diverse protest held in Washington, D.C. since the Vietnam Era.
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"Tens of thousands" protested in Washington, they are saying. The news media got this number from an unofficial, un-named police source, while the organizers of the event themselves were seemingly not consulted. I walked right up to Leslie Kagan (President of United for Peace and Justice and chief organizer of today's protest) after the event was over and asked her how many people she thought attended today. She said 500,000 was their estimate, but she expected the media would report only half that number. But "tens of thousands"? Come on, news! There were masses of people from forty states, three hundred busloads, over 1000 organizations, not to mention all the people who just showed up because they had to. The media does a grave injustice in under-reporting our collective force. We came from all parts of the country to represent the majority of Americans in our call to end the war in Iraq and withdraw our troops. This was not some fringey little gathering--we had Congresspeople, grandmothers, Democrats and Republicans, veterans of the Iraq War, men still serving in the army, celebrities, children, people of all faiths, ethnicities, color. It was the most enormous gathering of people I've ever seen, and most certainly the biggest and most diverse protest held in Washington, D.C. since the Vietnam Era.

I suppose I should be grateful that the media didn't do what it has done over the last few years and photograph the lady on stilts, the giant paper mache puppet and some potheads playing hacky sack and use these images to represent the peace movement. But I can't help but feel pissed off returning after this incredible, massive, exuberant March on Washington and seeing lengthy coverage of the theft of Crysal Gayle's tour bus and even lengthier coverage of the poor kid who got a ten-year prison sentence for getting a blow job. Look, I'm sorry about that kid, he's a victim of a most bizarre form of sexual oppression, but wouldn't it behoove CNN--our Cheerleader in Chief for this war--to analyze the meaning of this day with at least as much fervor as they are dissecting this blow job? It is almost comical that on the very day we were gathering to call for the impeachment of our current President, the press should obsessively dissect the nuances of a blow job gone awry. Smacks of something familiar.

Well, I'm here to bear witness to reality, the facts on the ground. We were not in the "tens of thousands," we were in the "hundreds of thousands." Quote that, damnit. We did not gather to protest the surge (though it was certainly one object of our protest); we gathered to protest the immorality of the Iraq War. We came to mourn the hundreds of thousands of lives lost to this meaningless war and to express our fears about being thrust against our will to the very brink of global chaos. We did not come to "march against Congress" as some of the media are claiming; we came to hold our elected officials accountable and to use the leverage we have in this so-called Democracy to try to correct for 5 years of political lunacy. We came to let our elected representatives know that if they press forward with their mandate to end the war, we will be here to support them. We came not only to protest, but to engage in dialogue with our elected officials (we will be "lobbying" on Capitol Hill on Monday). And, yes, we came to ask for a Presidential impeachment.

We came in the hundreds of thousands. Counterprotestors: 40 or so. They called us "Commies" as we walked by. They were so last-century and out of touch that people stopped to take pictures of them, curious remnants of a bygone era.

It was an inspired day. Beautifully warm and sunny, there were people crowded on the Mall as far as the eye could see. There was joy and a sense of collective humanity and purpose. There was sadness and indignation and cries for help. There were small children and elderly people in wheelchairs, unions and religious congregations , celebrities and tireless-but-anonymous peace activists. We came out of love, fear, anger. We came to bear witness to the current reality and invoke the possibility of an entirely different reality. And we came in the hundreds of thousands.

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