In military communities across the United States, a debate over the Iraq war is being waged by reluctant, neophyte activists. Their microphones chirp and squeak, or don't pick up their quiet voices at all. Their signs are too small. They forget the banners.Cindy Sheehan's lasting legacy may not be her Crawford protest, it appears she has helped other military families who oppose the war to find their voices and one another. Awesome.
"This is my community. I don't want to offend people here. But my husband is a soldier; he can't say anything. So it's my duty as a citizen to speak up," Kara Hollingsworth, a D.C. native and Army wife at Fort Bragg whose husband served two tours in Iraq, said as she took a seat on a panel of antiwar activists last week.
Military families, stoic and tight-lipped during most of the nation's wars, have become a powerful voice on both sides of the bitter argument over U.S. involvement in Iraq. And their growing prominence will add a poignant note to Saturday's antiwar march and rally near the White House.
Organizers of the protest, who anticipate a crowd of about 100,000, estimate that thousands of military families and veterans will join in the demonstration. Three busloads of military families have been touring the country since Aug. 31 and will converge on Washington today to promote Saturday's rally.
[Cindy] Sheehan also galvanized Phil and Linda Waste, who were riding one of the "Bring Them Home Now" buses through the hills of North Carolina last week. Their three sons, grandson and granddaughter are all in the military and have served a total of 58 months in Iraq, and the Wastes have white-knuckled their way through each of those tours of duty.
They sat in their Hinesville, Ga., living room for months, cursing at the television reports from Iraq.
"Then we saw Cindy in Texas," said Linda Waste, holding tight to the table's edge on the bumping bus. Her husband picked up her thought: "And then we heard people call her unpatriotic. And that was it."
When Chito [the ex-navy bus driver] parked the "Bring Them Home Now" bus in the center of Fayetteville the next day, cars whizzing by it honked and drivers barked at the slogans all over the windows and sides.
A woman in a silver Mercedes leaned out and shouted, "Go home!" A man in a red muscle car gave members of the group an obscene gesture. A soldier in a beat-up Olds Cutlass gave them a peace sign.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
zoe kentucky | Wednesday, September 21, 2005 |