Left Justified: Reflections on demonstrating in our nation’s capital

National peace organizations have called for an anti-war demonstration in our nation’s capital for Saturday, Jan. 27. I don’t usually go; travel is expensive and grueling. Peace groups are sending buses that leave from downtown Chicago Friday afternoon, arriving in Washington Saturday morning, where the marchers disembark.

After marching through downtown D.C., listening to long-winded speeches and some uplifting music, you get back on the bus, drive another eight hours, and get home Sunday evening if you’re lucky. It’s an exhausting schedule, and I’d gladly pay some young kid 50 bucks to go in my place.

But I was going anyway to meet with some of my Iranian fellow travelers. I went to Iran on a peace mission in May of last year, visiting five Persian cities, meeting with a variety of people, and even getting on CNN. Two peace delegations were going to reunion that weekend in Washington, D.C., then lobby our congressman about not bombing Iran. Having a national peace demonstration Saturday, Jan. 27, just sweetens the pot. Many of the protesters will lobby the same time as we.

I love our nation’s capital! The broad boulevards, magnificent architecture, lovely parks, museums and used bookstores keep me and my feet weary. D.C. has great public transportation, and even the taxis are affordable.

I’ve always been welcome at our congressman’s office in Washington. Even as a peace activist, I can still express my views, although our congressman’s voting record is disappointing. So I will visit him in Washington and bring his office our concerns for peace in Iraq and with Iran.

Monday, Jan. 22, Rockford Peace & Justice will discuss what we can expect our congressman to do for peace. We want our congressman to get our troops out of Iraq (fat chance), but maybe he’ll investigate where most of the money went. I’m sure we can get Mr. Manzullo to help the veterans, especially those suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Suicides go up after intense conflicts, and the least our country can do is heal all the wounds of our soldiers. Manzullo could help investigate just how many soldiers/veterans have taken their lives by their own hands.

Will our congressman oppose the president if he decides to go to war with Iran? Maybe we can talk our congressman into encouraging more diplomatic measures.

Oh, by the way, Rockford Urban Ministries is hosting a meeting about the Labor Day flood Thursday, Jan. 25, 7 p.m., at Centennial United Methodist Church, 219 S. Second St. We will review what occurred, talk a bit about compensation to the victims (Manzullo’s Small Business Committee has been most helpful), and look toward environmentally sound fixes.

And finally, I want to pray with our congressman for the peace of the world. This country does need prayer now because it will be a miracle if we can get out of that mess in Iraq.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the Jan. 17-23, 2007, issue

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