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Ms. Diaz goes to Washington
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
Washington D.C., along with Los Angeles and Paris, France, is on my list of “cities I should probably visit just to say I’ve been there even though I think they suck.” So when the opportunity to visit D. C. for a mere $75 round trip came up, I couldn’t resist. A bus ride with 47 strangers and one toilet would be an adventure in itself, but the journey’s end would be worth it: we would join hundreds of thousands of angry anti-war protesters for the biggest rally and march since the war began. Lots of people in a potentially volatile situation? A front row seat? I am SO there. I have the Rhett Butler attitude when it comes to chaos: I’m quite willing to watch it, as long as I have a good seat and can stay out of combat.
However, I’d be right in the middle of things, which gave me a bit of a thrill. I volunteered to write about my trip for the Fort Wayne Reader, and finally I felt like a “real reporter” at last. I was writing about a national event, and I would get to see it up close and personal.
When the bus let us out on Pennsylvania Avenue, the air was filled not with anger, but with purpose and excitement. Sure, the war protesters were angry, but it wasn’t exactly a lynch mob. As Jimmy Buffett often sings, “if we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” That mood pretty much summed up D. C.
September 24. There were tons of signs, some of them downright hilarious, some of them chilling.
The march itself was peaceful. We were warned there would be war supporters on the sidewalks of the streets we were marching down, but to be honest, finding a war supporter was almost as hard as finding Osama Bin Laden. A few of them clutched “Send Cindy Home” signs and I remember one sign saying something like, “go to Canada like you promised.” If only I could.
The march progressed peacefully, with some yelling matches between the anti-war protesters and the pro-war people. Reports I read had the pro-war supporters at about 150, where the anti-war protesters ranged anywhere from 100,000 to 500,000, depending on your sources.
What was nice about the march was the diversity and determination of the people participating. One of the first people I noticed was an obvious World War II or Korean War veteran with a cane, making his way laboriously down the street to the rally site. I had to talk to the woman with the “Republicans for
Impeachment” sign. I wish I’d talked to the guy with the “Keep the Promise to Iraq” sign. I wondered what that promise was? Torturing prisoners? Wasting American taxpayer’s money? Killing the young and the poor (Americans as well as Iraqis?)
Sure, Bush wasn’t there in person to see what was going on in front of his house, but it was nice to see hundreds of thousands of people say, “enough.” People were against the war for different reasons, but pretty much everyone I saw that day made their feelings clear one way or another.
And I was excited to be a part of it. I was too young for Vietnam, but history has a nasty way of repeating itself, and thanks to that, I ended up going to a big anti-war rally and was able to say, “I was there.”
I hope and pray my niece and nephew won’t be able to say the same thing.