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Peaceable Kingdom In Fayetteville - Sat. March 20 -Join us!

At the Market House Downtown -- Rain or Shine
Weather Forecast: Fabulous!
Park by the courthouse two blocks east - Google Map Link Here.

7th Anniversary of the Iraq Invasion -- 7 Years Too Many!

March 20: A Tragic Anniversary

Remember This?

It was before dawn on March 20, 2003 when the US invasion of Iraq began.

Seven years ago.

We will mark this tragic anniversary with a vigil & rally at the Fayetteville Market House onSaturday March 20, 2010, 1-4 PM, rain or shine (but the weather forecast is for sunny & warm).

Since then, more than 4400 US troops have been killed. Estimates of Iraqi civilian deaths due to the war vary widely; but none is small. Here are some of them:

Iraqi casualties March 2003 to...

Iraq Family Health Survey: 151,000 violent deaths. June 2006

Lancet survey: 601,027 violent deaths out of 654,965 excess deaths. June 2006

Opinion Research Business survey: 1,033,000 violent deaths as a result of the conflict.
August 2007

Associated Press: 110,600 violent deaths. April 2009

Iraq Body Count: 94,902 – 103,549 violent civilian deaths as a result of the conflict.
December 2009

(Source: wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Iraq_War )

Plus: Approximately 4 million Iraqis have been made refugees, about half inside and half outside Iraq.

The cost of the war to the US Treasury is estimated to be at least $1.9 trillion. That does not include costs of long-term care for the seriously wounded.

Our position has been that this war is illegal and immoral. The best support for US troops is to bring them all home.

Great Weather for a Peace Vigil/Rally!

Yes! The forecast for Fayetteville March 20 is for mostly sunny with a high of 69 degrees. Perfect conditions for a peace rally.**

Come join us!

**Besides, even if it did rain, the Market House has a covered atrium where we could carry on, snug and dry. So we're on, rain or shine.

Fayetteville's Market House: A Place of Witness

Join us on Saturday March 20, 2010, for a commemorative peace vigil & rally on the seventh anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq.

We started protesting the Iraq war there even before it started. Then, as "Shock & Awe" blasted Baghdad, we faced down persistent taunts and jeers from those who gloried in the destruction.

The catcalls soon diminished. The promised quick "victory" was neither. Two years of searching found no WMDs. The blood and fatigue of deployment after deadly deployment damaged even many who managed to survive. There was the shame of torture. And no "light at the end of the twin tunnels of Iraq and Afghanistan. Those voices are now very rare, even here in this army town. Our last vigil, protesting the buildup in Afghanistan, was met by many, many more favorable calls and thumbs-up gestures than pro-war ones.

And why not? The toll paid by the troops and families here has been huge, and continues. And throughout these years, we have repeated our motto: YES to the troops -- NO to the Wars.

In the years since, we have gathered many more times there: when the US death toll passed 1,000, then 2,000, past 4,000. In 2005, when public support for the war was sinking,the president who launched it came to nearby Ft. Bragg, in 2005 for a much-ballyhooed speech that was supposed to reverse the slide.

But we were waiting for him, with a large, dignified counter-gathering at the Market House: defying a downpour, lighting candles and reading the names of the dead all through his repetition of empty rationalizations and lies.

Our protest was covered by international news media, and the Ft. Bragg speech did nothing to regain support for the war.

Coincidence? We don't think so.

At the suggestion of an Army wife here, we began writing he names of the US dead on foldout display boards. We started with about a dozen: the first two boards were red, and listed the names of those killed up until the time the nation heard the same president declare "Mission Accomplished."

The ones since were written on green boards. These boards eventually increased in number to more than forty, and when fully mounted, they completely encircled the Market House plaza. In fact, as the toll approached 4,000 the boards became more of a burden, emotional as well as logistical, than our small numbers here could handle. (Is that a metaphor for the burden of the war on the American spirit?)`
Seven years. Long years. And on march 20, 2010, we will gather again.

Join us. And spread the word.

A Blast From the Past -- The 2007 Fayetteville Peace March & Rally

Below this post are a set of photos and notes from the 2007 Fayetteville peace march and rally. That gathering was a memorable one.

Much has happened since then. Yet tragically, three years later, there's still a need to make a public statement calling for an end to these occupations and the associated combat.

The Cold Winds of Change Were Blowing! Photos from our Fayetteville NC Rally March 17, 2007

Here are some photos from our Fayetteville Peace Rally -- March 17, 2007

Two days before the rally, the weather turned against it: a pouring rain, followed by a cold snap with piercing winds.
Nevertheless, for the several hundred who braved the weather and marched to Fayetteville's Rowan Park, the rally program was one for the record books: eloquent, diverse yet focussed, and full of life, energy and song.

Program planning up to the last minute: Program Chair Walt Caison, above left, huddles with Emcees Allyson Caison and Dave Lippman.

The Rally was true to our now-perennial motto of "Yes To the Troops -- No To the War," as veterans and military family members filled the stage and the air with eloquent cries of protest, appeals to their comrades still on active duty, and poignant accounts of personal and family suggering in the wake of war.

Col. Ann Wright (Army Ret.) explained why she returned to Fayetteville, where she served at Ft. Bragg for three years, to join the march.

Fayetteville resident Ethelyn Baker swelled with pride as she introduced her son -- and the Executive Director of Veterans for Peace -- Michael McPhearson.

Speaking for Vets for Peace, Michael McPhearson announced plans for a VFP caravan from Fayetteville to the Gulf Coast, to join Katrina reconstruction work, and underlined the connection between the hurricane's destruction and the diversion and waste of resources in the Iraq war.

Featured speaker Rev. Dr. William Barber II, President of the NC NAACP, thundered that the war shows that "It is time for America to repent!" and to show that by ending the war and bringing the troops home.

Among the highlights of the speeches were the undeniably authentic voices of five Iraq vets who took the microphone to describe the personal costs of combat, and to repeat that they had been there and they knew the war was built on lies and not worth their willingness to sacrifice.

Among them was Harvey Tharp, right. He was a Navy officer who worked closely with Iraqis as a linguist before being assigned to combat related duties. The unjust reality of the war led him to resign his commission in protest. Since then, Harvey has struggled with PTSD-related disabilities stemming from the war, and has chronicled his struggles in a candid blog, here.

Matt Southworth, of Wilmington, Ohio (with mike, right) brought the crowd to its feet with his cries of "I Love my country" and his anger at its betrayal by leaders who took it and him into an unjust war.

He was joined by Paul Alexander of Pittsburgh PA (at Matt's left), who returned from deployment to become a regional coordinator for Iraq Veterans Against the War.

But you don't have to settle for silent photos of these warrioirs for peace. A ten-minute video of their compelling testimony is now on YouTube,
here, and then here. Don't Miss It!

The rally was much more than speeches. It started and ended with music, and was leavened in between by the very pointed activist humor of Dave Lippman, in his stage persona of George Shrub, the World's Only Known Singing CIA Agent. (More about Dave at his website here. ) As Agent Shrub put it, "The US has achieved something fundamental through the Iraq war -- installing fundamentalists."

Our headliner, legendary activist-singer Holly Near, shared her voice and experience with us at several points in the program. And one of the high points came when the children who had been at our Kids "Peace Train Station" came to the stage. She led them, and us, in "This Little Light of Mine." (Holly is the big kid at the right.)

The afternoon's rousing conclusion was led by Fayetteville guitarist (and 20-year veteran of Ft. Bragg's 82d Airborne Division) Dan Speller and his band, who had the entire park (well, maybe not counting the police) jumping and shouting to the Edwin Starr classic, "War -- What Is It Good For -- Absolutely Nothing!"

Here was the joyful spirit of resistance, protest on behalf of life, the day's last, most exuberant version of the chorus: Yes to the Troops and NO to the War! It was the Spirit of the Fayetteville Peace Rally, 2007.

Chilly Winds of Blew Strongly through Rowan Park that afternoon. But they were truly Winds of Change.


By US Army Reserve Colonel (Retired) Ann Wright

I am returning to Fayetteville on March 17 for the first time in over twenty years. I spent three years on active duty at Fort Bragg as an instructor at the Special Warfare Center and as the Executive Officer of the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion, Special Operations Command.

During my time at Fort Bragg, I deployed to Grenada on the 18th Airborne Corps international law team and was a member of the US Army claims commission in Grenada. I stayed for four months and helped reestablish governmental functions and assisted with economic development programs. I ended up being in the US Army and Army Reserves for a total of 29 years and retired as a Colonel.

I then joined the US diplomatic corps and served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Mongolia and Afghanistan. I was on the first State Department team to reopen the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in December, 2001 after the CIA and US military pushed the Taliban out of Kabul and had al-Qaeda heading for the Tora Bora mountains.

Ironically, after serving in 8 presidential administrations either in the US military or in the US diplomatic corps, I am returning to Fayetteville to participate in the rally and march to end the war on Iraq.

Why would a 29 year retired US Army Colonel be marching to end the war?

Well, in March, 2003, four years ago as the war on Iraq began, I resigned from the US diplomatic corps in opposition to the war. I was one of three US government employees who resigned. That’s why I am marching to end the war-I gave up my career over the war.

The rally and march in Fayetteville, the home of one of the largest military bases in the United States, is not a march against the service men and women in our military. If it were, I would not participate.

Instead, the march is to call for an end of the administration’s policy that placed our military in Iraq in the first place and secondly to demand that our servicemen and women be provided with proper care when they return.

On March fifth I attended the Congressional hearing in the Walter Reed Hospital auditorium concerning the conditions at Walter Reed for our wounded military and how the transition from active duty medical care to Veterans Administration care can be done much, much more effectively.

While some may disagree with our view that the war in Iraq must end, we will be in the streets of Fayetteville in solidarity with our active duty colleagues demanding better care for those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. That we all can agree on.

About the Author: Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army (13 years on active duty and 16 years in the Army Reserves) and retired as a Colonel. She also worked for 16 years as a US diplomat in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She was awarded the State Department’s Award for Heroism for her actions in the evacuation of 2500 members of the international community and Sierra Leone government during the invasion of rebels into the capital city of Freetown in May, 1997. She resigned from the US diplomatic corps in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq.