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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.