By Pete Kotz
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By Capt. James Van Thach told to Jonathan Wei
By Kera Bolonik
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By Steve Weinstein
For Zorina Sanchez, getting the troops out of Iraq is personal. "My son just finished basic training. He could ship out in March or August," says the 48-year-old home-care supervisor from the South Bronx. Though she's never been to an anti-war demo before, Sanchez was among a dozen volunteers who turned up at the midtown offices of United for Peace and Justice last Wednesday to help mobilize for the big march in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, January 27.
"He's only 20 years old. He's my only child," says Sanchez, who's riding to D.C. on a bus organized by her union, District Council 37. "I begged him not to sign up, but he felt like the Army was his only way out. Now he's going over there to fight, and for what? You think putting in more troops is going to stop the killing over there? Now they're spilling blood all over the placetheir blood, our bloodfor what? I'll do anything to stop this. I don't want my son to die for nothing."
If recent polls are any indication, there's a growing army of Americans who don't want Sanchez's kid or anyone else's in the Iraq occupation. President George Bush's newly announced intent to send an additional 21,500 troops into the burgeoning civil warhis so-called "surge" planhas given this particular march on Washington unexpected momentum. "We got a call from an American in China who said, I'm so fed up, I'm getting on a plane to be at the march," says UFPJ spokesperson Hany Khalil. Last week, the group's website got 700,000 hits in a single day. "A couple from Los Angeles canceled a cruise for their 35th wedding anniversary to be at the march. Bush's escalation has jolted people into recognizing it's absolutely essential they be in the streets."
Organizers, including MoveOn, the National Organization for Women, and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, say this could be the largest antiwar demonstration since that chilly February 15, 2003, uprising before the U.S. invasion.
"I don't think we've been in such a pivotal moment since the campaign began to stop this war," says Eli Pariser, executive director of MoveOn, whose members have pitched in tens of thousands of dollars in "travel scholarships" to help others attend. "It's an 'all hands on deck' kind of feeling. Congress needs to know that people expect them to block this escalation and then lead the way out of this quagmire."
Many marchers are staying for the big lobbying push on Monday, when activists from all 435 Congressional districts plan to descend on Capitol Hill to urge their representatives to pass more than just symbolic resolutions against the troop increase.
"Bush is saying, what's the counter offer? Well, the counter offer is to get out now, because when you look at the options, nothing else makes sense, argues Brooklyn peace activist Steve Ault. "We're saying to the Democrats, the time for equivocation is over. What is going to be accomplished by hanging out there any longer? Theres huge amount of evidence that the presence of U.S. troops is inciting sectarian warfare in Iraq and making it worse."
Here's how to get your "surge" on this weekend.
HOW TO GET THERE
Reserve a seat on the bus:
1. UFPJ is organizing buses in Manhattan and Queens, departing at 6 a.m. Saturday from these locations:
Union Square North
West 72nd Street & Broadway
West 125th Street & Seventh Avenue
105 East 116 Street, between Lexington and Park
Queensboro Plaza, northern end, at Crescent Street
Tickets are $35$40 round-trip, with a limited number of $20 tickets for students and low-income riders. Purchase online at unitedforpeace.org, in person at 261 West 36th Street (between Seventh and Eighth avenues), or by phone with a credit card at 212-868-5545.
2. Brooklyn Parents for Peace is organizing buses from Grand Army Plaza, leaving at 5:45 a.m.
Tickets are $35, available online at brooklynpeace.org, or by calling 718-624-5921.
3. Bronx Action for Peace and the Working Families Party have buses leaving from these locations ($35; call to reserve a seat):
Bedford Park Blvd. and Jerome Ave., 6 a.m.; contact Frank Farkas at 718-365-4044 (day) or 718-543-6963 (eve), or e-mail email@example.com.
Co-Op City, Einstein Loop express bus stop at 5:45 a.m. and Dreiser Loop bus stop at 6 a.m.; contact Bernie Cylich at 646-522-5498 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. For an expanded list of groups organizing buses for D.C., see this page.
6. Free Agent: See this page for Chinatown busline schedules. Generally, tickets are $35 round-trip.
Or ride the peace trains:
There are also vans and carpools:
See unitedforpeace.org for info on ride shares from New York and cities across the U.S.
EVENTS IN D.C.
9 a.m. Interfaith Service, Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 212 East Capitol Street NE
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