Monday, June 11, 2007

Honk If You Love Peace!

This past Saturday, June 9th, the Pawling Democratic Committee (here you go) organized the first anti-Iraq War protest in Pawling since, gosh, I guess you'd have to say since the war in Iraq began. (I don't recall hearing about any during the first Gulf War but, then, if it got the same publicity ours did, you'd probably only be hearing about it from me.) Still, the turnout was better than feared. Okay, better than I feared. I don't know what the organizers feared. We never got into that. It's not a topic that normally comes up, I guess. ("Say, Bob. Before we go marching into town, possibly embarrassing ourselves in front of our neighbors, is there anything you otherwise fear?" "Well, Jim, besides you and me being the only ones to show up at this march, I'm afraid of lawn ornaments." "Don't worry, Bob. I'll shield your eyes if I spot any, okay?" "You're a good friend, Jim.") I was afraid that Jane and I would show up and, like, four other people would be there. But there were about two dozen people, young and old, all concerned enough about bringing an end to this war to want to march through the village and tell people about it. Some brought their kids so they could be part of it, too. At least one was a Vietnam vet. (A marcher, not one of the kids.) Several of them were from the local Democratic Party chapter, of course. All of us felt we should no longer have any military in Iraq fighting someone else's battles, which is what it has basically become.

In addition to the obvious fact that Jane and I hate what this war in Iraq has done to our nation on so many levels, one of the main appeals of this march was that it started and ended within walking distance of our house. It literally began a block away from our front yard. A short four-minute walk and we were there, all ready to start protesting! (It was my first actual anti-war protest march, so I was trying to accentuate the positive.) Our planned route was to take us down the street toward the middle of the Village of Pawling and end near a memorial erected to honor war dead from our community. Only one short uphill section of the Mile-More-or-Less-Long March gave us all an excuse to "catch our breaths", and it was downhill from there right into the village proper. Throughout the walk we had several people (I'd guess at least a dozen or so) give us supportive honks on the horn (car horn, what did you think I meant?). That's when Jane gave me the idea for the title of this post. She shouted back, "Honk if you love peace!" (which I find amusing on several levels.) And I saw a few peace signs flashed. It might have been my smudgy glasses but I'm pretty sure most of them had two fingers up.

When we got to the memorial we took a closer look and realized that there would be no place to stand and talk without being in the middle of traffic, and it wasn't our intention to get arrested (though more than a few of us were prepared to go through with it; it just was never our intention. And it didn't happen.) We saw a spot on the median of the boulevard where it looked like all two dozen of us could stand and not get run over. (It was Charles Colman Blvd, for those familiar with downtown Pawling, NY. Yeah, like the European visitors to this blog know all about downtown Pawling, NY! But do keep coming back, my European friends. You have nothing to fear from me. I've been to Europe and I like it.) We stood for a while waving our signs (you gotta have signs or else how would people know you weren't just a bunch of mental patients who couldn't find the bus?) and had a few half-hearted, mostly-forgetful attempts at some protest songs. (Even if there were any record producers there, I'm sure they would have reached for their iPods very quickly once they heard us sing.) I did quite clearly hear one guy yell "Hippies!" at us as he drove by. Personally, I didn't mind, but I understand from my sister that the kids today take that as an insult. So what? I like being called "Liberal", too. Then I wondered if anyone had called the local newspaper, which had an office literally across the street from us though it was normally closed on Saturdays, but, no, they forgot to do that. But we decided we would do it the next time. Then we started talking about if there would be a next time, and we agreed that there would be. Then we talked about which day would be good and we agreed that since this was the second saturday of the month, and since the first one of next month (that would be July for you keeping score at home) was a holiday weekend, we agreed that we would do it again the second weekend. So it sounds like we'll be doing this the second Saturday of each month until the war ends. Fifty years, my ass!

Then Ralph, the organizer, gave a little speech at the end of which he said, "I realize now that I should have read this at the beginning of the march." Still, though it had some initial awkwardness (most if us were new at this), I think it was a worthwhile effort. We got to walk through the village proudly pointing out our opposition to the war. I even saw someone I knew sitting outside the laundromat. Considering that he did some work at our house a few times and that he's seen the collection of bumper stickers on Jane's car, I don't think he was all that surprised to see us there. But it was fun. And I look forward to doing it again next month. And if you're not with us, I'll just give you the benefit of the doubt and say you got lost trying to find the place. Could happen to anyone.


SKdeA said...

Hey Wayne, GOOD FOR YOU!
Show America you care. A lot of people probably agreed but had fear. I will bet that if you put up a few flyers, and maybe send a comnunity announcement to your local paper about it, you'll get a bigger crowd the next 2nd Saturday!
And hey, thanks for blogging!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic, Wayne!

Jane & Wayne - Hippy war protesters - totally cool.