Sunday anti-war rally at Capitol

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A broad coalition led by labor, religious, veterans and non-profit groups gathered Sunday afternoon at the State Capitol to protest against the war in Iraq. Pam Costain of Wellstone Action led off with the message, “We are here today to say one thing loud and clear – it is time for Congress to act to get us out of Iraq.”

Becky Lourey, a Gold Star mother whose son died when his helicopter was shot down in Iraq, followed. “We cannot be ignored this time,” she said, citing the coalition gathered at the protest and national opposition to the war. “We say to Congress: End this war. And do not allow this president to bomb Iran. … Congress should listen to the seven soldiers of the 82nd Airborne who wrote in the New York Times … to the generals who have spoken out against this war … to the peace community… The lesson learned from Vietnam should be that half of the soldiers killed in Vietnam were killed after the generals knew the war was lost.”

John Varone is a retired teacher, a long-time union member, and the president of Veterans for Peace, Minnesota Chapter 27. He served in the military police in Vietnam. “That was a wrong war and so is the current war in Iraq,” Varone told the crowd. “Citizens have been bamboozled, flim-flammed and lied to from Day 1.”

Wes Davey from Iraq Vets Against the War served in Vietnam in 1968 and in the current Iraq war, before he retired from the army with the rank of master sergeant in 2005. One of his five children also served in Iraq. “Only a small number of Americans are making this sacrifice,” Davey said. “It is time to start bringing our troops home, home to their families and home to the country they love, too. As an Iraq vet, I have a request ot our president: that he admit failure, fall on his sword and go home to Texas – and take Dick Cheney with him.”

Rick Hanson of Military Families Speak Out has a 21-year-old son serving in the marines, who is not in his second deployment in Iraq. Hanson said: “The solution will not come from .. the arrogance of blaming the Iraqi people for incompetence, but from the humility of acknowledging that we should not have invaded Iraq in the first place. … We need to bring our troops home now … and take care of them when they get here.”