|by Wayne Juneau|
|A Blog from Wayne's World
(Editor's note: It started with a simple e-mail: Hi Wayne, How was your DC weekend at the Peace March? Did you get arrested? When Rehoboth resident Wayne Juneau answered, he blogged. Here's his view of the 2005 Peace March on the Mall in DC, which he attended with his partner Tom Negran)
It was wonderfuland enormous! The joy and atmosphere at the Mall and Ellipse was warming on such a dreary day. The grayness actually turned out to be a blessingif it had been sunny and warm, Oy!
The march was well organizedas these things goand many of the separate groups came together under one bannerGet us out of Iraq and take care of the people of the Gulf coast. There was even a large contingency of Katrina's displaced persons who came from Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and others. It was great to be a part of this march. Made us all feel that we're not alone. There were some 50 buses from NYC alone and groups from across the country. PDA (Progressive Democrats of America) groups from every state had fair sized contingencies and marched in order of state. Another group consisted of about 100 people holding long lines of thin rope containing a prayer flag for each fallen soldier, with a picture on the side. There were religious groups, including UFMCC, Native American, Jewish, Eastern European and even Japanese groups.
Cindy (Sheehan, the peace activist) was as articulate and focused as ever. Ramsey Clark's impeach-Bush tirade is written in stone. The pro-Bush crowd was almost not there at all.
Amazingly, the DC cops were smiling, kind, sympathetic and helpful. The "stay the course" crowd, if there, must have been a minimal presence. Since the DC police see protest marches on a weekly basis, they just acted according to the increased numbers of protesters by bringing in more officers to take care of any confrontations. And there weren't any.
The only cops we saw in riot gear were standing in front of the pro-War groupsfacing them, not usso it seemed that they were more concerned about our safety than the wingnuts. It WAS a peace march after all.
No busted heads this time. Cops were on our sidea far cry from the confrontational days of the Vietnam protests. (I got my head busted in 1968and it was a frigging PEACE March!)
There were a lot more people present than reported, but that's always the case. We were stuck in a bottleneck of just plain folks at the Ellipse for almost 40 minutes waiting to join the march, but it was well worth it. There were plenty of young people and an enormous number of old peopleI mean, in wheelchairs, on walkers and canes, some had entire families in towand all carrying posters or wearing tee-shirts.
A lot of middle-aged hippies seemed to appear from out of the 60s and Vietnam marches. I kept hearing people say (and some had it on their signs) "Why do I have to do this twice in one lifetime? Once was enough!" I agree, but the mood was so positive that after a while, we really didn't mind doing it again.
Sure, there were a lot of groups and speakers who had other agendas, which people tuned out by using their feet. It was really cool.
And there were an amazing number of gay groups as well. This was a weekend where what CAMP Rehoboth espouses came to pass. Gay and lesbian couples strolled the Mall and Ellipse holding hands, pushing babies in strollers, wearing buttons, tags, stickers, and arm bands, and nobody batted an eye. Some banners were actually upside down rainbow flags with the word PEACE emblazoned in the center. There was even a large gay group for marriage equality. No one batted an eye at them either. We were accepted and welcomed. We were interviewed and acknowledged. This was not a gay environment. This was a human/American environment without judgment.
Not being cast as "other" was good enough for me this time around. We take so much for granted here in Rehoboth Beach.
Everywhere you went on the Mall or Ellipse people were giving one another a thumbs-up or big smiles and saying things like, "thanks for being here" and "wow, great sign."
It truly was a validating experience. I think we all felt that throughout the day we knew we were not alone in our thinking and it was the best place to be to express anger, outrage, and frustration.
As I am sure you noticed, there was no coverage at all from the mainstream mediaexcept for CSPAN. The papers that did any coverage buried it deep inside the first section. And by most of the reporting, few if any mainstream reporters were actually there. They just cut and pasted from AP stories. I did see reports from Knight-Ridder and Reuters, which were quite good.
On our drive back we stopped for dinner on Kent Island in Maryland. It was a crab place on the bay and we got there just as the sun was setting. We had a glass of wine and let the glow of the day wash over us, talked about our feelings regarding the events of the day and how people interacted with, and responded to one another. Extraordinary.
Got home and had another glass of wine as we watched the entire day replayed, as if just for us, on CSPAN.
Glad we could be there. Don't ever want to have to do one again.
Hugs, oh, and Peace!
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 14 October 14, 2005