Peace Hugs

Kate Anne, communikating on multi-levels -- personal and political, as well as for peace, justice and nonviolence

Monday, September 26, 2005

FOR Peace in Washington on September 24 - Personal Take

Kate Anne, Bonnie, Gail

Saturday was the March on Washington to End the War in Iraq and Bring the Troops Home: What a day! I survived the challenges of the morning as UFPJ's Union Square site coordinator for buses to the march and rally. Lots of people in Washington DC but it looks like little press coverage. Don't know if my friend Sam Oast found a spot on the Quaker bus or not. but at Union Square we only were given 8 of the 10 buses promised, PLUS the Quaker bus which was arranged through UFPJ. I didn't know the Quakers would be meeting at the North end of the square (ah, the lack of communication sometimes). The good news is that some of the buses held more than 50 people -- mine seated 59. We thought we had an extra bus, but it turned out to be an ANSWER bus at the wrong site. With the Independent Democrats (Hats off to Ya Yoi!) swinging by to pick up 13 (JUST the right number to accomodate a student contingent -- love synchronicity), we ended up leaving only 4 or 5 people without a bus. I understand ANSWER had about 40 people at the other end of Union Square waiting and unable to go. PLUS there was a power outage at Penn Station and there were trains cancelled all over the place. (Supposedly some workers in NJ dropped a beam on the tracks and shorted the whole NE Corridor for some ten hours. Still, hmmmm. Remember, just because there are such things as conspiracy theories doesn't mean there aren't some conspiracies.)

My sign was a variation of what I held for the Cindy Sheehan vigil, but bigger and VERY Code-Pink (poster board AND homemade tube): America Stands with Cindy / Too much blood shed for NO "noble cause". (Thank God, my friend and one of the Union Square captains Gail Harper convinced me to finish it Friday night and not assemble it on a very crowded bus.) Once there, after a good long walk to the UPFJ site over by the Washington Monument (to avoid the time of a transfer to a crowded Smithsonian Station-stopping orange or blue train), I got to visit some of the good teaching tents (don't know how much teaching actually got done, however, as it was a huge and long march PLUS the march route was changed and only a segment made it back down to the tent area afterwards.

Got more peace/political pins for my collection. Also bought an anti-recruitment black wrist band: YOU CAN'T BE ALL [that] YOU CAN BE IF YOU'RE DEAD. Purchased a "Progressives Unite" canvas bag from the Progressive Democrats of America, complete with their logo, website, and the rare union bug.

Monica and Josh

Managed to get all of our people back to the bus and we picked up one extra person left behind who was able to utilize gratefully the seat of one of the one-wayers. I am so lucky to have had the assistance of my friend Gail Harper and her friend Bonnie Egan, plus the help of actor/professor Joshua Muldavin (from Sarah Lawrence College) who helped in various ways including buying/distributing the bus tickets -- he and Gail were able to go in and buy ALL of our tickets -- HURRAH! Bonnie put signs up on buses and assisted Gail in captaining the bus I went on. Gail called ME the General (military-sounding: ouch) and in truth with the craziness of the morning, I couldn't have effectively captain a bus and coordinate the other buses too. We kept the energy on our bus going with enthusiasm and spirit. As for creature-comforts, glad we brought some toilet paper: there was none on the bus. (Memo to anyone serving as a bus captains: bring TP. I will include this in some evaluation notes to UFPJ/United for Peace & Justice.)

One of the captains decided not to make the return trip and passed his list (finally) after a number of phone calls, to others on his bus, but I am not sure if THEY made it back to their bus. (I understand the bus left early-ish and the bus driver "guessed" that everyone was there: that's how we picked up Sue Wells, the stranded passenger -- she had called me on the number found on the passenger instruction sheet. Wonder if this guessing bus driving got a tip from his bus passengers? Wonder if Captain Chad had collected any tip money in advance of resigning his position?) One of the other captains said she had to leave a late passenger behind after the bus driver said it would be another $50 and the person wasn't merely a half hour late, which she had called and said she would be, but over an hour late and still not there and hadn't managed to call back. Hope Lillian got on another bus.

We had on our Bus #4 this older African American poet with his dreadlocks and easy-going style. At a bathroom break/bus refueling stop, we had to send Josh to find him. Josh was so gentle with him and we had to explain the concept of being on time. (Of course, Gail, Bonnie and I had some problems with the time thing too -- everyone knows that "Kate rhymes with late", but then Josh took over, cheered on by his wife Monica. My prayers were answered in that Clarence Pope, the poet, made it back in time and we didn't have to leave "the bard of NYC" behind in DC. His poetry really is good political/peace stuff. He gave me permission to quote him on line -- watch for it.)

Then there was a lady who requested "extras" in the treats we passed out: M&Ms, hard candy, Girl Scout cookies, who was abrasive in her personality and driving some of those nearby her nuts. We had to reprimand her for smoking in the bus rest room: the smoke filtered out through the whole bus! Ah the people one meets on a bus trip!

Great protest signs. That's one link and you should check out the links provided at AfterDowningStreet.Org but I hould have written them down. One was something like "Wish Bush would have some sex so we could impeach him". They had left it posted by the crosses that had been positioned on the mall in cemetery like fashion near the DC Camp Casey and I understand a lot of folks photographed it. I should check back with Gail and get HER favorites. (One of them I know is the 'standard' "Bombing [or fighting] for peace is like fucking for virginity" -- another she told me about was more topical and clever, "Make Levees, Not War" -- oh, yeah, there was a picture of Bush and Cheney labeled "Violent Extremists". And we chuckled over "Draft College Republicans", reminiscent of my remarks about enlisting to some of the young college students cheering on Christopher Hitchens when he debated George Galloway at Baruch College the other week.)

There was a group from the Revolutionary Communist Party who were jumping on buses during the bus stops (and being vague about who they were) handing out stickers espousing a World Can't Wait --Strike to Drive Out Bush event which they had called for Nov. 2, the day of his re-(s)election. They talked about collecting money at the march and we did see them later in their event tee-shirts AND at the Operation Ceasefire Concert and Rally (which got started before the march ended, thank God, as it was a long slow march), they were in a line holding huge and visible letters for the camera (Were there cameras other than independents?) to catch. Joan Baez did a set, including a Steve Earle song, also Where Have All the Flowers Gone, a wonder Rain song whose title is escaping me, and.... one or two others: GREAT. Then there were the singers who sang more to the young folk: loud and good. And another more classic group, the Bellrays, who were cross-generational in their appeal. We had to leave before Steve Earle sang and before Cindy Sheehan spoke, but we got to hear Rep. Maxine Waters, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Lynne Woolsey, a wonderfully energetic but now homeless Louisiana student activist Colette Battle, an Hispanic congressman, and some other good speakers whose names I will think of later.

I managed to get through the day enjoying it after the challenging (read: stressful) morning, though I had had only six hours of sleep total over two nights. (Gail and I were up late Friday to finish and assemble the bus captain packets then up early). Thank God for Gail, Bonnie, Josh, and my good bus captains, especially Patricia Watson for her terrific bus passenger instruction sheet, my Cindy Sheehan vigil pal Colleen Primrose -- and my guardian angels. I was able to do my part and feel good about it.

I hope this gives you a idea of what went on. I spoke on Sunday with Bill Kavanagh from the march and our own UFPJ Union Square Bus #4 and he posted his pictures and some other good stuff at his blog: Bill's Big Diamond Blog -- with a special entry with a link to his march photos. I expect to be posting some more formal thoughts at my more formal website/blog -- KateAnne FOR Peace Justice and Nonviolence Weblog soon. Meanwhile -- and ALWAYS:

Peace hugs,
Kate Anne


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