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Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell

PROTESTERS AT THE recent Washington, D.C. peace rally, in addition to locals, featured these three people posing as President Bush, left, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, center, and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Peace Rally Features
Sacred and Profane

Editor’s Note: In future issues, we plan to devote space to articles and photographs about residents who are serving in our armed forces both here and overseas, including interviews with families who have loved ones doing military duty near Iraq.

By Ted Waddell

WASHINGTON, D.C. — January 31, 2003 – On January 18, four busloads of people from Sullivan County and adjacent Wayne County, Pa. joined buses from 45 of the nation’s 50 states on a journey to Washington, D.C. as the anti-war, pro-peace movement gained momentum.
Two buses departed from Callicoon Creek Park in Callicoon in the wee hours of the morning, and after linking up with two more busloads of anti-war protesters across the Delaware River, they arrived in the nation’s capital.
About 200 area protesters joined a crowd estimated to be close to half a million strong in opposing pre-emptive war with Iraq.
All told, ages ranged from nine to over 70 and included social workers, teachers, students, a farmer, an engineer, nuns, a priest and a self-proclaimed soccer mom.
Karen and Joey DiPane of the Beechwoods took turns carrying a sign proclaiming “Soccer Coach for Peace” as the throngs endured 20-degree temps at the National Mall to listen to speakers lined up by rally organizer ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), a worldwide activist coalition – perceived by many to have a radical bent.
The DiPanes were instrumental in organizing the bus trip.
Asked why she decided to march on the capital, Karen DiPane said it was in response to her opinion that President Bush was dovetailing going to war against Iraq with the tragic events of 9-11-2001.
“I think people are very frustrated with this kind of march to war, even though there is no real coupling of 9-11 to the regime of Saddam Hussein,” she said.
“I’m not saying Saddam is a good guy, but let’s not let the government use our fears and grief as a justification for war,” added DiPane.
In addressing the issue of divergent views regarding the looming war and the distinct possibility of American military forces being put in harm’s way, DiPane said, “People are getting passionate.”
Her reaction to the rally for peace in Washington, D.C.?
“It felt like people were just beginning to stick their necks out. . . . There was something wrong with this eagerness for war. This was a grand awakening,” she said.
As the mother of a 19-year-old son whose best friend is in the armed services, Karen DiPane added, “I take this quite personally, [because] going to war is no small matter.”
Beverly Sterner of Milanville, Pa. is an old hand at the anti-war effort. From 1959 to 1971, she devoted her energies to several pro-peace causes and coalition-building.
“It was all about peace and justice,” she recalled.
Last October, she decided not to join the first peace rally in D.C., but rather to stay home and help organize local anti-war efforts.
On January 18, Sterner felt compelled to join the second rally in the nation’s capital.
“This is the beginning of a new movement,” she said.
Zeke Boyle, a master carpenter from the Beechwoods, elected to participate in a peace march in Kingston on October 26, rather than journey to Washington, D.C.
Why did he go to the nation’s capital last month for the second rally?
“I went because I wanted to be part of the numbers,” said Boyle. “We were all there for one reason – war is not the answer.”
Tracey and Mike Ranze have four sons, one of whom is registered for the draft. Three of their boys (ages 12, 16 and 18) accompanied them to Washington, D.C. on January 18.
“We don’t want them to take our sons and kill them,” said Tracey Ranze. “We don’t want them used as bullets.”
During the massive anti-war, pro-peace rally, Tracey carried a sign, while Mike held aloft an American flag.
“I am not willing to let my children die for this administration’s preemptive war,” she said.
Upon arrival back at the staging area alongside Callicoon Creek Park, the advocates for peace discovered that unknown persons(s) under cover of dark had placed crudely lettered photocopied messages on all their parked cars.
“Thanks for your help & support!” read the letter, signed, “Saddam & Osama.”
The reaction to the message was mixed, but a majority of the anti-war protesters polled said they wished the hidden author(s) would step up to the plate and engage in reasoned dialogue about the complex issues of war and peace.

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