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Anti-war rally held at Capitol
By Crystal Bonvillian
Linda Waste's voice quivered as she told the crowd on the steps of the state Capitol on Monday night about her three sons and two grandchildren who are serving in Iraq.
The Hinesville, Ga., resident and her husband, Philip, were two of the participants who rode into Montgomery on Monday on the Bring Them Home Now Tour. The tour, a traveling anti-war rally, was launched last month by Cindy Sheehan, the grieving mother who staged a war protest outside President Bush's ranch near Crawford, Texas.
The tour is expected to end Sept. 21 in Washington.
Waste talked about the 58 months her children and grandchildren have served in Iraq so far.
"We have given enough," Waste said. "We keep hearing about the 'noble sacrifice.' There is nothing noble about this unjust war."
Twenty to 30 Montgomery-area residents turned out to hear Waste and other tour participants speak at the rally and candlelight vigil.
Jimmie Ilachild of Montgomery stood with a candle in one hand and a sign in the other. His sign read, "Why is it we can send 150,000 troops to kill people in Iraq, but we can't save people in New Orleans?"
Ilachild said he has been disgusted by the lack of help Hurricane Katrina victims received from the federal government in the first few days following the storm.
"I don't watch much television, but I watched two to three hours of news every day last week," Ilachild said. "It made me so angry. The government just stood by and let people die in the streets."
Tour member Julie Cuniglio of Dallas said she too is disheartened by the fact that so many troops are in Iraq instead of in the U.S.
"They are over there doing what they believe to be an honorable job," Cuniglio said. "But they've done it without the support they need. And they are not here when they are needed."
Cuniglio and her daughter, Brooke Beasley, spoke of Cuniglio's nephew, Marine Staff Sgt. Aaron Dean White, who was killed in a helicopter crash near Al Hillah, Iraq, in May 2003.
"Saturday, May 17, 2003, my cousin called and talked to his family," Beasley said. "It was his daughter's birthday, and he had originally been scheduled to fly a mission that day, so he was delighted that he was able to call home. He didn't know that it would be the last time he would speak to his parents and his wife, Michelle."
Two days later, White's family was notified of the crash.
Former Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey of Waynesville, N.C., stood in military fatigues as he addressed the crowd. According to the tour's press information, Massey, part of the main invasion force in Iraq, was sent home after protesting the shooting of Iraqi civilians.
"The horrors of war have been permanently ingrained into my soul," Massey said.