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South Tour: Montgomery, AL
September 5th, 2005
by Julie Cuniglio, Gold Star Families for Peace
The Southern Tour rolled into Montgomery mid-afternoon and was met by our gracious local host, Ellen Griffin of the Montgomery Peace Project. Ellen escorted our group to a one of the two lovely Montgomery homes that was hosting us for the evening, where everyone enjoyed a couple of hours of iced tea and conversation, followed by a wonderful meal, home cooked by our host and another local supporter.
At 7:30 we gathered at the capitol, where a number of vigil participants were already beginning to arrive. While tour members lined the capitol steps with candles and hung the tour banner, others greeted the arrivals, who were anxious to hear details of the bus tour and stories of Camp Casey. Many asked how Cindy was doing and thanked the tour members, over and over, for taking the time to stop in Montgomery. Local press spoke for some time to Phil and Linda Waste, who shared detailed stories of how they’ve endured the extended deployments in Iraq of their children and grandchildren. By the vigil’s start, the crowd had grown to 50, including members of the Montgomery Peace Project, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Veterans for Peace and others.
At 8:00 the Speak Out event began which I hosted in honor of my nephew Aaron Dean White, who lost his life in Iraq on May 19, 2003. My daughter, Brooke Beasley, and I spoke. Next Phil and Linda Waste of Military Families Speak Out shared their experience as the parents and grandparents of five Iraqi veterans, who have given a total of 59 months to the war. Iraq Veterans Against the War cofunder and Iraqi veteran Jimmy Massey wrapped up the tour bus portion of the event by sharing the horrors he witnessed during his tour of duty and his decision to risk everything in order to speak out. Finally, guest speaker John Broadway spoke of his pre-war peacekeeping visit to Iraq with the Montgomery Peace project. Brooke Beasley ended the Speak Out segment by leading in “Amazing Grace