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'We Are Going to End the War'

The Herald Times
September 7th, 2005
Sheehan-inspired anti-war tour comes to Bloomington
by Steve Hinnefeld

Military families and veterans stopped in Bloomington Tuesday with a message for the president: Bring the troops home from Iraq.

"The best way we can support our troops is to bring them home now," said Mia Lorraine, whose son is an Army captain and spent a year in Iraq.

Lorraine, from Sebastopol, Calif., is a member of Military Families Speak Out, one of several groups involved in a bus tour aimed at catalyzing opposition to the war.

The tour started at Camp Casey, the encampment that grew up in Crawford, Texas, around Cindy Sheehan's attempt to meet with President Bush about her son Casey's death in Iraq. It will end Sept. 24 with an anti-war rally in Washington, D.C.

Actually, there are three tours traveling to Washington via northern, central and southern routes. A half-dozen members of the central group came to Bloomington after an Indianapolis stop. Also taking part in the tour are Gold Star Families Against the War, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace.

The tour previously stopped in Dallas; Little Rock, Ark.; Memphis, Tenn.; St. Louis; and Terre Haute; and also plans stops at several cities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland.

Kalissa Stanley, a Killeen, Texas, resident whose husband is in the Army, said American public opinion is turning against the war and government policy will eventually follow.

"We are going to end the war," she said. "It might not be tomorrow and it might not be the 24th of September."

In Bloomington, the group spoke at a news conference at Boxcar Books, then held an impromptu rally at Peoples Park and Dunn Meadow. They said they were inspired to speak out by Sheehan's example and the optimism and togetherness they encountered at Camp Casey.

Lietta Ruger of Bay Center, Wash., whose son-in-law and nephew are in the Army and have served in Iraq, went to Crawford in the first week of Sheehan's vigil, before it was discovered by the media.

"This was not a story they responded to, but their hearts," she said, explaining why people went to Texas to support Sheehan.

Hart Viges, an Austin, Texas, veteran who became a conscientious objector after serving 11 months in Iraq, said the U.S. presence is producing chaos in Iraq and lingering psychological problems for American soldiers who worry about roadside bombs hidden in trash bags and dead animals.

"The war's not gone for me and it won't be gone for anyone who goes over there and comes back," he said.

Chris Snively, a staff member with Veterans for Peace, said troops are frustrated that they ousted Saddam Hussein and let Iraq form an interim government but their leaders keep moving the goal posts. He said the tour and the Sept. 24 rally aren't about politics.

"If John Kerry had been elected and the war continued the way it is now, Camp Casey would have been in Massachusetts, not Texas," he said.


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