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Bring Them Home Now Tour: Central Tour Rolls Through Pittsburgh
Central Tour: Pittsburgh
September 13th, 2005
By Chris Snively
Today was the last full day for the tour in Pittsburgh. Everyone on the Central Bus has been extremely impressed with this wonderful city. It's rolling hills, beautiful bridges, and its 19th century architecture are some of America's best kept secrets. Much thanks to the David Meieran of Pittsburgh End the War, the Thomas Merton Center, the Friends Meeting House on Ellsworth, and the Sisters and caretakers of the Mt. Nazareth Center in Bellevue for making our stay in Pittsburgh wonderful and loving.
The day started with us hustling Beatrice out to the airport, so that she could attend to her real estate business. It's been wonderful that she's been able to weave in and out of the tour as her schedule permits. The chemistry of the group has allowed us to bring people in and out without missing a beat. Like Hart told us back in Bloomington, IN after Chris had inserted parts of Hart's story into his own to make a point, "It isn't about any one of us, it's just all of us adding pieces to the whole. It's teamwork and love, that's what that is, and that'll be what helps us bring them home."
The first event of the day was a rally/press conference at One Market Square, which from all accounts went really well. The press coverage and police assistance in Pittsburgh has been wonderful. We heard that the Raging Grannies had recently endured a police brutality incident in which one of the Grannies was unnecessarily "Tasered" by a couple of rogue police officers. We hope that this was just a case of a few bad apples, because the Pittsburgh police showed us nothing but respect. We also really appreciated the fact that ALL of the college newspapers in town (the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon, Robert Morris, Duquesne, and more) came out to talk with us.
After the rally we talked to union workers at the United Steel Workers Building on Stanwix St. and Blvd of the Allies. This program was wonderful in that Charley and Nancy from MFSO, who have a long history of union efforts, introduced us to the to their fellow union workers. That was really special in a great steal town like Pittsburgh.
All of us presented a five to ten minutes version of our story that connected with caring and healing we are trying to bring (bringing?) to America. Some highlights of this included Vince relating his story to the crowd about how his brother in the PA National guard has just been deployed to Egypt with the possibility of heading to Iraq. You could tell that everyone in the room were deeply concerned to hear a story about the activities of their state's own National Guard. Bill and Sue gave powerful and moving descriptions of their son's lives and deaths in Iraq. Bill also pointed out how much he had supported the recent grocery worker's strike out in California. Chris finished up the session by explaining our efforts in Covington, LA and by speaking to the intergenerational love and cooperation that this tour is bringing across the country. He talked about how the longtime efforts of VFP have gained strength and momentum from a tighter partnership with the moms, dad, aunts, uncles, and cousins of Gold Star Families for Peace and Military Families Speak Out, as well as their little brothers and sisters in Iraq Veterans Against the War and how the influx of new energies has made us all stronger.
In the evening Vince, Hart, Lietta, and Chris broke off to meet with Edith Bell, 81, of the Raging Grannies. Turns out that Vince is an old-time friend of Edith and found out that she was having a showing of a new film on Fallujah at a coffee house named Enrico's Tazza D'oro on North Highland. The group brought along Peter and Sally's film on Camp Casey to show as well. The two films fit well together. The first one told the horrible stories of Iraqi mothers and fathers who have lost their children in this war, while the second one provided hope that a better day is possible. Edith's program brought out both the horror and the hope and hopefully gave the audience a better idea of what our two countries are going through.
We finished the day with a nice send-off reception at the Shadow Lounge on Baum and Highland. The nice people of the Thomas Merton Center catered in delicious Indian cuisine and we showed our films on Camp Casey and MFSO.
Pittsburgh we love you! Now it's on to Harrisburg and beyond!