END THE WAR NATIONAL ACTION - UNITED FOR PEACE & JUSTICE
By Darla Shelden
Oct. 27, Oklahoma City - - Two Oklahoma Gold Star fathers were keynote speakers at a rally in Oklahoma City Saturday calling for an end to the war in Iraq. About 150 activists gathered at the intersection of North Meridian Ave. and the Northwest Expressway, from 11 am to 12:30 pm, to hold signs, listen to music and hear speakers calling for peace.
“Support the troops, bring them home,” said Warren Henthorn of Choctaw, OK, whose son Jeffrey served eight years in the military before dying in Iraq, February 8, 2005. Mr. Henthorn is a regular participant in weekly public vigils where signs calling drivers to “honk for peace” are held.
John Scripsick of Wayne, OK, and his wife Jan were also at the rally, in memory of their son Bryan, killed in Iraq on Sept. 6 of this year. Scripsick said he believes that the death and destruction caused by the war in Iraq is only winning more hostility and hatred against the United States. “Bryan had his doubts about the mission of the war, but he went to Iraq out of loyalty to his buddies in his unit, “Scripsick said. “We must end this thing and bring our troops home immediately,” he said.
Col. (ret.) Katherine Scheirman, served 20 years as a medical doctor in various Air Force assignments around the world. Her final assignment was as Chief of Medical Operations at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where casualties from Iraq are evacuated. Since leaving the military a year ago, Scheirman has been an outspoken advocate for ending the war in Iraq. “I urge everyone to take five minutes every day to call our US Senators and Representatives to for an end to the war in Iraq,” Scheirman said. “If members of Congress hear from hundreds of constituents every day, they will get the message that Americans want our troops out of Iraq,” she said. She said US troops should focus on the real enemy, Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.
Dr. Robin Meyers, pastor at Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City urged folks to sign a resolution for peace, being circulated by the United Church of Christ denomination. “Our national president, Rev. John Thomas, was arrested while delivering more than 67,000 signatures on the resolution which we have at today's rally,” Dr. Meyers said. He said that signatures gathered this weekend will be added toward the goal of 100,000 signatures.
Reggie Cervantes, a 9/11 rescue worker featured in the Michael Moore movie "Sicko," also spoke at the rally. Cervantes compared the costs of health care for kids to the cost of war in Iraq. She said the children's health care bill recently vetoed by President Bush would only have cost the equivalent of six weeks of the Iraq war, per year. “I want my country to support health care preserving life, not an illegal war causing death,” Cervantes said.
Nathaniel Batchelder, director of the Peace House in Oklahoma City, was host at the event. “Let us remember that we are here because of what we are for, not only what we are against,” Batchelder said. He said the Peace House works for human rights, an end to the worst poverty and disease in the world, for fair wages for workers, preserving Social Security, and national health care. “Right now, what stands in the way of these affordable goals is a war that Americans should not be tolerating,” he said.
Music at the demonstration was provided by Oklahoma City's own “The Electric Primadonnas." Drumming was led by “Jahruba,” who performs in schools all over the state. Some 100 people participated in a “die-in” at 12:30 pm, led by Dr. Robin Meyers. Participants lay down in the grass along the Northwest Highway for five minutes, simulating the death and dying caused by the war in Iraq.
Darla Shelden, an organizer of Saturday's demonstration, said Oklahoma City's event was in solidarity with national action by United For Peace & Justice. "From many cities in one voice we sent a clear and unified message to end this war and bring the troops home now."