January 18




“W

ho
wants to impeach Bush? Say it.” Deafening cheers erupt from
a crowd of a 100,000, banners and signs fly into the air, and, somewhere
near the back of the crowd, someone pays $5 for a pretzel. This
is not your average day at the Mall.


 It’s
January 18, and this is the biggest anti-war demonstration since
the Vietnam War, with speakers such as Ramsey Clark, Jessica Lange,
Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and many others. In the views of many,
an invasion of Iraq by United States Forces is inevitable. Indeed,
some say, there is no other option. Why do people bother to attend
protests such as these if they won’t change anything?


Well,
maybe they will, maybe they won’t. But with every rally, every
cheer from the crowd, the movement grows stronger. The more people
are here now, the clearer the message resounds. As Sergio, who came
all the way from Mexico to be on this ground today, put it, “War
is no resolution. It never has been and it never will be.”


Someone
from Philadelphia says, “The numbers at these things count.
All major media is owned by five corporations, and the heads of
those corporations sit around with glasses of vodka and decide what
happened that day. If you’re not here, then you don’t
know the truth.”


By
noon, over 200,000 have arrived and not even half of the buses have
come in yet. The officials often downplay the number of attendees
to events like this, but it will be very difficult to do so today.
In the end, the count comes to over 500,000.


But
what exactly are we protesting? A president who is pushing for an
invasion in which countless innocent people will be killed over
an alleged stock of weapons of mass destruction that no one has
proof of. Says Brian Becker, a speaker at the rally, “This
is not a war for disarmament. This is a war for imperialism.”


“I
think it’s outrageous,” states Susan, 47, who is also
from Philadelphia, “that we can do elsewhere what we call terror
here.”


“Hopefully,”
says Kito, 27, “this is just the start of a bigger movement.”
When asked what we can do to stop the war, he adds that people should
lobby Congress and send letters to the White House.


“Peacefully
rallying, like we are,” answers Alix, 19, from Res- ton, to
the same question. “It worked in Vietnam, it will work now.
People against this war are a majority.”


Gradually,
the march begins to the Naval Yard, where there will be no sound
system due to difficulties regarding permits. But high- tech sound
system or not, we are the people of America and our voices will
be heard.







Leijia
Hanrahan is a 15-year-old high school student, originally from Manhattan,
who now resides in Virginia.