When I finally did get back to DC for another anti-war protest, I was a few years out of college and what good was it if just one person dressed up in a disco outfit? It just wouldn’t make sense to anyone but me.
It was almost exactly four years later when my friend Judy and I made our way out east. The day of the protest, we left our hotel early and walked toward the mall where the protest was to be held. On the way, something caught our eye. Something pink. We decided to stray from our course to check out the commotion. What we found was a group of protesters decked out in pink and holding pink protest signs. This, we figured, must have been the Code Pink rally someone on our bus ride the previous day had told us about. We didn’t hesitate to join in the festivities.
As we weaved our way up as close to the mike as we could get, we tried to take in everything. The signs spouted hilarious slogans like “Women Say Pull Out!” and “Augmentation Is For Boobs.” We ended up standing behind a camera man, fairly close to the speakers and we were in for a treat. Several celebrities were there to show their support, including Mimi Kennedy, Sean Penn, Jane Fonda, and (much to my delight), Eve Ensler.
As the rally wound down, Judy and I started making our way back to the mall but not before snapping a few pictures of the protesters across the street. No, they were not protesters from our group. They were protesting us. There were about 25 of them (and that’s being generous), holding signs about how unpatriotic we were and had an effigy of Jane Fonda hanging from a noose.
They were really nice.
Once we were at the mall where, four years before, I stood and voiced my opinion, I was speechless at the sight before me. There had to be tens of thousands of people. Almost everyone had a sign, either hand-made or printed, and those without signs could get one from a group who had printed hundreds to pass out. As before, there were booths to sign up for anti-war organizations and to buy anti-war paraphernalia. But what amazed me the most was the amount of costumes and demonstrative art there was. Everywhere we turned there was somebody dressed up (one had a devil costume on with a Bush mask) or a monument had been erected (the most memorable one was the wall of all the soldiers who’d lost his or her life in Iraq; sadly, it was quite big).
There were speakers for a few hours, though it was not very easy to hear, depending on to where we had wandered. But it was fifty degrees and sunny in January and I was soon shedding my winter jacket.
Finally, the walk started. I thought Judy and I were near the front of the line, but we weren’t even close. I didn’t realize this until we turned a corner and could see a hill up ahead, filled with people. There were so many people that the protesters completely bypassed the police barricades and spilled out onto the streets. Even though the police were nearby, they did nothing to stop us. They probably figured that the sooner the march was over, the better.
As we neared the top of the hill, the anti-anti-war protesters were back, shouting obscenities and telling us that we weren’t supporting our troops.* I only hoped as the 25 of them stood there for fours hours yelling at the thousands upon thousands of us that they realized that in cases like these, size really does matter.
We marched past the Library of Congress and the Capitol, where some people, we later found out, had tried to rush the steps before being stopped by the police. Then we circled around again and were closing in on the mall, my feet hurting but my heart soaring. I was helping send a message to the bastards in DC that it is not a minority that want the war to end, but a majority of people who were willing to come from all over the United States, spend countless hours and money making costumes and signs, and shout their voices raw. They had to listen to us. We were too hard to ignore.
*What many short-sighted people don’t realize is that anti-war protesters are just that: anti-war. Most, if not all, do support the troops and want to see them home safe and not dying for an unjust cause.