From the November 2005 Idaho Observer:
Death milestone prompts nationwide
vigils, protests; little media attention
The October 25, 2005 announcement that Army Staff Sgt. George T. Alexander, Jr., 34, became the 2,000th U.S. soldier to die in Iraq prompted more than 600 vigils to take place in 49 states Wednesday, October 26. Sgt. Alexander actually died October 22 as a result of wounds he received after a roadside bomb exploded near his convoy in Iraq. When his name was added after two other soldiers who had died that day, the total number of U.S. soldiers killed since March 19, 2003, reached 2,000.
"This 2,000 wouldn't have happened without the year 2001. Without 9/11. Those numbers gave our president the false justification to begin this war. Some 3,000 Americans were killed on the attacks of September 11. Now almost 2/3 that number have been killed in Iraq. And that's not counting soldiers who have died after leaving Iraq, died from horrendous wounds and tormented suicides. It doesn't count soldiers who are left permanently disabled or those who survived in body but not in spirit, the broken souls whose lives have been shattered by what they did and saw," wrote Medea Benjamin and Gayle Brandeis of CODE PINK-Women for Peace.
Official records show that more than 26,000 U.S. soldiers have been injured in Iraq.
As the death toll for U.S. military personnel neared the 2,000 mark in mid-October, several anti-war groups began organizing a national day of protest to raise public awareness of the cost of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" in terms of American lives.
Groups ranging in size from a handful to nearly a thousand came out all across the country to mourn the loss of young men and women who died for lies that are now crimes for which Bush administration officials like "Scooter" Libby are currently being indicted.
MoveOn.org claims that 100,000 registered individuals participated in Oct. 26 vigils held throughout the country. Though many local news stations reported on vigils being held in their reporting areas, the bigger story was downplayed by the national media.
The protest held in Washington, D.C., received some notoriety when Cindy Sheehan vowed to chain herself to the wrought-iron fence surrounding the White House until President Bush ordered all our troops home.
Sheehan of Gold Star Families for Peace became an international media phenomenon last August when she established "Camp Casey" outside President Bush's Crawford, Texas ranch and demanded that the vacationing president explain the "noble purpose" for which her son Casey died in Iraq-a question the commander-in-chief refuses to answer.
Sheehan, who was also in D.C. for the September 24, 2005 rally attended by an estimated 350,000 protestors, is calling for people to join her for another encampment outside of Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, over Thanksgiving.
A group of Ohio 8th graders on a class field trip to the nation's capital also participated in the vigil held outside the White House.
An NBC affiliate in Madison, Wisconsin, reported that "More than 100 people showed up to honor the dead and support our troops.
mong them, Ray Maida whose son, Mark, died after his humvee hit a roadside bomb."
Maida told the crowd that one of his son's buddies, who returned from Iraq alive, said, "Mark and I talked that as soon as we got out of the Army, got back to the United States, that we would go to every 'get-out-of-Iraq' rally we could."
Maida went on to explain that "Mark can't do that so I'm here tonight to support you, support this effort and I will continue to do that for my son."
Though it appears the White House timed a series of announcements, like the withdrawal of Hariet Miers' nomination for the Supreme Court, to overshadow the emotional milestone of 2,000 dead Americans, President Bush told a group of military spouses at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., that, "We've lost some of our nation's finest men and women in the war on terror. Each loss of life is heartbreaking. And the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and lay the foundation of peace by spreading freedom."
The Iraq Body Count (http://icasualties.org/oif/), a London-based group comprised of academics, human rights and anti-war activists, estimates between 26,690 and 30,051 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the U.S.-led military assault to "liberate" Iraq began. The group's estimates are based on deaths that can be proved through compiled media accounts and other records. Other estimates of wartime deaths among Iraqi noncombatants exceed 100,000.
It was also reported that, from October 24th through 28th, bells all over America rang 100,000 times to mourn the Iraqis who have died during the war.
In reviewing dozens of photos from several Oct. 26 rallies, one can see that those who came out include boys and girls, men and women of all ages and backgrounds. With President Bush's "job approval rating" below 40 percent and sinking, it appears Oct. 26 protestors represent a rising tide of civilly disobedient Americans opposed to the war. A recent Wall Street Journal poll noted that 72 percent of Americans believe the U.S. is "heading in the wrong direction."
An excellent collection of protest/vigil photos can be found online atwww.yellowcakewalk.net/photo_ gallery.html
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