Hundreds of Minnesotans boarded buses Friday morning for a 24-hour ride to Washington for Saturday's national rally against war with Iraq.
Mary White of the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers said about 1,000 Minnesotans were expected to attend the rally. Buses were rolling out of Minneapolis, Rochester and Duluth for the 1,000-mile trip.
``I think it's really exciting because it awakens people to the power we have,'' White said. ``Our voices need to be heard.''
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak saw off 192 people traveling on five buses at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church. Archbishop Harry Flynn had planned to attend the send-off as well, but couldn't because of a bad cold, organizers said.
A demonstrator carries a makeshift dove on a pole as peace activists wait to board buses Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 in Minneapolis, as they head to Washington, D.C. to take part in a national rally against war with Iraq. About 1,000 Minnesotans will attend the rally, according to a representative of the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
``True patriotism is really what you're all about,'' Rybak said. ``Thank you for doing this and peace to all of you.''
Julie Madden, coordinator of peace and justice ministries at St. Joan's, was surprised by how many people wanted to make the long trip. She said they had ``a deep-seated desire for peace and for nonviolent solutions'' in common.
``I believe it's because people feel like this is just a great opportunity to have their voice be heard in conjunction with so many other voices across the country,'' Madden said.
The contingent from St. Joan's was made up of people from all walks of life and all ages, from senior citizens to young children. Madden said jokingly that they were looking forward to ``a lot of quality time on the bus.''
The Anti-War Committee of Minneapolis organized the largest contingent from Minneapolis. It was sending eight buses carrying more than 350 people.
``We feel like President Bush is taking our babies off to Iraq, so we're shutting the door and we're saying no war in Iraq,'' said Sarah Brenner, a member of the anti-war group Code Pink who left from St. Joan's. The group takes its name from the alerts hospitals issue when a baby has been abducted and they close their doors.
© Copyright 2003 The Associated Press