People opposed to the war in Iraq will demand Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's resignation when they gather outside the U.S. Military Academy tomorrow.
Rumsfeld is scheduled to speak at 9 a.m. to about 900 graduating cadets, who will receive their Bachelor of Science degrees and be commissioned as second lieutenants in the Army. The public may attend.
A noon protest will begin in Memorial Park in Highland Falls, outside the military academy gates. Participants will march to the gates to demand the secretary's resignation. The event has been organized by the Democratic Alliance of Orange County.
Organizers stressed that the protest, which is expected to draw participants from surrounding counties, is meant to be peaceful.
Some of those planning to join the protest said they were doing so because, in their opinion, the Bush Administration had lied to the American people about the reasons for going to war and the cost of fighting it. They also said they were protesting America's behavior in Iraq, including the torture of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison.
"What they are perpetuating in Iraq is not in our name," said Connie Hogarth of Fishkill in Dutchess County, who will be attending the protest. "There are those of us who are going to resist until we pull out of Iraq."
Hogarth was a co-founder of the Westchester People's Action Coalition 30 years ago. The organization, now called the Wespac Foundation, advocates global peace and justice. The Connie Hogarth Center for Social Justice is named in her honor at Manhattanville College in Purchase.
Jo Ann Hampton, whose son, Alex Hampton, will graduate tomorrow, said she did not mind that the protest would take place.
"I certainly support their right to protest," the Airmont woman said. "It's certainly the right of every American."
Alex Hampton, a graduate of Ramapo High School, could not be reached yesterday.
George Potanovic, who is president of the Stony Point Action Committee for the Environment, said the mishandling of the war by the Bush Administration had harmed America's reputation around the world.
"I'm angry at the way President Bush and the members of his administration have disgraced America and what America's values truly stand for," Potanovic said yesterday.
The Stony Point man, a registered Democrat who has run unsuccessfully on other party lines for political office, said it is the responsibility of all Americans to participate in their government and to voice concern when they feel it is warranted. Such action is a true form of patriotism, he said.
"Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has really disgraced America," Potanovic said. "He's shamed us as a nation. I think it's important that the people in America stand up and send a message to Mr. Rumsfeld and the Bush Administration that this is not something the American people condone."
Copyright 2004 The Journal News