Every Wednesday afternoon for nearly two years, a group of women has gathered for an hour outside Rockefeller Center, holding aloft their homemade placards in a silent protest against this dreadful and deceitful war carried out by President Bush and his bunglers.
They call themselves Grandmothers Against the Iraq War, and yesterday they were joined on Fifth Ave. by the most famous peace mom in the country, Cindy Sheehan.
Back in early 2004, when the grandmothers began their weekly vigil, few people were paying much attention to the anti-war movement.
But with the number of dead G.I.s at nearly 2,000, with the Iraqi resistance as strong as ever, and with the financial cost of this war mushrooming out of control, all that is changing fast.
Iraq may even become a hot topic in our own mayoral race.
On Thursday, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller and Deputy Majority Leader Bill Perkins will submit resolutions that call on Bush to pull U.S. troops out, and they will seek an expedited vote on it.
Miller and Perkins, both Manhattan Democrats, will be joined in their announcement by Fernando Ferrer, the mayoral challenger who repeatedly opposed the war during the Democratic primary.
All this means that Mayor Bloomberg may finally have to give clear answers on where he stands on Iraq.
Until now, Bloomberg has largely dodged the question and has strenuously avoided criticizing Bush's handling of the war.
Asked about Iraq in August, Bloomberg said:
"It's not a question of supporting the President, it is supporting our troops. They are there, and ... our national leaders have to find a way, and hopefully they are working as hard as they can, to bring our troops home."
Bloomberg's campaign handlers keep portraying him as someone not very close to Bush. But if there is one issue that has clearly defined the Bush presidency, it is the war in Iraq.
Perkins, who sponsored a resolution in 2003 opposing the start of the war, says its impact is too important for any leader to pass the buck.
"There's a large sentiment in this city against the war," Perkins said. "The daily toll on New York can't be justified."
It's not just the fact that more than 30 New Yorkers have been killed in the fighting and scores wounded.
According to the Massachusetts-based National Priorities Project, which tracks the cost of the war to local communities, New York City taxpayers have spent $6.8 billion in federal taxes to finance the conflict.
That translates to $850 for every man, woman and child in this city.
And that doesn't begin to deal with the moral damage to our country and our isolation throughout the world from the continuing military occupation and the endless scandals over mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners.
In recent months, the city councils of Chicago and San Francisco have overwhelmingly approved anti-war resolutions. Sure, these resolutions have no direct effect on the federal government. But they provide a chance for local populations to make their voices heard, and for local leaders to send a message toWashington.
With the nation about to head into the 2006 elections, you can bet every candidate for Congress and the Senate is paying attention to how Americans feel about the war.
Certainly they all noticed how Sheehan's pursuit of Bush became a huge story this summer.
Now the voters of New York deserve a straight answer from the mayor: Do you support this Bush war or not? It's that simple.
Juan Gonzalez is a Daily News columnist.
© 2005 New York Daily News