Antiwar Activists Gather on Boston Common
Carlos Arredondo has traveled across 20 states with his portable
memorial to his son, a Marine who died in Iraq during his second tour
of duty in 2004. But yesterday, Arredondo was home in Boston, where he
shared his memorial of hundreds of scrap-wood crosses, combat boots,
synthetic flowers, and photographs of Alexander Arredondo at an antiwar
Hundreds of protesters, some carrying "war is terrorism" posters,
others wearing fluorescent yellow "stop the war" stickers, gathered on
Boston Common for a National Day of Action Against the War rally, on
the sixth anniversary of the congressional vote that authorized the
invasion of Iraq. Veterans, student activists, and politicians were
among those who spoke against the war.
"As a father it is my responsibility to honor my son, to let people
know how I feel about it," Arredondo, 48, of Roslindale, said as he
gazed at his son's 20-year-old face staring out from poster-size
photographs hanging at his booth. "That's how wonderful the democracy
in this country [is] - why we are all here today."
Dozens of antiwar groups set up booths to sell T-shirts and hand out
pamphlets. In the background, bands and solo performers performed on
Jabbar Magruder, who served as a sergeant with the National Guard in
2005, came from Los Angeles to work as the coordinator for Military
Families Speak Out, a Boston antiwar group. Magruder, 25, said he is
working to debunk the glorified "Hollywood image" of war that too many
people believe to be reality.
He said he felt deceived as a soldier in Iraq, where he said he
thought he was defending the Constitution against foreign enemies, when
the real threat to democracy was politicians at home who didn't see his
service in the same way.
President Bush has insisted that the invasion of Iraq, which began
in March 2003, has made the world better and the United States safer.
But yesterday, local activists and politicians, including District 7
Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner, said the money spent on the war
would be better used to benefit Americans, going to such issues as
education and healthcare.
Turner encouraged people to look beyond a troop withdrawal. "We can
create change, but not just by ending the war, but by pulling the roots
out," Turner yelled into the stage microphone. The roots, he said, is
"a foreign policy that does not focus on peace" and an inflated
Liza Behrendt, a sophomore at Brandeis University, weaved through
the crowds of antiwar paraphernalia and protesters dressed in a white
Haz-Mat jumpsuit with a bright pink peace sign painted on the front and
a Sharpie marker taped to the back. Behrendt said her "walking
petition" outfit - she collected signatures on her back - was her
effort to meet like-minded people outside her student group.
"Even if [the rally] doesn't make concrete change, it energizes
people," said Behrendt, 19, who was disappointed only 13 students from
her school attended. "How can people not be angry?"
Gabriel Payan, who said he deserted the Army in 2005 while in
Germany, was angry. Profanities peppered the 29-year-old veteran's
speech about why he was "sick and tired of this war that has claimed
the lives of my brothers and sisters."
Despite his frustration, Payan said he speaks out because he thinks
it gives people hope of change and encourages them to take action
"I'm not relying on my vote November 4th to make change," said Payan, referring to the presidential election.
He said he believes it will be the footwork of Americans that brings peace.