I was sitting in a small cafÃƒ© this summer in the tiny corn-town of Ashland, Nebraska. I had walked there from San Francisco on a student-organized March for Peace that was D.C.-bound. A native of New York, nothing, naturally, was familiar to me about this Nebraska town, nestled in between seemingly never-ending rows of corn. But one thing struck me as familiar when I first walked into the cafÃƒ©.
It was the name Dustin Workman, and the face of a 19-year-old soldier boy in a photograph propped up on the entrance table - the same boy I knew I had seen ten miles before, in Greenwood, NE, on a construction paper sign along the road that said "Our town lost a hero."
I soon learned that the owner of the cafÃƒ©, nicknamed Cheri O, was close family friends with the Workman family, and Dustin's first job, when he was younger, had been in this very cafÃƒ©. Dustin had been killed in Iraq just a few days before our March for Peace passed through. Cheri O tried to just talk to us about our march and thank us for marching for peace, but she couldn't hold back tears. I felt her hug against my own 19-year-old body as she wept and said, "He was so young." I remember, when Cheri O went back into the kitchen, just staring across the table at my college friend who was home in Lincoln for the summer and happened to be marching with us that day. "That's how old we are," was all she could say.
I had already walked over 1,500 miles for peace at that point, but it wasn't until then that it really hit me.
These are our friends. These are our peers. Where are all the young people standing up in defense of our fellow young people who are being sent off to die? And what about the Iraqi people, young and old, who are being killed day after day? How can we sit back and let it happen?
That is why young people nationwide are now coming together in a freshly-launched, student-driven effort: to bring students to Washington D.C. during our spring break to protest the war in Iraq full-time.
This March marks 5 years since the U.S. invaded Iraq for reasons we were too young to understand at the time; as we grew older we learned it was for oil, wealth, and power and not for peace, freedom, and democracy as we were told and most naively believed. Now many young people in America are speaking out daily and pledging to travel to D.C. for our spring break to tell Congress, Bush and Cheney that our spring break will end their war. It may not be as warm as Daytona Beach, but Bush wants us to go there, drink, party, and forget about his war. We're not going to go where he wants us to go. We're going to go to him instead.
Months after the March for Peace, sitting behind my computer screen at home, I found Dustin Workman from Greenwood, Nebraska. He was an Army Specialist, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, one of five soldiers killed when their unit was attacked by insurgents using roadside bombs in Baghdad, Iraq on June 28, 2007, I learned.
But on the road in Nebraska, from Greenwood to Ashland, he was just little Dustin.
Let's save the rest of our young people from senseless slaughter.
It is time for the young people of America - and all Americans - to stand up and form a potent resistance. We hope that all who oppose the war - whether or not you have yet taken action to show it - will come join us in Washington D.C. this March, young and old alike, to once and for all bring an end to this immoral war and demand justice through impeachment of those who have perpetrated it.
Ashley Casale, initiator of the 2007 March for Peace, is an undergraduate student at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn.