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Anti-War Grannies Challenge that Surge is Working

Only 11 of our military died in Iraq the past week? Break out the champagne! That's less than some of the weeks before the surge. Obviously, then, that means, as our government and our pundits are saying, that the surge is working. Therefore, let's throw another lot of GIs into Iraq. Maybe that way even less of our precious young brave ones will die. Perhaps in a year or two we'll reduce the death rate down to 3 or 4 a week. 

But, wait, here's a novel idea. What would happen if we withdrew ALL our troops? Amazingly, NONE of our kids would die in Iraq. Has anybody in Washington done the math? It seems quite elementary to us grannies.

And, what about the Iraqi casualties, which we are told have been reduced to a satisfactory number? Just today, it is reported that 80 people were killed and many more wounded in battles in Basra and Nasinya on January 19. That certainly IS progress, especially when you add to it the 8 killed by a suicide bombing Jan. 16 and at least 10 in a mosque bombing on Jan. 17.

The New York City group, Grandmothers Against the War, decided to try and counteract the lie that the surge is working and that as a consequence U.S. voters no longer put the Iraq war on the top of their agenda. We decided to do something to impress upon the public that the occupation is still the most vital issue facing us, from which all the rest of our urgent problems flow. Health care, education, poverty, and housing dilemmas cannot be solved as long as we are pouring money down the Iraq drain. But, beyond that, we still have the imperative responsibility to save our troops by getting them out of a place they have no business being in and where they can solve nothing, as so tragically evidenced by this week's Iraqi death toll.

On the occasion of the fourth anniversary of our Grandmothers Against the War weekly vigil at Rockefeller Center, January 16, we grannies held a mock funeral procession through the streets of midtown Manhattan, startling passersby with our large numbers and the drama of our parade. Approximately 70 grannies and supporters walked slowly and silently in single file, some carrying open black umbrellas, New Orleans style, some carrying giant black balloons inscribed in white with the words, "TROOPS OUT NOW," and some carrying placards and banners. The procession was led by four grandmothers carrying two life-sized cardboard coffins, one draped in the American flag and one in a black shroud. One granny beat a drum every few seconds, adding immeasurably to the solemnity of the event. The troupe of marchers was backed up by a color guard consisting of Veterans for Peace who regularly participate in our weekly vigil at Rockefeller Center.The group marched from the Times Square Recruiting Station, where 18 of us grandmothers calling ourselves the Granny Peace Brigade were arrested and sent to jail in October 2005 when we tried to enlist in the military, to the site of the Rockefeller Center vigil on Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets. There, we read for an hour the names of Iraqi and U.S. dead in Iraq, punctuated by a meditation bell tone after each person's name, age, and date of death was announced.


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When the names were read, one of the women read a poem sent to the grannies by Yoko Ono, who couldn't join them on this occasion but who always strongly supports their actions. Then, as the St. Patrick's Church bell tolled at 5:30 p.m., the group observed a moment of silence before concluding the commemorative ceremony.

Only a small dent, probably, in the malleable public mind, which is all too easily manipulated by those who continue the occupation of Iraq for their inexplicable but undoubtedly heinous reasons, and those who abet them by not taking action we voters mandated them to take in the last Congressional election. But we grannies keep on keeping on in our mission to bring the troops, and we won't stop until the last soldier or marine is out of Iraq.

America, please.....listen to your granny!


Joan Wile

Joan Wile

Joan Wile was Founder/Director of Grandmothers Against the War, and proud Granny Peace Brigade Times Square Jailbird. She was the author of “Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing up for Peace,” published by Citadel Press in 2008. Joan passed away in May 2018 at age 86.

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