COLUMBUS — “We’re here for those that can’t be here, for those who’d like to be, but are still in Iraq,” said Teresa Dawson, the Central Ohio coordinator of Military Families Speak Out. Dawson is the mother of an Iraq war veteran and the daughter of a Marine.

Addressing the Memorial Day crowd of around 100 protesters at the Statehouse here, she said that the day’s “Soldiers Walk for Soldiers” was part of a national effort by veterans and active-duty military personnel to let Congress, the president and the public know that there is great dissatisfaction within military and veterans’ ranks about the ongoing occupation of Iraq.

Around 20 soldiers and vets then formed up and marched, in formation, around the Statehouse.

Brad Cotton and Tom Kirdas were there, representing the Vets for Peace chapter in nearby Circleville.

“We’ve been holding vigils on the town square since the war began. At first folks were very negative,” said Cotton. “I’m sure they must have supported us, but I guess they didn’t know that a peace sign is two fingers, not just one,” he joked. “Now it’s nearly 100 percent positive. People come out and bring us drinks, snacks, and everyone honks and gives us the thumbs up!”

Susan Misner spoke to the crowd of her concern for her son, Michael, a Marine who is now serving in Iraq. “My heart stops every time the phone rings, worrying that it could be bad news, or maybe a call from Michael,” she said.

Veteran Al Zak was there, “standing up for those who can’t right now,” he said. A longtime activist, Zak is a professional photographer who chronicled the farmworkers union fight in the 1960s.

“As a soldier, I know, you must just follow orders,” he said. “You don’t have many choices. If we really want to support the troops, then it’s up to us to stand up and be heard. This war is wrong, and we have to support the soldiers and bring them home.”

The Columbus event was sponsored by Military Families Speak Out, Progress Ohio, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, the Interfaith Alliance and the United Steelworkers union.