Thousands marched down Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, March 18, demanding an end to the Iraq war. The evening march, estimated at 7,000, was one of the largest of hundreds of protests around the nation on the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

An afternoon rally organized by labor, peace, religious, youth and community groups drew a crowd of about 2,000 with feeder marches from many neighborhoods. Retired boilermaker Bill Carey, 52, a member of the Steelworkers union, told the World, “It’s important to stand up against a morally wrong war cooked up by the rich, where the poor and working class are dying.”

685.jpg Some 25,000 rallied and marched in San Francisco. In nearby Walnut Creek, over 3,000 protesters filled downtown Civic Park, an outpouring the suburban community had not seen since Vietnam War days a generation ago. Anne Roesler of Military Families Speak Out, whose son recently returned from his third Iraq deployment, told the rally, “We need to work for policies that will never allow a war like this to happen again.” If our elected representatives don’t act on our demands, she said, “Vote them out of office.”

In Los Angeles, Fernando Suarez del Solar, whose son was killed in Iraq, told a gathering, “My son died, and anything I do here will not bring him back … but I think I can save other children.” Suarez del Solar and Iraq war resisters are leading a 241-mile march for peace due to arrive in San Francisco March 26.

Later thousands marched and rallied in Hollywood, where speakers included actor Martin Sheen and Paul Haggis, screenwriter and producer of the Oscar-winning film “Crash.”

In nearby Orange County, long considered a right-wing stronghold, hundreds participated in a march and rally that participants called the county’s first large anti-Iraq war protest.

In Baltimore, Rosemarie Ceo brought 14 family members with her to an antiwar vigil outside the Board of Education March 19 to honor the memory of her son Bernard Ceo who died in Iraq two weeks before last Thanksgiving.

“This has put a hole in my heart that will never close,” she said as she stood on the sidewalk behind 34 pairs of black combat boots symbolizing the 34 Maryland soldiers who have died in Iraq or Afghanistan. “I don’t want anyone to have to go through what we have gone through. I’m very concerned about the soldiers over there now. Maybe we can help get them home safe and alive.”

His brother Fred Ceo said, “Because of Bush, a lot of people have died in an unnecessary war.”

Tia Steele, who son David Branning died in Fallujah in 2004, is regional coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee’s “Eyes Wide Open” project which displays the boots and shoes of soldiers and Iraq civilians who have died in the past three years. She told the crowd, “We’re in front of the school board speaking out against this war. People are saying we’ve got to get out. We want truth in recruiting and we want the money that is being spent in Iraq to be spent here so we can keep our schools open.”

Tim Wheeler contributed to this article.

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Marilyn Bechtel
Marilyn Bechtel

Marilyn Bechtel writes for the People’s World from the San Francisco Bay Area. She joined the PW staff in 1986, and currently participates as a volunteer.

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