CHICAGO — “Killing one human being is like killing all of humanity. Saving one human being is like saving all of humanity,” said Abdul Malik Mujahid, president of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, at an Oct. 26 vigil here marking 2,000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq. Hundreds gathered in downtown Federal Plaza to pay homage to those killed in the war, both U.S. and Iraqi, and to call for an end to the war.

They joined over 580 similar events around the country, ranging from candlelight vigils to ceremonial ringing of bells and civil disobedience, organized by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Gold Star Families for Peace. Moveon.org sponsored over 1,300 candlelight vigils in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., involving more than 100,000 people.

In Chicago’s emotional evening vigil, the crowd held aloft a moving memorial display stringing together photographs of soldiers’ boots and portraits bearing names of U.S. and Iraqi casualties. One of the themes here, and across the country, was “Not One More Death, Not One More Dollar.” Many urged Congress to use the “power of purse” to end the war.

“Our money should be spent saving lives, not funding an unjustifiable war, and under our constitution Congress has the power to stop funding this war,” said Michael McConnell, AFSC regional director. “Bring them home,” someone shouted at the very end. “Bring ’em home now!”

In Philadelphia, six vigils were held. The largest was at City Hall where several hundred listened as the names of the 104 Pennsylvania soldiers killed in Iraq were read out. A bell tolled as the names were read. Speakers compared the $203 billion already spent on the war to the lack of national funding to rebuild here at home.

Peace organizations are urging Americans to contact their congressional representatives and ask them to support a new bill introduced by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) that would end all funding for the deployment of U.S. armed forces in Iraq. One of the most progressive bills introduced thus far on the war, this bill calls for defense funds to be provided for the safe and orderly withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq, and consultations with foreign governments including the UN to ensure Iraq’s security and a democratic transition in the war torn country.

In addition to the 2,000 U.S. troops killed, a study by the John Hopkins School of Public Health estimates that at least 100,000 Iraqis have lost their lives due to the war.

Rosita Johnson contributed to this story.

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