Student moved, encouraged by anti-war rally

October 05, 2005|By NICOLE DUBOWITZ

I didn't get arrested when I went to the anti-war rally near the White House.

When I went to the anti-war rally near the White House, my friend Gina and I, high school seniors, decked ourselves in peace-promoting attire and carried home-made signs. Mine simply stated, "Bring 'em home." Hers read: "$13,000 a second." That's how much my teacher says the war costs. And for what? To liberate Iraqis? I was able to march Sept. 24 with 100,000 others who don't buy it.

There were the Vietnam vets, anxious mothers waiting for their children in Iraq to come home, "Grandmothers for Peace," young rebels with a cause, even scattered clusters of people who support the war. Most brought their own signs, with messages from moving to amusing, including pleas for President Bush to bring home a son or husband.

Gina and I were dumbfounded by the displays of tombstones and combat boots representing the more than 1,900 U.S. troops who have died in Iraq so far. It's one thing to see a statistic in the newspaper, but putting a name to a number and a face to a name is gripping. The reminder that every boot and plywood cross in the ground stood for what I think is a death in vain was for me the most poignant part of the rally - that, and for each of the deaths, a family suffering.

I smiled at a group of college kids perched on a statue holding a sign that read, "We're not extremists!" It's difficult for a kid to have an opposing opinion without being labeled a radical or a traitor. Mr. Bush has said: If you're not with us, you're with them. I am not on the side of terrorists. But I'm also not on the side of an avoidable war - a war that was not a last resort and that has robbed America of its reputation as a humane and respectful nation.

It saddens me that Iraqi children suffered under Saddam Hussein and our war has brought more violence to their lives. What hope can they have in a world that has given them so much grief? And it hurts that we pay hundreds of billions of dollars for the war in Iraq when a fraction of that could feed starving people around the world or could have built levees in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina.

I want so badly to have confidence in my government, but I can't seem to find the bright side of this war. The more I hear about it, the more I am convinced that the minimal progress in Iraq is severely outweighed by the massive destruction. This damage isn't only taking place overseas. America is terribly divided over such an undeniably colossal mess. When Mr. Bush went to war, he told us it would increase homeland security. I don't feel very secure.

Although I didn't agree with everyone's sign or callous accusation, I still appreciated the passion of the crowd at the United for Peace and Justice rally. High school is almost a bubble, full of many apathetic teenagers who don't believe they can make a difference. Being part of the anti-war rally gave me a renewed sense of patriotism and assurance that there are many people like me who believe in nonviolence.

As the war has continued with no end in sight, I feel distraught and betrayed by our government. Maybe the rally alone won't be enough to change the minds of those who want to continue this war, but it restored my belief in the goodness of people. If others feel the same way, then in my eyes, the rally was a great success.

Nicole Dubowitz, 17, is a senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Bethesda.

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