Busloads of peace activists head to rally
As two charter buses rumble east from Nevada City down Interstate 80 this morning, more than 100 men and women will celebrate the cause of peace to the sounds of fiddlers and guitarists.
Others will follow in cars, eagerly anticipating today’s rally in San Francisco’s Dolores Park on the second anniversary of the beginning of major combat in Iraq.
And Lorraine Reich will be left to wonder just how many more of these rallies she’ll attend before the war in Iraq ends.
The length of the conflict in Iraq has done little to dull the 55-year-old’s resolve to campaign against the war that has claimed the lives of more than 1,500 Americans in the 730 days since coalition forces began major combat.
“It’s very important that people stand up and express themselves,” she said. “This day is not a day about fun. It’s a global day of action.”
For those aboard two “Peace Buses,” today’s rally is a continuation of a local movement that has retained momentum since dozens of protesters lined a Broad Street overpass the morning of the opening salvo in the war. Since that time, women united against the war have donned black and kept a weekly vigil near the same overpass.
Others have faithfully marched in rallies across California and invigorated the Peace Center of Nevada County, which recently opened its Argall Way office in Nevada City.
Jane Kesselman of Camptonville was planning to ride the bus to San Francisco with a group of friends dressed in yellow caution tape.
“In general, we just want to be able to find each other,” she said, “but we also want to give people a caution to the direction we’re going.”
Kesselman said she sees war continuing as long as Americans have a keen interest in Iraq’s rich oil reserves.
“I had no idea it was going to last this long,” said Kesselman, 50, who said she began marching for causes when she walked in the first Earth Day parade 35 years ago. Living in Nevada County, Kesselman has found a community of kindred spirits willing to share in her beliefs.
Jerome Orloff, who plans to be in San Francisco today with his wife, Paula, remembers a time when Nevada County wasn’t particularly receptive to a differing point of view. A retired Nevada Union High School teacher, Jerome Orloff said he recalls how students and teachers in 1968 were prohibited from conducting a teach-in about the Vietnam War.
Thursday, Jerome Orloff reflected on parallels between the Vietnam War and the current conflict as he prepared rosters for the bus trip inside the Peace Center.
“That was a mistake then, and this is a mistake … in my opinion, the soldiers in both conflicts are all just innocent individuals.”
Asked if today’s rally would bring a quicker end to the war, riders on the Peace Buses weren’t convinced it would.
“It’s not one event that will bring about change,” Paula Orloff said.
Adam Heilbrun of Grass Valley, who joked that he was going on the trip “because there’s nothing really good on TV,” said the rally might not change the world.
But it might help those on the Peace Buses attain a sense of purpose, even if an end to the war can’t readily be seen.
“My basic feeling is that these demonstrations don’t do a damn bit of good,” said Heilbrun, 66. ” But, this community, by going to this march as a group, it strengthens our resolve and helps us know that we’re not isolated in our views.”
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