On Saturday, Feb. 20, U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan reached a total of 999. With the likelihood of the toll reaching 1,000 in the next day or two, peace grannies in New York City have planned a special commemorative vigil to be held the day AFTER the dreaded number has been announced.
It is requested that people be on the alert for a probable event on either Monday or Tuesday, Feb. 22 and 23. The day after the announcement, all New York City peace groups will meet at 5:30 p.m. at the Grandmothers Against the War regular weekly Rockefeller Center vigil site on the west side of 5th Ave. between 49th and 50th Sts. Other peace groups participating will be the Granny Peace Brigade, Veterans for Peace, the Raging Grannies, Peace Action NYS (PANIX), The World Can't Wait, Code Pink, Gray Panthers, West Side Peace Action, and others. A large turnout is anticipated.
In a candlelight ceremony, names of U.S. military and Afghan citizens who have died in war-related incidents will be read, to the somber beat of a drum. Invited political and celebrity speakers, including actor/author Malachy McCourt, State Sen. Bill Perkins, civil liberties attorney, Norman Siegel, and others will make brief remarks. At 6:30 p.m., the vigil group will walk to the Times Square recruiting center for songs and more comments.
It is the hope of the grannies that this public occasion will send a strong message to the war-makers that it is time to bring the hostilities to an end and replace missiles with missions.... destruction with diplomacy.
"It's the same sad story," said Barbara Walker, associate director of Grandmothers Against the War. "Our bombs increase anti-Americanism, cause death and untold damage to all, and achieve nothing positive. As in Iraq, our "surge" in Afghanistan has caused a dramatic increase of casualties to our American kids valiantly fighting there, for no apparent recognizable goal achieved. We must bring our troops home and rethink our foreign policy."
The Grandmothers Against the War vigil has been held for over six years with only two missed occasions -- the latest Christmas tree lighting ceremony which blocked access, and the recent impenetrable snow storm. Otherwise, the grannies, with their regular cohorts, the Granny Peace Brigade, and Vets for Peace, are there in rain, sleet, snow, cold and heat -- even the several vigil grannies in their 90s.
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