Back in 2002, there was some entity that devised a plan that people all over the country would sing the Mozart Requiem on September 11 of that year. In Albany, the performers were the group Albany Pro Musica. For that performance only, two of my fellow choir members, Gladys and Tim, and I crashed Pro Musica. On a very windy Wednesday morning, we went down to the bandstand by the Hudson River and sang. (That was probably the only day I’ve ever worn a tux to work.)
But that left me grappling – what can I do for peace? My friends Jay and Penny let me know about a peace vigil at the Capitol building just up the street from where I work, which I saw disperse. I didn’t go the next week, but on September 25, I started participating in a weekly vigil for peace, organized by some Quakers, though the participants were not all from the faith.
I knew then that we needed to stop the war from starting, since Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. I attended other rallies, in addition to the Wednesday noon events. I went to NYC on February 15, 2003 to be part of the now forgotten largest protest in world history (In 2011, I supported a Kickstarter film about that date; now that it WASN’T nominated as Best Documentary, maybe I’ll FINALLY get the video this year.)
I boldly predicted that if the war were to start, in five years, there would be at least two countries where one was now, believing the Kurds, who had been all but autonomous in the 11+ years since the Gulf War, due to the northern “no-fly” zone enforced by the US and the UK, would opt out of a country so torn by sectarian tension.
But, of course, the war started anyway. I still protested, but now it was seen as even more treasonous than before, and some of the passersby let us know it. Finally, after the fall of the Saddam regime, one of the more regular complainers came over to gloat. “See, it’s over!” he crowed.
Of course, it wasn’t over. “Mission” was not “accomplished.” In fact, according to the Wikipedia, by 2006, the war had had more operations than a cut-rate surgeon could perform. By then, some of the neocon warmongers have admitted that they were wrong about Iraq. Somehow, that was small comfort, after “three years, tens of thousands of Iraqi and American lives, and $200 billion – all to achieve a chaos verging on open civil war.”
At some point, during the run-up to war, someone had designed a simple white on green button that said “Choose Peace”. I wore it on my coat regularly. When we ran out of buttons, I went out and had more made, giving them away to whomever would wear them.
This is oddly true: I STILL have some of those buttons left, 15 years later, which I will gladly give/send you, as long as you agree to wear them. The trick is: I don’t know what peace will look like anymore, at least in Iraq. And Syria. And Afghanistan…
Starting war is easy. Starting peace is tough. And don’t get me started about “freedom fries”…
2015: 70,000 Muslim Clerics Issue Fatwa Condemning Terrorism
This is an edited repost from March 19, 2006.