Anti-War Protesters Converge in Forsyth Park - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

09/13/05

Anti-War Protesters Converge in Forsyth Park

People are taking sides, rallying either for or against the war in Iraq. The anti-war group's main voice, Cindy Sheehan, is drawing crowds as she travels cross country on her way to Washington, DC. About a thousand followers showed up in Pittsburgh yesterday, carrying candles and pausing for a moment of silence at Soldiers and Sailors Hall. The owners of the hall turned them away.

Sheehan says our troops and their families have sacrificed enough. "None of these chicken hawks have served this country in the way that our children have served the country," she said.

Sheehan's 24-year-old son Casey reenlisted with the Army in August 2003. He was killed in Sadr City on April 4 of this year. Sheehan is visiting 42 cities on her way to a three-day protest in Washington at the end of this month.

She's not coming here, but her supporters were in Savannah last night and attracted people who back the war in Iraq. Those against the war held a candlelight vigil in Forsyth Park and were met head on by the supporters. There were a few tense moments, but no one went too far, realizing that violence is not the answer.

It started with lighting candles around the fountain in the park, representing American lives lost in Iraq. It's all part of Sheehan's Bring Them Home Now tour.

"We don't see it's a winnable war and life is being lost on both sides," said Tom Palumbo of Veterans for Peace.

Iraq veterans spoke out about the atrocities they've seen. "The horrors of war have been permanently engrained in my soul, with Iraqi civilians dead at checkpoints," said one veteran.

Along with military family members who lost loved ones in the war. "My son was killed in the war in the first three weeks," said Jean Prewitt. "Didn't even have time to send me a letter."

Prewitt lost her only son three years ago, and like most of the protesters, she supports our troops but not this war. "When I realized we had been given the wrong information and lied to, I just lost all respect for this administration," she said. "And I knew that it was just an unjust war."

But the gathering wasn't without tension. People supporting the war showed up at the vigil. "I'm sick of Cindy Sheehan being the only one heard," said military spouse Courtney Horn. "It's time for our husbands to be heard and Sheehan is not speaking for us."

Organizers hope crosses set up at the vigil to memorialize the soldiers who died in Iraq say the only thing that needs to be said. "It's too late for my son, but I don't want anyone else to have to experience this," said Prewitt.

Many of the protesters are heading to Washington, DC, to join Cindy Sheehan on September 24 for a mass protest against the war.

Reported by: Hena Daniels, hdaniels@wtoc.com

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