The morning began
with a brief speaking and media interview session. David opened the
prepared remarks part by giving us an overview of the route, explaining
that we were going to march 15 miles, stopping to talk to the media
three times, and once to have lunch.
Fernando explained that his team had started marching in Tijuana,
Mexico, and they had been marching fifteen miles a day ever since. They
are marching to make a better world for
the children, because what our government is doing in Iraq is not
right. He spoke in Spanish, and the woman in the light green hat
translated. He has a gentle and firm personality. It was impossible to
doubt the sincerity of his mission.
Cesar Chavez and
Gandhi were among the four icons of the march. Somebody told me later
that we were recreating Gandhi's "salt march", an event that was key to
the peaceful throwing out of the English occupation of India. The other
two were Fernando's son Jesus and the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Pablo spoke about
what a load of road apples (not his exact words) the Army Recruiters
dump on the poor innocents that get near them. The implication that
anybody dumb enough to listen to them deserves to lose their life in
Iraq, or wherever the high command decides to send people to get shot.
The place was locked, so all we could do was use it as a
backdrop for pictures like the above. Greening had some Calla Lilies
that he decorated the place with before we left.
carrying a sign for her man's nephew. I think they also were there for
the whole trip. Virginia joined the group in Los Angeles somewhere.
Marsha Feinland is running for U.S. Senator as the Peace and Freedom
Carol Brouillet is
running for Congress in the 14th CD as a Green Party Candidate. Her
trademark is the 9/11 bill, and she gave them out to everybody the
march passed. I could tell if I was behind her or ahead of her by
looking at the people hanging out on the streets. If they were looking
at money in their hands with an interested look on their faces, I was
(Fernando's son) was the first Latino who died in the current Gulf War.
That picture of him has been carried all along the march. I found out
at the celebration where the march ended that the woman carrying him
was the mother of another soldier that didn't make it back from Iraq.
She had met Fernando on a Global Exchange trip there. The two of them
were the soul of the march, although a lot of other people put lots of
work into making it work out.
Every mile or so we
would pass Catherine again. Her car was the most vocal one I have ever
seen. We would hear the "HONK! HONK! HONK!" and then see her smiling
face. Often the other cars around would take up the chorus once she got
them going. Then she would hop out and distribute bottles of water and
fresh fruit to keep us going.
The Super Taqueria
was a great place to stop for lunch. Nobody behind the counter even
blinked when something like 30 marchers joined the line to order food.
They were set up to serve lots of people quickly, and the food was
Dennis Kyne is
running for City Council in San Jose's 3rd District. Coleville is up in
Washington State. I think he likes the fact they made their shirts out
of hemp. He was giving people copies of Addicted to War or decks of
cards that feature the Bush Administration. Each card in the deck was a
platform for another senior official. It would explain a lot about how
that person had helped get the Iraq war started in a short paragraph
with a mug shot. Talking to the guy, I
found out he had spent fifteen years in the military. That included
time as a combat medic, during which he had seen and done war crimes,
something he is not proud of. He
said the Military system makes people think that is the right thing to
do. He is certainly doing what he can to widen awareness that we need
lots of changes in our system.
Superwoman and Marissa were from Watsonville. They had really enjoyed
the previous days march, when 800 people had marched with Fernando,
partly for immigrants rights, but also for peace. Seeing Marissa smile
is an experience I enjoyed a lot.
This is how I
remember most of the march. Fernando leads us carrying the front end of
the banner. The scenery changes constantly, but there is often
something neat to look at going by. Everyone is in conversation, and
it's great because so many of those present have interesting stories to
I think there were
also a number of other speakers, but I had to rescue my wheels from the
place where the march began in Alum Rock. When I got back there was a
the table, partly Mediteranian food, partly Mexican food, with some
Anglo snacks and drinks on the side.
The next day the
march continued up to San Francisco. That was a rainy
day, so I didn't take my camera. I took the MEND YOUR FUELISH WAYS sign
that I've taken to many, many marches since I made it during the
buildup to the first Gulf War, back in 1990. It turned out to be that
signs last march. As the day wore on the thing slowly disintegrated
weight of the water falling from above. By mid afternoon it was no
holding its shape. When they called on me to help carry the banner
march I decided the two of them were too much to carry at the same
time. I ditched my trademark in a public trash can on Mission Street,
somewhere between 22nd and Cesar Chavez. It wouldn't surprise me to
find out I had carried it 241 miles during the time I owned it.
One thing I remember about that day was the stop we made at City
Hall. Ross Mirkarimi, the highest elected official in the Green Party
of California welcomed the March For Peace to San Francisco, giving our
leaders a certificate of Honor for their contribution to the struggle.
was given a brief opportunity to say a few words, as was Todd Chretien.
It was the second time the two of us had been on the same stage.
Another was the end of the thing, at a soup kitchen in the Mission
district. After a round of Aztec dancing, the guy that lead the service
said something like "what is remembered lives", and he gave the people
who had gone the distance an opportunity to talk about it. Pablo shared
a few anecdotes about how generous people had been supporting them in
the southern part of the march. Fernando
took the opportunity to thank all the people who had helped along the
way, telling briefly the stories of their involvement. Among them were
several people I don't have pictures of above, and a number that didn't
show in San Jose. One woman got heat exhaustion in Watsonville, and had
to skip a day. The support crew was doing other things which I wasn't
aware of as a marcher. Camilo Mejia had been working on another march
in the Louisiana and Alabama area, working to build a connection
what is going on in the Persian Gulf and what is going on in our Gulf
States, especially New
Orleans. Media Benjamin had inspired the whole thing by putting her
life on the line to take a crew including Fernando to Iraq to learn
about the facts on the ground. We ended it all by singing in a circle,
each of us holding a tea candle that had been lit from the ceremonial
alter candle, or one that had been lit off of it.