LAFAYETTE SQUARE

War Protesters' Chorus: Bring U.S. Troops Home

In Lafayette Square, Maria Illingworth of the District and daughter Maria protest President Bush's plan to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq.
In Lafayette Square, Maria Illingworth of the District and daughter Maria protest President Bush's plan to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq. (By Bill O'leary -- The Washington Post)
By Allan Lengel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 12, 2007

In the evening chill, amid hundreds of war protesters near the White House, Fred Solowey gazed down at his 4-year-old son, Ben, bundled up with his Batman backpack in tow.

"I'm a dad at a late age, and every time the kids go over there, I think it could be him in a few years," the 57-year-old District resident said. "This is going to keep making it worse."

Solowey and his son gathered for an orderly, hour-long candlelight vigil at Lafayette Square across from the White House, one of many protests held across the country last night to voice opposition to President Bush's plan to send 21,500 more troops in an effort to stabilize Iraq, a country wracked by violence and questions about its future.

The vigil included people of all ages, veterans of Vietnam War protests, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and former congressman Tom Andrews, a Democrat who represented Maine and is now national director of Win Without War, an organizer of the protests.

There were speeches, signs and chants saying "Troops don't go, no, no," "Out now" and "No blood for oil."

Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi who directs the Iraqi Project of the human rights group Global Exchange, said it is time to bring the troops home and turn over control to the Iraqi people, who, he said, have been governing their country for centuries.

"Iraqis don't want another day of occupation," said Jarrar, whose mother is Shiite and father is Sunni. He has been living in the United States for a year.

Jeffrey Kovite of Vienna, a member of Military Families Speak Out, has a son who served in Iraq for 10 months. But Kovite, 66, a Navy veteran, said he opposes the war and noted the hardships it has caused U.S. families. He said that he is a loyal American and "a better American than that man across the street."

He then faced the White House and led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance as protesters focused on the flag waving at half-staff in honor of the late president Gerald R. Ford, who put an end to the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

Lee, the congresswoman, told the crowd that "the house across the street belongs to the American people. The American people have spoken. . . . We want our troops home, and we want our troops [home] now."


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