The headline on this Sept. 16 A-section article about Iraq war demonstrations held the day before may have given an incorrect impression about the number of pro-war and antiwar protesters. War opponents significantly outnumbered war supporters.
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Juan Torres Sr., 52, of Chicago held a large photo of his son, Juan Torres Jr., in Army uniform. Torres said his 25-year old son died while serving in the war in 2004. Military officials, he said, told him that his son committed suicide, but Torres said he doesn't believe it. "I continue to fight for justice," he said. "I don't want to see other families [lose a son] like mine."
Speakers included several Iraq war veterans, activist Ralph Nader and former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark, who talked about Iraqis who were refugees, hungry, or ill. "You can't believe a word the administration says," Clark said.
But administration supporters, well represented in the Gathering of Eagles and Free Republic counter-demonstrations, disagreed.
"I've seen how leftist politicians hate the military. It's disgusting. We're fighting a war not in Iraq but with them," said Lt. Col. Robert "Buzz" Patterson, a retired Air Force pilot.
War supporters staked out three blocks on Pennsylvania Avenue to await the war protesters. A large police presence and metal barricades separated the groups, but not their words.
"Commies out of D.C.!" came the chants from one corner of 10th Street NW. Across the street, two middle-aged men shouted obscenities into the face of a young man in full camouflage and a bandanna that concealed all but his eyes. The young man remained silent amid the screaming, holding a sign over his head that read "Support the troops, end the war."
A bus had been painted with antiwar slogans including "Impeach Bush-Cheney Now!!" A man at Pennsylvania Avenue and Sixth Street shouted "Drive your bus into the Potomac. You're all idiots. . . . Relieve us of your stupidity."
Like many yesterday, Deborah Johns, the mother of a sergeant who has served three tours in Iraq, raised the Vietnam War for comparison.
"We're not going to let the domestic enemy here at home defeat us like they did then," she said. "No retreat, no surrender. Not now, not ever." A conversation began between war protester Ocek Eke, 38, of Elon, N.C., and Rich DeStefano, 64, of Philadelphia.
"We don't have to yell and scream at each other. Ultimately, we want the best for our country," Eke said.
"He makes good sense," DeStefano replied.
"If we call each other names, we'll never have a dialogue," said Eke.
DeStefano: "Absolutely right."
Staff writers Nelson Hernandez, Jerry Markon, Mary Otto, Katherine Shaver and Clarence Williams and editorial assistants Jillian Jarrett, Aruna Jain and Timothy Wilson contributed to this report.