The 5th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq has come and gone. Below is a summary of what the Northland Anti-War Coalition did to commemorate this tragic event.
On the actual anniversary of the invasion, March 19, NAWC held a press conference and vigil at the Duluth Civic Center. Just under 50 people showed up for the vigil. Half way through the vigil we held the press conference with the following speakers: Gary Sorenson from Veterans for Peace, Kay McKenzie from the Douglas County Board, Daniel Fanning of Iraq Veterans Against the War [and who had just returned from IVAW's Winter Soldier hearings in Washington D.C.], David Boe of Congressman Oberstar's office, Tammy Francois of PAVSA and Michelle Naar-Obed of Loaves & Fishes [who has just returned from Iraq]. KUWS did a live story of the event, and the Duluth News Tribune gave us a plug on page 3 of their March 20 edition with info about our March 21 protest.
Friday, March 21 was the day of our main event - and the protest we held took the place of the usual 3rd Friday vigils we've been holding as part of the national Iraq Moratorium Project.
The event began with a march from the MN Power Plaza at 5:30pm. We marched down several blocks of Superior St. and 1st St. before going to the YWCA, where the rest of the evening's events took place. Once the march arrived to the YWCA Trepanier Hall at 6:15pm we began the indoor rally. About 125 attended this, our main event. The speakers were Steve O'Neil of the St. Louis County Board; Sharla Garnder of the Duluth City Council; Brandon Clokey of Lifehouse, the Duluth Fathering Project and candidate for the MN House of Representatives; Carl Sack of the Northland Health Care for All Coalition and of Socialist Action; Becky Lourey, who is a Gold Star mother and former MN State Senator; and Barb Olson, who is a Reader Weekly columnist and Pres. of Progressive Action. Rachel Kilgour and the Raging Grannies both shared several songs with us, and Barton Sutter read one of his poems as part of the program. The event was MCed by Peter Krause of the Duluth Area Green Party, and Heather Bradford of Socialist Action.
Following the rally we had a potluck and a silent auction. Both went very well. There was plenty of food brought to share, and while the final tally has yet to be made, we sold almost all of our auction items.
And then finally we held a mini-film fest at 8pm. We showed 3 films at the same time - "Why We Fight", "Poison Dust" and "Ground Truth".
All in all it was a very lively and positive event. I want to thank all of the speakers, singers, poets and MCs that participated in the press conference and Friday's rally. Also special thanks to Colette K., Peter K. and Carl S. for helping to set up and clean up at the YWCA. Thanks to Chelsa N. and Linda G. for helping with the collection at the rally, thanks to our chanters on the march, all of the march guides that were organized by Joel K. Thanks to David M. for handling the press work, Andy A. for organizing the film fest, and to everyone who brought food to share at the potluck, and donated items for the silent auction. And of course thanks to all of the NAWC activists, and the students at UWS and UMD who helped put up fliers to build the event.
It was a tragic event to commemorate, but we did a great job of it and I thank everyone who participated in it. But of course, since the war is not just a date in history, but rather an ongoing tragedy, the fight against it must go on. In light of that I urge all of you who are reading this to get involved in the local peace movement. And you can do just that by dropping in at the next meeting of the Northland Anti-War Coalition, which will be on Sunday, April 13 at 2pm in the basement of the Chester Creek Cafe in Duluth. I'll see you there! -Adam Ritscher