Naomi Van Tol
As we trudge into the fourth winter of the Iraq War, our soldiers are dying at an average rate of two per day. Our country's human losses now total more than 2,800 dead and 21,000 wounded soldiers. The latest estimates of Iraqi dead range from 50,000 to 600,000 people. We may never know the true death toll because our military command has refused to keep an official count of Arab bodies.
Since early 2003, when George W. Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" two months after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, we have spent $347 billion to plunge a sovereign nation into chaos. Our treasury is hemorrhaging two billion dollars every week to feed the war machine.
Why are we still allowing our government to squander our resources on a fruitless war of aggression that violates international law? I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know that nothing will change if we choose apathy over action. I also know that it's impossible to feel hopeless about the future when you're wearing a fuschia feather boa for CODEPINK.
CODEPINK is a national women-initiated grassroots movement that is working to end the war in Iraq, prevent new wars, and redirect our national resources into education, health care and other life-affirming activities. I first learned about the group while searching for a positive and creative way to speak out for peace.
On November 25, our fledgling Memphis chapter of CODEPINK held its first event. We deployed four large peace banners on a pedestrian bridge over Sam Cooper Boulevard and our group -- eight women, six men and five kids -- got all gussied up in pink clothes and silly hats to wave at traffic for nearly two hours.
We had no idea how people would respond to our message. We were thrilled when cars and trucks started honking their horns as soon as the banners went up. A large majority of motorists waved and honked, and a passing ambulance even gave us a quick siren whoop. It was very inspiring to see (and hear) that so many people in our community want peace.
Our future plans include a "Santas for Peace" event in late December, a Valentine’s Day lovefest in February, and a Mother's Day Picnic for Peace in May. If you want to take action with the Memphis chapter of CODEPINK, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 901-278-2396. You can learn more about CODEPINK's national and regional work at www.codepinkalert.org.