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Sunday, March 21, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Rallies mark anniversary of Iraq conflict
Monk and DeLurme are mothers of soldiers stationed in Iraq. While both pray for the safe return of their sons, they spent the day participating in different rallies marking the anniversary of the start of the war, one opposed to U.S. policy in Iraq and one in support of those carrying it out.
Monk, of Sammamish, was among an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 who marched in downtown Seattle in a protest organized by the Church Council of Greater Seattle and Sound Nonviolent Opponents of War. The group gathered at Harvard Avenue and Seneca Street and marched to Pier 62/63 to hear actor Ed Asner and other activists criticize President Bush and his foreign policy for nearly an hour.
"We patriots are here to do what is right instead of what is profitable," Asner told a cheering crowd. "Let us have peace. ... Peace is grander than war."
Also speaking was retired Navy Lt. John Oliveira of Darrington, who last May looked into the cameras of several television networks and defended the war, even though he now says he didn't believe in it.
"I had to tell the American people this information that I felt was not true. My conscience was bothering me," Oliveira said.
"I am proud of my military service," but pitching the war to the media and the communities, he said, was "taking a toll."
After a 21-year naval career, Oliveira, 38, resigned in January, he said, to clear his conscience.
In the crowd, Vicky Monk, echoing the fears of countless military parents, said when she drives home each evening, she fears that an Army car will be waiting in her driveway, and a remorseful soldier will step out and tell her that her only son is dead.
It's been almost a year since 20-year-old Spc. Tim Monk of the First Armored Division left for Iraq, and his mother said her anger toward the war hasn't subsided. Neither have the tension-filled reminders that tragedy could unravel her family at any moment.
It's those emotions that drove her to join the Seattle protest.
The event was largely peaceful, according to police, who reported two arrests, one for suspicion of assault (shoving a police officer) and another for obstructing traffic.
Meanwhile, a much smaller but no less spirited group gathered in support of the troops at the Interstate 5 overpass at Exit 122 (Madigan Hospital/Camp Murray) in Pierce County.
Among them was Joyce DeLurme of Snoqualmie, whose son, Army Sgt. Ron DeLurme, 21, is stationed in Iraq.
DeLurme wasn't in favor of her son joining the military. "He was only 17 ... I'm not one of these good patriotic moms who wanted him to go."
Now that he is in Iraq, "I'm proud of him and support what he's doing," she said.
At the rally, someone played "God Bless America" on a trumpet. A few women wore Statue of Liberty crowns. One man dressed as Uncle Sam. And everyone carried flags that billowed in the breeze.
Beneath the overpass, many drivers honked and waved. A truck blasted its horn. A cavalcade of motorcycle riders thundered past, waving. Those in the rally above cheered.
"See how many people wave to us and honk?" said Liz Jackson, an Air Force veteran and one of the rally's organizers. "This is the best poll to tell what America is thinking."
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