PEORIA -- The Aug. 28 anti-war rally at the Peoria Public Library's downtown branch attracted over 158 people, but not 18th District Cong. Ray LaHood. He has refused to meet with the leaders of Iraq summer, part of a national effort focused on members of Congress who might be persuaded to drop support for the war.
Here are some photos of the event, submitted to PeoriaStory by Iraq Summer organizer Tracy Turner:
In an e-mail, Turner wrote: "There were over 158 people at the "Take a Stand" meeting. LaHood of course didn't show up.
"But we delivered a stack of the Statements of Conscience that we had everyone sign at the library Tuesday evening along with some that had been gathered over the course of the summer and placed on about 12 poster boards. We also included some photos of the event.
"I went to LaHood's office with Louis Cruz a young guy who I just met Tuesday (downtown). Cruz is doing ongoing actions from Monday-Friday, during the "Brown Bag" lunch from 11:30-1:00pm at Adams and Main by the Courthouse. He would welcome people to support him in this effort.
"Friday he gathered over a dozen "Statements of Conscience," one from a father who's son came back safely from Iraq but tragically went on to commit suicide. It is proving to be a good spot for passing out "Support the Troops END THE WAR" yard signs.
"Louis works nights so he's dedicated himself to do this during the day. He's asking people to joining him in doing protest right there on the corner from 11:30-1:00 pm Monday-Friday."
So LaHood got the petitions, but will he shift his stance?
He's not running for reelection. Candidates for his position in both parties can be quizzed on their stances on the war, and voters can react accordingly. That's the petition that really matters in today's politics!
IN ADDITION: Dave Weiman, Peoria coordinator of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, spoke at the rally and released a copy of his moving speech to PeoriaStory.com Here it is:
"The Network of Spiritual Progressives – NSP - is a national interfaith organization headquartered in Berkley, California with local chapters throughout the country.
"The NSP Peoria Chapter is joining with Americans Against Escalation in Iraq to empress upon Congressman LaHood that he needs to be aware that we believe the majority of the citizens in his district, like the majority of the citizens in our nation, are against the reckless and endless war chosen by and executed by President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
"he Network of Spiritual Progressives join with Americans Against Escalation in Iraq in asking Congressman LaHood to stand up and seek ways to not only end this terrible war, but to strive toward world peace. The many leaders of faith traditions who are members of NSP believe the majority of the citizens of America, are not just anti-war, but also yearn for a caring and lasting peace.
"Congressman LaHood, with his announced retirement, has the opportunity to shed the ‘cloak of control’ that has been thrown over his votes in the US House of Representatives by the Bush/Cheney administration. He now can consider what are the best votes for the country, and not the votes needed by an inflexible and irrational leader of his political party.
"He can now take a stand that the deaths of more than 3,700 of our children, our wives and husbands, our sisters and brothers, our aunts and uncles, our nieces and nephews, our cousins and friends is too much grief for us to bear any longer.
"He can now spend the remaining months he is in Congress working to return our loved ones from this senseless war and stopping the insane cycle of sending more of them into a quagmire of death and destruction.
"He can now become a champion of an effort to return our nation to the higher values for which the rest of world once gave us deep respect and honor. Values that should lead us to repair the damage we have done to innocent people, damage that spawns a hatred of us, damage that will lead to further violence.
"He can call for an end to the flawed policy of “Democracy by Domination” which has produced thousands of terrorists, most of them seeking revenge for the killing of more than 600,000 of their families and friends and for the destruction of their homes and made us and many other nations less safe and more insecure.
"We are asking Congressman LaHood to join with NSP to initiate a “National Security Strategy of Generosity and Care.”This “Strategy of Generosity” is part of a comprehensive NSP program to provide more security for us and others by drying up the cesspools of poverty and illiteracy that breeds terrorists; whether it be in the slums of Baghdad or Los Angeles, or the impoverished rural areas that exist all over our planet.
"Our strategy doesn’t ask “What will advance US interests over others?” but rather “What will best meet the needs of all the people of the world?” That principle includes solving our own nation’s entrenched poverty and the unequal educational opportunities for our children, for repairing our collapsing infrastructure and our cities destroyed by natural disasters, and for reversing the harm we have done to the environment.
"It calls for a Global Marshall Plan devoting funds over the next twenty years to work with Non-Governmental Organizations throughout the world to support a caring and ethical initiative that will create an awareness that our planet really is an interdependent web of all living things, and the realization of what happens there -- affects us here.
"Congressman LaHood, please don’t waste this opportunity to join with your fellow citizens to begin finding better ways to live with each other – in our District, in our State, in our Nation, in our World."