Thursday, September 13, 2007
Patricia's Journal of her vigil continues
12-SEP-2007butterflies of hope
Friends, I have had an extraordinary day here in Washington, DC, a day that has filled me full to bursting with hope for our world, and a day that has left me so sleepy I can barely keep my eyes open even though it is only 8:30 p.m. What I'm going to do is take a shower and go to bed. When I wake up, which is likely to be in the early morning hours, I will prepare and post today's collection of photos and write my blog entry. But first let me get some sleep...
It's now 6 a.m. and I've been up since 1:30 a.m. working on my photos from Day #3 of my peace vigil here in DC. I've just finished uploading 39 new photos to my Iranian Vigil for Peace photo gallery. Click here to see them. And now I'm going back to bed for a few more hours of sleep. I'll write Wednesday's blog entry when I get up. I promise!
It's 9 a.m. on Thursday and I'm back, ready to share Wednesday's many adventures with you...
I call this blog entry "butterflies of hope" because of the people I met, people who are acting in ways to bring peace and justice to our nation and our world, with the emphasis on the word, "act." People like the coalition called A.R.T., Activist Response Team. On my way to Capitol Hill for my daily vigil for a peaceful solution to our concerns about Iran, I happened upon a group of people in a park near the Capitol. I heard them before I saw them because they were speaking through a sound system using phrases like "End the war now!" and "Peace in the Middle East." I could tell they were my kind of people! And when I crossed the street and saw the decorated truck with a "Gold Star Families for Peace" banner on its side, I knew I was right. For the next 45 minutes or so, I talked with Laurie Arbeiter, one of the organizers of this postcard action for peace. Laurie is an artist/activist who was one of the founders of The Critical Voice in NYC (http://www.thecriticalvoice.org, the group that started the "We will not be silent" T-shirt and banner campaign. She showed me one of 9 books with over 4000 copies of postcards written by people across the country who want their elected officials to represent their views and stop the wars and aggression that the U.S. has been engaged in, especially since 9/11. I also heard these messages being read aloud on a stage--that was what I'd first heard--which I learned they'd been doing throughout the night. And I met Barbara Cunningham from San Antonio, Texas, and Ann Shirazi for NYC, who was so grateful when she saw my sign. Ann has been married to an Iranian man for 40 years and calls his family in Iran her own. Like I, Ann is terribly concerned with the current White House PR campaign to demonize Iran in preparation for attacking it. This group's planned action was to take their 9 books of postcard messages to the Speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi's office at 11 a.m. and stay there until she met with them. Several were prepared to be arrested if necessary.
So, by 9:30 a.m. I had already seen my first butterfly of hope. But there were many more to come.
Soon after parking my scooter and holding up my sign in front of the Rayburn House Office Building, I was greeted by Col. Ann Wright, a co-founder of Code Pink, and her two companions, Brandy and Miles. Ann and I had gotten to know one another last summer when she was part of the Troops Home Fasters in front of the White House, and I was there mounting my 18-day solitary vigil for Lebanon. Today they were on their way to Rep. Nancy Pelosi's office to join the A.R.T. postcard campaign.
The next butterflies--and there must have been 100 of them!--marched right by me on their way into the Rayburn House Office Building to see their Congresspersons, including, as it turned out, Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Lots of action in her office on this beautiful September day! It was the deported immigrants' rights icon/activist/organizer Elvira Arellano's community from Chicago, and they wanted to talk with their elected officials about the rights they deserve under our Constitution but are not receiving. This group of men, women and children had just arrived from Chicago by bus--at least a 20 hour ride--and would be turning around and going home tonight. But for now they were full of energy and life! Included in their numbers were 8 year-old Saul, Elvira's son, and the Rev. Walter Coleman, pastor of the church where Elvira took sanctuary for many months.
And this gathering of butterflies wasn't over yet. Next I met Meg and Ovidio Pena Wer, parents of Mario, who had walked from Chicago to DC on a March for Peace that had started months ago in San Francisco with two students, Ashley Casale and Michael Israel. Not long after I met Meg and Ovidio, Ashley and Michael appeared, but only long enough for me to snap a quick picture as they were also joining the A.R.T. folks in Rep. Nancy Pelosi's office.
From then on, it was butterfly by butterfly. Jim Goodnow, a 68 year-old Texan, who has not been home in over two years because of his commitment to driving the 40 foot Yellow Rose Peace Bus (http://www.theyellowrosepeacebus.com) around the country, going wherever he is needed. He told me he'd covered 29 states and approximately 35,000 miles in that time! Bill McPherson from Washington state, who was in town for this Saturday's antiwr march and carried a huge handmade sign on which was written, "Defend Our Constitution--2008 Is Too Late--Impeach Now!" Anne and David Bollen from Goulburn, Australia, who stopped to voice their support of the messages on our signs and even posed in a group portrait while holding my sign. Engy Tawfeik, who is on the faculty of economics and political science at Cairo University in Egypt. Jim Goodnow remembered seeing her with her students at General Petraeus's speech before Congress on Monday, the speech in which he said the "troop surge" in Iraq had been successful. Successful??? Camp Casey's Poet Laureate Rick Burnley who recited several of his excellent political poems to Bill McPherson and me on the street corner. And finally, the Monarch butterfly who is pictured above. I met this butterfly in the tiny jewel of a park where I took my breaks and finished my day.
But there were other unnamed butterflies fluttering around me all day long, and these were the countless passersby--many of them staffers for Congresspersons inside these halls of power--who expressed their support for my message in words and gestures. Yes, it was a VERY good day! And now it's time to get out there again...