Dear Brothers, As my final remarks on my opinions about the war and the Bush administration (outside of my superfine Gann Journal, of course), I would like to share with you the experience that I had at my first peace rally, which was nonviolent and non-disruptive. Just a few thousand people getting together and talking about the war and america's foreign policy. I had the opportunity to meet many interesting people, from Arab Americans to a handful of annoying hippies trying to sell stuff, which I thought was rather offensive. Fortunately (and contrary to my expectations), this peace rally was not at all what I expected from what I'd seen in movies and from footage of the Vietnam era. There were no hippies dancing and passing joints around. It was not a battle between the young and old, or liberals versus conservatives (to my utter surprise), but rather, most of the attendees were over the age of 35. What surprised me the most was that senior citizens had shown up for the rally. I would guess that about 25% of the crowd was over the age of 55. I hardly saw any freaks or people who hadn't combed their hair in 6 months -- the majority of people who were there were "real people," just like you and me. There were also college students, probably making up about 15% of the crowd. They were angry at the Bush administration for the same reasons that I am. At this gathering, about 15-25 pro-war protesters showed up, in addition to some other individuals who deemed it necessary to drive around harassing protesters as they walked to the rally. The social deviants driving around harassing the protesters were, in my opinion, retarded at best, but they made for some good laughs and even better stories. While walking up to the rally, my friend and I were called "dirty hippies" by some moron driving around in his SUV, and another guy in an SUV (I'm not lying about the SUV part, either) told us to get jobs and "stop living off of daddy's money." Of course, he was driving by and yelling out the window like a typical coward, so I didn't get a chance to explain that his pension fund is where my rent money comes from. I'm sure that these people were also calling the older ladies who looked just like our grandmothers "dirty hippies," too, as I (or my friend) certainly don't look or dress anything like a hippie of any sort. As for the pro-war protesters, they carried signs saying how america should attack n korea, iran, france, and a handful of others, as well as posters saying that anti-war protesters are pro-saddam, that we are anti-american, that daschle is a communist, etc. The funny thing was that the pro-war group was composed solely of a bunch of adolescent white males and middle-aged white males, and one older, obese woman. Yep, guys like that don't get too many women. Their signs were also misspelled. Maybe they were drunk. Maybe just stupid. What I found most offensive about the pro-war people was this: an American republican congressman who was against the war made a very compelling speech about the costs of war, loss of lives, and all the other issues we've discussed here (including a rather depressing comment about how the Bush administration budgeted $200k of our tax money way before the whole Iraq thing appeared in the news to pay for a public relations study to determine how the war with Iraq should be best sold to the American people). At the end of his speech, he read a prayer for the American and British soldiers honorably serving their country, and we all stood silent, except for one pro-war protester, an older man who looked to be about 45, who made loud whistling noises during this man's prayer for our soldiers. He did this while waving a large American flag and smoking a fat cigar. I found his behavior to be absolutely appalling -- the nerve of this asshole disrupting a ceremony intended to honor our brave friends. He did this for the entire prayer, which lasted about one minute, while his skinny, acne-coated younger friends chuckled. However, he was ignored by the slightly more sophisticated anti-war community. Yep, that's right. We ignored him. We didn't heckle him back. We did not sink to his level. We, like our country and our soldiers, are better than him. He is just a sorry, fat reminder of what is wrong with our country. The pro-war people had no compelling arguments, no interesting discussions, nothing remotely productive or helpful. They did not want to discuss the issues or seek compromise. They were there to vent their emotions and anger at the people who wanted peace; they were there looking for scapegoats. They were there to disrupt the peace and be annoying, because they lacked the intellect or the will to do otherwise. If I were going to ignore all of the issues and pick a side based on who's on it, it would definitely be the anti-war people. The pro-war people were scary morons. The anti-war people were people who looked my classmates from college, my grandparents, and relatives. They were people who worked their entire lives, paid taxes, served and believed in their country, and cared enough about their country to come out and let their opinions be heard and their numbers seen. Several pro-war protesters were carrying pictures of their relatives fighting for the US, and arguing that the antics of the protesters would get their relatives killed. I don't understand that argument. I don't want their relatives (nor my friends, as all of my relatives who served are now retired) to die. I don't want them to fight an unnecessary war. I would have liked to tell them this. I would have liked to tell them that I supported their relatives and friends, and appreciated their sacrifices to make the world a better place. But they didn't want to hear that. They demanded respect from me when they waved pictures of their brothers and friends, but they didn't respect me enough to consider my opinion that this is an unnecessary war. It's a shame that it is so easy for human beings to get caught up in emotion and abandon their intellect and their willingness to tolerate the opinions of their countrymen. There were also veterans there who were protesting the war, and arguing that the war is already the next Vietnam. That's a pretty compelling argument. So I ask you, who is uninformed here?? Who is "protesting, just for the sake of protesting?" Now, unless there are a bunch of "hippies" over the age of 40 who look just like normal people who pay taxes and hold normal jobs, something is very very different about this anti-war movement compared to the Vietnam anti-war movement. I'm not trying to belittle the brave and necessary efforts of the people who marched against the Vietnam war, as I was not alive for it and know very little about it, and certainly know nothing firsthand about it. I'm simply making the point that the protesters that I saw were normal, working people, just like you and me. To those of you who may be trying to convince your friends that this war is wrong, I invite you to forward my story to them. It was very inspiring to me to know that the majority of people who are against the war are not "dirty hippies," but rather, thinking and tax-paying americans. As for you people who are against protests and civil disobedience, I ask you what the hell else are we supposed to do?? Most of us have already written our representatives, and most of us had faith that the opinion of the UN would be honored by the Bush administration. Are we supposed to just sit home, and avoid thinking about the war and our friends who may not come back from it?? Thank you very much for listening, whatever your opinions may be about the war. PS -- My favorite anti-war sign was "Will Trade Bush, Ashcroft, and Cheney for American POWs."