Sunday, September 26, 2004

Political rally at Augsburg college

Today, the 'Road Map out of Iraq' campaign I had worked on in the summer took off in a big way today - the rally was held at Augsburg college & about 540 people attended! We had several guest speakers: a couple who have two sons deployed - one in Kuwait, the other in Iraq - an Iraqi veteran of the 1991 Shia uprising & another Iraqi American. We also had several Minnesota politicians speak at the event: Congresswoman Betty McCollum (who has visited Iraq twice), Congressman Jim Oberstar, Minneapolis Mayor R.T.Rybak, DFL State Rep. Keith Ellison, and Minneapolis Council Member Dean Zimmerman. Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich (former presidential nominee) had a video message for us showing his support for our campaign, he has also pledged to introduce it amongst his colleagues in Congress! The local politicians talked about how the lack of funding due to the war, has affected social programs for Minnesotans. Although it may seem that the campaign is targeted mostly towards Democrats, it has been introduced to all Minnesota's congressional leaders (Republicans: Congressmembers Jim Ramstad, John Kline, Mark Kennedy & Sen. Norm Coleman) & they were all invited to speak at the event. We also attracted media such as Minnesota Public Radio! Unfortunately, neither of the two main metro newspapers - Star Tribune & Pioneer Press - were not present.

When I first started out with this grassroots campaign, I didn't have much hope in Phil Steger's (my boss) vision. But the success of this campaign has taught me the power of people to mobilize & influence change - we have proved that it is possible.

Some quotes from the event:

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who are hungry and and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron."
~Dwight D. Eisenhower

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

The only bad thing about the event - I got my 1st parking ticket for $33! :o(