Camp Rilea-based National Guardsmen shipping out Voices in Astoria and around the world spoke loudly on city streets during the weekend, sending a message of peace to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
As tens of thousands thronged streets in San Francisco, London, Athens and elsewhere condemning President Bush's threat to attack Iraq, American troops were being mobilized at U.S. military bases from Kuwait to Albany.
"This demonstration is the largest in the world, and here in Astoria we are taking part in it," said Kate O'Neal of Astoria, one of the organizers of Saturday's downtown rally, which attracted 230 marchers of all ages. "Even if (President) Bush goes ahead with his plan to slaughter the innocents of Iraq, millions of us have been galvanized into action to wrest our planet out of the hands of the powerful and wealthy who are destroying it and us."
A girl with her face painted carries a banner reading "Alliance - Stop the war" during an anti-war rally in central Athens Saturday. Thousands around the world staged anti-war marches.
Other communities held demonstrations with a "support the troops" theme. One, outside McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma, Wash., attracted 800 people.
About 15 local North Coast men and woman who serve in the U.S. Army National Guard have received their orders to mobilize, as well as the 131 other soldiers of the Bravo Company of the 52nd Engineering Unit.
Reflecting the scene across the nation, National Guardsmen are having to leave their families and civilian lives to take their part in operations Enduring Freedom, Noble Eagle and others.
About nine soldiers in the company are from Astoria, one is from Cannon Beach, two are from Long Beach, Wash., and one is from Tillamook.
Kay Fristad, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Military Department Headquarters in Salem, said the troops will first head to their mobilization station at Fort Carson, Colo., before heading to assignments, possibly overseas. "We don't know what the deployment is yet, but there's a high probability of foreign deployment," Fristad said.
Bravo Company, also known as the "B-52s," is based at Rilea Armed Forces Training Center and at the Albany National Guard Armory. Fristad said those soldiers based at Camp Rilea have already left for Albany where a ceremony was planned for 10 a.m. this morning.
Usually deployed in remote areas, Fristad said the 52nd Engineering Unit performs combat construction, which includes building roads, airstrips and shelters. Soldiers in the unit are trained as electricians, plumbers, carpenters and heavy equipment operators. Because of the nature of their work, the unit has a good chance of participating in any possible future foreign deployment, Fristad said.
For the mobilization ceremony at the Albany National Guard armory in the Linn County Fairgrounds, Gov. Ted Kulongoski, the Oregon National Guard Commander Maj. Gen. Alexander Burgin and Brig. Gen. Raymond Byrne Jr. commander of the 41st Brigade were scheduled to preside.
Protests worldwidePeace demonstrations were held throughout the world during the weekend.
In Astoria, a Mother Earth puppet led Saturday's march with a banner reading "There is no way to peace; peace is the way." Children carried a coffin, as they had in a similar event in January.
A Mother Earth puppet again led the peace march in Astoria.
Photo courtesy Kathy Petenaude
Anti-war protest marchers in Astoria
People came from the North Coast, Long Beach, and Grays River, Wash., and Wheeler to attend. O'Neal said it was gratifying to see several shoppers join the march through downtown.
She said more than 1,000 U.S. communities held marches, in addition to rallies on five continents. "Never before in the history of our species have we arisen by the millions speaking with one voice as we are today," she said.
Sunday people kayaked from Nehalem to Wheeler for another pro-peace rally. People in Waldport may form a human "peace symbol" with their naked bodies Saturday. A similar event happened in Florida this weekend.
If the U.S. does begin an attack on Iraq, Astoria protesters will meet at 5:30 p.m. that afternoon at the Community Store.
Around the nationThere were some arrests, but most protests were peaceful
Photos courtesy Kathy Petenaude
Anti-war protest marchers take to the streets of Astoria Saturday to send a message to President Bush that the administration's drive toward war against Saddam Hussein is out of step with citizens.
More than 100,000 people hit the streets of San Francisco Sunday, the event delayed one day to avoid a conflict with the city's popular Chinese New Year parade and celebration. Police estimated the crowd at 150,000. Protesters included actor Danny Glover, writer Alice Walker and singers Bonnie Raitt and Joan Baez.
In New York, police said more than 250 people were arrested Saturday during a massive anti-war demonstration as tens of thousands of protesters packed a 20-block area north of United Nations headquarters.
Police said the crowd that withstood bitter cold was about 100,000-strong, while organizers estimated it at three to five times that size.
Most of the 257 arrests were for disorderly conduct and other minor violations. Five people were arrested on felony charges and 53 on misdemeanors.
In Los Angeles, police estimated the crowd of protesters at 30,000 with three arrests.
In Denver, about 300 people waving American flags and holding signs proclaiming "war is bad, evil is worse" gathered Sunday.
"I support our president and I support my sons. This is the only option," said Pam Pearson, 49, who has two sons in the Navy. "I'd rather force Sadaam out than have to play by his rules."