By Rebecca LaFlure, Killeen Daily Herald, May 26, 2009
"Get up. Get down. There's an anti-war movement in this town."
A group of active-duty Fort Hood soldiers and nearly 70 other anti-war protesters took to the streets of Killeen Monday afternoon in the city's first peace march since the Vietnam War.
Toting picket signs that read, "War is not the answer," and "Blessed are the peacemakers," the demonstrators gathered for one common purpose – to call for an end to the wars in the Middle East.
The action, held on Memorial Day, was organized to honor the nation's fallen soldiers, and help prevent the further loss of lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We're paying homage to the ones we've lost. We don't want to lose anymore," said Chris Saylor, an Iraq War veteran who traveled from Detroit to participate.
The protest was organized by Under the Hood Cafe – a local outreach center for soldiers. Members from peace organizations across Texas as well as college students, active-duty soldiers and veterans came out to show their support.
The march began at the cafe house at 17 College St. and continued down Veteran's Memorial Boulevard to Fort Hood Street and then up to Fort Hood's East Gate.
The demonstrators waved colorful flags decorated with peace symbols and chanted slogans like, "They're our brothers, they're our sisters. We support war resistors," and "What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!"
Many people honked their car horns as they drove by. Not all the responses were positive, however. One man shouted, "You don't have the right to do this!" as he drove by.
Ben Fugate, an Army specialist who returned from Iraq two months ago, was one of several Fort Hood soldiers who came to the event. Wearing a black T-shirt with the slogan, "Got rights?" Fugate called the Iraq war "unjustified" and recently decided to speak out against it.
"They say they're there to build up Iraq, but all you see is destruction of Iraq," he said. "There are thousands of guys who are not coming home to their mom and dad. I lost three buddies in my platoon in Iraq and for what? Why lose more when we don't have to?"
Cindy Thomas, manager of Under the Hood Cafe and the protest's organizer, said she hopes the day's action will influence other military community members to speak out.
"We want to let the soldiers out there know that we're here. They have somewhere to come to," she said. "A lot of them don't know that they actually have rights. You're allowed to speak out. You're allowed to march."
Under The Hood Cafe
Iraq Veterans Against The War
Courage To Resist