Students participate in anti-war protests

Along with the recent anniversary of the United States’ invasion of Iraq came many anti-war protests across the world. In Ames, several high school students helped plan two of the main protests. The first protest occurred March 7, and consisted of about 20 Ames High students, as well as several other members of the Ames community, reading the names of the 2,302 U.S. troops who had been killed in Iraq at that time. The students responsible for organizing most of the name reading were sophomore Bobby Hunter and junior Spencer Arritt. “We wanted to do something about the war that would attract attention, but not necessarily be antagonistic,” Hunter said. “And we wanted something that would make a larger statement than just: we don’t like what’s going on. That’s why we wanted to express the real magnitude of the casualties. I think that it becomes just a number to a lot of people, rather than something personal.” Another, larger protest was held on March 19, the third anniversary of the United States’ invasion of Iraq, at Lincoln Center. Many participants of this event carried signs and marched from Iowa State Center, Roosevelt School, or Ames High School to the rally. It is estimated that between 300 and 325 people attended the rally. “It was an opportunity to realize that we are not alone in our desire for an end to the violence, and it should also have been a stimulant for ordinary citizens to think about the consequences of pre-emptive strikes,” Hunter said. Many groups were involved in the planning for the rally. These groups included Alliance for Global Justice, A Time For Peace, the Unitarian Universalist Peace Group, and several other individuals. Hunter represented the Ames High Progressive Club on the March 19 planning committee, which was chaired by Gary Tartakov, a member of Alliance for Global Justice. The rally itself consisted of several speakers, along with a couple songs. The overall theme was uniting to speak out against the war in Iraq. Greg Bonnet, citing that 65% of Americans are opposed to what is going on in Iraq, rallied the attendants, chanting, “The people, united, can never be defeated!” Ames High students attended the events for a multitude of reasons. “The first time, I came because I believe in the peace effort and have never been to a rally or anything, so I was a little curious. I enjoyed the experience because it provided a kind of unity with like-minded people,” junior Dennis Kuo said. “The second time I came because I enjoyed the experience the first time, and it was a good opportunity to listen to speakers and show support for the peace effort.” Freshman Nate Ryan had a more personal reason for attending. “I attended because I met two boys whose father had nightmares of Iraq. It really made the war personal,” Ryan said. “I used to think that the war would be justified. My reason was that I thought it helped the oppressed people. I’ve realized, thought, that there is a huge cost that comes with that. As Jose Narosky put it, ‘In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.’ I think that’s the part people don’t get. I also believe it’s important to stand up and be active about what you believe in.” Senior Evan Hudson, who is president of Ames High’s Progressive Club, found both events to be encouraging. “Before March 7, I was in a sort of daze, the utter wrongheadedness of the Bush administration had put me in a sort of nihilistic funk. Seeing the dedication of high school students who got off their butts and braved the cold to show their resistance to an unjust war reawakened a sense of purpose in me that was reinforced by the March 19 protest. The peace movement is gaining momentum.”