Ames High Progressive Club leads anti-war rally

Yesterday, Ames High students and others gathered at the Ames Veterans Memorial to read the names of the over 3,150 United States soldiers killed in Iraq. The event, organized by the Ames High Progressive Club, was the first of two major peace demonstrations in Ames this March. The second event, a march and rally with speakers, will be held March 20. Progressive Club member senior Haema Nilakanta participated in the event, and has been active in anti-war endeavors throughout the year. “I’ve helped with putting pictures of the fallen soldiers on people’s lockers in the school to inform students and make them realize how many lives have been lost due to the Iraq war,” Nilakanta said. “The name reading event was similar in that we were trying to make the war personal for people–make the casualties more than just a number.” This is the second year that Progressive Club has held a name-reading event to remember the fallen soldiers. “Last year, we had about 20 Ames High students attend, as well as a lot of other members of the community,” Nilakanta said. “We read around 1000 less names last year, so that should give an idea of just how many people have died since then.” Sophomore Laurel Tuggle is also involved with Progressive Club and this year’s name-reading. “We want to make it clear that we did not intend to dishonor the fallen in any way,” Tuggle said. “We weren’t trying to use them for political gain. We support our troops, and want nothing more than for them to come home alive as soon as possible.” Another purpose of the name-reading was to publicize a larger event that will be held March 20: the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. People who would like to be involved can meet at the Lincoln Center parking lot on the corner of Lincoln Way and Grand Ave. at 5:30 p.m., and then march to the Ames City Hall auditorium where a program will be held at 6:15 p.m. Former Ames High student Greg Bonett, who spoke at the rally last year, helped organize the event this year. “We’re hoping to have a strong student turnout,” Bonett said. “I’m really excited, because we have a great speaker line-up, and apparently a lot of free Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, too.” Former Gubernatorial candidate Ed Fallon will play his guitar and speak at the program. Other speakers include 2006 U.S. Congressional candidate Selden Spencer, longtime activist Frank Cordaro, and Ames High students senior Spencer Arritt and junior Bobby Hunter. “This sort of event is a good opportunity for students, high school or college, and community members to work toward a common goal,” Bonett said. Last year, the peace rally was held March 19, and attracted a crowd of over 300.