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Protesters mark opposition to Iraq war

March 20, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Holding signs that read "How Many Must Die?" and "March 19, 4th Tragic Year," about 30 people opposed to the war in Iraq led two demonstrations Monday at the intersection of Duke and German streets in Shepherdstown on the fourth anniversary of the conflict.

The demonstrators were pushing their message as traffic backed up at the busy intersection during the morning rush hour and again from 4 to 6 p.m.

The group also distributed self-addressed, stamped postcards that people could send to U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito to express their opposition to the war.

The group had about 250 of the postcards made and nearly all of them had been distributed by Monday afternoon, said Liz McGowen, one of the organizers of the demonstration.

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Demonstrators said they wanted postcards sent to Capito, R-W.Va., because they believe Capito has been a "rubber stamp for (President) Bush."

Capito officials could not be reached for comment Monday night.

The demonstration went smoothly, although one woman was cited because she was standing in traffic, Shepherdstown Police Chief Curtis Keller said.

Demonstrators said they received various reactions from the public, ranging from rude gestures to whole-hearted support.

Demonstrators said they want the war halted because they believe it was unnecessary and because it is costing too much in terms of U.S. dollars and lives.

McGowen cringes at the money being spent on the war, and wonders where the country could be in terms of quality education and health care if the funding was used to address those issues.

The war is costing the country $8 billion a month "with no end in sight," McGowen said.

McGowen bristled at comments from people that such demonstrations are not being patriotic, and said such action is the highest form of patriotism.

Mary Bell, another demonstrator, said some people who stopped at the four-way stop during the protest were veterans. Some of the veterans agreed that the U.S. needs to get out of Iraq, said Bell, of Shepherdstown.

"It's very touching," Bell said.

Dianne Hilliard of Martinsburg said she has never participated in a demonstration. Hilliard said she was often complacent and had other things to worry about until she started talking to McGowen about the war.

"We were certainly buffaloed into this war," Hilliard said.

It was noisy at the intersection at times, with motorists honking their horns in support and the demonstrators cheering.

"Long live the communist party," one man yelled from his vehicle as he passed.

Patience Wait, a motorist who was in a line of cars waiting to reach the intersection, said such a demonstration is typical for Shepherdstown. Wait wondered how it would have gone over in Martinsburg, W.Va.

Wait declined to give her own view of the war, saying her job prohibits her from making such public statements.

"I'm glad they're standing up," Wait said of the demonstrators.

While there have been protests against the war, other residents in the Tri-State area have said they support the conflict and went to Washington, D.C., on Saturday to join planned events in support of the conflict.

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