My Witness and the Bush Library

Today was the groundbreaking ceremony for the George W. Bush Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. I was privileged enough not only to be able to attend the peace protest, but to speak alongside some of my heroes- Col. Ann Wright, Medea Benjamin of CODE PINK, and Cindy Sheehan among them.

Col. Ann Wright and Lilly Louise

Myself and Col. Ann Wright

As a last minute fill-in speaker, I was given about 3 minutes to write a brief outline and stare into the Texas sun. I had spent the night before speaking about the protest on a local radio talk show of which I am a regular guest contributor, and I slept fitfully to say the least. This morning, I dressed in all black to mourn the loss of human life that occurred because of those fateful “16 words” that led to this unjust war.

I am a young activist. I wasn’t old enough to vote in either Bush Presidential election. Most of my work comes in the form of blogging, gathering and delivering letters to my senators or near anonymous phone-banking and block-walking. I am more than content to be a warm body witness standing in the middle of the crowd to clap and shout.

In those 3 minutes between being asked and walking to the podium, I struggled to articulate why I stood here, so incredibly outnumbered and facing hostile faces because of what should be a simple ceremonial gesture to begin building a library. Rich Hancock, Master of Ceremonies answered the first part of my doubt, “We are not here because of polling numbers.” But.. why did I care at all? That administration is over, the wars are “winding down” according to much of the press.

Thankfully I found the words when I walked up to that podium my heros had spoken at before. And to those who gathered for peace and memory, I spoke.

“I am here as a witness to lives lost. I am here in witness to the truth of our founding documents, that life is an inalienable right not simply for U.S. Citizens but for humankind. The hundred thousand something Iraqis who have been murdered included those who may have shared my birthday or had the same family life as I had. They were my neighbors. Some of us could have become friends. I won’t know, and I can’t speak for them. I can only stand here as witness to their murder and in memory of their humanity. Thank you for standing witness with me today.”

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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