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Locals mark miltary deaths in Iraq

October 27, 2005|By By Fred Ortega

Dozens of people came out to demonstrate and memorialize American military deaths in Iraq conflict.DOWNTOWN GLENDALE -- More than two-dozen people gathered at the corner of Broadway and Brand Boulevard Wednesday night to mark a grim milestone: the 2,000th American military death in the Iraq war.

Some held candles, and others held up signs and solicited supportive honks from passing cars. The vigil was one of several scheduled throughout the area Wednesday night in recognition of the country's war dead, including one in La Crescenta at the corner of Briggs Avenue and Shields Street, and others in Burbank, Sunland, Eagle Rock and Pasadena.

The message of those at the gatherings was twofold, according to Sharon Weisman, a member of the Glendale Peace Vigil: to recognize the ultimate sacrifice made by American troops in the war on terror, and to express their belief that the 2 1/2 -year conflict in Iraq is misguided and should be brought to an end.

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"Two thousand is just a symbol, because all of the dead, Iraqi and American, are to be mourned," Weisman said. The group has met every Friday at the same Broadway and Brand corner since before the start of the war in protest against the fighting in Iraq.

"It is very sad that all of these lives are being wasted in this unjust war and I fear our involvement is creating more terrorism and creating more people who don't understand that the United States is not about war," Weisman said. "The war puts out the wrong message about what this country really stands for."

The Bush administration, however, has stood by the American mission in Iraq, arguing that it is necessary to spread democracy in the Middle East. Iraqi officials have reportedly announced that the country's draft constitution has won approval in a nationwide referendum, paving the way for parliamentary elections.

The fact that a large percentage of those serving and dying in Iraq are National Guard and reserve members troubles Weisman.

"We have had an early winter so the fires should not be that bad, but that means we may have floods to worry about," she said. "And everyone knows that earthquake faults crisscross Southern California. We need the well-trained people of the National Guard here at home in the event of a catastrophe."

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