Publication:Johnson City Press; Date:Sep 20, 2007; Section:Front Page; Page Number:1A

Groups to unite for march, rally calling for war’s end

By JAMES BROOKS Press Staff Writer

    This time the coalition forces are uniting to end the war in Iraq with a march and rally set for Saturday beginning at 1 p.m.

    Concerned Citizens, along with East Tennessee State University student groups and other area organizations will form the march in downtown Johnson City at the Cherry Street parking lot, located next to the farmer’s market, and will proceed down West State of Franklin Road to the ETSU campus for a rally at Borchuk Plaza in front of the Sherrod Library.

    “This rally is a call to Congress and the administration to bring our troops home,” said Sandra Garrett of Concerned Citizens.

    She said the original hope was for about 50 people to attend the march, but from the response their e-mailings are getting from as far away as Rogersville, Asheville, N.C., and Abingdon, Va., the forecast has been revised to “hundreds of people,” Garrett said. “There’s a lot more interest than we expected.”

    When asked how 100 marchers
are going to send a message to Washington, Garrett replied, “It isn’t going to reach members of Congress in Washington, but then neither did the march on Washington — certainly not Congressman (David) Davis or Sens. (Lamar) Alexander or (Bob) Corker, because they’re just not listening. We are a true grass-roots organization and it’s like a game of cards. Somebody has to play the first heart.”

    The group began to garner support when it conducted “Truth Surge” rallies near the Mall at Johnson City up into June. “We were encouraged by the number of people who honked or waved or stopped to get on our e-mail list,” Garrett said. “Now that the Petreaus report has come out asking for more of the same it has sparked a call from our constituents to address the obvious. The Iraqis will never take the initiative to fight their own war so long as we are willing to do it for them.”

    The report by Gen. David Petraeus, which called for a limited withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, also is a request for $200 billion in war spending, including an additional $50 billion being asked for as a supplement, that will soon come before Congress.

    “This rally is a call to Congress and the administration to bring our troops home,” Garrett said.

    The rally will include speakers and provide an opportunity for progressive groups and peace activists in the region to network with one another, while being entertained by the Feral Throes.

    Speakers will include Dr. Joesph Fitsanakis, author, political scientist and founder of Democracy Now! Tri-Cities. He will be joined by the Rev. John Shuck of First Presbyterian Church in Elizabethton and Iraq war veteran Jason Hurd.

    Marchers are asked to bring their own signs and be prepared to march rain or shine. Rain site for the rally is at Next Door, 413 W. Walnut St.

    For information, e-mail