Gloucester County Times

Vocal Protesters Gather In N.J., Across U.S. For 5th Anniversary Of War

Gloucester County Times — Thursday, March 20, 2008

By Trish G. Graber
and Lucas Murray

TRENTON — On the five-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, Sue Niederer stood outside the Statehouse with a purpose.

"For the knock on the door that every parent gets," she said. "That's why I'm here."

Niederer, whose son, Lt. Seth J. Dvorin, died in Iraq in February 2004, held a sign with a photo of the Army veteran and bold black letters that read, "President Bush You Killed My Son."

The Mercer County mother joined about 70 demonstrators in Trenton Wednesday to protest the Iraq War and call for the troops to be brought home immediately.

Protesters in the crowd held signs that read, "Five Years Too Many," and "Invest in America, Not War in Iraq." Others wore black armbands that said, "Stop the War, Iraq Moratorium, Bring the Troops Home."

"Hopefully we'll convince someone that the war is not working," said Joe DeLengyel, of Middlesex County.

The protest came after a morning speech by President Bush who said the battle in Iraq has been longer, harder and more costly than anticipated, but that the 2003 invasion was necessary.

"Removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision," he said. "And this is a fight America can and must win."

Since 2003, nearly 4,000 troops have died, roughly $500 billion has been spent, and Americans have become increasingly concerned about the financial state of the country.

"The system is collapsing around us partially because of this war," said Deb Huber, of Hunterdon County. "We're broke."

A large part of the demonstration focused on the amount of money spent abroad. Protesters chanted, "Money for jobs, not for war."

"The only reason we attacked Iraq is because of the huge reserves of oil," said Allen Goldberg, of Mercer County.

Maureen Glover, whose cousin died in the war, called the situation "an absolute disaster."

She held part of a banner strung with the pictures of fallen soldiers from New Jersey, which she put together to put faces and names to the numbers of soldiers lost. Like many Americans, she said she is looking toward the next administration to halt the increasing tally of those killed in the line of duty.

"Hopefully a president will get in that will really get them out," she said. "Instead of just saying they'll get them out."

The protest was one of several demonstrations held around the state to mark the five-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War.

Dozens of protesters assembled throughout South Jersey calling for an end to military operations in Iraq. In Mount Holly, representatives from NJ Citizen Action led a candlelight vigil outside the High Street office of Republican Congressman Jim Saxon Wednesday night.

Earlier in the afternoon, a handful of protesters assembled in the rain outside the Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden calling for an end to operations in Iraq.

"The war is taking the money and resources out of the mouths of babes in this country," Mahdi Ibn-Ziyad said. "It's killing babes in Iraq and our troops to the tune of 4,000 thus far."

Ibn-Ziyad, a Democrat challenging incumbent congressman Rob Andrews, D-1st Dist., of Haddon Heights, said he's looking to "stop the madness of this war immediately" and to refocus government spending to rebuild crumbling Camden City.

"We need to do this now," Ibn-Ziyad said. "We need to end the war now. We need to bring the troops home."

Echoing sentiments among many protesters, Rutgers-Camden student Stella Bonaparte said she feels the war has gone on five years too long. The urban studies major suggested the dollars going toward military spending would be better used elsewhere.

"We've got so many problems we really need to be dealing with in this county," Bonaparte said. "It seems like we have trillions and trillions of dollars to go out to countries and bomb them, yet we have no money to invest in our cities and our infrastructure."

Nick Bovino made the trip to Camden from Cherry Hill to voice his displeasure over the way the war has been handled. While he disagrees with the reasoning behind the war, Bovino said the support of those in uniform should be unwavering.

He said the troops should be equipped and supplied as best as the country can provide and be afforded the best medical care possible when they return.

"They're not discards," Bovino said. "They're our friends, our relatives, our neighbors. We're not at war with our own people."

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