[Former Green Party of New York State Secretary] Betty Wood, 65, of Blodgett Mills, brought five quilt banners with her to the parade. Each had the 170 faces of U.S. soldiers from New York state who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since fighting began. Wood has gotten up to April. She’s behind by half a banner. She chokes up when she’s asked why she did it. “The photos of the flag-draped coffins coming back from over there became classified,” said Wood, fighting back tears. “These soldiers became numbers. They deserved to have faces.”
From Betty Wood:
The Syracuse March and Rally had about 2500 people from all over the state. The speakers and music were inspiring. The march was several blocks long. At the rally, the greatest ovation was for the Iraq Veterans Against the War, the group that called for the action.
There were many creative signs and some street theater. There were a half dozen or so tables. One artist used 4×8 particle board as canvas for half a dozen paintings that used photos from the NY Times as inspiration. Each painting had a paragraph or two identifying the inspiration and the artist’s comments on it as a statement of the war.
Many, many groups participated.
The Cortland Community for Peace had about a dozen people there, many of them Greens. We featured the 5 quilts that I made that showed pictures and identification information about NYS military people who were killed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Liberation, uh, Freedom. Each photo and id was surrounded by 52 flags of either Afghanistan or Iraq, to acknowledge that war has casualties on both sides, with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan having many more casualties than the invaders. The American flags are as seen from the top of a flag draped coffin. This, in fact, was the inspiration for the project, i.e. when the flagged draped coffins of the returning dead were made classified and they became statistics. The quilts were very well received with many people looking for neighbors or family members. Others just looked. Many photos were taken.
I was interviewed by several reporters: 2 from Syracuse Post Standard, SU Daily Orange (student newspaper), Channel 3 TV, a Rochester student web site reporter (www.rocloop.com), and several SU journalism students. Others in the group were also interviewed (I have no details).
Syracuse police were much in evidence during the march for traffic control. Otherwise, they were out of sight. I saw no attempts at intimidation.
It was a beautiful day and a successful march and rally. Congratulations to Jessica Maxwell and all those who worked with her for a job well done.