There were more anti-war protests last night as Iowans continued to observe the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Several hundred activists picketed near downtown Ames before marching to City Hall for a program of anti-war speakers. Seventy-three-year-old Jens Nielsen drove in from Oelwein. His grandson was killed near Ramallah two years ago. Nielsen, a retired banker, is calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops.
Nielson says:"To stay the course in honor of those who have died is a fallacious statement that sounds good. If you want to honor our grandson’s sacrifice, get our people home from Iraq." Nielson’s grandson, Lieutenant Seth Garceau of Oelwein, was killed by a roadside bomb in February of 2005. Nielson says surveys show it’s clear, the U.S. is doing no good in Iraq.
He says more than half the Iraqis think it’s okay to shoot at Americans and 80-percent claim the country isn’t as safe as when the war started. He says the unrest there has to be solved by the Iraqis, not the U.S.A.
Earlier in the day, a spokesman for the Iowa National Guard commented on the war protests. Master Sergeant Duff McFadden said the military has helped make the protests possible. McFadden says: "We do help protect the rights for them to protest. That’s the right of free speech and us serving in the military reflects their ability to do that."
The Sergeant said with the fourth anniversary of the war, the Guard is reporting its highest enlistee numbers in years. He says it’s the best recruiting year since 2001 for the Iowa National Guard, with more than 820 signing on since August. McFadden said the protesters are leveling their criticism at the Bush administration, while also expressing support for the troops in Iraq.