The Mid Hudson Progressive Alliance and Dutchess Peace Coalition organized a Washington, DC, bus trip out of Beacon to the January 27 rally and march against the escalation of the Iraq War. The event was marked the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Pentagon march featured in Norman Mailer’s Armies of the Night.
In the book, Mailer’s protesters and speakers were suit-clad intellectuals and students. The 2007 Hudson Valley bus riders were casually dressed people of all ethnic groups, backgrounds, and ages, ranging from Saeger Rubenstein, 14, to Florence Yukon, 86. Dutchess County legislator Bill McCabe even rode down with the group.
DC speakers included Jane Fonda, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Dennis Kucinich, and Maxine Waters. Rally organizers came from peace groups, labor, the gay community, veterans organizations, military families, and religious circles.
The bus riders were treated to tranquil folk strumming by guitarists Chris Ruhe and Tom Baldino and others. Organizers Richard Carlson, Connie Hogarth, and Steve Gold passed around lyric sheets so the riders could all sing along to songs by Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, and Cat Stevens.
In Armies of the Night, the march was attended by 50,000 people. But Hogarth said, “We surrounded the Capitol, which means [we were] half a million strong.” Mailer's march ended in violent confrontation and arrests. This year’s rally ended with a peaceful march from the mall, around the Capitol, and back to the mall. Marchers were not harassed by police but annoyed by a group of half a dozen people holding signs reading Hippies Smell.
The 1967 rally was a first of its kind event while the 2007 rally included people who lived through the '60s and who provided some sage advice: “Do one rally after another. That's how we ended Vietnam.”
A follow-up march on the Pentagon is planned for March 17.