Wearing two pairs of pants, two pairs of socks, three shirts, a heavy winter coat and a scarf but no gloves, senior Renee Di Pietro marched the streets of Philadelphia rallying for peace. The Philadelphia rally was part of the largest global peace rally in world history, which sprawled from San Francisco to Rome on Saturday, Feb. 15.
“To know that the rest of the world was doing the same and that we were together working to reassure and support their voices to their governments by pressuring for a peaceful resolution was soul touching,” Di Pietro said.
At the rally with Di Pietro were David Chiles, coordinator of service learning resources, and junior Mike Pallouci. Di Pietro expected to meet other friends, but they never came.
“I met up with Mike and David and we meshed in with the crowds, stunned at the diversity,” Di Pietro said. “I met Temple students through Mike, and people from the Wayne Unitarian Church by being near them.”
While chanting for peace, Di Pietro noticed the diversity of the crowd.
“Whenever you go somewhere interesting, you always notice how many different types of people are there,” she said. “I have never been with so many different types of people before in my whole life.”
Di Pietro overheard protestors talking on cell phones in languages that she did not recognize.
For her, the turnout was “emotionally spectacular” especially because of the cold temperature, snow showers and the gathering of hundreds of thousands a train ride away in New York City.
The rally route led protestors down Broad Street, around City Hall to Market Street, then to the Liberty Bell and finally circling the Philadelphia Federal Building.
Despite the winter weather, protestors maintained energy and enthusiasm for the cause of peace. “Drums began as the march circled City Hall,” Di Pietro said. “It helped keep people on their toes to continue until the end.”
Di Pietro and Pallouci tried their best to stay warm. Pallouci brought the hand warming bags that you shake, but, according to Di Pietro, they were two years expired and did not work well. The group chatted about the rally when they were not answering powerful chants like, “What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!”
“Marching is an experience,” Di Pietro said. “The rallying chants are strong. Though it’s a peaceful protest, you feel really fired up because you’re walking through red lights, listening to drums and yelling, hoping that the people in limbo start to listen up.”
Di Pietro recalled watching a Saturday morning shopper running with her children through the protestors as if to protect them from unjust people. “We were confused,” Di Pietro said.
Although one woman ran to keep her children from hearing the pleas for peace, other parents encouraged their children to be active.
“Fathers had kids on their shoulders, and mothers led their children around. Signs with ‘Kids for peace’ hung on their backs,” Di Pietro said. “The children danced to the music and had a good time. It just showed how important this issue is to many different types of people. People brought their families and the elderly showed up just as well. They came with old signs and methods from prior protesting days.”
The protestors, of all ages and backgrounds, fought the cold as their chants continued to resonate through inner city.
An African American mother led her three young children in singing, “Hey, hey, whoa, whoa, Bush and Cheney have to go!”
“I saw a girl partially wrapped in duct tape, as if to say ‘Am I safe now?'” Di Pietro said.
Other prevalent signs at the rally included phrases like, “How many lives per gallon?” which is inspired by the belief that war with Iraq is fueled by greed over oil, and “Drop Bush, not bombs.”
Di Pietro went to the rally for one reason – to protest the war against Iraq. She believes that, “in many years there is going to be a lot of guilt for being so na