Several dozen service members joined peace activists today to call for an end to the war in Iraq, part of a nationwide effort that links a growing group of active-duty protesters to the peace movement.
An “appeal for redress” petition, signed by more than 1,000 active duty soldiers and sailors nationwide — many of whom served in Iraq — is to be delivered to Congress on Tuesday.
On a day devoted to honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Norfolk-based Seaman Jonathan Hutto quoted the civil rights leader at a gathering of war protestors at the Unitarian Church of Norfolk.
“Dissent is not disloyalty,” Hutto said, noting that King objected to the Vietnam War and insisted that protestors “were not fools or traitors.”
Roughly 100 people attended the gathering to hear speeches and to rally support for veterans who are speaking out against the war.
“There is honest disagreement … but all voices deserve to be heard,” said Rev. Paul Boothby, the church’s pastor. “It is good that we gather together to speak out and be heard.”
A growing number of active-duty military personnel are coming out against the war, despite a culture in the Armed Forces that frowns on public objections to presidential policy.
A recent poll of military personnel show their support of the war has dropped to 54 percent.
Active-duty military personnel are allowed to publicly object to the war, as long as they do not wear their uniforms when expressing their opinions.
“We served in combat and we’ve seen the futility of this war,” said Sgt. Jabbar Magruder of Los Angeles, a member of the National Guard who served 11 months in Tikrit, a town northwest of Baghdad. “The soldiers want to resist. The soldiers want to come home now. We need the citizens to back us.”