Thursday, August 23, 2007

Another foot-soldier for peace

Back on August 2, I told you about two teenagers walking across the US to protest the war. As of this morning they are in Columbus, Ohio.

It turns out they were not the only ones getting footsore for the cause. Via Kevin at The American Street, linking to, we learn about Bill McDannell, who walked 3,185 miles from Lakeside, California, to Washington, DC to protest the war. He started in November and arrived at the US Capitol building this past Saturday.

From the original source, the San Diego Union-Tribune for Tuesday:
Once he reached the steps, he stopped and shed a few tears.

He had done it. ...

No reporters met him at the end of his quest. No TV cameras were there. Other than occasional local TV reports and newspaper articles in mostly small-town America, he was unable to attract much media coverage.

At the end, it was just McDannell, his wife, Jonna, and their two dogs. Tourists buzzed around the Capitol, oblivious to his accomplishment, he said. ...

McDannell had hoped, of course, that his effort would draw more attention, that in some small way a man from Lakeside could have some impact on the national conversation regarding the war.

But the war goes on and shows no sign of ending anytime soon. And that fact is not lost on him.
McDannell showed some good insight into why national media was so uninterested in his story:
He didn't wear a glow-in-the-dark Uncle Sam suit, he said.

“I didn't talk like a freak. I didn't act like a freak,” McDannell said. “I offered no entertainment value.”
Still, he showed some justifiable pride in his accomplishment and intends to follow up by lobbying some members of Congress. Personally, I'd like to see him walk into Nancy Pelosi's office and say "I walked from Lakeside, California - and I mean I walked from Lakeside, California, to talk to you about the war." But the best line in the whole article was this:
“The anti-war left is actually the disgusted middle,” he said.
After being a gadfly in Congress for a time, McDannell says, he may take up some similar walks to protest the war, perhaps in New England in the fall and then in the southeast in the winter.

I know nothing of McDannell's politics beyond his opposition to the Iraq War; maybe we'd have very deep disagreements on other issues. I know, for example, folks who will denounce the war as strongly as I do who will in the next breath talk about "getting rid of" undocumented workers. No matter. For his commitment and his determination to advance it nonviolently, and for whatever it may be worth to him, Bill McDannell has my respect.

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