Rural Walkers for Truth met up with Portland supporters in Westmoreland Park on Friday for a boistrous march through SE Portland and downtown to Senator Gordon Smith's office at the World Trade Center. There the marchers met hundreds of supporters for the final rally of the Walk for Truth, Justice, and Community (the crowd estimate was over 400 people).
At the rally, the ROP's Cara Shufelt delivered hundreds of signed postcards to Senator Smith's representative Rian Windsheimer, urging the Senator to back a withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, an end to prisoner torture, and re-direction of funds for human needs, not global war. Cara led the cheering crowd in reading the cards' message out loud to a game Windsheimer, who politely thanked people for walking so far to deliver the message.
Earlier in the day, walk participant Lerissa Beck met privately with both Mr Windsheimer, and with Mary Gautreaux of Senator Wyden's staff to talk about the loss of her cousin Brian a year ago in Iraq, in one of the bloodiest engagements for the Oregon Guard.
By holding a mass rally at Senator Smith's office, delivering hundreds of cards signed by Oregonians across the state demanding an Iraq withdrawal, and by sharing personal stories of loss with the Senate staffers (if not the Senators themselves), the Walk acheived on of its prime goal: To deliver a powerful message to federal officials that Oregonians are DONE with the war, its phoney excuses, waste of taxpayers' money, and especially, the violent deaths and injuries of thousands of innocents and combatants alike.
Earlier in the week, on Monday 6/13, 150 walkers jammed Governor Kulongoski's office in Salem to deliver a similar message: call back the Oregon Guard from Iraq. On Thursday, 6/16, Governor Kulongoski stated that it was time for the nation to have a real debate on the continuing deployment of the National Guard in Iraq.
Throughout the six day walk from Salem to Portland, Truth walkers with peace signs were greeted with honks and thumbs-up from cars and trucks along the route. During the walk through Portland, the honking became a cacophony. As Portland Peaceful Response's drum corps led the walkers through downtown, one man pulled his car over and joined the march. His nephew had been killed in Iraq.
On Saturday morning, NPR's Daniel Schorr commented that, with regards to plummeting support for Bush and the Iraq involvement, "We have turned a corner, something has changed in this country."