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Groups Staging Memorial Day Protests

Most people associate Memorial Day with parades, cookouts, opening of community pools, laying wreaths and weekend travel. For some, however, it is a day for protest.

Memorial Day weekend in Palo Alto, Calif., began early on Thursday, when 150 marchers carried caskets draped with flags of the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />United States and Iraq to honor lives and protest deaths of military and civilians who have been killed in Iraq, the San Jose Mercury-News reported.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
Peace activists in Pennsylvania gained permission to march in the Ardmore Memorial Day Parade, with restrictions against carrying anti-war signs. Officials turned down an earlier request by the Bryn Mawr Peace Coalition to plant crosses in a city park to protest the war in Iraq. They instead will erect the crosses at a Methodist church.
 
Crosses and tombstones were expected to sprout this weekend at a symbolic cemetery in a Seattle suburb to represent war dead in Iraq.
 
Veterans for Peace planned a Memorial Day commemoration for peace Sunday afternoon at the New York City Vietnam Veterans Memorial to protest the war and call for return of U.S. troops from Iraq.
 
People opposed to the war in Iraq also planned to gather Saturday outside the U.S. Military Academy in West Point to demand Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation. Rumsfeld was scheduled to speak to about 900 graduating cadets receiving bachelor’s degrees and being commissioned as second lieutenants in the Army, according to the Journal-News in White Plains, N.Y.
 
Anti-war groups weren’t the only ones staging protests over the long weekend, however.
 
Emergency medical personnel in Washington, D.C., planned to report to work without their uniforms, daring superiors to send them home with many older veterans in town for dedication of the National World War II Memorial. The “uniform strike” is an alternative to earlier talk of a “sickout” over the weekend to protest working conditions.
 
A human-rights group in Brunswick, Ga., is using Monday for a “Two Towns Tour” to demonstrate a gap it sees between the town’s “monied elite” and the other “town” that exists for those who are “economically and politically disenfranchised.”
 
More than 200 organizations planned a national protest kicking off a boycott of Wal-Mart over employment practices.
 
And while an Internet-based call for a national gasoline boycott a couple of weeks ago didn’t materialize, supporters hoped a record 30.9 million travelers over Memorial Day weekend, coupled with high gas prices, would fuel support for another stab at a grass-roots gasoline strike.
 
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.