"People really need to inform themselves better of the facts instead of listening to Washington," the 61-year-old Salt Lake resident said.
Van Duser was among about 200 war protesters gathered outside the City-County Building Saturday following a march that started at the Bennett Federal Building.
"Maybe there will be a change of heart," said Van Duser, holding a sign reminiscent of the World War II Uncle Sam poster, with President Bush's face replacing Uncle Sam's. The inscription: "You go to war, I'll stay here."
On the two-year anniversary of the war in Iraq, the protesters decried the loss of life: More than 1,500 U.S. soldiers have died, and unofficial tallies of Iraqi casualties range from 5,000 to 100,000 dead. They also criticized the war's cost last week the House sent to the Senate a bill to add $81.4 billion to the war and anti-terrorism effort, which would push the total cost to more than $300 billion.
Notwithstanding their rage against the establishment, the protesters honored the soldiers who have died and those who are still fighting in Iraq.
Vietnam veteran Nikko Schoch, co-founder of Veterans for Peace, told the crowd that after serving as medic, he came home to a country that despised him.
"I was spit on. I was called a baby killer even though I had never carried a gun," Schoch said. "We're going to see more psychologically wounded soldiers coming back from Iraq. I hope we as a people can support them."
Rev. Erin Gilmore, pastor at Holladay United Church of Christ, encouraged the protesters to "live as people who believe there is another way."
University of Utah student Karen Green, 22, and Krista Bowers, 40, of Salt Lake, held a rainbow-colored banner reading: "We the people say no to the Bush agenda."
"It's all for profit and money," said Green. "The government lies to us and no one takes responsibility. People die for lies."
Bowers added: "I'm just tired of this war. Too many people have died on both sides."
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