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January 26, 2007:
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WASHINGTON - It's the useless deaths that are bringing Gilda Carbonaro to the National Mall on Saturday.
"The war is over. The war is lost. The war is finished," the Bethesda woman said. "And, there is no reason for another life to be lost in Iraq. I am doing this for the sake of my son, for these kids. . . . There's nothing to be gained with their deaths."
Marylanders from various towns and organizations plan to join the celebrity-studded "March on Washington," organized by United for Peace and Justice, which begins Saturday at 1 p.m. Actors Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Danny Glover and Jane Fonda are expected to attend, as are the Rev. Jesse Jackson and several members of Congress.
Carbonaro, a member of Military Families Speak Out, is coming for her son, Marine Sgt. Alessandro "Alex" Carbonaro, 28, a graduate of Sandy Spring Friends School. He died in May 2006 on his second deployment to Iraq, when his humvee hit an improvised explosive device.
"I was against the war before my son was ever going to go," Gilda Carbonaro said Thursday. "I thought it was going to be a tremendous disaster."
On his first deployment to Iraq, Alex Carbonaro was injured by an IED, but that was before such weapons had been "perfected," his mother said.
The last time, she said, the device was much more sophisticated, so well-hidden that it stayed planted as several trucks in her son's convoy passed. When Carbonaro's fuel-carrying vehicle finally rolled by, the weapon detonated.
One soldier died immediately, she said. Her son and two other soldiers walked away from the vehicle in flames.
It was some time, his mother doesn't know how long, before the wounded soldiers were attended, as weapons, grenades and rocket launchers went off.
Her boy survived eight days, his mother said, then died of a massive infection.
Military families understand war and the nature of war, Carbonaro said, but these are useless deaths.
"These people have killed our young people," she said, "the most honorable, the most responsible kids, the kind of people we need in our country."
Like Carbonaro, Ray Donaldson, of the Howard County Coalition of Peace and Justice, will be at the rally. He said the war won't end until Congress denies funding.
"The only way we're going to get any meaningful change in our policy towards Iraq before George Bush leaves office is for the Congress to use their control of the money," he said. "They have to do something that constitutionally he must listen to . . . because Bush has shown that he will do anything. He will do what he wants to do."
Donaldson, a former Peace Corps volunteer, was drafted to military service in September 1965, when he was 24. He decided two months after arriving in Ben Hoa, Vietnam in 1966, that he was against that war.
"Our government is very ignorant and very arrogant in the world," he said. "They operate from ideology, not information."
Another veteran, Jim Baltridge of Baltimore, a member of Baltimore's Coalition Against the War, Veterans for Peace and Vietnam Veterans Against the War in Iraq, draws connections between the war in Iraq and the Vietnam War.
Baltridge, who served in the Navy from 1965 to 1969, said the troops must be withdrawn from Iraq.
"That doesn't mean we beam them in the Star Trek transporter from Iraq to Maryland," he said, "but the determination has to be made, and the process begun."
Max Obuszewski, of Baltimore, a member of Pledge of Resistance, has been arrested about 70 times for protesting, he said, and will be at the rally today. Five or six busloads of like-minded Marylanders will come with him.
"There's been an overwhelming response for this march."