Under a scorching May sun that took a toll on protesters and police officers alike, demonstrators gathered in Grant Park today for an anti-war rally intended to make the gathering NATO dignitaries notice.
The noon rally drew several thousand people to the Petrillo Music Shell, some chanting, others waving signs that read “Bring U.S. Troops Home,” and “Smart Kids, not smart bombs.”
For Mary Kirkland, being here at the protests is something very personal for her. Kirkland’s son, Derek, was on his second tour of duty in Iraq with the Fort Lewis base when he attempted suicide. She said when he went into treatment, he was given medication and attempted suicide twice more.
“On his last note, he wrote, ‘I feel transparent. I’m invisible,’” Kirkland said.
Derek hung himself at his formation the following day. Kirkland said she had confidence that her son’s base would keep him safe.
“I went down to the base last year and found out there were 11 more suicides,” Kirkland said.
Kirkland said the time is right for NATO officials to be investigated and charged to the fullest extent of the law.
“We just want to know what is going on and why this keeps happening to our sons,” Kirkland said.
Kirkland said better healthcare and clinics are needed to ensure vets are getting the help to need.
“The [Vietnam] vets are still owed it,” Kirkland said. “It’s time for us [mothers] to rise up and not let them take any more of our children.”