About 200 people gathered on a windy, chilly Saturday afternoon at King Plaza in downtown Palo Alto to mark the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq, carrying signs, chanting and singing along with the Raging Grannies.
"Most of us knew five years ago that this war was going to be tragic, illegal, immoral and wrong," the Rev. Diana Gibson of the Santa Clara County Council of Churches said.
"It's sad that it's not as big" as the peace rally and march through downtown Palo Alto that drew thousands of people five years ago, Gibson said. "It's harder now. But it's important that you're here."
"It is really horrible in Iraq now," Samina Feheem Sundas of American Muslim Voice said. "We have destroyed their homes, we have destroyed their country."
Sundas said she visited Pakistan last year and, for the first time, "I felt hatred towards Americans, not just toward America."
Tables were set up on the edge of the plaza with books, bumper stickers, peace buttons and DVDs of peace speeches. Dozens of placards on sticks – "Out Now! Bring our Troops Home!" -- leaned against one table, waiting for people to raise them.
The Grannies sang "Please tell America, bring our troops home" to the tune of "God Bless America."
"Five years is too long," Paul George of the Midpeninsula Peace and Justice Center said. In that time there have been 4,000 American deaths and "untold thousands of Iraqi deaths," he added.
Saturday's rally will be followed by a vigil at Lytton Plaza in downtown Palo Alto at noon, Wednesday, March 19, which is the actual fifth anniversary of the start of the war. Candlelight vigils will be held at 7 p.m. that day in King Plaza, Los Altos, Mountain View and other cities throughout the Bay Area and country.