Puppets will mark Iraq invasion
Can giant puppets illustrate the mistakes and costs of the occupation of Iraq? The Chico Peace and Justice Center believes so.
Every one of the trillion dollars spent on war in Iraq—including the nearly $1 million spent in the time it will take you to read this—represents a dollar that should have been spent improving lives at home, rather than destroying lives overseas.
To symbolize health-care reform, solar energy, farm-subsidy reform, organic farming and several other issues, volunteers created giant 10- to 15-foot-tall puppets. This past month, they’ve built a nurse, a sun, a goat and a Jolly Green ecological giant, and all sit waiting at the Drive-By Gallery for their debut.
The puppets will be the featured attraction beginning at noon on Saturday, March 15, in the City Plaza, when the Peace and Justice Center marks the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. The CP&J has dubbed the event “Alternative Uses for a Trillion War Dollars.”
“We aren’t so naïve to think that if we weren’t in this war we’d have all these things,” said CP&J Director Sue Hilderbrand. “But if we don’t have a vision for the alternatives, we don’t know what we’re working for.”
One of those alternatives is obvious: repairing New Orleans. The neglect of the city after Hurricane Katrina strikes a chord with everyone involved in the event, and particularly members of the student group Campus Involvement and Awareness (CIA).
After an hour-long puppet-making session for children ends at noon, Campus Involvement members will hold a New Orleans-style funeral procession. They will carry a black casket through City Plaza—not as a political statement but as a memorial for those fallen in Iraq and for the city neglected by the Bush administration.
“We are honoring the people who are dead,” Hilderbrand said. “But those of us that are still alive need to take action to prevent future deaths.”
Ashley Oakley, a member of the campus group and new volunteer coordinator at the CP&J, worked with other CIA members Monday (March 3) night on the casket and their puppets, which include a V for Vendetta mask and Free College Tuition Check.
“Everybody thinks their voice isn’t being heard, but if you aren’t speaking, it’s not going to happen,” Oakley said. “You have to do something to be heard.”
Following the funeral procession, “When the Saints Go Marching In” will play. Then, the puppet pageant will begin. Each puppeteer will discuss the symbolism of his or her puppet and what could have been done had $1 trillion not been spent on Iraq.
A rally with speakers and music will follow the pageant, and the day of recognition will be capped off with a spiral dance.
Don’t know what a spiral dance is? Well, if you can walk you can do it, Hilderbrand said. It involves everyone circling up. Then, one end spirals toward the inside of the circle. Once the group can spiral no more, members walk the opposite way back into a circle, allowing everyone to stand face to face.
“The point of the spiral dance is so you see your community, and the spiral represents the energy to manifest the vision and take action,” Hilderbrand explained.