Tens of thousands of anti-war protestors gathered in the US capital on Saturday, demanding withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and diversion the war funds to domestic needs such as job and education.
"Foreign occupation will not bring liberation," protestors carrying mock coffins chanted as they marched on the streets around the White House.
The mock coffins, draped with the US national flag and made of cardboards, symbolized the American casualties in the Iraq war.
"Out of Iraq," said one sign.
"Bring the troops home now," another sign read.
Still another, carried by a black protester, said, "Bush take care of us own at home."
"We are against all wars," said Hazel Tulecke and Bill Houston from Yellow Springs, Ohio.
Fifty people set off Friday night for the demonstration in Washington and arrived early Saturday morning, they said. It was relatively a large number considering a population of around 4,000 residents in the town, they said.
"I believe in peace and justice," said a lady from Boston, Massachusetts, who only gave her first name, Lisa.
A anti-war activist in the 1960s, Lisa said she was in San Francisco, California, for a demonstration against the Vietnam Warin 1967. "Nine-nine percent of the people (in the protest) were inspired by Cindy Sheehan," whose son soldier was killed in Iraq last year, she said.
Before the march started, speakers from the stage on the Ellipse lawn in front of the White House criticized President George W. Bush's policies, including his policy on the Iraq war. Bush, however, was not at the White House Saturday and was in Colorado instead monitoring hurricane recovery efforts.
"How many more of other people's children are you willing to sacrifice?" Sheehan asked in her speech. Over 19,00 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003.
Sheehan camped outside Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch in August and drew thousands of supporters during her 26-day vigil, giving fresh impetus to the anti-war campaign.
"What our children are dying for is to make their government's war machine rich," a booklet written by Sheehan said.
"If we want our country to be peaceful we must be peaceful ourselves. If we sue violence, then we promote violence," it said.
Organizers had hoped the demonstration could attract 10,000 people, but it was not known the exact number of participants. More anti-war activities had been planned for Sunday and Monday.
But not all present were against war. A handful of people couldbe seen holding placards on the National Mall supporting the war, and about 150 others rallied at the US Navy Memorial.
"Support our troops, every day, every mission," one sign said.