On October 26 the threshold of 2,000 Americans soldiers killed in Iraq was crossed, and the anti-war movement geared up for vigils for the fallen soldiers. In Times Square, several hundred anti-war protesters gathered inside police barricades to place bundles of fresh flowers and chant anti-war slogans in front of the U.S. Army Recruiting Station.

Barbara Kuesell held a banner along the edge of the police barricade. “I want [the public] to witness my horror at so many Americans lost lives,” she said. A Quaker since she was 21, Kuesell has been protesting the Iraq war the three years since it began. “This is a long project – what we are here to do is end the war.”

At the same time that a large screen above the Recruiting Station played ads touting, “no one told the to defend our nation” and showed grainy desert footage of young soldiers fighting in Iraq, a contingent of Veteran’s For Peace.Org made up the frontline of the protest. Veterans held the American flag and a large banner with combat boots and rifles of fallen soldiers behind a sign reading, “Blessed Are the Peacemakers."

The crowd chanted “Troops Out Now!” and “Impeach Bush!” A dozen coffins draped in American flags were held facing the giggling teenagers, ogling tourists and busy commuters traversing Times Square. When one of Times Square’s oversized TV screens showed images of George W. Bush and Colin Powell, protesters shouted “Boo” and “Liar” in concert.

“It would be wrong to let this day pass without some kind of notice,” said Frank Broadhead of Hastings, Westchester. Broadhead is a member of Concerned Families of Westchester, a community-organizing group that began after September 11, 2001. The group took a bus to Washington for the September 24 anti-war march in Washington and holds weekly vigils outside the local Stop N Shop in Dobsferry. According to Broadhead, his group has been reinvigorated “since Cindy Sheehan,” garnering more involvement from “younger people, people with kids, people who haven’t done this before.”

One newcomer to the anti-war movement was Haley Rubinson. A City employee and student, Rubinson, who called the war “premature and unnecessary,” hadn’t been involved in protests against the war until this year. She said she felt the initial protests of the war had garnered sufficient support. “I didn’t really think it was necessary,” she said. Rubin took part in the vigil though because, “I think it’s time to start doing something,” she said. “It’s time for the rest of us to speak out, not just leave it to the hard core people."

While focus on the American military casualties in Iraq highlights the sometimes-myopic view of the American public, vaunting the American dead while ignoring the thousands of Iraqis killed, it is something Broadhead acknowledged as instrumental to the anti-war movement. “I think a lot of people think the key to ending the war is to move Democrats,” he said. “Unfortunately, I think the number of American casualties will be the only thing to move them.”

Even so, Broadhead, emphasized the importance of anti-war protest, “even if it’s just for the participants.”

“Can you imagine how horrible it would be to go through something like this without protest? That would be barbarous,” he said.