One woman recounts her experience of meeting Martin Sheen at a peace rally in Los Angeles
April 2, 2003
Contributed by L. L. Mayberry
It is the second Wednesday after the U.S. commenced its attack on Iraq, and today will be the second in a series of antiwar actions in downtown Los Angeles. Organizers have called for nonviolent protests each Wednesday morning during April. Taking a friend along, I arrive early, find a place to park, and start to walk toward the Federal Building, where the peace vigil is to be held.
This is a new experience and neither of us is sure what to do. For the first time, I am participating in an antiwar demonstration, but it just seems right to do so. As we stand on a street corner, waiting to cross, we watch a few other protesters gather on the opposite side. But these are not all ordinary protesters. One man is very recognizable -- Martin Sheen.
I am surprised to see him, but only because I am impressed with his celebrity status. Mr. Sheen has been a very visible figure in the antiwar movement, so his presence at this event is really not surprising at all. It makes him seem very human.
My friend and I cross the street and find ourselves standing amid the small group of protesters. Mr. Sheen approaches me with his right hand extended and says, "Hello, my name is Martin." Finding my voice, I manage to tell him my name and that I am a fan.
The conversation there on the sidewalk is multi-layered. A fellow protester, an elderly lady named Margaret, asks me if I think Martin should be the real President. Actually, it seems like a great idea, but I can still discern fact from fiction, so I simply state that I would vote for the character he plays on "The West Wing". In the course of more general conversation, I learn that Mr. Sheen is under scrutiny from NBC executives and that his job as Josiah Bartlet might actually be in jeopardy.
Martin remains with our group a few minutes longer, then, concerned that the "others" hadn't arrived, he excuses himself to look for them. Very soon, a bus carrying about 25 people from the Dolores Mission in Los Angeles pulls up. They bring with them the large painted wooden cross that Martin will carry for the duration of the march.
Martin and the priest from the Dolores Mission distribute rosaries to all of us. Prayers are held for those members of the parish who are serving in the war and for the one member of the mission group who will breach security and be arrested for civil disobedience. I later learned that 15 people were arrested from the various groups that took part in the protest.
Martin takes up the cross, and our group proceeds along the back of the Federal Building, around the side and finally to the front, where about 300 other protesters are gathered.
At this point, I take out my camera...